CES is the world’s largest technology event, showcasing innovation in everything from voice-controlled cookery to self-driving cars. This is one of the most influential platforms for businesses to announce new products and features, and to showcase what they may be working on next.
Many of the 4,500 exhibitors are releasing really exciting new products this week from the show in Las Vegas, but almost just as exciting are those items which are a little unconventional. To celebrate these unorthodox exhibits, I’ve compiled five of the most unexpected and bizarre objects on show to the 170,000 attendees of CES 2020.
1. “Alexa, Turn My Slow Cooker On”
Household appliances are becoming more integrated with smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. LG has fridges which work with voice commands, and Amazon have even released their own voice-activated microwave oven. The latest smart appliance coming to the kitchen – a Belkin slow cooker.
This is a product that we never knew we didn’t need. It’s hard to see how voice control could make the process of using a slow cooker much easier. Belkin already have an app-controlled smart slow cooker retailing at $130, so the price of the Alexa-connected version can only be expected to be higher. The features of this smart cooker include being able to set cooking times and heat setting, but we think that it would be just as easy, if not easier, to use the physical buttons. After all, slow cookers are used to make some of the easiest and low-maintenance meals of all.
2. That Was a Close Shave
Since releasing the first one-piece razor in 1975, Bic has consistently been a leader in the grooming industry. Will their latest innovation be the next big thing for personal care? The team at AI integration company Invoxia have been working with Bic to develop a prototype razor which can use AI to track your shave over a number of metrics, including temperature, hair thickness, hair density, shaving speed, number of strokes, time spent shaving and blade dullness.
These values can then be viewed and compared on the companion mobile app, with data being sent back to Bic to allow them to develop new products with improvements where they are most needed. Some people may be interested to see their shave mapped out, but I’m not convinced about how useful this would be to the consumer in reality.
3. The Atmōs Air Filtering Face Mask
In a world with increasing air pollution, many people have taken to wearing face masks to protect themselves from harmful particles, especially in Asian cities. These masks cover the face and are seen by many as obstructive and far from fashionable. To combat this, and to improve the quality of air filtration, the New Zealand-born founders and their team have created the Atmōs.
This face shield uses fans beneath the ears to create a pocket of filtered air around the nose and mouth, so no seal is required. This improves the filtration of harmful particles such as PM2.5 to as much as 98%; pollutants which lead to the loss of 7 million lives each year. This new innovation may look space-aged and not yet be greatly practical with its bulky size and 256g weight, but it could be revolutionary in bringing technology to personal air filtration and pave the way for life-saving devices.
4. Who Let the Dogs Out?
At SeaBro IT we love our dogs, and we are pretty sure our dogs love us back. But how could we find out? Measure the number of times our dogs wake us up by licking our faces? Langualess may have found a slightly easier way. Their new product, Inupathy, is a vest for dogs which displays their mood through coloured lights. An audio heart rate monitor in the vest monitors the dog’s pulse to detect their mood and converts that into one of five colour options on the back of the pack so owners can see how their friend is feeling.
This isn’t just a fun feature; this could really be used to transform everyday life with your pets. Distinguishing between fear and excitement in animals can be difficult, but Inupathy could bring a clearer connection to your relationship and allow you to improve your dog’s wellbeing by getting an insight into their mood.
The Inupathy is currently available in Japan for ¥29,800 (£208) in five sizes, but it is expected that it will be available outside of Japan soon.
5. Alexa, Pay for My Petrol
Amazon Alexa is breaking from the confines of your home (and your slow cooker) into your car journeys. You can now get the benefits of voice control wherever you are; check your meetings on the motorway or re-order toilet paper in traffic. And now the latest innovation – you can pay for petrol using your voice. Being introduced first to 11,500 ExxonMobil services in the US this year, if successful we could well see this feature becoming commonplace in the near future.
Pay-At-Pump facilities are becoming more widespread across the UK, negating the need to pay at the cashier’s counter, so this could be seen as the next step in automating the petrol filling process. Alexa is available in some new cars, but you can also get the Echo Auto to be able to speak to Alexa in any vehicle for $49.99 (£39), though it is not currently shipped directly to the UK. This new feature is an extension of the existing Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app which already allows users to pay for their fuel from their phone.
CES is always a place of interesting new developments, though for some of them we are unsure about whether they will ever really be successful. Only time will tell if these unorthodox products could become commonplace in our everyday lives.
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