For more than half a century, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been the place for companies and inventors to display their newest and coolest gadgets and gear, and for investors and trend-spotters to take a gander at the technology of the future. Often, the most successful reveals will become part of our everyday lives.
Now-iconic items unveiled at past CES events include the VCR (1970), the camcorder (1981) and the Xbox (2001). Which inventions from this year’s CES, held this week in Las Vegas, will become as popular? Here are our picks for some of the most interesting, innovative, and simply smile-worthy entries.
The Lounge Chair-Mobile
If you’re older than 30 you may remember when the Segway debuted, back in 2001. After months of speculation and hype, the thing turned out to be a…$5,000 scooter. Sure, its self-balancing gyroscope technology was cool, but most people agreed it was goofy at best. Well, two decades later, Segways are all over our streets, used by airport workers, urban police officers, tourists and more. And this year’s CES brought the Segway’s successor: the S-Pod. Basically a giant, egg-shaped rolling chair controlled by a joystick, it’s earning some of the same jibes as the Segway before it: “a ridiculous lounge chair on wheels,” “a self-balancing stroller,” etc. It’s meant as a car substitute for short city drives (it can go up to 24 miles an hour) or an easy way of getting around large indoor spaces like malls. All giggles inside, we won’t be the least surprised if this is as popular as the Segway in 20 years.
The Sweet Little Rolling Robot
In an effort to make A.I. devices a little more adorable, Samsung has released Ballie, a tennis ball-esque robot that can follow you around the house, answer your questions, and entertain your pets. Since it’s equipped with a camera, it can keep tabs on your home while you’re away. It’s like a smart assistant that goes wherever you do, rolling into your bedroom to ring your wake-up alarm, rolling to the kitchen to turn on the toaster and giving you the weather report as you brush your teeth.
The Insoles to Pick Up Your Pace
Any runner knows the right shoes are crucial to your speed. But Nurvv insoles, which debuted at CES this year, promise more than mere cushioning. The sensor-imbedded insoles transmit data to a coaching app, which offers insights on your technique and performance. The sensors measure cadence, stride length, foot strike and so forth, in an effort to assess your injury risk. The app then generates personalized workouts to set targets and help you beat your best speeds. Half marathon, here you come!
The Bike that Rides on Water
Did you ever wish your bike was a bit more…aquatic? OK, maybe not, but once you see the Manta5 Hydrofoil Bike the whole proposition will seem a bit less absurd. It’s basically a bike body with hydrofoil blades instead of pedals, making it look a bit like some strange human-powered airplane. To get going fast enough to make it glide easily over the water’s surface, it’s equipped with electric pedal assist. Rumor has it it’s extremely fun to ride. Imagine cycling across your favorite lake to the far shore for a picnic and swimming, then cycling back. For an introductory price of $7,500 you can do just that (regular price will be another $1,500, starting in April).
The At-Home Science Lab
In a world where you can buy DNA tests at Target and amateur biohackers inject themselves with gene modification technology, it only makes sense that someone would market an “all-in-one biolab” for the citizen scientist. The Feles Box comes with equipment for incubation and electrophoresis, a thermocycler, a centrifuge and a spectrometer. It can be used for anything you can imagine—botany, DNA research, even molecular gastronomy. It’s currently in preorder for $3,000.
The Data-Enhanced Grill
While an experienced grillmaster works by sight, smell and feel, a less-seasoned chef may appreciate Weber’s new Smart Grilling Hub. The Hub can dock several wired meat thermometers at once, meaning you can monitor your pork shoulder, your turkey and that t-bone, while an app dispenses advice about cooking technique and safe temperatures. Its doneness timer takes the guesswork out of dinner timing—no more ruining your appetite on chips and dip while waiting for those chicken thighs to hit 165 degrees.
The No-Studio-Needed Yoga Class
Can’t keep up your commitment to a yoga studio membership? The Yoganotch personal yoga assistant uses motion capture technology to let you drop in to a (virtual) class any time you want. Follow along with a set series while 3-D sensors tell you whether you need to straighten your legs in downward dog or lean into your lunge a bit more. The idea is that it improves your form while reducing the risk of injury. Plus, the fact that your yoga pants are in the wash is no longer an excuse for not getting a workout.
The Smart Baby Monitor
For your data-optimized baby, Pampers has unveiled Lumi, a system of interconnected activity monitors, a camera and an app. A diaper-mounted monitor tells you when your baby’s wet or awake, while the nursery camera monitors not just the baby’s actions but also the room’s temperature and humidity. All the info is fed into an app, which generates charts about your baby’s habits and routines. Which, as any parent knows, will surely change the moment you’ve figured them out!