The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is always sure to entertain, and this year is no different. Although the show is loaded with cutting edge innovations like 4K cameras, and the exploding market of wearable fitness gadgets, there are some technologies and gadgets that are unexpected, offbeat or just plain strange lurking around. We've rounded up some of the wackiest thingys of CES 2014.
ChefJet 3D printer
If you're a gadget junkie with a sweet tooth, then 3D Systems Corporation may have just the product for you. The company is launching its ChefJet 3D Printer, a kitchen-ready countertop device that can print sugary treats in all sorts of fun, 3D geometrical shapes. The futuristic candymaker will come with several recipes and flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon. The 3D printer is expected to be available in the second half of 2014, and will cost under $5,000, according to company officials.
The monstrous extraterrestrial cyborg from BBC television series Doctor Who paid a visit to CES 2014, not to exterminate, but to play music. This 6-foot, handmade replica of the Dalek is actually a Bluetooth speaker system made by Massive Audio, a car audio company.
This Dalek is made of 32 woofers on its skirt, and a subwoofer in its head. Equipped with 5,000-watt amplifiers, the "Dalek Massive" is the loudest and largest Bluetooth speaker, the company says.
The one-of-a-kind speaker bot issues commands and obeys any smartphone to stream music via Bluetooth. The company plans to upgrade the Dalek Massive to move its head and limbs too, and then auction it off for charity on eBay. [9 Odd Ways Your Tech Devices May Injure You]
Personal thermal imaging device
With the FLIR ONE personal thermal imaging device, it'll be easy to spot supernatural visitors without having to call the Ghostbusters. The device fits as a case for the iPhone 5 and 5s, and enables users to scan heat signatures around them. FLIR, which stands for forward-looking infrared, is equipped with a visual and thermal camera, and is powered by a battery that can be partitioned to charge your phone on the go. The case is expected to retail for $349, and will be available to purchase in Spring 2014.
For those who want good posture, but don't fancy putting a book on their head, a new gadget could help. The Lumo Lift will zap its wearer every time they slouch. The tiny device clips underneath a collar, undershirt or bra strap, detects the beginnings of a slouch and then vibrates to remind the wearer to stand up straight.
But posture fanatics (and overzealous parents) will have to wait before they clip one on. The company that makes the device, LumoBodyTech.com, is trying to crowd fund the posture device. The company says it hopes to roll out the product by late spring this year, and that it will cost $59 to $79.
Mother is watching you
Finally, a mom you can program to nag you. With eyes that glow and a body that looks like a cross between a bowling pin and a Russian doll, Mother is a gadget that wirelessly receives data from sensors called Motion Cookies that you can place on drawers, coffee machines, keys, pill bottles, doors and even toothbrushes to track activity in your home, The Wall Street Journal reports. The manufacturer Sen.se says its goal for Mother is to bring the Internet of Things into everyday life, helping users track their eating, fitness and hygiene habits and even home security. Mother costs $222 for a base unit and four Cookies, and is expected to start shipping next month. [11 Odd and Intriguing Smart Home Technologies]
Why stop tracking yourself when your head hits the pillow? That's exactly what one company may have been thinking when they developed their smart bed. This $8,000 piece of furniture from Sleep Number promises to track sleep activity and nudge you into blissful rest. How? Using voice commands, a person can change the firmness and elevation of the x12 bed, made of layers of memory foam. Announced at CES 2014, the bed will even give you a massage on command.
The bed's intelligent technology monitors your entire body's movement throughout the night, sending that information to a tablet; if most of the night was fitful, the bed can modify features like firmness to ensure the next night is better. Sleep Number also claims their bed can nix snoring. "By gently moving the snorer up and down the bed opens their airways without interrupting their slumber," the BBC reports.
Debit, credit, or hand-vein scanner payment system?
Imagine if you could pay for something with a mere wave of your hand?
The "PulseWallet" unveiled at CES this week consists of sensors that take a photo of the unique pattern of veins in the palm of your hand, and then deduct payment from a credit card on file. The system is set to come out next month, although its price has not been specified, The Verge reported.
The PulseWallet's makers claim the technology is more secure than other payment options, because it's harder to impersonate someone. But some remain skeptical. "I'm not sure how much I'd trust businesses to keep my vein signature safe even if the company says forgery is virtually impossible," wrote Alyssa Danigelis of Discovery News.
For those suffering from hair loss, California-based engineering company Apira Science Inc. has produced what they call iGrow – a light-weight helmet equipped with 51 lasers and LED lights that supposedly stimulate hair growth through a process called low-level laser therapy (LLLT), Mashable reports. The company claims that the red-glowing lasers excite molecules in hair follicles and stimulate growth, but there are few details about the science behind this process.
For best results, users would have to wear the helmet for about 20 minutes every other day for four to six months, according to the Apira website. And to maintain their results, users would have to continue wearing the helmet every week or so, indefinitely. To spruce up the prospect of needing eternal treatment, the company has retrofitted the helmet with iPod/MP3 interfaced earphones. The product is available online for $695.
Smartphone stun gun
Is this is most dangerous or the most devious phone case at CES? Yellow Jacket showed off the latest version of its iPhone stun gun case this week, which can both fully recharge your phone and jolt an attacker with 650,000 volts. An earlier version, released in 2012, fit the iPhone 4/4S, but the new model fits an iPhone 5/5S, comes in four more colors and has a detachable stun gun pack. It will be sold starting in February for $149, the company says.
3D viewer for iPhone
It may look like a pair of binoculars, but this gadget lets you see videos in 3D using just your iPhone.
Poppy 3D, as the device is called, lets you record and watch 3D videos. To use it, you put your phone in a slot on the top of the device, and Poppy uses mirrors to split the image captured from the camera into two images.
When you look into the viewer, each eye sees just one of the images, and your brain fuses the two images together, so the video appears 3D, according to the makers of the device.
The device costs $59, and can also be used to watch 3D videos available on YouTube.
However, because the image is split, the images taken with Poppy are half the size of regular iPhone photos and videos.
A remote for your pet
Tractive's new "Pet-Remote" prototype promises to help you train your dog to execute commands from afar. The small device fits on the dog's collar. First, you train your dog to perform a command as you normally would — giving a verbal order, and offering treats or praise when Fido gets it right. Next, turn on the Pet-Remote to either vibrate, emit an electronic noise, or both, and teach the dog to associate that feeling or sound with the command.
The idea is that instead of screaming "Snookums, sit!!!" across the dog park when your pooch is misbehaving, you can just press a button on your phone or iPad to get the desired behavior from up to 100 feet away. Will it work? Find out sometime in early 2014, which is when Tractive says it would be able ship the product, if it meets fundraising goals on the crowd-sourcing website IndieGoGo.
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Click for photo credits
Chefjet candies: 3D Systems Corporation
Dalek speaker: Tom Cheredar/YouTube screengrab
FLIR ONE: Laptopmag.com
Lumo Lift: Lumo Body Tech
Bed: Sleep Number screengrab
PulseWallet: pulsewallet.com screengrab
iGrow: Screengrab via Mashable video
iPhone case: Laptopmag.com
Poppy 3D: Joe Heitzeberg/YouTube screengrab