Weird and whacky gadgets at CES 2019

The CES in Las Vegas, technology’s biggest show of the year, is drawing to a close. Over the past week, artificial intelligence has been seen to have invaded virtually every industry and product. Driverless cars stuffed to the gills with technology, robotics, and health-oriented gadgets have joined stunning TVs, powerful gaming gear and interesting smartphones on the vast show arena. But what is CES without its weird and whacky products — things that surprise, delight and sometimes just make you smack your forehead wondering how much crazier it can get. Here’s a small sampling of such products….

The weird and the whacky

A little gadget that got quite a lot of attention is the Y-Brush. It comes from a French company called FasTeesH and isn’t shaped like a regular toothbrush at all. Instead it’s like a mouth guard or even like false teeth. Whatever it looks like, it cleans teeth in 10 seconds flat. No more need to go through the tedious two full minutes of brushing recommended by all. It’s more of a mouth brush and has a stand-like structure attached to it rather than the familiar long toothbrush handle. The Y-Brush fits either the top row or bottom row of teeth at one go and the motor in the stand vibrates passing them on to the nylon bristles in the mouthpiece. They end up cleaning the entire row of teeth all at once — and that’s what saves time. The clever Y-Brush is a Kickstarter project, in case you want to support it and eventually get one of your own.

Staying in the bathroom, we have the Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet from Koehler, a company that specialises in smart bathroom tech. Their current solution fits high quality speakers that are, you guessed it, Alexa enabled. You can now talk to your toilet, telling it to play music, heat the toilet seat, and be a personal dryer. Automatic flushing, opening and closing the lid or seat, UV sanitation wand and ambient lighting presets are also part of the ‘immersive’ toilet. You can also choose to listen to the weather forecast, news or traffic information while you do what you have to do. This setup costs a whopping $7,000 to $8,000 to put in place.

Sound(less) sleep

Moving to the bedroom, Hupnos sleep mask lets your snoring meet your smartphone for some snore-free sleep. The mask fits over your face and there’s a guide on exactly how a little cushion goes under the nose and the elastic bands fit over the head.

It looks like a hybrid between a sleep mask and a scuba mask that goes over your nose to control your breathing while you sleep. Once it’s in place, you say good night and the companion app detects and records your snores. Moment of truth for those who refuse to believe they snore. When the app hears a snore, it vibrates to encourage you to move to another position to snore less or not at all. Apparently the vibration is gentle enough not to wake you but to nudge you to roll over. The mask itself is supposed to help respiration for better sleep. The app is actually very detailed and tracks many patterns, giving you the chance to fix problems. This mask is already up for order at $170.

Follow me home

This one will turn heads at the airport. A company called ForwardX has designed a suitcase called Ovis that follows you around. One of Ovis’ most impressive pieces of technology is its capability to understand what it sees, says ForwardX. It uses complex algorithms that enable it to move along with you side by side, not just behind you causing you to have to keep looking back. It turns and matches your pace quite deftly. “The obstacle avoidance algorithm of Ovis is based on self-driving technology; Ovis is able to accurately sense and assess the environment, calculate the distance, and estimate the direction and route to avoid potential obstacles, with a deviation precision of +/- 1cm” says ForwardX. The company also has a lawnmower that uses similar technology and uses visual recognition to navigate the area assigned to it.

AI feeds your pets

While we’re on the subject of recognition, a product called Mookkie Pet Feeder from Italian company Volta puts AI to work for this everyday task. It’s meant for those who have a lot of pets or who want to assign the feeding task rather than do it themselves. The feeder recognises the face of each pet and delivers the right amount of food — or no food at all, if the pet is being needlessly greedy. “Through a wide-angle camera that deploys logic similar to the “face-unlock” feature of modern smartphones, Mookkie records images of the animal for which food is intended, then deploys the trillion operations per second necessary for visual recognition, allowing the product to visually identify the presence of the pet and activate a door opening to allow access to food, according to the company. The bowl is special and the food is kept clean and fresh. Mookkie is both patented and award-winning.