Innovative Spirit

Seven Wild Gadgets Unveiled at CES 2017

From a levitating speaker to vibrating jeans that help you navigate city streets, these innovations offer an interesting glimpse of the future

LG exhibited a new levitating speaker. (LG)
smithsonianmag.com

Last week, more than 165,000 people from 150 countries flocked to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Now in its 50th year, the event showcases next generation technology to infiltrate every aspect of your life. And this year, the more than 3,800 exhibiting companies did not disappoint, introducing attendees to smart-everything from Bluetooth-enabled toasters to spaceship-like concept cars.

Though some of these products could improve quality of life (at least for those who can afford them), others seem just plain wacky. But this eccentricity is all part of technological evolution, Mark Hung, a vice president at Gartner Research, explains to the Associated Press.

"When an industry is nascent, you will see experimentation," he says. "Companies will throw things against the wall to see what sticks."

What do you think? Will any of these seven gadgets go mainstream?

Levitating Speaker

LG’s new levitating speakers are one of the many technologies at CES that may make you ask the question: Why? The answer: Why not?

The cylindrical white speaker floats just inches above its subwoofer “Levitation Station” with the aid of electromagnets. With a single charge the device is supposed to deliver up to ten hours of playback. Once the charge runs out, the speaker slowly docks on the base to wirelessly charge while still playing your tunes of choice. The 360-degree speaker should also survive bouts with foul weather during outdoor use, according to a press release.

It’s unclear whether the levitation actually improves sound quality, however. And this is not the first levitating speaker out there—with previous iterations ranging from UFO-shaped to Death Star-shaped devices. But LG’s new gadget is out to send a message, says Brian Kwon, president and CEO of LG’s Home Entertainment Company. “Our latest addition to our growing lineup of premium wireless audio devices is not only eye-catching but also communicates the message that LG is serious about bringing something different to the table.”

About Maya Wei-Haas
Maya Wei-Haas

Maya Wei-Haas is the assistant editor for science and innovation at Smithsonian.com. Her work has appeared on National Geographic and AGU's Eos and Plainspoken Scientist.

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