We just wrapped up a week at CES, the mammoth consumer technology show in Vegas. While much of what we saw will make it into showrooms and your homes over the next few years, there was no shortage of wacky, ridiculous and downright worthless gadgets on display.
Here’s a roundup of some of weirdest and worst technologies we saw this year. What underwhelmed you this year?
This shoe has automatic tightening, step tracking, a built-in heater and a headlight, all connected via a smartphone. At $450, a pair of these is ridiculously expensive. More importantly, these were some of the ugliest shoes we’ve ever seen.
Kolibree Smart Toothbrush
The Kolibree Smart Toothbursh connects to a tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth and provides games for kids to encourage proper brushing, along with the ability for parents to track kid’s brushing activity. There is also a “coach” mode to give adults feedback on their own brushing habits.
While encouraging proper tooth brushing habits with children is important and difficult to enforce, we don’t see a huge market of parents willing to shell out $150 for one of these.
Grillbot automatic grill-cleaning robot
The Grillbot is basically a Roomba for your grill. Using a set of spinning brass brushes, it moves around and scours the surface of your grill.
The Grillbot costs $130 and a set of replacement brushes costs $13. Given that a regular grill brush can be had for under $10, this one seems more than a little extravagant.
The Oombrella connected umbrella
Does every product need to be connected? Aren’t there some things that need to exist for their simple utility, without having a sensor or device embedded in it? Well, let us introduce you to the Oombrella — an $85 connected umbrella that forecasts when it might rain and alerts you if you leave it behind at a restaurant, cafe or office.
“The service number one is: I’ve lost three umbrellas. We help them not to lose it anymore,” said the French entrepreneur behind the device. “When you are going too far from it, it is going to say: ‘Oh, my umbrella, I have to go back.’ It can geolocate it.”
Now, you might think that us Seattleites would welcome such an advancement in rain protection technology since we live in a place with plenty of moisture and a geeky citizenry, though umbrellas are pretty rare in this neck of the woods. Even with the Oombrella on the horizon, I think we’ll stick to our REI rain parkas.
iFit dance routine
Grabbing attention at CES is a true art form, and while some succeed, others miss the mark. We almost felt embarrassed for the fitness dancers who graced the stage of the iFit booth. Just see for yourself. “You’ve taken 5,000 steps, but what’s next?” asks the narrator of the routine. Painful.
A Bluetooth-connected pregnancy test
First Response, a popular pregnancy test vendor, unveiled the Pregnancy PRO Digital Pregnancy Test & App at CES. The new test sticks connect to a smartphone app via via Bluetooth. Once you pee on the test stick, the app gives you a 3-minute countdown for results. During the countdown the app claims it will calm, educate, distract and entertain the tester.
The UI of pregnancy tests is pretty straightforward without an app, and it sure seems like setting up an app and connecting to the test stick via Bluetooth will add, not reduce, anxiety during the test. At a retail price of somewhere between $15-$22 for one test stick, this is more than 3x the cost of current tests.