Every January the Consumer Electronics Show comes to the weird and wonderful city of Las Vegas, attracting people, companies, and products from all around the world. It’s the biggest consumer technology tradeshow there is, so while you can find interesting innovations dotted around, you’re just as (if not more) likely to stumble across some weird stuff that makes you ask ‘why?’
We’ve already highlighted the best of CES 2017, so now it’s time to turn our attention to some of the wackier things. Because they’re just as important in their own way too - if only as a cautionary tale...
Cerevo VR shoes
Being a new and exciting technology, virtual reality is providing the ultimate opportunity to get creative with peripherals. You might be entering a virtual world visually thanks to your headset but there are so many more senses to immerse, so many more body parts to track!
Your hands already have motion trackers but Cerevo wants to bring your feet into play with its Taclim VR (opens in new tab) shoes. These shoes track the motion of your feet and provide haptic feedback so that you can really feel yourself walking across different surfaces or giving an enemy the boot.
Rather than targeting high-end headset owners, Cerevo is initially launching its shoes for Google’s DayDream headset which is interesting since they’ll cost a steep $1,000 (£813) to $1,500 (£1,220) when they launch later in 2017.
The weird VR peripherals don’t stop with Cerevo. Going ever so slightly further, Theory has developed a whole body exosuit. Hypersuit is supposed to let you feel like you’re really flying through virtual reality worlds while you’re lying down in your living room, controlling your movements with your arms.
Theory (opens in new tab) paired the suit with the HTC Vive to demonstrate base jumping, space, and superhero experiences. The suit doesn’t have a price or even a plan for release right now, but we’re not sure who would have the room for it anyway.
Panasonic's companion projector
You’ve probably never expressed a desire to chat with a projector but it might one day be a possibility with Panasonic’s egg-shaped desktop robot. Like a mini R2-D2, the robot can wheel around your desk and chat with you as well as project video content straight onto your wall. At the moment the nameless egg that we have dubbed Humpty is just a proof of concept, but it could be a sign of the direction Panasonic is considering taking the home assistant market.
Egg-shaped devices were unprecedentedly popular at this year’s CES. PowerEgg from PowerVision is a quadcopter drone that claims to have the world’s first gesture-controlled remote that can be used with just one hand and easily flown by anyone.
PowerVision say PowerEgg was designed to be “a consumer drone for everyone” but considering it’s expected to launch at over £1000 we’re left feeling a bit hard-boiled towards it.
Kerastase Hair Coach
You probably thought brushing your hair was one of those daily activities that didn’t require much thought. But you’d be wrong. The Kerastase Hair Coach, created by Withings and L’Oreal, is a connected hairbrush that will assess the condition of your hair and the way you’re brushing it and offer feedback via a companion app.
The Hair Coach will launch in late 2017 for less than $200. It's fascinating but at that price it feels unnecessary – we think we'll leave it to 'concerned' friends and family to point out our split ends.
Spartan smart pants
As far as we can tell, the only smart thing about these boxers is that they take advantage of paranoia around an unproven claim that phone radiation is damaging men’s sperm count to sell exorbitantly expensive underwear.
Spartan, the company behind the boxers, claims that it’s woven silver into its product to create an “electromagnetic shield” that will protect you from radiation and provide antibacterial properties. We can't vouch for whether or not these actually work but if you need the peace of mind or a Faraday Cage for your bits these should do the trick.
If you’re not ready to go the whole nine yards and fork out the money for a full smart fridge, you could always opt for this $150 fridge camera from Smarter (opens in new tab)instead. Finally, the light question will be answered.
The FridgeCam sits on the inside of your fridge and takes a photo of the contents each time you close the door, sending the image to a companion app on your smartphone.
It could be useful to remind yourself of what’s in there while you’re out grocery shopping but since the camera only captures what’s directly in front of it, you’ll have to remember the eggs and butter are on the back of the door for yourself.
According to Smarter, the camera will be able to let you know when foods are expiring and will provide you with recipe suggestions for what you've got in there which, we admit, actually is smart. And much more affordable than a full smart fridge.
Fisher-Price Smart Cycle
In what could be the first step towards toddler-only spin classes, Fisher Price has created a stationary bike for kids. The Think and Learn Smart Cycle looks like a mini gym bike, but it’s essentially an incredibly interactive game controller; simply plug a tablet into it and fire up one of Fisher Price’s educational games which your child can control by pedaling at different speeds.
It does feel slightly like a hamster wheel for kids, but if it keeps them active and entertained on rainy days who are we to complain?
Griffin Technology connected toaster
Just how particularly are you when it comes to toast? If your answer is “unbelievably” then you might be interested in Griffin Technology’s Bluetooth connected toaster.
The toaster comes with a companion app through which you can control temperature and degree of toastiness. It even remembers individual user preferences, so you don’t have to worry about that flatmate who doesn’t understand the meaning of good toast messing up your perfectly curated settings.
The smart toaster is set to launch early next year for $100 (which converts to roughly AU$140 or £60).
At CES, if your product doesn’t have a touchscreen it’s really not fulfilling its potential. At least that must be what Vinci thought when it designed its headphones.
With their touchscreen earpads that show details about the song you’re listening to, Vinci’s headphones mean you’ll never have to be interrupted by someone asking what you’re listening to again. You can also swipe the screen to change the volume of your music and switch tracks.
A screen isn’t the only technology these headphones attempt to cram in – they’re also Bluetooth connected, wirelessly charged, fitness tracking, noise cancelling, voice controlled, and have internal storage for standalone listening. It's possible they'll drag down your head with the weight of their ambition.
Vinci's headphones have been in the works for a while, having started life as a very successful Kickstarter (opens in new tab)campaign. However, they're still in their prototype stages and don't have all their planned features functioning just yet.
A final product is some time away, but with so many features to support we wonder if Vinci should wait for improvements in battery technology before releasing them.
- Check out our picks of the best tech and gadgets from this year's CES.