LAS VEGAS: CES ISN'T JUST about the glamorous product launches. Sure, we've seen big announcements from the likes of industry giants Samsung, Sony, and LG, and as you'd expect, there were some exciting announcements made at the show this year, including Intel's new chip with AMD graphics (yes, really), a TV by Samsung that's so big it's called The Wall, and some fresh 8th-gen Core powered laptops by Lenovo, Dell and HP.
But like every January, CES also provides a stage for companies big and small from around the globe to showcase their latest products before they hit the mainstream, and a lot of the time, these can be very niche, a bit strange and never make it to market. We've rounded up some of the best, and worst, below.
HipAir: An airbag for the, er, hips
What was your favourite thing at CES?" someone asks. "Oh, it was the HipAir, an actual airbag for your hips!"... said no-one ever. This weird gadget might not be at the top of your list of must-haves for the coming year, but it does have significance, especially if you're elderly. The belt can sense a sudden fall and will automatically inflate protective airbags in less than a third of a second, protecting the wearer's hips from fracture. Ideal for those of us who aren't too good on our feet. Perhaps not one for a fashionista's lookbook.
AirSelfie 2: A pocket drone for narcissists
Some people to go some extreme lengths to get the perfect selfie, so we can't blame these guys for trying. But what in the actual f*** is this? If you must know, the Airselfie is a pocket drone that's no bigger than an iPhone and features a 12MP camera for full HD photo and video, designed for taking the best-angled selfies. This latest version was spotted at CES Unveiled this year and while we'd like to think there wasn't a big enough audience to make this a thing, we can imagine that won't be the case is the Snapchat generation has anything to do with it. FML.
Buddy robot: Another smart assistant, this time with an annoying face
This tiny robot by Blue Frog Robotics is not only annoying to look at, but it's irritating to watch, too. Zooming about like it owns the place and pretending to be cute, this freakish little gadget is touted as a connected home side-kick, boasting features such as voice-control, video calls and assistant tools. According to Blue Frog, Buddy is able to look after your grandparents, teach the kids and even catch a burglar. But can it really? Or is it yet another robo gimmick? We'd go with the latter, but you'll have to wait until later this year to find out, and for a pretty penny, too. The Buddy bot is priced at around $1,500 (about £1,300), so if your Buddy doesn't pan out, expect it to quickly become your worst enemy.
BodyFriend Rex-L: Lazy chairs for lazy people
Something we find exceptionally weird is the idea of buying a six- foot chair for your living room, with the intention of letting it massage you from time to time. Well, that's the idea behind Bodyfriend's latest Rex-L Plus massage chair, which was on show at CES this week. With its smart functionalities, unique massage technology, and futuristic state-of-the-art design, the newest addition to the Bodyfriend family is said to "raise the bar of expectations in the massage chair industry", and make you look like a complete weirdo in the process. And how would we know? Have a look at the photo above and tell us there's nothing creepy-looking about it. Shudder.
Harman's MoodRoof: A potentially dangerous but totally relaxing distraction from driving
Harman unveiled a concept technology called MoodRoof, which is essentially a QLED display that covers the roof of your car and acts as a centrepiece of a larger audio suite the Samsung-owedn company is calling Moodscape. Not only will it be able to display relaxing videos such as palm trees swaying in the wind to help calm you after a stressful day, for instance. But it can also produce imaginary in sync with whatever music you've got playing on the car radio. It's very trippy, slightly odd and potentially dangerous if you're stupid enough to try looking right at it while driving. But we love it. Check out our hands-on video below.
LG roll-up TV: A movie poster that can play movies
LG took to CES to show off lots of new smart home appliances and TVs, but nothing it had on show lived up to its concept TV with a difference. That is, its roll-up TV, a device is so unique that can be rolled up like a newspaper when it's not being used, disappearing into the abyss of a box at the base of the set. Weird by today's standards, but wonderful - and kind of pointless - at the same time.
Klipsch MasterCraft audio: An actual boat
Audio firm Klipsch took a MasterCraft Boat to its booth at CES this year to show off its new sports boat audio tech, which we found to be a little bizarre when we saw it washed up on the show floor.
The Klipsch audio gives the MasterCraft boats "concert-level" marine-grade sound systems, including waterproof speakers and amplification solutions, which will hit the market later this year.
ForwardX CX-1 smart suitcase: Goodluck with that
AI and self-driving vehicles are all the rage now. You can't even take a dump without hearing about it these days. So, naturally, a startup took to CES to show off its hands-free, self-driving... (you guessed it) ..suitcase! No? Didn't think so. Nevertheless, this smart carry-on promises to follow you around the airport at max speeds of 7mph. Let's hope you don't like to leave things last minute, because if you're running for your flight, you can forget about having a change of clothes for your hols. Made more for the lazy traveller, the ForwardX CX1 smart suitcase includes a 170-degree wide angle lens and built-in facial recognition software, which allow the device to follow you while avoiding any obstacles thanks to a tracking algorithm. It also comes with a smart wristband that notifies you if the suitcase happens to wander out of range, which we can imagine will happen more than once if you travel with EasyJet.
Philips SmartSleep: A head-wearable bound to make you single, if you aren't already
If you sleep alone, or you're over caring what your partner thinks of your appearance, then Philips has a wearable that tracks your sleep through a strange-looking head strap thing. Unlike other sleep trackers on the market that merely monitor your sleep pattern, Philips' new SmartSleep wearable is said to actually improve your sleep. This is thanks to two small sensors that detect periods of slow wave sleep and intervene with customised audio tones that enhance the depth and duration of slow wave sleep. Then an app will tell you any additional data about your sleep that you might find useful, as well as tips for improvement. A good idea, if you don't mind looking like an absolute tool every night.
L'Oreal UV Sense: A wearable bound to get you asked: "WTF is that?"
After sacking a transgender model for a racial dispute over Twitter late last year, L'Oreal thought it would turn its focus to fingernail wearables and use CES as a springboard for its battery-free sensor that measures UV exposure levels. Coming in at only 2mm thick and 9mm in diameter, this tiny electronic sensor doesn't need to pair over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to your phone. Instead, it's NFC-enabled so you can scan it with your phone to retrieve the UV data it's collected, giving you warnings about sun exposure via an app. Shame it looks a bit like a bogie.
Kohler Intelligent bathroom: A connected shit, shower and shave
With the bathroom probably being the only place left in the house that hasn't been swamped with smart gadgets and connected tech over the last few years, it was only a matter of time before Kohler did something about it, with its Konnect tech. Featuring voice-enabled technology and lots of other IoT-related features, your shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror and taps can now all be connected, both to you and each other. The company's Touchless Response technology provides hands-free flushing of the shitter, while the DTV+ showering system allows you to create presets for sound, water, steam and lighting for a shower that you've customised via an app. So there you have it; thanks to Kohler, you can no longer take a dump in peace without some kind of tech involved.
Oh, and not forgetting this little gem: Ellen's slots
No words. µ
Firm's first high-end speaker gets the thumbs up from us
Yes. Yes you can
A fantastic ultraportable that's almost devoid of innovation
Screen if you want to go faster