Weird and wonderful tech at CES 2018


There are some truly strange and special inventions at the Consumer Electronics Show.


Forget smart homes, ignore autonomous cars. Throw away the latest 8K TVs, smartphones and ear-melting speaker systems, the best part of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the weird and wonderful stuff. 

Wandering around the show floor, you find new items that make you scratch your head and think "huh, that's actually really clever," and others that can really make a significant difference in people's lives. And then there's the stuff that's just plain weird…

So, we threw together a list of nine items we encountered during our visit to CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Prepare to be intrigued, inspired and, slightly confused.

FoldiMate

This big box sucks your clothes, towels and pillow cases in like spaghetti and uses all kinds of complicated bits and bobs to fold them into a neat pile. The slot has an adjustable tray so you can slide in your kids' clothes as well as your own. 

Though the model on display was a prototype mock up, the final version will likely be the same size and weight as a washer-dryer combo. 

All we need now is a machine to dress us, and we'll be set (sometimes it's hard to put on pants).

FoldiMate prototype mock up.

Bartesian 

We've got automatic espresso machines, why not instant cocktails? Bartesian uses a similar principle, all you do is pop in the ingredients and next minute, a drink will be waiting in the tray. 

It draws alcohol from four vessels around the base, used to hold tequila, vodka, whiskey and gin or rum (the final vessel can be used for either), and special pods filled with non-alcoholic ingredients. 

The designer really knows his audience, because while it'll only have seven recipes at launch, he made sure to include the margarita. Bottoms up!  

Who needs a bartender?


We compare Amazon Echo and Google Home in our smart speaker reviews.

My Special Aflac Duck

Sometimes you stumble across technology that can really make a difference in people's lives, and My Special Aflac Duck falls firmly into that category. This mechanical mallard is a companion for children living with cancer, with features that can teach them about their condition, as well as coping mechanisms that can provide some much needed escapism. 

An RFID-enabled point on his chest lets children interact with a bunch of cards to express how they feel (happy, sad, nervous etc.) and Aflac will respond to their emotions. It also includes a chemotherapy attachment, so Aflac can share the experience with his friends when they're going through treatment. He quacks, waddles, nuzzles into your chest and even feels as though he's breathing when you hold him tight. 

The company behind the duck, Aflac Insurance, will be donating cuddly quackers to kids across America for the foreseeable future.

And the award for most adorable innovation goes to...

Matrix Smartwatch

Forget batteries, Matrix gets its charge from your body heat. Put it on your wrist and the watch will apparently keep charging itself until you turn into a human popsicle. 

It's actually a pretty good option for fitness folks, as Matrix will theoretically charge faster on hot days when you're feeling particularly steamy, though it does use a temperature differentiator to make sure it's charging off your arm and not the air around it. 

We recommend a try-before-you-buy deal however. Why? If the watch fails to charge, your body heat is too low which means you're probably dead. Unfortunately, Matrix don't make a zombie alternative.


Hot watch!


Somnox

This cuddly looking kidney is designed to replicate the sensation of sleeping next to another person, for those that have trouble getting some good, solid shuteye. 

It's a bit strange at first, but the mechanics used to replicate breathing can lull you into a meditative state when it's pressed across your chest. It automatically syncs to your breathing rate, but there's also an app that lets you increase or decrease the speeds. And, it plays lullabies! They just need to make it look a little less, clinical…

Sleep easy.

Reliefband 2.0

Feeling sick? Going to visit vom city? Reliefband 2.0 claims to be able to stop nausea, motion sickness and so on using nothing but your wrist and a weird tingling sensation. 

It apparently taps into the median nerve underneath your wrist and produces a gentle pulse that travels through the nervous system to the part of your brain that deals with puke. This counters the feeling of nausea, leaving those 16 beers safe in the pit of your stomach. It's also quite popular amongst gamers who enjoy VR.

No more visits to vom-ville.

Buddy

Blindly throw a dart at CES and you'll hit a robot – they're everywhere, and they all claim to be the perfect assistant that can provide entertainment, protect your home, keep an eye on loved ones and interact with smart devices around the house. 

But Buddy's face, which occasionally falls into forlorn, is the perfect combination of cute and creepy. Kind of emotionally interactive, but also robotic and slightly concerning when you look into those digital eyes and remember how much control it has over your life. 

Buddy seems, happy?

Sniffy

We're bombarded with advertising all day long, but companies have only tapped sight and sound so far which just isn't enough apparently. That's why Sniffy wants to introduce smell to the list of senses held under the iron fist of advertising. 

The box is filled with all kinds of perfumes that can imitate the smell of a product displayed on screen. Pick up a bag of pasta for example, and you can smell bolognaise coming out of the box. Fair warning, Sniffy could be a little soul-destroying when its beautiful blend of meat, tomato and spices is a far cry from your cold, wet pile of burnt slop.

Take a whiff.

Smart spatulas (and other utensils)

Here's a summary of our interaction with the representative slinging smart spatulas at CES.

"Why would I need a smart spatula?"

"Well… that's the question!"

A question that was left unanswered, meaning we've finally crossed the line and started making stuff smart for the sake of it. But to be fair, they also had a number of smart kitchen products that made sense such as a food spoilage monitor, and Tupperware that keeps an eye on temperature. But smart spatulas? Maybe it's time to put the tech down and go outside for a bit.

More from the 2018 CES


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