Most people equate CES with fancy large TVs with crazy high resolution. But if you go beyond that, to the back of the main exhibition halls or over to the Sands Expo Center, you can find off-beat products and prototypes, and ideas that aren’t always reality—yet.
VR was everywhere this year, and there were plenty of robots to entertain us. Wearables are evolving—instead of trying to do all things, they’re branching out to take on specific tasks; and they’re finally beginning to show up in places beside the wrist. As expected, voice control also dominated the show.
Here are a few of the more unusual products I found.
The Mira Prism VR unit ($149) has clear goggles and uses your smartphone as the processor so you’re no longer socially isolated when you experience VR. That made it different from the countless other VR units on display at CES—and for a girl who gets a bit motion-sick, a more likable experience.
Spire was one of my favorite finds this year. It makes wearables, well, wearable. The units are small devices that fit onto your clothing, like your bra. They’re sold in packs of one, three, or eight, and last up to a year and a half with no battery to change or charge—ever. The unit syncs to your phone when in range, but can retain information up to 24 hours if you’re not within range. The best part is you leave it on your clothing, even in the washer. I would love to test this item when it begins shipping in March.
Another wearable was Geo Sentinel’s Alzheimer watch. This device can collect and transmit data in real time, from heartbeat to blood pressure, and helps make sure your loved one doesn’t wander away.
The $100 Styx bracelet calls for help if you’re ever in trouble. I’m sure any parent would feel better if their daughters had this on their wrists when leaving for college.
Vivant launched an app called Steety that lets you share information with your neighbors about what’s happening around you. Did that mailbox get knocked over? You may not know what happened, but maybe Jim next door does and he can share it via the app.
ShadeCraft’s Sunflower is a remote-control outdoor umbrella complete with sensors that automatically open and close it. It also turns itself to keep you in the shade as the sun moves, and a neat bonus is that the shading fabric is made from 3D printing.
Hease is a robot kiosk that interacts with a client when they come into a building—not replacing the secretary, but providing information while simulating emotional reactions.
There was even a company named VocalID that collects, transforms, and regenerates voices. Anyone ever seen the Black Mirror episode where a loved one passes and a company takes their voice data to allow the person to still communicate with you?
Want to keep those New Year’s resolutions? Dreaminzzz’ Hypnos eye mask ($99) uses light and vibration to help you sleep and teach you to breathe, and promises it can help you break your addictions.
Help was available in all shapes and sizes at CES. From the robots to Bite Helper, which promises to ease pain and itchiness from insect bites using thermo-plus technology.
An honorable mention must go out to Xoopar for cutest mini speakers, which are shaped as little aliens in multiple colors. I can’t promise great sound because the area was packed, but man were they endearing.
Why put pictures of your children just on your phone? Now you can print them on your finger nails using a mobile printer by O’2Nails.
Another device that caught my eye was Grobo, a pod that allows you to grow great cannabis automatically. Because, why not?
But of all the fun, brilliant, surprising ways to use technology, my favorite at the show was Opcom’s Cube, a hydroponic herb and vegetable wall that lives inside your home. For $700, you can own your own wall and eat healthy all year long. Opcom also has a smaller unit for vine growing called the Grow Tent ($500).
Heather Sidorowicz is a frenzied mother of two who happens to also own an audio/video
technology company (Southtown Audio Video) in Buffalo, NY. When not designing or
selling or project managing or pretending to do financials, you can find her attempting to
stand on her hands at the yoga studio or writing in the third person.