From Alexa toilets to porn-star experience: The ‘WTF’ side of CES

Each year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas debuts amazing new technologies. For anyone who wants to know what’s hot in the world of tech, CES is the place to be. Even so, not all of the tech showcased at CES is drool-worthy. Over the years, CES has gained something of a reputation for featuring some rather strange and wacky tech devices alongside the latest and greatest consumer electronics. As such, I thought that it might be fun to take a look at some of the more outlandish and bizarre CES offerings, past and present.

On a more personal note, when I became a tech journalist back in 1995, I never expected to be writing about toilets, vacuum cleaners, and brothels, and yet here we are. LOL!

Alexa-powered toilet

CES
Kohler

Without a doubt, the most WTF product to debut at the 2018 CES show was an Alexa powered toilet. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Kohler’s flagship Numi toilet features ambient LED lighting, a heated seat, foot warmers, and yes, voice control. Perhaps the most amusing of the Numi’s features is its support for personalization profiles. I’m sure that you have seen cars that feature memory seats in which profiles can be stored for several drivers. The Numi’s personalization feature isn’t exactly like that, but it does provide presets for each user so that the toilet will conform to each individual person’s preferences.

Smart hairbrush

When I think of high-tech consumer electronics, a hairbrush isn’t exactly the first thing to come to mind. Even so, CES 2017 brought us the Kerastase Hair Coach. It’s a connected hairbrush with a built-in microphone that listens to the sound as you brush your hair. It uses the sound to determine if your hair is frizzy, dry, etc. Sensors within the brush can also tell whether your hair is wet or dry, and its built-in accelerometer can tell you if you are brushing too fast or too hard.

Muzzle for smartphone users?

CES
Hushme

The Hushme debuted at CES 2017 as a solution for those of us who need a bit of privacy when talking on the phone in public places. This gadget wraps around your face, making you look a bit like Bane, a villain from one of the Batman movies. It uses sound absorbent material and voice-cancellation technology to prevent your voice from being heard by others. I have no idea whether or not it actually works, but one thing is for sure. Walk around wearing this device, and you are sure to get some looks from people.

Vacuum cleaner shoes

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One more odd item from CES 2017 was the Denso Vacuum Shoes. Yes, it’s a pair of shoes with vacuum cleaners built into them. As you walk, the shoes suck up whatever is in front of you. Pay no attention to the fact that you now sound like a vacuum cleaner as you walk down the sidewalk.

The one thing that was kind of cool about these shoes is that they do not use batteries. The shoes are powered by the motion that you generate when you walk.

Helite Hip Air

I debated whether or not to include this item in this article. On one hand, it is definitely wacky enough to earn a spot in a blog post on WTF technology. On the other hand, this one might actually have a place in the real world.

Helite Hip Air is an oversized belt (think professional wrestling) that contains accelerometers and airbags. The belt is designed to be worn by the elderly. If the accelerometers sense that the wearer is falling, it deploys airbags to prevent them from breaking a hip.

Smart toothbrush

One more item from CES 2018 that I just had to mention is the Magik Smart Toothbrush. This toothbrush is paired with a video game that is designed to help kids to do a better job of brushing their teeth. The game, which is called Magik Mirror, uses a device’s webcam to place the kid in the middle of the game. Monsters in the game go around spreading cavities, and it is the kid’s job to eradicate the cavities by brushing their teeth.

If I am to be brutally honest, the game sounds kind of lame. I think most kids would probably rather be playing the latest Xbox or PlayStation game instead. While it is plausible that the game might appeal to some kids, I can’t help but to wonder about toothpaste splattered screens and wounded gums resulting from particularly aggressive gaming sessions.

Headless cat

A company named Yukai Engineering showed off its Qoobo robotic pillow at this year’s CES. It appears as though the Qoobo has been on the market for a couple of years, but it’s possible that the company was showing off a new version at CES. I’m not sure.

At any rate, the Qoobo is a furry pillow that has a robotic tail. When you stroke the pillow, it wags its tail. The company markets the pillow as a therapy robot that is intended for use by those who cannot have a pet. If you have ever wanted a pet that is missing its head and limbs, then the Qoobo might just be for you.

Sleep robot

CES
Somnox

Not to be outdone by a headless cat, a company named Somnox showed off its sleep robot at this year’s CES. The sleep robot, which looks like a pillow, is designed to help you slow down your breathing in an effort to make it easier to fall asleep. The idea is that you hold the pillow against yourself, and the pillow moves in a way that mimics breathing. Your own respiratory rate eventually falls into sync with the pillow. The pillow also plays sounds that are designed to be soothing.

Willow bra

Another somewhat strange item that was featured at this year’s CES was Willow, a bra containing a built-in breast pump. Now admittedly, I’m not a woman and am therefore a bit clueless about this sort of thing. Even so, I cannot imagine that this item would be particularly comfortable to wear. I can also imagine what would happen at a security checkpoint if someone were to wear this bra to the airport.

CES: A walk on the wild side

As strange as some of the items on the show floor may be, it isn’t just the exhibitors who are showing off new and unusual technologies. Sometimes local businesses will adopt new tech in an effort to lure in CES attendees. That’s exactly Sheri’s Ranch (a nearby brothel) did during this year’s CES. The well-known Nevada brothel has created an Alexa powered “porn star experience” for CES attendees. Seriously.

Here’s how it works. Once the action starts, a patron can simply say “Alexa, begin the porn star experience.” Upon hearing those fateful words, Alexa closes the shutters, turns on the lights, and starts recording the scene on multiple cameras. A backend computer system automatically edits the footage together in real-time, cutting between the various camera angles. At the end of the session, the client is given an SD card containing a copy of the movie.

CES is the busiest time of the year for Sheri’s Ranch, with business increasing by 70 percent, so it only makes sense that the brothel would take measures to try to appeal to the CES crowd. And for those who may be wondering, no, I did not make a side trip to Sheri’s Ranch for a firsthand look.

Featured image: Flickr / Marco Verch

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