Gadgets at CES: Nine things the world (doesn’t) need
Jan 8, 2020 at 9:13 am
Hundreds of new inventions are presented at the CES tech show every year. But are talking yoga mats and brain controls any good? A tour.
By Claus Hulverscheidt and Jürgen Schmieder, Las Vegas
When technology inventors venture into new spheres, the line between genius and madness is sometimes thin. This can be seen every year at the CES tech fair in Las Vegas, where more than 4,500 manufacturers from all over the world present their latest inventions – from flying taxis and foldable micro bicycles to peaked caps with built-in air conditioning and helmets with laser lights to bring back the hair of the involuntarily bald man. So what is good, and which inventor should rather wait for the next flash of inspiration? With which devices does the curious viewer actually think “oh yes”, with which ones “oh dear”? A tour.
2 / 10
The intelligent package
Since the US online retailer Amazon began its triumphal march, the world has been suffocating in cardboard and plastic waste. But that’s not the only problem with the ordereritis: Many packages arrive damaged, others don’t arrive at all. The French company Living Packets wants to change all that. Your smart, fully recyclable shipping box is equipped with an internal camera, scales, electronic address pad, tracking software, and sensors that measure temperature, humidity, and shock. The path of the package can be tracked seamlessly, and because the battery lasts for at least 1000 deliveries, using it is no more expensive than sending a box. First impression? Oh yeah!
The talking yoga mat
As is well known, yoga is a teaching that uses a combination of physical exercises and meditation to strengthen the body and carry the spirit to new heights of consciousness. Anyone who doesn’t like public studios or trips to the Far East can now fall back on Yogifi, the talking yoga mat from, yes really, Indian provider Wellnesys. It plays spherical music, gives instructions, checks posture with the help of sensors and intervenes with a stern “incorrect!” if the exercise is not performed correctly. The whole thing isn’t all that meditative, however, the clumsily cobbled together instructions are more reminiscent of the automatic announcements at German train stations. If it’s not enough to have a carpet text you, the mat can also be connected to Alexa, the artificial house and yard assistant from the online retailer Amazon that also speaks. First impression: oh dear!
The beautiful sparkle
Source: Screenshot manufacturer video
This is what the selfie generation has been waiting for: an app for creating a fake self that uses artificial intelligence to make your own body look like you’ve lost 20 to 30 percent of your weight and put on a lot of muscle. The US manufacturer Envision Body sees its app as a virtual incentive (or kick in the butt) to live a little healthier. However, you can also spread the artificially created self-image as a photo or video and pretend to yourself and others that you are someone you are not – who wants to go back to reality? Apparent self instead of gym: The cartoon Wall-E, in which people have degenerated into lethargic good-for-nothings, was apparently not satire after all, but a glimpse into the future. oh dear
The carefree bracelet
Anyone who wants to watch their diet or has to due to allergies or illnesses will have it easier in the future: the British tech company DNA Nudge uses genetic testing (the company does not save any data) to determine intolerances, and the customer can then use a bracelet (or smartphone) to make a purchase ) scan the barcode of a product. If the bracelet lights up green, everything is fine, red means: better leave it alone. This saves the often tedious task of reading the list of ingredients or decoding food information. Anyone who voluntarily avoids sugar, salt or dairy products, for example, or only wants to buy sweets after they have consumed a certain number of calories, can add this information via an app. First impression: Oh yes!
6 / 10
The thinking helmet
Motorcyclists should keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes straight ahead, instead of fumbling with the map on the tank or looking at their smartphone while driving. Modern helmets like the X-AR from Jarvish help with this. It has a front and a rear camera, but above all it has a transparent display that, from the driver’s point of view, merges with the visor to a certain extent. Among other things, it shows the speed, the planned route and dangerous spots, draws attention to potentially slippery roads and registers incoming calls. Everything is controlled via voice commands. “We’re hotshots, but we’re not naive,” says the voice in the ad. First impression – despite the flat saying: Oh yes!
The rumination stopper
Insomnia is a scourge – especially when it’s caused by a constant flow of worries and thoughts that won’t stop. That’s where the gel-filled elastic headband from US manufacturer Ebb Therapeutics comes into play, promising to cool the over-excited areas of the brain and end rumination. Whether this works cannot be said at first glance. It might help some. For others, however, the nightly stream of thoughts could also look like this in the future: Why is my account overdrawn? Where are my teenage kids? And why am I wearing a wide, tight headband with a giant hose attached? Trend: Oje!
water from the air
It sounds like a return to a bygone era, when people ran to the river or well and fetched drinking water – before deciding to put it in (plastic) bottles, transport it hundreds of kilometers and sell it in supermarkets . Thanks to the US provider Zero Mass Water, it should in future be possible to produce water by installing solar panels, each of which extracts around 150 to 300 liters of water a month from water particles in the air. The one-off installation costs (about 4000 euros for four panels plus about 450 euros for each additional panel) sound high at first, but there are no further costs after that. Thanks to modern technology, the systems can even be used in cities with high levels of air pollution. First impression: Oh yes!
It sounds like the trick of a Jedi knight from a Star Wars film: the brain is measured using a headband – and then put to the test. In the experiment by the French company Nextmind, there is a character on the screen that the user can control and hop with an ordinary controller. What he can’t do: Clear obstacles out of the way – he should do that by concentrating on this object. The unbelievable happens: The obstacle is actually blown up by the power of thought. The company wants to make the technology available to other companies, which should then create video games and other products in which humans control objects with their minds. First impression: Phew, oh yes!
Bass on the chest
No musician has ever asked people to hear the groove. You can only feel it, and that’s why in a world full of headphones there is now the portable Bass Me subwoofer, which connects to the headset, home cinema system or games console and is placed over the shoulder – and one via the vibration module on the sternum like that really shaken up. Bass, bass, we need bass! Oh yeah!