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The weird, wacky and wonderful world of CES 2020

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 15, 2020

7 min read

The world of the future is put on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020. But sprinkled amongst the life-changing apps, bots and gadgets is a smattering of the truly weird and wonderful. Here are our favourite oddities from the show floor this year.

The weird

A robot you can hug

It’s only a matter of time before the robotic future stops cleaning your floor and starts climbing onto your couch for a hug. The Lovot is that future.

This cute (???) little bot has eyes and expressions you can customise, and rolls around your house just being a friendly little companion. It has a soft body that makes it great for cuddles and arms that can be used to convey a range of expressions and actions. You can even put clothes on it, which isn’t at all creepy or weird.

The company that makes it says it should be nice to cuddle, given that its interior electronics creates a warmth similar to a puppy that has been sunning itself.

Wearables for your dog

If you’re not getting in enough steps per day, it’s a fair bet your dog isn’t either. That’s why Inupathy invented a wearable for your woofer.

It features a heart rate monitor and built-in LED display. More interestingly, it claims to be able to track your dog’s mood. The mood is inferred from the heart rate of your dog compared to its movement levels and is reflected via the built-in display for the owner to see. Could be good!

It’s not a huge surprise that this device exists, especially given that the pet tech market is now worth $565 million per year, according to research.

A breeze for your brain

I know that when I go running, my head feels like it’s on fire by kilometre number five. At that point, I’m racing just to get back into my air conditioning. But with Feher’s new concept, I might not have to suffer for much longer.

They showcased a concept at CES that puts air conditioning in a baseball cap. And unlike other AC units, it doesn’t rely on a refrigerant (like coolant) to lower your temp. Instead, they’re using thermoelectric energy to reduce your temperature by around 10-15 degrees C lower than the ambient. Nifty!

A smart cat litter box

A note to technology companies: not everything needs to be “smart” into the future. I’m looking at you, LuluPet. The company has made the world’s first smart cat litter box that can monitor your cat’s health via its…output.

If we’re making cat litter boxes smart, can we make one that empties itself, so I don’t have to deal with that?

Shared city skateboards

As if vandals didn’t have enough fun throwing shared e-bikes and e-scooters into local trees and rivers, soon they may be able to do the same to shared e-skateboards. A new company called Walnut Technology wants to put its Spectra X boards on the streets of the world for anyone and everyone to share.

Last time I checked, however, skating isn’t like riding a bike at all, is it?

The lazy future

Pixar’s Wall-E tried to show us the dangers of being idle drones that get carried through life, but that won’t stop the boffins at Segway from creating the future of city-based mobility.

The S-Pod is a self-balancing chair on wheels that lets you zip around the city at almost 40km/h at full-speed. At least you’ll be comfortable in-between your meetings?

Mercedes made a scaly Ava-car

James Cameron’s Avatar is a distant memory at this point, but that won’t stop Mercedes-Benz from creating a concept car inspired by the film.

It’s called the Vision AVTR, and on top of a wild design and an all-electric power plant, it has…scales. 33 “bionic flaps” to be precise, that Mercedes says will be used to “communicate to people outside the car”. What’s wrong with a wave or even a gentle toot of the horn?

The wonderful

The folding laptop is real

You might have seen folding phones in 2019, but 2020 might just be the year of the folding laptop.

Intel showed off its “horseshoe bend” concept at CES, and it’s everything you want from the laptop of the future: all killer folding OLED screen, no filler keyboards.

The (real?) keyless keyboard

Do you ever wish your phone keyboard could be less cramped? Don’t you just want to space out and let your hands run across the keys like mine are writing this? The Samsung SelfieType concept is here to save you.

Simply boot up the SelfieType app, turn your phone sideways and let your front-facing camera act as the virtual keyboard on the desk.

Sure, you might look weird using it, but it’s in our pick for wonderful gadgets.

A fingerprinted external SSD

Another entrant from Samsung is the T7 Touch SSD: an external hard drive that’s not only incredibly fast and portable, but also has security baked in thanks to an on-board fingerprint reader.

For too long, external hard drives have relied on software to push security to these devices, but with the T7 Touch, the security paranoid (read: me) might now have a reason to breathe easier.

A robot vacuum, but with arms

iRobot – makers of the Roomba – want to put arms on a cleaning robot in the future. It’s that simple. Using machine learning and pattern identification, the new Roomba could do things like clean your dishes or fold your washing. It’d probably do a better job than I would at both.

Headphones that track your blood pressure

Smart devices that track your steps or your workouts are good, but the number of people who have already had their lives saved by smartwatches that can read irregular heart rates make them truly worth having. That’s why I’m all for any gadget – like Valencell’s new wireless headphone concept – that can measure your blood pressure. Just don’t tell me about spikes while I’m listening to Rage Against The Machine.

A mirror that lets you try on a new ‘do

This isn’t one for your home, it’s for your local salon. CareOS wants to make your local barber’s mirror smarter, giving it the ability for you to try on new hairstyles before you get the chop. Anything to stop me from getting a hideous cut is something I’m behind.

And everything in-between

We went to CES this year and showed off not only a new world-exclusive tough phone, but also shared our plans and progress for 5G in 2020 and the future of our home entertainment offerings.