Welcome, friends, to the first 2018 installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, where we attempt to find the most compelling new gadgets that somehow survived a development process that lasted through the guttural wretchedness of 2017.
In our CES-packed edition this time around are a camera that allows you to hop back in time, a tiny wearable to monitor sun exposure, a mobile retail space that can come to you, an AR game controller, and an, um, Alexa-connected toilet.
As always, the ratings relate only to how much I’d like to use these myself. These are not reviews, mainly because I’ve never even seen these items in the same physical space as myself.
Turning Back Time
Roader’s Time Machine Camera is designed to hang around your neck and, for up to seven hours of battery life, constantly capture what it sees. When you hit a button, it saves the last 10 seconds of footage as well as the following 10.
You can send a low-resolution version of that 20-second clip to your smartphone immediately, and if you’d like to save a high-resolution version, you can grab that too.
It could be a great solution for people who always find themselves just missing an important or interesting moment occurring right in front of them.
By the time you grab your phone, open the camera, and hit record, it’s often too late. Having the chance to capture a child’s first word when it’s unexpected might be priceless for parents.
It’s not quite the most subtle-looking device, and maybe there’s a way to incorporate this tech into clothing so it’s less conspicuous. I do wonder, though, how many times I’d be able to capture myself slipping on ice over the next few months.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Forever Moments
I’ve long been ambivalent on wearables, but L’Oreal has concocted one I’d have to be a monster not to get behind. UV Sense needs no battery and is small enough to fit on a fingernail. Its sensor monitors your exposure to ultraviolet light and lets you know when it might be time for you to take shelter.
It uses NFC to communicate with your phone rather than WiFi or Bluetooth. Since this is a L’Oreal gizmo, it can suggest some products based on your skin tone and exposure.
It’s a fantastic idea, and if it can help prevent at least one case of melanoma, it will have been a worthwhile endeavor. However, for me, I’m more content to hang out in the shade anyway. Give me moderate temperatures or give me my bed.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Averted Skin Cancers
Bringing You Everything and Everywhere
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of CES this year was Toyota’s autonomous vehicle, e-Palette. Partnering with the likes of Pizza Hut, Uber, Mazda, Amazon and Didi, this is sort of an autonomous van, bringing your orders and letting you try things before you buy in a mobile retail space, which is not entirely possible with typical online shopping.
It can be used for ride-sharing too, which could be a boon for cities dealing with too much congestion. Toyota’s playing the long game here, with testing expected to start in 2020.
While the e-Palette is very much a concept for now, it’s another step toward autonomous transportation and delivery. And, heck, if it helps avoid my Amazon deliveries being left outside when a driver can’t wait 15 seconds for me to get the door, I have to support this to the largest degree.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Who Needs Drivers Anymores?
What’s CES without its more fun side? Merge VR has created the 6DoF Blaster, a plastic toy gun with a space for your smartphone that you can use for augmented-reality or mixed-reality gaming.
It brings to mind the light gun game controllers of old or even the Wiimote. Only this time, one won’t need to be tethered to a game console.
I can imagine developers creating a game that uses a whole bunch of these, and leads groups of friends to a park for a mass laser tag-style encounter. It’s a game I just made up that I already can’t wait to play.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Pew Pews
Kohler’s Numi is an Alexa-connected toilet. That’s right.
It can warm the seat as you get close and flush automatically when you’re done, like myriad public restrooms you’ve seen. It can have various presets adjusted to the preferences of everyone in your home, and can even play music if you have a compatible speaker.
It uses UV light to sanitize and warm water for cleansing, and has a warm-air dryer, and ambient lighting, all of which seem a bit much for one of the oldest and most important pieces of technology in human history.
There’s even a touchscreen remote, for heaven’s sake, and of course, there are voice controls too.
I can’t sniff at the automatic deodorizer, though. That’s one feature that all toilets should have.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Do Not Disturbs