The Weirdest Things at CES This Year
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Among the 4,000-plus exhibitors at the annual CES tech event are some of the strangest, wildest and craziest gadgets that most people would never think of, let alone think were even possible.
Time travel and one-on-one coaching from professional athletes have become (virtual) reality. The smallest, fastest of scanners can capture our features and turn us into action figures. Our games can now play us -- not with magic, but magnets. And amateurs and folks at home can accomplish the work of professionals in a range of fields.
Click through to check out some gadgets and experiences that will leave you thinking, what a time to be alive.
A 3D scanner that makes zombies.
Artec 3D’s handheld scanner devices are sophisticated enough to create everything from special effects for TV and movies to printable prosthetics. A recent use of the technology was to create props and injuries for characters in AMC’s zombie drama Fear the Walking Dead, while it’s also credited with helping create the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s makeup in Terminator Genisys, scans of museum artifacts and Royal Dutch Navy supplies and even a bust of former President Barack Obama.
At CES, the company is also showcasing its Shapify Booth, which can conduct a full-body scan in a mere 12 seconds. These scans can be made into “shapies,” or miniature 3D figurines (think wedding cake toppers).
A Keurig-like machine for aromatherapy, edibles and more.
Seattle-based technology company Altopa bills its product, the Oblend, as a Keurig-like machine for health remedies. It’s designed to sit on a countertop like any other kitchen appliance, while users precisely customize the mixtures of essential, botanical or cannabis oils it dispenses down to the microliter level.
The Oblend holds 24 cartridges, and the app allows users to browse pre-selected blends based on aroma, flavor and therapeutic effects -- or create their own. They can then inhale vapor from the blends, turn it into topical treatments, tinctures or capsules or use it as culinary oil for making edibles and drinks.
The product is a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Fitness, Sports and Biotech product category.
An ‘underwater scooter.’
Imagine a mechanised, propeller-equipped version of those little square scooters you played with in elementary school P.E. class. That's kind of what Sublue's WhiteShark MIX is like. The underwater robotics company is debuting the product, which comes with a GoPro camera interface, at CES this year.
The company boasts that the device can guide even first-time divers and inexperienced swimmers at a maximum speed of 3.45 mph, and its compact, lightweight body (6.2 lbs.) means users can take it with them in their carry-on luggage.
It is currently available for pre-order ($699).
A VR booth that lets tourists time travel.
While we are waiting for the Delorean from Back to the Future to physically transport humans back in time, the Timescope's self-serve virtual reality kiosk is the next best thing.
It's designed for tourists visiting cities around the globe to see what life was like in those places in the past via an immersive, 3-D animated experience. Kiosks are placed so users can get a sense of what their exact location was like decades, if not centuries ago, meanwhile getting a brief reprieve from crowds of other visitors. The visual content is derived from archived maps, photos, historical drawings and more and reviewed by historians.
Timescope's creators' ultimate goal is to apply their technology for conceptual architectural renderings so people can easily view cities in the near future as well as the distant past. In the meantime, the plan is to have 100 Timescope kiosks installed worldwide by the end of 2018.
A multisensory baby swaddler that simulates a parent’s embrace.
Dutch startup Hugsy makes a line of products designed to help parents, infants and young children sleep more soundly. They're backed by research which has shown that being held by a parent, skin-to-skin, is key to a baby's development.
The wearable, connected technologies remotely simulate parents' unique heartbeats and smells for little ones. Parents can coordinate their body temperatures, breathing and heart rates with their children to ease stress, improve sleep and boost brain development.
The Hugsy Pouch blanket is for 0- to 4-month-olds and is made of a special fabric that absorbs a parent's scent. The Hugsy Cuddle, for children up to age 4, is a small bear with detachable scent cloth.The Hugsy Heartbeat records a parent's cardiac pattern via fingertip pulse sensor, which is then translated into an audible heartbeat sound and vibration for playback. It can be placed on a crib mattress or in a pouch in the Cuddle bear to send subtle vibrations to the child.
An app that lets you train like Floyd Mayweather.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather wants to let his fans in on his training regimen, which is why he's launching a self-titled app and VR experience via his new company, Mayweather Boxing + Fitness. At CES 2018, the undefeated champion will reveal how he's trained and stayed fit over the last couple of decades.
The tech takes users through the workouts, which include pad work, sparring sessions, cardio and more. In the experience itself, a simulated Mayweather coaches users from the corner of the ring. The VR experience has a waitlist and debuts this month.
A Harry Potter-like chess board with pieces that move on their own.
The moving chess pieces of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone are more than just a figment of J.K. Rowling's imagination. After a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, a new game called Square Off is ready to ship its finished product in 2018.
