CES is usually bursting at the seams with absolutely pointless stuff that’s been given a technology injection for absolutely no reason. Unlike many before it, this year’s CES was a little less stupid, but 2023 still brought with it some silly stuff.
The following is a wrap-up of everything that made me stop and go, ‘hmm. Do we really need that?’ or ‘Wow this is bizarre, but I kinda really like it’. It’s a very scientific scale, so without further ado.
Getting silly with it at CES 2023
Health tech is a piece of piss
The U-Scan by Withings is not only specifically designed to be used in a toilet bowl, but to be urinated on as well. Stick with us; it’s not as gross as it sounds. There’s only so much health information that can be collected from strapping a smartwatch to your wrist, clipping a pulse oximeter to your finger, or wrapping an inflatable blood pressure cuff around your upper arm. But there’s a reason your doctor gets you to pee in a cup.
Urine tests that can be performed at home aren’t a new idea, but the info they provide is often limited. The U-Scan is a big improvement on what’s out there, providing real-time notification of what’s going on inside you, based on your wee. Yes, it’s not exactly silly but it is, before you drill into it, bizarre.
Torturing you to good health
Another addition to the CES 2023 silly list from the healthcare realm is the BodyFriend ultra high-end massage recliner called the Phantom Medicalcare. It goes for $US9,500 (which if we were to just convert it, you’d be looking at over $13,000). The Phantom Medicalcare looks like a torture chair from a dark, alternate dimension of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies crossed with the front grill of a sports car.
While at CES this year, we tried the chair and here’s what Kyle Barr had to say:
I wasn’t in it for long — probably less than 15 minutes. But when the company finally pried me from the massage machine’s jaws, I stood up and felt… exactly the same as when I went in.
Shark on your desk do do do do do do
Next up is the Cooler Master Shark X PC case. Cooler Master unveiled two silly little PC cases this week at CES 2023, one designed to look like a shoe and the other resembling a shark.
The Shark X is based on the user Inony’s Leviathan case mod, which was designed to resemble an animal-esque robot akin to the designs seen in the game Horizon Zero Dawn. It stands about 25 inches tall, and the company’s specs say it supports a Mini-ITX motherboard, two 2.5-inch drive bays, and has just 335mm of clearance for a graphics card. Despite its wild design, the company said the Shark X case was meant to allow upgrades down the line do do do do do.
A new car smell getter-ridder-of-er-rer
Part of the fun of buying a new car is that distinctive new car smell you only get from a vehicle fresh off the dealer’s lot, but it’s also probably a smell you really shouldn’t be inhaling. Instead of driving around for weeks with all the windows open to get rid of it, Panasonic’s Nanoe X is a portable air purifier that can be perched in a cup holder to clear a vehicle’s interior of unwanted smells.
It makes this list not because it’s not a good idea, it’s just so ridiculously niche and makes me feel poor. It’s not you, Panasonic, it’s me.
Like an Apple Watch but for your noggin’
If you find yourself unable to relax, the FRENZ Brainband might be for you. It’s a subtle, completely not noticeable at all piece of tech that you strap to your forehead and sit back and watch your brain data appear before you in real-time on an app.
The proposition of the FRENZ Brainband is that it’s “the world’s first AI-powered brainband”. I’m not sure how many people are out there making brainbands, so I tend to believe such a claim. The FRENZ Brainband can apparently track your brain signals then stimulate your brain based on that data. It’s got an in-built speaker that can deliver curated soundtracks into your head – ones that encourage sleep, focus or relaxation. This curation is all handled by AI. This is the definition of silly tech – in fact, it’s probably my least liked thing of CES 2023 (aside from the terrible internet reception).
A Vegas casino at home, just add stale cigarettes
Walking through a Las Vegas casino is an assault on the senses, with rows and rows of slot machines packed with lights and speakers designed to lure in players. One of the most popular, which seems to be everywhere in sin city, is a machine based on the iconic game show, Wheel of Fortune, which Arcade1Up has now turned into a home version.
Unlike the slot machines in casinos, Arcade1Up’s Wheel of Fortune Casinocade Deluxe involves no actual gambling or monetary rewards, so you don’t need to worry about applying for a casino licence for your home. Conversely, buying one won’t suddenly let you operate an illegal underground gambling parlor in your basement. What it does do is mix the random experience of a slot machine with the puzzle solving of Wheel of Fortune, with players being awarded points and the chance to end up on a global leaderboard, as the machine comes with Wi’Fi connectivity. The worst thing about Las Vegas is the poker machines and Arcade1Up is on this list because it had the audacity.
Hate exercise even more
The pandemic-induced shift to working from home can make it hard to stay active during the work week. Standing desks, treadmill desks, and bike desks that merge productivity and fitness are one solution to the problem, but Acer’s eKinekt BD 3 takes things one step further by turning a day’s worth of mindless pedalling into power to charge devices like laptops and smartphones.
It definitely has an appeal to some, but it’s a terrible idea and I’d like to keep work and personal life separate and really wish companies would stop trying to blend the boundaries that are already disgustingly thin.
BMW was back (get it? It’s an Arnie reference)
We could talk about BMW’s new AI concept car, Dee, but instead I want to focus on the car maker’s CES 2023 keynote guests. Arnold Schwarzenegger was brought out on stage with the Terminator theme playing behind him. Although obnoxious, it wasn’t a gigantic surprise, as he was part of a pre-produced video, which showed a live story and Schwazzernegger arguing with Dee. David Hasselhoff was also there (and so was KITT, yes, the Pontiac Transam with red lights and AI). Herbie was also there for some reason?
Anyway, the concept car is “the perfect digital car of the future” and it is available in 32 colours (you can cycle one a day for a month as it’s all handled software side).
I’m AFEELAing something and it’s not good
Still on cars and Sony made a brand new car brand. It’s called Afeela because, at the heart of Sony’s idea for a “mobility experience” is (wait for it), the word “feel”. It’s a car that looks like a Tesla Cybertruck that’s been upscaled so much that its edges are rounded. It’s…I’m not sure what else it is to be honest because the keynote didn’t delve too far into its specs but what we do know is that the Afeela “represents [Sony’s] concept of an interactive relationship where people feel the sensation of intelligent mobility and where mobility can detect and understand people and society by utilising sensing and AI technologies”.
Got any (car) games?
Car makers and tech companies really do be thinking we’ve got a lot of time to kill while on a drive. Either that, or they know how bad our attention span is and really want to profit off that by giving us a gaming console in a vehicle.
Nvidia didn’t care about that time Tesla got absolutely dragged on its decision to have games available for those behind the wheel. Nvidia didn’t address the issue of a driver being distracted by a game, something we’ve long chastised Tesla for, but Nvidia has made it very clear this play is gearing up for a future where there’s no human driver. Nvidia’s cloud gaming service, GeForce NOW, is coming soon to an EV near you.
There were so, so many more silly things on the show floor at CES 2023, but these are the ones we couldn’t stop thinking about. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
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