Drawing in 150,000 attendees from around the world, CES has become the proving ground for pioneering technologies. And the puffed-up products flooding our newsfeeds sure seem exciting: Think BUDD-e, a high-tech spin on the micro-bus, and cyborg-ish alternatives to Google Glass like Varia Vision. Nevertheless, some buzzed-about devices leave us feeling a bit jaded, wondering “Why does this exist?” The following oddities range from impractical to just plain unnecessary.
Belty: This is a talking belt. It’s a talking belt that vibrates to tell you when to drink more water and stand up straighter, like your mother buckled around your waist… that’s wrong. You can even talk back at it by tapping on the buckle. It’ll also tell you to walk faster and offer you different breathing techniques, or let you know when it thinks you should take a power nap. That’s right, gentlemen, we are in an age when our belts have to tell us we need naps. Sigh.
Boomstick: This gadget is supposed to be a “cinematic experience” and transform the audio in your movies, music or games via “panoramic spatial enhancement” and enriching detail. The tester button online, however, just sounds like the audio gets a bit louder. In other words, for $99, you can turn your headphone volume up.
Smart Wheel: This steering wheel cover senses whether your hands are in a safe position. It alerts you if you have one hand off the wheel for too long, you have both hands off the wheel at any time or if your hands are too close together, suggesting you are holding a phone while driving. It also tattles to teens’ parents if an alert is triggered via its associated app. We’re all for safer driving, but we’re not so sure how having even more buzzing alerts in the car will save your life.
Fridge Cam: This device created by a UK-based company called Smarter uses a suction-mount to sit inside of your fridge. Then, with the Smarter app, you can take snapshots of what’s inside of it so you know what to stock up on. Or… you could just take a look at your fridge before you hit the grocery store.
iGrow: This helmet powers low-level light therapy for hair regrowth. Although we know one person who’s been using it and believes it’s working, we’re not so sure too many people will pay $700 to be Doc Brown’s doppelgänger straight out of that early scene in Back to the Future.
Glyph: This gadget is pretty cool in theory, but not so much in reality. Glyphy offers rich audio and immersive video using advanced optics and microscopic mirrors to project images directly to your eyes, instead of using a screen. So you can use Glyph to just listen to audio, which looks like you’re wearing ordinary headphones—or you can use Glyph to listen and watch, which makes you look like you’re wearing your headphones over your face. And makes people say, “Go home, you’re drunk.”
Hydrao Smart Shower Head: We have no problem saving water. And this showerhead is actually kind of interesting—it doesn’t need batteries, it’s hydro-powered, and it uses colored lights that change to alert you to how much water you’re using and an associated app to set goals. The colors are definitely a unique indicator, but we just can’t imagine anyone taking the time to measure their showers using a smartphone… that they can’t take into the shower.
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