CES is known as a launch pad for all kinds of gadgets, from TVs and phones to electric cars. But between all the big names are dozens of other innovations, some of which are more…let’s say interesting…than others. From color-changing cars to a device that lets you communicate with your dog, here are 10 of the weirdest and wackiest things we saw at CES 2022.
No CES would be complete without some sort of animatronic animal. The Maicat, appearing on a Kickstarter campaign near you, is an AI-driven robotic cat that’s dotted with sensors, will purr and react to pets and contacts, and be able to recognize up to 100 different people . The more you interact with him, the more he will respond to your affections, just like the real one. Even better: you won’t have to clean his litter box. —Mike Prospero
Billed as the “world’s first emotional LED mask”, it will probably also be the world’s last. Like Daft Punk run amok, Qudi’s full face masks sport an array of 199 LEDs around the eyes and lower face area and, via a smartphone app, allow you to program them in any number of patterns and colours. It will also light up green and display a “yes” if you nod, and turn red and display “no” if you shake your head. You can pick up the mask now for $289 and provide excellent nightmare fuel to anyone who crosses your path. —Mike Prospero
BMW iX stream
Henry Ford offered the Model T in any color as long as it was black, but those days are long gone and BMW is taking the opposite approach: the BMW iX stream can switch between black and white at the touch of a button. How does he do this? It has a triangular wrap covering its body panels, which uses the same E Ink technology that powers e-readers. Ford says the colors could change to help you find the car in a parking lot or to communicate diagnostic battery information – but we just think it would be fun to scare people by driving past them in a car that changes color. — Marc McLaren
I have a dog. He is a chocolate Labrador and he is affectionate, energetic and very stinky. But he’s not particularly bright. Could technology help him communicate with me? The manufacturers of the FluentPet Login (opens in a new tab) system would say so, and based on the success of their first product, I’m inclined to believe them. FluentPet HexTile launched 18 months ago and has since earned over $7 million from viral videos showing pets learning to “talk” by pressing colored buttons to indicate their needs, wants and, who knows, maybe their hopes and dreams.
FluentPet Connect builds on that with improved design, sound and functionality, including Bluetooth-enabled HexTiles and a new FluentPet mobile app. It will cost $69, with a HexTile extension available for an additional $49, and will start shipping in the spring. — Marc McLaren
It’s only at CES that you hear the phrase “invisible headphones” and don’t instantly dismiss it as ridiculous. The Noveto N1 is far from ridiculous, however, sending sound to your ears via ultrasound so that no one but you can hear it. That’s right – you could be standing in a crowded room listening to death metal/Beethoven (remove where applicable) and those around you would only hear a whisper. It even has face tracking, so you can move your head without it breaking. We don’t know how much it’ll cost or when it’ll be released, and we haven’t heard it with our own ears yet – but it’s definitely one of the standouts at CES 2022. — Marc McLaren
Cyberpower PC Kinetic Case
As described by our colleague, “the Cyberpower PC Kinetic case looks like something out of a David Cronenberg movie: a facsimile of a living being, warped beyond recognition, but just familiar enough to be uncanny.” Rather than traditional vents, the Kinetic case has a series of 18 bronze prisms that open and close algorithmically to control airflow through the computer case. You have to see it to believe it. There’s no price listed yet, but Cyberpower says it’s coming soon. —Mike Prospero
Ible Airvida E1
If you had told me in 2019 that a) wearable air purifiers worn around the neck would be a thing and b) it wouldn’t even be a weird thing, due to a global pandemic, I would have walked away mumbling something about the dangers of drugs. But here we are, with the Ible Airvida E1 – not just a portable air purifier, but also a pair of noise canceling headphones. And it’s a product that really makes sense in 2022. After all, having access to properly purified air has never been more vital, but portable air purifiers still tend to attract some weird looks. Combining them with headphones solves this problem, making them much more ordinary while protecting you from stray virus particles. We don’t expect them to make our best headphones list, mind you. — Marc McLaren
We’ve heard of – and experienced – many instances where we talk about a random product and then all of a sudden it pops up on our phone or somewhere else. Could our phones be listening to us? Depending on your level of paranoia, the Pozio Cradle might be the perfect gadget for you. While the Pozio pad charges your phone (via a Qi wireless charger), it also emits some sort of signal that prevents your phone’s microphones from picking up anything. The company has already released a similar device for Amazon Echo and Echo Dot; the smartphone cradle ($119) is available now for purchase. —Mike Prospero
Watching our feathered friends has become a bigger pastime during lockdown; there’s something escapist about watching something fly free when we’re trapped in our homes. The Bird Buddy adds a technological angle to the traditional bird feeder by placing a wireless camera right in front; more than that, it will automatically take photos of any birds that come to the feeder, and an AI is trained to recognize over 1,000 species. A built-in microphone also lets you hear their tweets, though we’re pretty sure the squirrels will decimate this thing in no time. You can pre-order the Bird Buddy now for $199, but it won’t ship until June. —Mike Prospero
Let’s face it: since the launch of the iPhone, smartphone design has become a bit boring. Almost all phones these days are rectangular slabs. For those who aren’t square ankles, there’s the Cyrclephone, a – you guessed it – circular phone. Inside this ovoid are a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, two 13 MP cameras and an 800 x 800 pixel screen. Its software is a bit dated, as it runs Android 10 and only has an LTE radio. But who cares, because it’s a circle! Even crazier, the Cyrclephone has two SIM card slots, a removable battery and not one, but two headphone jacks. Take that, Apple! —Mike Prospero