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I picked the best products of CES 2023, and now it’s time to figure out the goofy and weird products.
The line between best/cool/innovative and goofy/weird/stupid can be a fine one. After all, we truly don’t need that much more gadgetry than a computer, a smartphone, the internet and basic household appliances. But tech companies have convinced us that spending on cool tech is a great use of disposable income. They’re also in the process of telling us the metaverse is the next big thing.
Beyond setting the big trends, CES also shows us the big flops. There was a “gallery of flops” historical exhibit in the Eureka Park part of the show, but it kind of flopped because they didn’t have access to keys for the lockers where they kept their exhibit items. It was a gallery of nothing when I walked by.
Many people made fun of the Withings urinalysis scanner for your toilet, but I found that far more practical as a useful preventative measure –a good way to catch signs of diseases — and not just a vanity thing about the “quantified self.” That’s why I’m not inclined to make fun of innovations in health.
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But some of these products made me laugh out loud, as useful as they might seem to some enthusiasts. Just remember that everybody has a different line when it comes to division between the cool and the weird. Sometimes a product gets weird when you attach a price to it, like the $250 dog feeder I wrote about years ago that sought to replace a $5 dog dish. Or the $5,000 Kohler shower system that I saw this year. As part of a home remodel or a luxury home purchase, the $5,000 shower system isn’t all that crazy.
Other everyday products made you wonder if they were really necessary just because you connected them to the internet, giving rise to a new internet-of-things gadget. Now we’re seeing AI/machine learning getting infused into everyday products, and the wave of nothing is starting again.
Without further ado, here’s the weird products of CES 2023. Like them or not, they’re all fun.
The Ella smart baby stroller from Glüxkind Technologies
I looked at other publications and found from Canada made a lot of weird CES lists. It showed off the Ella AI-powered baby stroller with a motor. More properly, it uses some algorithms to assist parents with their strollers. It has a self-driving capability, but not while the baby is actually in the stroller. That only kicks in if you have to hold the baby in your arms and push the stroller at the same time. It also uses sound to coo your baby to sleep with white noise and a rocking motion. When you’re going uphill, the motor kicks in to assist you.
This is an example of taking an everyday thing and making its smarter. It’s putting intelligence at the edge of the network, and it doesn’t really need to send your data back to the cloud. I suppose I shouldn’t call this weird because it could be very useful for its target parents, and it was conceived by new parents. But it’s certainly something I didn’t expect see at the show. Another surprise? The $3,300 price tag.
BMW’s Dee changes colors and emotions
Last year, I thought BMW’s color-changing car was impressive. And that was only when it used E Ink to change its surface color from black to white and back. Now it’s back with a vision for a new concept car dubbed BMW i Vision Dee. Now the car demo showed 32 different colors.
It also had an augmented reality system via the windshield as well as an AI assistant named Dee. While the company is going for that Knight Rider Kitt fantasy car, it is veering into the weird with the “Digital Emotional Experience” of creating a car that is your friend that laughs and jokes.
Hollywood icon Arnold Schwarzenegger helped bring the car to life in a YouTube promo video. I believe we’re getting a bit more into the neighborhood of the film Her, and that definitely feels weird. But maybe there will come a day when a car that changes colors will be normal. BMW says Dee is coming in 2025.
LG MoodUp brings the party to the kitchen
LG Electronics showed off its MoodUP technology for changing the LED door panels of its refrigerators. It lets consumers create a customized lighting scheme for the refrigerator with a wide range of vibrant colors to suit their mood or the environment.
You can also play music via its built-in Bluetooth speaker to set the tone in the kitchen whether they’re entertaining a crowd or enjoying a weekday meal. You can control it with the LG ThinQ app, choosing from dozens of colors and multiple sizes. It has 190,000 color combos.
You can also choose moods such as Season, Place, Healing and Pop. Season, for example, uses the tones and hues of nature to represent different times of the year, while Healing elicits a feeling of wellbeing through the use of soft, soothing colors, creating a calming mindfulness space. Because all of the best parties happen in the kitchen. It’s coming this spring. Not to be outdone, Samsung has a fridge with a 32-inch screen.
Aromaplayer adds scent to your videos
Aromajoin announced its AromaPlayer, which lets creators customize their videos by adding their own scents to them. After picking up a video from your own library or by using a YouTube link, you can add scents on the timeline to set up the perfect smell, timing, and duration for a scent to go with your video.
Kyoto-based tech startup Aromajoin said the scented video platform was powered by its proprietary Aroma Shooter technology, which can switch between various scents without any delay. AromaPlayer is a web application that can be easily access from a Google Chrome browser. There are a few hundred kinds of scents available, from coffee to orange.
LG Styler ShoeCare deodorizes your sneaker collection
Sneakerheads will pay a lot for their shoes and probably go to extremes to show them off. That’s why LG Electronics created LG Styler ShoeCase and its accompany LG Styler ShoeCare. You can stack your sneaker collection into the different cases in the display. And you can also clean and deodorize the shoes usin the TrueStream nozzles that refresh the shoe smell and soak up excess moisture. It takes 37 minutes to deodorize up to four pairs of your shoes.
Kohler’s aromatherapy Sprig showerheads
Kohler launched its Sprig shower systems that infuse your shower experience with aromatherapy. It’s like a spa in the bathroom with natural shower infusion pods, versatile body and linen mists, and premium bath bombs that provide a peaceful escape through aromatherapy.
Sprig infusion systems can retrofit to an existing shower to diffuse aromatherapy into water, making it simple for people to get your dose of aromatherapy with your shower. It’s costs $140 for the shower system and $24 for the pods that you can use eight times each.
Blok cutting board with a built-in screen
The Blok cutting board comes with a 13-inch by 20-inch display that you can use to watch recipe videos while you’re looking. With a $39 a month subscription, you can learn how to cook healthy and delicious meals via live and on-demand cooking classes led by expert chefs.
You can also detach the screen for cleaning. The price? $700. That’s more than your usual cutting board. I just use my iPhone for this purpose. But Blok calls this the Peloton of the kitchen. While you’re at it, you might check out Samsung’s Bespoke AI Wall Oven, which can livestream what you’re cooking and warn you if something is burning.
The Nowatch isn’t a watch on your wrist
Five years ago, Hylke Muntinga lost six friends in a year, as they all died via accidents or disease. At a funeral, he realized that he didn’t want to be in the rat race anymore. And 2.5 years ago, he found out he was going blind through a rare disease. So he decided to create the Nowatch, which is actually not a watch. It’s a watch-like wrist band with a gemstone at its center. It has fitness sensors from Philips. But its main function is to remind you that you don’t need to know the time, and that you should live in the moment, Muntinga told me in an interview at CES 2023. It starts at $387. It has sustainable packaging.
“It helps you lead a more balance life,” he said.
The Skyted voice-silencing mask
SkyTed makes you look like Bain from the Batman movies. But its purpose isn’t to make you menacing or to distort your voice. Its purpose is to silence you.
You can use it as a mask that filters out viruses. But it can also enable you to do phone calls on planes or public places, talking as loud as you want with total privacy. It uses the same tech to muffle aircraft engines in its design so that you can shout into the mask and no one except the person you are calling on the phone will hear you. I could use one while playing games late at night, when I don’t want to wake up the rest of the house with my shouting.