The 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcases many innovative and useful products. In the midst of all that excellence, there are always a few items that seem weird or even bizarre. Here is my personal selection of the most unlikely and useless products exhibited and sometimes congratulated at CES.
PetziConnect is a white, plastic box that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi allowing you to remotely interact with your pet from an iOS or Android app. You can see live video of your pet, speak to your pet, hear a bark or a meow, take pictures and provide a treat from a dispenser.
Why would I buy this ridiculous product so I could hold a one-way remote interaction with my pet? I can interact with other pets when I’m on the road.
To add insult to injury, Petcube is a direct competitor in this tiny category.
IGOO sells a series of wonderfully designed lamps, much larger than shown, that can be controlled by a smartphone app to produce many different room moods by controlling the intensity and color of multiple bulbs in each lamp. You can save each combination of settings with a name called a Lightsong.
Perhaps I’m not a sufficiently sensitive, but this product strikes me as a total waste of time and a distraction from more important facets of life.
Windblocker is a colorful, foamey spheroid that fits snuggly over the microphone of your smartphone.
Who could possibly need the Windblocker? Perhaps first responders in a hurricane; perhaps it’s a great advertising gimmick; perhaps those of us who need a conversation starter. However, the intended purpose to reduce wind noise during cell phone conversations is an extraordinarily rare problem.
OriHime is a personal avatar robot for use by those who may be incapable of normal social interaction due to disability or injury. It is directed through a smartphone app and can show the video it sees and play the audio of its owner.
It is also capable of a few head and appendage gestures but no movement. Its limited abilities made me wonder what all the excitement was about. How is this interaction better than Skype or FaceTime?
(Image: Lechal Insoles)
Lechal Insoles respond to foot gestures or to voice commands to the related smartphone app to navigate and track fitness activity. The footwear responds to the wearer via vibrations, making it a hands-free experience.
This approach sounds way more complicated than other smaller, simpler fitness wearables. Who has room in their shoes for another item? Who wants to manage yet another piece of gear?
SkreensTV is the white box that can accept up to 5 HDMI program feeds. Its smartphone app enables the end-user to position these images for display on an HD TV. You will never miss a program and can even play a video game while watching TV.
Even the most determined television addict will be overwhelmed by all the images. Picture-in-picture should be more than enough for all of us. Think about going outside for a walk before you buy this product.
(Image: eGeeTouch Smart Luggage Lock)
eGeeTouch Smart Luggage Lock
The Smart Luggage Lock offers hassle free security for personal belongings in luggage. Simply tap a NFC-paired smartphone to unlock luggage. A built-in TSA compliant key lock for US airports is also included.
Since all unattended luggage is now seen as a security risk, this solution adds one more device and another app to your life for no discernible benefit. I also wonder how many bad guys have a copy of the TSA key.
(Image: LG Gflex2)
LG Gflex2 is a cool looking Android cell phone from a highly-regarded manufacturer.
Exactly what does the curve add to my smartphone experience? Is it easier to hold or use? Is it more resistant to damage? The curve sounds like change for no discernible benefit.
Clockety is the world’s first smartphone projection clock. Clockety consists of a lens you attach to your smartphone flash and a smartphone app to set the alarm time when the image of the time will appear on your bedroom ceiling.
I think Clockety is an innovative way to be awakened. However, I don’t think too many people will want to attach the bulky lens every night. That’s necessary because the smartphone won’t fit in your case with the lens on and you can’t use the camera with the extra lens in place.
Prizm learns what music you like and adjusts the environment to suit your needs. You start by downloading the Prizm app and connect it to your music accounts such as SoundCloud, Spotify, Deezer. Then you hook Prizm up to your favorite speakers, and start listening to either random music or from your library or playlists. On its sides, Prizm has heart and X buttons that let you like and dislike songs, teaching Prizm your music preferences. Prizm also takes into account the people in the room have the Prizm app on their smartphones.
Prizm looks like great technology. But where’s the incremental value over playing music from your library or playlists or those of your friends?
(Image: TREWGrip Mobile Dock)
TREWGrip Mobile Dock
I can’t believe this unusual keyboard for smartphones was an award finalist at CES 2014. It’s hugely counter-intuitive. The keys are actually underneath. What you’re seeing in the photo is the key outlines to remind you how the actual keys are arranged on the back.
Why would I buy a device that triples the size and weight of my smartphone? If I want to type a lot, I’d use my laptop.
If you think I’m missing the value proposition on any of these products, please post a comment.