LAS VEGAS — From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden “smart” TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big – and bizarre – chances.
The innovators who shop their wares here are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, many of which are designed to solve problems you didn’t know you had.
A search for this year’s strangest electronic devices yielded an extra-loud pair of headphones from a metal band, an eye-sensing TV that didn’t work as intended and more.
Bass-heavy headphones that borrow the names of hip-hop luminaries like Dr. Dre have become extremely popular. Rock fans have been left out of the party – until now. British metal band Motorhead, famous for playing gut-punchingly loud, is endorsing a line of headphones that “go to eleven” and are hitting U.S. stores now.
Says lead singer and bassist Lemmy Kilmister, explaining his creative input: “I just said make them louder than everybody else’s. So that’s the only criteria, and that it should reflect every part of the sound, not just the bass.”
The Motorheadphone line consists of three over-the-ear headphones and six in-ear models. The initiative came from a Swedish music-industry veteran, and distribution and marketing is handled by a Swedish company, Krusell International AB.
WHO IT’S FOR: People who don’t care about their hearing. According to Kilmister, the headphones are ideal for Motorhead fans. “Their hearing is already damaged, they better buy these.”
PRICE: Prices range from $50 to $130.
A prototype of an eye-sensing TV from Haier didn’t quite meet viewers eye-to-eye. An on-screen cursor is supposed to appear where the viewer looks to help, say, select a show to watch. Blinking while controlling the cursor is supposed to result in a click. In our brief time with the TV, we observed may quirks and comic difficulties.
WHO IT’S FOR: People too lazy to move their arms.
“It’s easy to do,” Guo said, taking the reporter’s place at the demonstration. He later said the device needs to be recalibrated for each person. It worked fine for him, but the TV is definitely not ready for prime-time.
If you don’t watch what you put in your mouth, this fork will – or at least try to. Called HAPIfork, it’s a fork with a fat handle containing electronics and a battery. A motion sensor knows when you are lifting the fork to your mouth. If you’re eating too fast, the fork will vibrate as a warning. The company behind it, HapiLabs, believes that using the fork 60 to 75 times during meals that last 20 to 30 minutes is ideal. But the fork won’t know how healthy or how big each bite you take will be, so shoveling a plate of arugula will likely be judged as less healthy than slowly putting away a pile of bacon. No word on spoons, yet, or chopsticks.
WHO IT’S FOR? People who eat too fast. Those who want company for their “smart” refrigerator and other kitchen gadgets.
PRICE: HapiLabs is launching a fundraising campaign for the fork in March on the group-fundraising site Kickstarter.com. Participants need to pay $99 to get a fork, which is expected to ship around April or May.
Toilet training a toddler is no picnic, but iPotty from CTA Digital seeks to make it a little easier by letting parents attach an iPad to it. This way, junior can gape and paw at the iPad while taking care of business in the old-fashioned part of the plastic potty. IPotty will go on sale in March, first on Amazon.com.
There are potty training apps out there that’ll reward toddlers for accomplishing the deed. The company is also examining whether the potty’s attachment can be adapted for other types of tablets, beyond the iPad.
“It’s novel to a lot of people but we’ve gotten great feedback from parents who think it’d be great for training,” said CTA product specialist Camilo Gallardo.
WHO IT’S FOR: Parents at their wits’ end.