Over the past few days TechRadar has been scouring the show floor at the consumer technology extravaganza that is IFA 2017 in Berlin to bring you all the biggest and most important news.
However, although we've covered all the stars of the show here, we think the smaller things still deserve some attention. It's not guaranteed to be positive attention, but it's still attention.
That's the thing about shows as big as IFA - while there are some incredible and exciting developments in technology to see, there are also some questionable developments that make you wonder if the future is worth seeing at all.
Here, we've gathered up things that fall into both categories. We'll let you make your mind up whether what we've found is weird or wonderful. Though more often than not, it's both.
Rio 60 Second Neck Toner
If your sagging neck leaves you in danger of being hunted down for the main course at Thanksgiving you might be interested in the Rio neck toner. This device promises that it’ll tone up a double chin if you’re willing to use it for one minute every day. It’s basically one of those Faradic ab belts for your chin and although there weren’t any before and after pictures on the IFA show floor to show us exactly how effective it is, the model on the box didn’t have a second chin or a single pore in sight.
Sometimes the only thing that stops us from eating everything in our fridge is that we’re too lazy to actually get up and go to it. Apparently Panasonic has heard our labored breathing as we try to rise from the sofa and created a fridge that will recognize your voice and come to you when you call.
Rather than targeting this fridge to the lazy, Panasonic is saying that it’ll be appealing to the perpetual dinner party host as it’ll allow them to load it up with drinks and call them in when their guests are running low. At the end of the meal it can also store the empty plates and trundle them through to the kitchen.
Judging from the demo we watched, it might not do it especially quickly.
Like robotic vacuum cleaners, the fridge constantly maps and re-maps your home’s floor so that it’s never stumped by obstacles. To us having a fridge that’ll come to you seems like a dangerous proposition but fortunately we don’t have to worry about it coming to the market for another three or four years.
Remember the flattering mirror that the Evil Queen in Snow White had? How would you like the complete opposite?
HiMirror is essentially a smart mirror that’s capable of analysing the condition of your skin and telling you exactly what’s wrong with it. Whether that’s your massive pores, deep wrinkles, or terribly applied make up.
Don’t worry, though, its criticism is constructive - it’ll give you tips to improve your skincare regime. Pair it with the HiMirror smart body scale and every morning you too can hear that you need to moisturize more and eat chocolate less.
While we don’t need to be told we’re the fairest of them all every morning, we’d rather not be told exactly how far from it we are.
Okay, so there’s no denying it’ll make you look a little like Robocop but the Helmetphone strikes us as a genuinely useful bit of tech for cyclists or skateboarders. Sure, your bike helmet already does the pretty important task of safeguarding your health and wellbeing but does it have a companion app that enables hands free calls and a walkie-talkie function? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
Admittedly, we’re utterly sick to death of companion apps and having to charge umpteen devices every night before we go to sleep. We’d really rather not have to add a cycle helmet to this list. However, the Helmetphone’s hands-free call and stereo music features are appealing and the fact that it has an LED turn signal and an SOS function in its app that makes it easy to call for help in an accident could make it a potential live saver.
Panasonic Robot Ball
This may be one of the cutest robots we’ve ever seen. Designed to help parents educate their children, Panasonic’s ball robot is voice-controlled and capable of playing games, telling stories, and being a general pleasure to be around. Its round design was inspired by its need to be safe for young children to play with as well as being quick and mobile in the home.
Just look at it go!
It won’t be coming to the market for another 3 or 4 years but the Panasonic representative told us the version at the show is close to what the final version will look like and we were more than happy to hear that.
Kineti La Table
Even masters of our table or tablet quiz would find themselves stumped by this one. La Table Kineti is all at once a coffee table and a giant Windows 10 tablet and we’re torn by it.
On the one hand, having a table (or is it a tablet?) that makes us feel like Tony Stark is mightily tempting.
Then we think about our friends with coaster-aversions sitting an ice cold glass of water on it and we start to sweat nervously. The Kineti is apparently waterproof and unbreakable but our patience with moisture rings when we’re trying to watch a film is minimal. Besides, the angle and height of the thing doesn’t exactly invite comfortable viewing and we foresee a hunch in our futures.
Yes, though the Kineti is appealing on the surface, it has many use limitations and considering it’ll set you back just under 4000 euros, we can’t help but think we’d rather by a £500 handheld tablet and kick back with our feet up on an actual table instead.
Always wanted to live out the movie Tron? Eskin is probably your best chance. Eskin is a wearable technology developed by Japanese company Xenoma inc and it can be used to monitor body temperature, respiration and motion without the need for cameras.
Though it has potential medical uses, what we saw was geared towards the idea of immersive gaming, with onscreen avatars being controlled by people wearing the sensor-laden clothing and support for the Unity game engine confirmed.
Xenoma is the first company to develop printed circuit fabric and it plans to revolutionize smart clothing with it.
Aurai Eye Massager
On first glance we thought this was a VR headset. But no, it’s an eye massager. Of course it is. It’s undeniable that we’re using more screens than ever and as a result our eyes are fatigued and strained. According to Aurai, this headset is the solution.
A spa for your eyes, it uses a water circulation system and controllable vibration pulses to turn a silicone water bag into either a hot or cold compress.
We think we’ll stick to face cloths dipped in hot water or cucumber slices. At least with the cucumber slices you also have a snack.
Panasonic Crystal TV
Panasonic appears to have created the Crystal Pepsi of TVs. This concept TV looks like it’s been crafted from a block of ice and although it’s strange these days to see a TV that’s proud to be thicker than a sheet of paper, we’ll take it if it looks like this see-through number.
Finally, Aquaman can have the drone he’s always dreamed of. PowerVision’s PowerRay is a drone designed for exploring the depths of the world rather than the heights of it, capable of diving and recording around 4 hours of 4K footage up to 30m under water.
When we saw it in action it was surprisingly speedy and it can move around in fresh, salt and chlorinated water. It’s probably not welcome at your local public swimming pool, though.
As you’d expect you can control the PowerRay using a mobile phone or a standard controller but we were most interested by the fact that you can pair it with a VR headset and use gesture-based navigation. It’s about as close as you’ll get to being a fish.
Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.
- IFA 2017 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.