LAS VEGAS — TIL “smart” products can be pretty dumb.
That was my main takeaway from CES Unveiled, a media expo where electronics companies show off their goods before the big consumer tech conference officially opens.
Exhibitors demoed a wide range of products with built-in internet connectivity and advanced capabilities. The problem? They’re trying to reinvent the wheel without really improving upon the wheel.
Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I wish my toothbrush gave me feedback to up my oral hygiene game?” Never, that’s when.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh and there really is a market for smart canes, intelligent mirrors, and beds that elevate when an occupant is snoring. For those people who want anything and everything they interact with to analyze and provide data, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most outrageous products from CES Unveiled.
Kérastase Hair Coach
Is your hair brushing technique sloppy and disorganized? Perhaps the Hair Coach can whip you into shape. The personal grooming device boasts an impressive suite of features, including brush tracking, professional-grade nylon bristles, and (most importantly) coaching via a smartphone app. The Hair Coach monitors your technique over time and “offers recommendations and advice.” Talk about a must-have item.
WAIR Anti-Pollution Scarf
Admittedly, this is a step up from the surgical masks tourists are prone to wearing to avoid ingesting anything unsavory. But I’m not convinced this high-tech accessory does anything a typical scarf couldn’t do.
It does, apparently, sense air pollution so you know when to cover up but until “innovative filtration system” is explained to me, I’m not sold.
I’m not made of stone, so even I can admit that the inception of this product is has a saccharine-sweet appeal. A French MIT student built the Love Box to send special messages to his girlfriend back home. But trying to sell a glorified pager for $120 is more crazy than crazy in love. The device allows lovers to send cute messages to one another via a smartphone app. When a message is received, a little heart on the box jiggles back and forth, as you can see in the video below.
I’m not sure how French company Dring expects to market this product to a demographic still wary of Siri and GPS. Plus, those of us who have tried to get an elderly relative to even use a cane in the first place know it can be tricky.
But the Smart Cane does have a noble purpose. It detects unusual sensations and notifies caregivers that the person using it may have had a fall. Maybe there’s a market for this product if younger loved ones can convince their family members to use it.
Who needs a regular mirror when you could have on that can tell you everything that’s wrong with your face? The HiMirror helpfully alerts you of wrinkles, dark circles, dark spots, and blemishes “so that you can effectively and efficiently target problem areas and move toward your beauty goals.” You can record and track all of this information using (what else?) an app.
New York-based startup Kolibree discovered the one thing missing from your toothbrush: artificial intelligence. Fortunately, the company is solving the problem with the Ara intelligent toothbrush. The device learns your brushing habits over time to help improve your dental hygiene. Think Sonicare meets Samantha.
Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed
For a smart bed, the Sleep Number 360 doesn’t seem to have a ton of smarts. It does track your sleep, like other sleep monitoring apps, but its key functions target relatively benign problems. The bed warms up to prevent chilly feet when you hop in and elevates when it detects snoring from a slumberer. It’s kind of cool but gimmicky and probably won’t be worth the sticker price.