The Doppler Labs Here One wireless earphones returned to CES this year. A more practical alternative to the rather silly Apple AirPods, they’re controlled with an app via Bluetooth and can bionically enhance your hearing in a given direction or block out external sounds, as well as the usual music playback features.
If you’re after something much, much more stupid, the LG PJ9 is a levitating speaker that uses magnets to hover in mid-air. When it runs out of charge the flying speaker will slowly descend to touch its base, where it wirelessly soaks up more battery power before gently lifting off again. Frustratingly pointless, but looks neat.
The latest innovation in the industry’s continuing mission to invent a television thin enough to slide underneath a bathroom door, the LG W7 is an OLED TV measuring just 3.8mm in thickness. That’s thinner than your iPhone, and so narrow that the 77-inch display can’t stand up on its own, instead requiring a wall to be hung on.
The Sony Bravia A1E has found other ways to innovate. By tucking the stand away behind the screen rather than beneath it, the television sits perfectly flush with whatever surface it’s on, which Sony promises is a good thing. The bezel has been reduced to a razor-slim border too, and the entire surface of the display acts as one giant speaker.
With its 360-degree wrap-around hinge and sleek styling, the Samsung Chromebook is one of the most versatile two-in-ones for some time, and might be enough to wash away the bad taste left behind by the recent run of shonky Android tablets. It runs Chrome OS but has access to the Google Play store, meaning it can run Android apps (and so is actually useful).
Meanwhile the ridiculous Razer Project Valerie is the first laptop with multiple screens. You can fold out two additional 4K monitors for ultra-widescreen gaming on the go, if that’s something your heart desires. They are evidently desirable too, as two prototypes were pilfered during the show. Razer has issued a $25,000 bounty for their safe return.
That bounty would be enough to purchase just shy of three Acer Predator 21X laptops. At $9,000 a pop, it claims to be the world’s most powerful portable gaming machine. It’s also about the size of a car bonnet.
Artificially intelligent robo-assistants were everywhere at CES this year, roving from booth to booth trying to take off everyone’s shoes or climb into their hair. One of the more stationary helpers, the Lenovo Smart Assistant speaker is an alternative to the Amazon Echo and has the same Alexa personality built in. In fact, Alexa was built into pretty much everything at CES this year, from cars and fridges to toasters and lightbulbs.
Elsewhere, the Rokid Pebble is a sort of magic egg that can control your heating and lights, and the mood-detecting Hubble Hugo can tell when you’re pissed off by tracking your facial expressions, and then blowing air in your face (yes, really) to cheer you up.
The fully electric and self-driving Faraday Future FF91 continues to loudly tout itself as a Tesla rival, all the while tracing a delicate finger up and down the thighs of potential investors.
Whether or not the robo-mobile will actually make it to production is still anyone’s guess, but at CES this year the machine utterly failed to park itself while on stage. Sure, it didn’t run anybody over or reverse into a wedding cake, but the company was mildly embarrassed all the same.
Meanwhile BMW showed off some concept interiors, with real holographic dashboards floating in mid-air that you can prod and interact with. Honda also had a self-balancing motorbike concept that stays upright without the need for a kickstand, even with a rider straddling it.
And The Nonsense
Every year CES pushes the limits of human ingenuity with some utterly useless tat. See if you can guess which of these final gadgets I’ve made up. A smart hairbrush that “listens” to the sound of your hair to determine its health. A pair of smart jeans for women that vibrate your legs to tell you which direction to walk in. A remote controlled finger that can push a physical button, turning any regular switch into a smartphone-controlled switch. And a pair of radiation-blocking underpants for men that prevents your testicles being slowly toasted by laptops.
Give up? Well they’re all real. Of course they are, because CES is way beyond parody.