The board allows users to play each other across the world, but it's a real board, not a computer interface. The absent opponent's pieces move on their own, while an AI helps users train at 20 different levels of difficulty. Users can even livestream their matches or sync them with Chess.com, a community of 16 million.
How does it work? A series of hidden, connected magnets within the board that prevent collisions and reflect moves in real time.
A strip club had robots pole dance to lure women.
There's so much tech to see at CES, most attendees don't spend any precious moments of their week in Vegas participating in traditional Sin City activities, regardless of gender. This is where Sapphire Las Vegas strip club stepped in. Specifically, it delivered robots with security cameras for heads, grinding on poles. However, it turns out they weren't high-tech enough for some patrons.
A machine that prints short stories for some light reading.
Analog tech is always a favorite at CES, as it is a refreshing change to all of the digital products attendees are inundated with all day. Indeed, American Greetings' card booth was Entrepreneur.com news director Stephen Bronner's favorite exhibition at CES 2017. This year, a company called Short Edition has its Short Story Dispenser on display. It's designed to get people to stop aimlessly scrolling through social networks and read an actual printed story.
Users select from a one-, three- or five-minute story, then the Short Story Dispenser prints it on the spot on a strip of paper. The printers are already deployed in public places such as train stations in France and are beginning to roll out in the U.S. -- in Boston, Ohio, Florida and at Francis Ford Coppola's Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco. (The filmmaker is now an investor.)
As for where the stories come from, Short Edition has a database of more than 100,000 by a community of authors. (One of the goals is to give writers more exposure.) Different locations have different selections based on demographic (e.g. schools have stories for children.) While the stories print for free, authors get royalties each time one of theirs is printed.
A grocery store on wheels.
The electric, self-driving Robomart takes grocery delivery up a notch. Customers will be able to hail vehicles filled with these items on demand, select what they want and automatically be charged when sensors in the vehicle determine what has been removed.
In a survey of American women ages 26 to 44, Robomart found that 85 percent of them prefer shopping for produce in-store due to delivery fees and the desire to handpick their own items. Robomart would allow them to browse a small selection. The startup is also developing a licensing platform to eliminate the need for grocery store chains to contract with third-party delivery services such as Instacart.
Robomart, which is part of NVIDIA's deep learning Inception Program, is still working on fully autonomous driving. Then, of course, there are legal and safety hurdles: The company is working on acquiring a Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California DMV.
An ‘intelligent toilet’.
Kohler released the Alexa-compatible Numi “intelligent toilet” at CES, bringing smart home tech into the bathroom. Via voice command, you can lift seat, use its bidet, play music via speakers and more.
The Numi’s water temperature and pressure can be adjusted. It also has automatic flush and a foot warmer.
A beauty startup put on a performance with chainsaw noises and blindfolds.
To kick off the launch of its new face mask product, the UFO, Swedish beauty startup Foreo put on a wacky performance outside the entrance to the Sands Expo & Convention Center on Tuesday. The company, which partnered with marketing firm Dio to create the spectacle, proudly describes it as what it was: a stunt.
“The PR stunt was designed to be a fun, out-of-this-world activation before the product reveal outside of CES and is not part of the CES experience,” the company said in an email statement to Entrepreneur. That is, despite the fact that it took place right outside CES on the first day of CES, and that the company did it to draw attention to its CES booth inside.
The backdrop and costumes were meant to evoke Area 51, given the product name is UFO. To start, four people stood still, pretending to be paralyzed to represent the lengthy process of applying most face masks in contrast to Foreo’s 20-second app-connected face mask product.
Visitors had to wear a blindfold to enter, not knowing what would happen next, and to add chaos and alarm to the hostage situation of sorts, there were even some chainsaw noises, according to CNET.
Foreo’s UFO has raised more than $890,000 on Kickstarter despite its $20,000 goal and is slated to ship in April.
Watch a video of Tuesday’s stunt posted to Twitter by CNET Executive Editor Roger Cheng below.
A Google vending machine.
Who needs gambling in Vegas when you can score free swag from Google? This installation allowed CES attendees to ask Google Assistant a question, which the machine would answer and then release a prize such as hat or a Nest thermostat. Unfortunately for Google, the machine was out of service on Tuesday due to the rain. It’s Google’s first year at CES this year and the stakes are high to make a splash bigger than its voice assistant rival Amazon (Alexa).
Augmented reality digital clones.
French startup Exsens hopes to one day roll out its egg-shaped scanner booth to make photorealistic avatars, called Eggos, of anyone. Having a digital version of yourself could be surprisingly useful, according to the company, from trying on clothes, hair colors or plastic surgery options virtually to overlaying yourself in the real world via augmented reality. At CES, Exsens Business Development Director Laurent Thomas showed off his Eggo at the company’s booth in Eureka Park.