It wouldn’t be “the most influential technology event in the world” if it didn’t have a whole section of the bizarre. CES, the massive technology show which concluded on 8 January in Las Vegas, has seen dual-screen laptops, 150-inch projectors, colour-changing concept cars and more conventional technology. But let’s take a look at what happened at the other end of the spectrum.
We dug through hundreds of products that were showcased on the convention floor to find you the most unusual and bizarre of the lot.
Afeela: Say that name as fast as you can. Then say it multiple times in a row. Sounds weird right? Sony, the Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation, has been known for its strange naming conventions (barring the PlayStation) for many years now. At CES 2023, Sony Honda Mobility and Honda’s joint mobility venture unveiled a new EV prototype called Afeela. “Afeela represents our concept of an interactive relationship where people feel the sensation of interactive mobility and where mobility can detect and understand people and society by utilizing sensing and AI technologies,” Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno said on stage at CES.
Afeela is a four-door sedan with a bunch of autonomous capabilities baked in. The first preorders are scheduled for the first half of 2025, with deliveries to begin in the spring of 2026.
A watch that can’t tell the time? Yep, you read that right. The Nowatch isn’t a watch by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a screenless wellness tracker with an ace up its sleeve. It was first shown off at CES last year, but in 2023, it’s finally ready to go on sale. It’s got plenty of sensors to track your heart date, sleep, steps, and a whole lot more.
Something that differentiates the Nowatch from the crowd is the fact that it can track your sweat glands. The company has worked with Philips on sensors that can measure electrodermal activity (changes in sweat). This in turn helps estimate stress levels. It’s similar to what Fitbit uses in the Sense and Sense 2 devices. Another unique thing about the Nowatch is its Predicted Cognitive Zone. It provides insights into the cognitive performance of the wearer based on their physical state.
Shiftall Mutalk: Is it a mask? No. Is it a supersized smartphone charger? Nope. Is it a muzzle? No again. The Mutalk, created by Shiftall, is a Bluetooth microphone built for the Metaverse. It looks uncomfortable to wear but it knows its target audience. The Mutalk allows you to scream into the Metaverse while staying nearly silent to those around you. Just one look at the photos of folks demonstrating it and you’ll know it's truly bizarre.
In-toilet sensors: Withings is going deep into your toilet with its in-toilet sensor. Called U-Scan, the sensor is small and attaches directly to your toilet boil. Every day it analyses your urine and with the companion app, gives you health readings over time. The U-Scan comes with two cartridges. The first one monitors the nutrition and metabolic information while the other is for those who want to better track their menstrual cycles. Just be sure to wash your hands properly before opening the app to check your health insights!
Acer eKinekt BD 3 bike: Has the pandemic and subsequent work-from-home tipped the weighing scales against your favour? Fret not. Acer has conjured up a Black Mirror-esque (there’s an episode where the protagonists have to pedal to earn “merits”) part stationary bike, part office desk, to power up your exercise needs. Using kinetic energy that has been generated from all the pedalling, one can charge their laptop, smartphone, tablet, and other devices. The bike’s casing is made up of post-consumer recycled plastic and is very eco-friendly.
LG’s MoodUp fridge: Want to make the refrigerator the centre of attraction at your home? LG has you covered with its MoodUp fridge. This refrigerator comes with a colour-changing door and a Bluetooth speaker. The door has LED backlit panels and comes with 1,90,999 colour combinations!
Livestream your dinner? Thanks to Samsung, you may start to see people streaming their dinner live on Twitch, TikTok or Instagram. Samsung’s AI Wall Oven comes equipped with an internal camera to view the contents of the inside of your oven. You can send that content straight over to your social media feeds.
A cutting board with a screen: Are you worried about getting food (or liquids) all over your iPad, which is being used to watch a cooking video on YouTube? Thanks to the Blok smart cutting board, that should be a thing of the past. The cutting board has an integrated detachable display. When not in use, the cutting board can be propped up on a wireless charging base.
Eyebrow printer: L’Oreal has come out with the Brow Magic machine. This is a hand-held electronic makeup applicator that uses 2,400 tiny nozzles (and augmented reality) to print brows in 1,200 drops-per-inch (dpi) resolution. It uses a scan of your face and places the brows in the desired spot (there is only one spot you’d want them). The Brow Magic machine kind of looks like a gun.
A pillow that breathes: Yukai Engineering came to the CES floor to showcase a new quirky invention, the Fufuly. It’s a pillow that helps low anxiety levels. Thanks to gentle rhythmic pulsations, the belly is stimulated, and slower and deeper breathing is induced. All you need to do is hug the Fufuly. The pillow was developed with the help of research from the University of Tokyo but hasn’t been scientifically tested yet.
No more smelly feet: Have your family members and/or friends ever complained that you have smelly feet? LG has a high-tech solution you’ve been looking for. Style ShoeCare is a neat-looking device that lets you ‘lock’ your shoes into the device. Through the TrueSteam nozzle, your shoes are deodorized in under 40 minutes. If you want to show off your shoes once deodorized, then the companion Styler ShoeCase is what you’ll need to get.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist
Also read: CES 2023 highlights: From Samsung to LG, the best of cutting-edge TVs