CES had a lot of interesting, innovative technology this year that has a huge potential to catch on with consumers. A lot of stuff also made me want to scratch my head.
Of the more than 20,000 gadgets on display, some are so bizarre that you need to see them to believe they exist. Weird doesn’t necessarily mean ridiculous, though. Sometimes, the oddest things at CES ultimately make a lot of sense.
The great irony about these bizarre products is that they tend to make it to market—something not all of the technology at the show achieves. Whether that will be the case with this year’s batch remains to be seen. But if you’re a collector of technology’s weird and wonderful, here are some of odder items we’ve come across.
There are tons of audio speakers at CES -- some of which cost as much as $90,000 -- but none are more unusual than Mars. The main speaker actually levitates above the subwoofer using magnet technology. The manufacturer claims this creates a cleaner sound because nothing is lost from sound waves colliding against, say, a stereo’s casing that impacts music quality. It will run you $299.
Some alarm clocks jar you awake with sound. Others gradually brighten the room. Sensorwake rouses you with the sweet smell of fresh-brewed coffee and newly-baked croissants. Or, if you prefer, peppermint… or cocoa… Just insert a cartridge into the $89 device, much like you would a Glade room freshener plug-in, and the next morning, the clock will flood the room with the scent of your choosing. (Each cartridge delivers 30 wake ups, after which you’ll need to buy another. They cost just under $11 per pair.)
Pregnancy tests aren’t especially complicated, so we’re not sure why you’d want one that’s Internet-connected. The manufacturer, First Response, thinks that potential mothers would like to listen to pregnancy tips and calming music while they wait for the results. The actual testing procedure is the same as with most other pregnancy kits. You pee on a stick and wait. With this $10 test, though, the results are automatically uploaded to your phone. My take: Putting technology down for a few minutes is okay sometimes. This seems like one of those times.
It’s one thing to buy an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 for yourself or your kids, but does your dog really need a game system? CleverPet thinks so. Its product, which will retail for $299, uses lights, sounds, and touch pads to challenge your pet to complete a series of light-based puzzles (think of the children's game Simon, and you get the idea). If they are successful, they get a treat—though larger dogs might just forego the puzzle aspects and destroy the device to get at the food.
WELT is a wearable fitness device from Samsung tracks your fitness, activity levels, and waist size. You can review the data through an accompanying app. The thing is: Who wears a belt when they’re exercising? And doesn’t the fit of your pants generally let you know when your waist is expanding or contracting? It's still a prototype, so Samsung's not talking pricing or availability - or even confirming that it will be made available to consumers.
Parrot has been trying to give people a green thumb for years. Two years ago, it unveiled Flower Power, a garden sensor that alerts you when your hibiscus needed a drink. This year, the $99 Parrot Pot advances on that with a 2.2-liter water reserve, which will automatically irrigate your plants for one month when it senses they need more hydration. Surely you can remember to water your plant once a month, right?