CES: Looking Back on Curious Tech
From wearables to mobile accessories, a look at some of the oddest tech from the past six years at CES.
Every year at CES in Las Vegas, thousands of high-tech gadgets are on display. Some will be the darlings of the tech trade show, some will win awards, a select few may become “must-have” category killers but most will never be heard from again. Here’s a look back at some consumer electronics that made a mark over the past six years and not always in a positive way.
CES 2015: Racing into Silence
While the tech goodies are still being unveiled at CES 2015, a couple of items grabbed some “outlandish” attention.
Some CES attendees entered the “shell of silence,” namely Silentium’s Comfort-Shell. “It basically looks like a giant, white version of those spiky shells that Lakitu throws in the original Mario,” wrote Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge. Despite its odd looks, any way to deaden the noise that is characteristic of CES is a blessing.
While CES had smartphones-a-plenty, the Tonino Lamborghini 88 Tauri phone definitely “raced” to the top…in price. Revving in at $6000 and in scarce supply, this racecar-inspired smartphone design turned a few heads and left others scratching theirs.
“With a stitched leather finish that’s the real deal and gold-plated stainless steel surrounding this phone, you’re bound to stand out in the crowd if you’re crazy enough to even want to pay $6,000 for pure stupidity,” said The Verge’s Tom Warren.
While a Lamborghini, the vehicle, has elegant design on the outside and is powered by a beast on the inside, this phone only has the nice exterior.
What could go wrong with health-related technology? Hopefully nothing, but some design and product features found in some of the CES 2014 health tech were questionable at best.
A bit creepy looking – mother is always watching – the Sen.se Mother has “Cookies” to hand out as it watches and monitors its family. This Russian Doll-looking devices captures temperature and motion data from attachable sensors called Cookies.
“Even Joan Crawford wasn’t this creepy.” – Michael A. Prospero (Laptop Magazine)
“This is a helmet with lasers inside? It makes your hair grow? There aren’t enough sarcastic question marks in the world to express our skepticism on this one,” wrote Rachel Feltman (Quartz).
To round out the “healthy” tech, there is the Foreo Issa toothbrush. The “unique” design of this toothbrush raised many eyebrows. As Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar put it “It vibrates like your Sonicare, and comes in woozy pastel colors. Let’s not kid ourselves: this is a sex toy disguised as a dental revolution.”
CES 2013: Stick a Fork in High-Tech Health
CES is a proven launch pad for health and fitness gadgets, but sometimes those gizmos go a step beyond useful such as the HAPIfork, which vibrated if you ate too fast, and did rake in some official awards in 2013.
“This was the most popular entry in the 2012 Was A Stupid Year category,” said John Mitchell, in ReadWrite.
“Little matter that it looks like a toy, needs connecting with a USB cable and wouldn’t be acceptable in any decent restaurant…” said Matt Warman in The Telegraph.
There were also a few products at CES 2013 that were in the crapper — literally — such as the iPotty, which coupled a training potty for kids with a tablet holder.
“The iPotty is a children’s potty with a built-in iPad activity stand…Make sure you teach your toddler what the real purpose of an iPad is at an early age,” said TechHive.
CES 2012: Smart Watch in the Bag?
It wasn’t a wearable and certainly not a smart watch, but it made multiple worst of CES lists back in 2012. The “Watch your Bag” was a watch and a bag and a color light show as well.
“Some products are hard to sum up in a sentence. And then there’s ‘Watch Your Bag,’ the alarm clock that comes with a bag, filled with a rainbow of morphing colors.’ What it can’t tell you, however, is why anyone might find such a proposition appealing,” said Brian Heater in Engadget.
The march of accessories also continued in 2012 with one of the biggest and loudest of all: the iNuke Boom speaker for the iPhone. The behemoth boasted 10,000 watts, weighed 700 pounds, cost a mere $30,000 and dwarfed the iPhone docked atop it.
“Is the iNuke Boom ridiculous? Absolutely. But it’s also fun and completely cognizant of its audacity, which is something we commend even if we don’t feel comfortable dropping fat stacks of cash on a monstrous beast,” said Buster Heine in Cult of Mac.
CES 2011: Bling for Your Smartphone (or Tablet)
The smartphones and tablets were getting slicker and more powerful, but the cases were the eye candy. From glitzy faux gems to glitter and other snazzy options, there was no shortage of bling.
“Seriously, folks, how many cases do you actually need? From shiny be-dazzled iPhone cases to every bizarre iPad stand/case/kiosk thing, the one thing that CES had in plenty was cases. Look, we appreciate a well-designed case as much as anyone, but do we really need four dozen of each type? Don’t answer that — it was a rhetorical question. Color us sick of iPhone and iPad cases, with only a few notable exceptions,” said Rob LeFebvre in 148Apps.
“The custom-made crystal case (in the Lux Mobile booth)… costs a whopping $3,000 — just about six times the value of the iPad it’s actually supposed to hold,” said Mike Schramm in TUAW.
CES 2010: More Wearables in Search of a Use Case
In 2010, CES offered up such forward-looking innovations as Android-based “smart” microwaves and “unbreakable” phones. And the march of wearables continued with products such as the Phubby, an elastic, smartphone-carrying wristband.
“Now this one takes the cake… an ugly wristband with a pocket that you can slide your iPhone into. It’s basically a fanny pack for a new generation,” said Paul Cash on Yahoo.
“We have to ask: what’s so wrong about carrying your phone in your pocket?” said the Huffington Post.
CES 2009: Wearable Tech Tries Too Hard
By all account, the Consumer Electronic Showcase will continue to be jam packed with wearable technology, but it’s hardly the first wearable sighting at CES. Back in 2009, the Cell Mate promised to provide a wearable, and truly “hands-free” option for holding your smartphone — no Bluetooth connection required. Coverage at the time was less than positive.
“It’s possibly the single most embarrassing-looking contraption we’ve seen in years,” said Evan Shamoon in the Huffington Post.
Not to be outdone, the iCap offered a new way to listen to music, hands-free. With a 1GB MP3 player and built-in speakers, you (and those around you) could hear it all . . . hands-free.
“Hear that kids? If you use any product other than the ridiculous looking iCap, you’re practically playing Russian Roulette with Dr. Death,” said Darren Murph in Engadget.
While many of the products from the past 5 years may have garnered “worst of show” notoriety from tech critics, some offer a glimpse at the technology trends that emerge from CES.
Images: Cell-Mate, Gesten Technologies, South Mill Design, TUAW, Can You Imagine, Behringer, Hapi.com, CTA Digital, Android Police, recombu, Sen.se, iGrow Laser, Foreo.
Source: Intel Free Press