We love tech here at Digital Trends, and we believe in its ability to enrich our lives. We’re always excited to see all the strange new devices at CES every year, and we appreciate the explosion in creativity that crowdfunding sites have sparked, but there are some gadgets that would give even the most hardened technophile pause for thought. Amid the glittering nuggets of gold, there are plenty of answers to questions no one posed.
They say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. These gadgets challenge you to define it.
Somnox Sleep Robot
If you struggle to drift off into the land of nod each evening perhaps you need a robot companion, specially designed to lull you to sleep. Somnox resembles a giant peanut and you’re supposed to spoon it at bedtime as it moves gently to emulate breathing. There’s also a speaker inside that can play lullabies. You can configure it from your phone, which it links to via Bluetooth. The insomniacs behind it claim that it employs scientifically proven techniques designed to reduce stress and promote good sleep. If you fancy going to bed with this robotic limbless torso, then it will cost you $600.
Digitsole Smart Insoles
How would you like to get your hands on a rechargeable insole that can be used to heat your feet and track your steps? You can link up to Digitsole via Bluetooth and use an Android or iOS app to adjust the temperature of your feet (separately if necessary). The insoles will also track your steps and tell you how many calories you’ve burned. Digitsole first caught our eye after a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought in more than double the $40,000 of funding it requested. More recently, the French company brought artificial intelligence to the soles of your feet with insoles for cyclists, that track your cadence, power gain and loss, elevation, and speed to offer personalized training advice.
Revolve Folding Wheel
The original wheel may be handy for motion, but what happens when you stop and want to put it away? We have folding bikes galore, but the wheels are troublesome, in that they refuse to collapse down into a more portable form. German designer Andrea Mocellin has the answer: The Revolve wheel is a 26-inch spoked wheel that folds down to take up 60 percent less space. It also has a handle for easy carrying. Revolve wheels could also be used for wheelchairs or anything else with wheels, but they’ve yet to make it into a product you can buy.
Imagine a motorized belt that adjusts to your body when you sit down, or extends itself as your gut expands during a marathon eating session. French company Emiota realized the dream, but it didn’t end there because the original Belty could also track your waistline and measure your activity. Alongside the tiny motors, there was an accelerometer and a gyroscope. This expensive high-tech belt failed to set the world alight. It turns out that standard belts are already pretty good at telling you when you’re getting fat via notch technology, but undeterred Emiota went back to the drawing board. The second version of Belty just has a ratchet system for fine adjustment, but this time it packs a built-in 2,000mAh power bank that you can use to charge up your phone. The Belty Power costs $157. If you’re not keen on Belty, check out competitor Welt.
Lavviebot Litter Box
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, sometimes by alleviating the need to perform unpleasant chores, in this case cleaning your cat’s mess out of the litter box. That’s right, the Lavviebot from Purrsong can automatically clean itself and refill the litter. It can even send an alert to the companion app on your phone, to keep you informed of Tigger’s pooping schedule. It’s a great idea, since litter boxes are easily the worst thing about sharing your home with a cat, but it’s also massive and resembles a photocopier. It’s slated to cost $379 when it goes on sale via Indiegogo later this year.
SleepIQ K2 Kids Bed
We were impressed by Sleep Number’s smart bed for adults, but what about kids? The SleepIQ K2 is a bed for your child that tracks their sleep, sports a remote control night light, and alerts you when they decide to get up. It could truly be a genius idea. As any sleep-deprived parent will attempt to tell you, as their weary head slumps repeatedly into their coffee, getting your kids into a regular sleeping pattern can feel like endless torture. There’s a safety-conscious under bed light that comes on when they get up, a reward system for sleeping through, and even a monster detector. The whole thing syncs with an iOS app, but sadly it will cost you more than $1,000 for the mattress and base.
There is no doubt that Sony’s robotic dog, Aibo, is incredibly cool, but after living with Aibo for a week we were still divided on whether it’s crazy or genius. Aibo is definitely very cute with all sorts of expressions and behaviors that make it very hard to resist. There’s also cloud-connected A.I. inside, so it can recognize up to 100 different people and remember the interactions it had with them. The idea is that you can enjoy the fun parts of dog ownership without the messes or smells, but a lot of people will argue that there’s no substitute for man’s best friend. The Sony Aibo also costs a frightening $2,900.
Few of us enjoy neatly folding a massive pile of laundry, but would you pay nearly $1,000 to have a big machine do it for you? The Foldimate can perfectly fold shirts and pants into a neat stack and it takes around 10-15 seconds per item. The problem, beyond the big price tag, is that you have to feed each individual item into it, and it can’t deal with sheets, underwear, or socks. It also stands 4 feet tall and doesn’t exactly blend into its environment. Still, it could be handy for some people. If you’re one of them you should look out for it going on sale towards the end of 2019.
Oddball Drum Machine
The sensor-packed Oddball hooks up to a mobile app via Bluetooth and triggers sounds based on collisions and force. It’s like a throwable drum machine, enabling you to make beats by chucking the ball at the floor or walls and making a louder sound the harder you throw it. You can configure it to trigger whatever sound you want and then make music by throwing it around, or even layer things up by juggling multiple Oddballs. It costs about $75 for an Oddball and unsurprisingly you’ll find it on crowdfunding sites.
For just $120 you can have a small bionic bird of your own and control it from your smartphone. It has a foam body, and carbon fiber tail and wings, and it flies just like a real bird by flapping them really fast. It even comes with a Turbo-Charge egg that can recharge it 10 times over. Apparently, real birds are attracted to it and it has a range of 100 meters. It’s ideal for tormenting cats and mail carriers.
Petcube Bites and Play
Do you miss your cat when you’re at work? For just $200 you can snag a Petcube. It’s a camera with two-way audio, and a built-in laser. It hooks up to your home Wi-Fi and works through an iOS or Android app. There’s also a larger, treat dispensing version for dogs that costs $250. You can see and talk to your pet from anywhere, and play with them, sort of, by using the laser or firing out treats. If you’re too lazy to play with your pet manually, you can set a “play schedule” each day. Finally, you can also share access to your Petcube and play with other people’s pets, which is kind of creepy.
LG Twin Wash and SideKick
Do you know what your washing machine really needs? It needs another smaller washing machine that slides out of the base allowing you to do two different loads at once. LG’s twin washing machine means you can do a regular load, but also simultaneously a very small load on a different setting. Is that useful? Do you ever curse the lack of a second washing machine? You can find out more in our LG WM5000HVA review, but be warned: It costs $1,500.
Granted, a plain-looking, Bluetooth-enabled plant pot that costs upwards of $60 does sound a bit ridiculous at first, but wait just a minute. If you’re anything like us then you’ve starved countless innocent plants to death through careless neglect. The Parrot Pot can stop the cycle of death by monitoring the soil, fertilizer, sunlight, and temperature, and automatically watering the plant. It has care profiles for thousands of plants and it’s compatible with iOS and Android, so it can remind you to take care of your plants before they wither. It could also save you from having to trust the neighbors with a key when you go on vacation.
If your appetite for strange gadgets is not yet sated, then check out some bizarre drones, weird wearables, or innovative pet tech.
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