It’s easy to miss something at CES.
170,000 people descended on Las Vegas this year to see some 3,800 exhibitors scattered around almost 2.5 million square feet of event space, displaying thousands and thousands of gadgets and toys. After going up and down escalators in event spaces all over the Las Vegas strip, you see a lot of stuff – a lot of which is literally just “stuff.”
Sometimes you get an early glimpse at a game-changing device that upends the way we live our lives or conduct business. Sometimes you get to see a mad scientist’s prototype for a product that, while intriguing, will never reach a broader audience. Sometimes you see a hologram of Slimer for no reason.
Here are eight of the weirder things we saw at CES.
Samsung Family Hub Fridge
At long last, Samsung has attached a 21.5″ display onto a refrigerator, liberating us from the tyranny of appliances that only keep food cold. In addition to the thrill of browser, messaging, and connected home functionality, the fridge also has sensors to detect spoiled food and automatically replenish low supplies. It has cameras that make it possible to peruse the contents without opening the door, perhaps from your office.
If your fridge is full of to-go containers and maybe a bottle of mustard, you can probably sit this one out. Watch YouTube on your laptop like a Neanderthal.
Video games for your dog
CleverPet thinks you might be interested in a “game console” that uses Wi-Fi and LEDs to feed your dog. Imagine playing “Simon Says,” but with an animal that would really rather just eat and go back to sleep. Sounds fun, right? Would it help you to know that preorders are only $269?
“The hard part for now is convincing people that a game console for dogs is not a ridiculous concept,” CleverPet founder Dan Knudsen said.
That is true: Building a game console for dogs is easier than selling a game console for dogs.
Located on the expo floor right next to the glider-shaped Parrot Disco drone was the Parrot Pot, the French company’s second-coolest CES offering.
Two years ago, Parrot unveiled Flower Power, a Bluetooth soil monitor. This year, they’re back with a $99 pot that measures soil moisture, ambient temperature, and light level every 15 minutes. It features a 2.2-liter water tank that irrigates plants automatically, pulling hydration info from a database of 8,000 plants.
It doesn’t zoom in the air at 50 mph and does not come equipped with a 1080p camera. But if you lack a green thumb, it could help you keep plants alive with near-zero effort.
It would have been known as a “flying car” in any other year, but CES is a place for saturating any and all trends.
So, instead, the Internet dubbed the EHang 184 a “passenger drone,” despite that being a bit of an oxymoron. EHang calls it “the world’s first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV).”
Whatever you want to call it, this is a helicopter with eight blades aimed right at your knees. It flies for 23 minutes on a single charge, could cost as much as $300,000, and is currently illegal to fly in the U.S.
The Terrafugia TF-X is still cooler and equally unlikely to make it to market.
Crazybaby’s floating speakers
Crazybaby’s Mars speaker kind of looks like an Unidentified Flying Mac Pro. The main speaker hovers above the subwoofer using magnet technology. Crazybaby’s site makes some claims about zero-loss audio, meaning that nothing is lost against the walls of an amplifier cone or the mesh grill of a portable speaker. It costs $300; hopefully it comes preloaded with the X-Files theme.
Intel’s Segway Robot
Intel’s partnership with Segway and Ninebot yielded a friendly-looking robot that you can ride around the house or up the street. When it’s done giving you a lift, it will bop through your house, probably unable to accomplish much else.
Intel says the bot can pick things up and answer the door, but that’s not particularly amazing. Until it can make a grilled cheese, I’ll stick with a regular Segway that doesn’t wander around like a bored teenager. A Segway looks plenty goofy; it doesn’t need a pair of eyes.
LG’s $2,000 steam room for your clothes
The LG Styler “refreshes” your clothes with a little old-fashioned steam and heat. It does not use chemical detergents, opting for steam to deodorize fabrics. The hangers bounce around gently to shake out wrinkles. A heat pump removes the moisture from the steamy air and recycles the warm air.
It costs $2,000.
It is not rollable, but the “Smart Diagnosis” tech will ping the user’s smartphone when the appliance needs water or other routine maintenance. With NFC, the user can download new steam and heat cycles to their smartphone and transfer to the Styler with a simple tap. The possibilities are truly limitless.
It costs $2,000.
It has a capacity of about 4-5 items and features a door panel that lets you iron a perfect crease into your pants.
It costs, I still cannot believe this, $2,000 United States dollars.
Somabar makes a chore out of premixed cocktails
The Somabar is a machine with tanks that you fill with booze and mixers for automatic, on-demand cocktails.
It also perfectly typifies CES: It has a white plastic shape, smooth curves, and elements of glass and metal. It grabs you with its niftiness but, in truth, is a totally senseless use of money and space.
Next year, CES should consider an expo show way up high on a scenic floor of the Stratosphere. Then they could at least call it SkyMall.