There was lots of new tech to check out at CES 2016, but you could argue that the majority of the big-ticket items weren't the most unique things in the world. Thankfully, there were a few innovative, unconventional ideas on display, and here are some of our favorites.
Have you ever found yourself sitting around, smartphone in one hand and vape pen in the other, and felt like there's just gotta be an easier way to do this?
Well, thanks to Vaporcade, you can put your worries to rest. The company's Jupiter IO cellular vaping phones come in two models, the IO 3 (3G) and IO 4 (4G LTE). Jupiter runs on Android 4.4 KitKat, and has two batteries that claim to give you up to 16 hours of vaping and phone use (the battery life can double up and last longer if you forgo vaping).
The IO 3 costs $299, while the IO 4 comes in at $499. Jupiters come bundled in a Lightning Box, a sleek-looking storage case that you can also use to charge your device.
Flavors are loaded into your phone via "shuttles," which Vaporcade also sells. So far there are five to choose from: Black Pearl (coffee), Defiant (peach), Red Dragon ("crisp Fall flavors" according to the website, so... pumpkin spice?), Serenity (raspberry), and The Q (menthol).
Genworth demonstrated its R70i "Aging Experience" suit, which is designed to give the wearer a feeling of what it's like to live as an elderly person.
The suit simulates conditions like glaucoma and hearing loss, and also restricts your movement to make it feel like your body has degenerated. The suit is controlled by a backpack-type case that houses the electronics and power system.
Genworth's idea behind the R70i is to teach people what it's like to feel old so that they will have a better idea of what to expect at that age, and might begin planning ahead of time. It also provides a "walk a mile in their shoes" experience, which could help us feel a little more empathy toward seniors.
Maybe someone can take this suit and tweak it so that it enhances the user's abilities rather than diminishes them, which would probably be a lot more useful.
Medical Wearable Solutions is fighting back against "Gameboy disease" with its new EyeForcer. Your child wears these smart glasses/frames while they're on a device, and the EyeForcer can switch off the device if they've been on it too long, or if they begin to slouch.
Your children will still resent you, but at least they'll do the resenting with good posture. No information regarding pricing and availability has been released.
The Ripple Maker, from Ripples, is an app-controlled gizmo that you use to decorate a cup of coffee. This is a nice enough idea, but the thing costs a whopping $1,299 and doesn't even brew the coffee—you have to do that separately.
Would it be kind of funny to use the Ripple Make to insult your guests with some off-color language or a sepia-toned meme? Sure. But $1,300 funny? Hell no.
Big Ideas Marketing showed off these flashing light and sound posters that you click to turn on.
The posters, which feature Marvel characters like Spider-Man and The Avengers, also react to sound, and they can be attached to clothing so that you can go to a concert and annoy everyone with a blinking Captain America shield.
AvatarMind presents this robotic babysitter of sorts to keep an eye on and entertain your kid(s) while you're off at work or out for a night on the town. Not only is the iPal autonomous, it records and saves data regarding your child's likes, dislikes, and other preferences, and can use them in the future to better interact with your kid. And unlike a normal babysitter, the iPal won't go raiding your booze cabinet. Well, hopefully.
The cartoonish automaton also has a screen in its chest that parents can connect to for video conferencing with their child. The iPal can even teach children the basics of computer programming, allowing children to create stories and dances for its iPal. Hopefully nobody gets the idea to teach it this dance.
The idea in itself isn't so strange, it's the design that really hammers home the WTF of it all. The cold, lifeless black eyes somehow look even creepier when they're lit up. And it might be a good idea to reconsider painting the inside of the thigh black—iPal looks like it's packing something between the thighs that just might be a wee bit inappropriate for young children.
Wezzoo brought us its oombrella, the world's first smart and connected umbrella, presumably made for people who are neither smart nor connected. The oombrella sends you alerts about incoming inclement weather so that you can deploy your trusty oombrella before the rain even begins to fall, lest you get splashed by a couple drops of precipitation while reaching for it.
SmartyPans is working on crowd-sourcing a frying pan that communicates with an app to give you detailed information about what you're cooking. It tells you how hot the pan is. It weighs the ingredients in the pan to tell you if you've added the correct amount. It tells you how many calories your meal contains. You can probably use it to bash unwanted pests.
This seems like a nice idea, but wouldn't it work better if you weighed your ingredients prior to preparing them and dumping them in a hot pan? Or maybe just look at a recipe? There also better be some serious heat protection in the SmartyPan if it's able to withstand constantly being exposed to open flames.
You can detach the pan itself from the handle to use as a serving dish. It's also safe for baking and you can wash it in the dishwasher. So I guess that's good.
The SmartyPans blog has a post about how crickets will be an important source of protein in the future. I guess it could be worse. But come to think of it, the concept of protein bars made from bugs does sound familiar. Ah, yes. On second thought, let's not do that.