Bring on the Strange
The Consumer Electronics Show isn't all about hot products from major tech vendors. Venture further away from the big booths, and you'll find rows of off-beat ideas from companies you might never hear from again. Here are 15 of the weirdest gadgets from CES 2011.
I Am T-Pain Microphone
Pictured here with T-Pain is a microphone that auto-tunes you like the hip-hop artist. The prototype on display at the show was a little wonky--it certainly didn't make T-Pain sound great--but let's be honest, are you really going to spend $40 on this thing when it launches in the fall?
The TV Hat
The Mad Hatter's got nothing on OLED-equipped headgear from Recom. The company claims that Verizon Wireless and Gamestop saw 15 percent higher conversions when fitting their employees with tiny video screens. You can run your own tests by ordering the $199 screens from videonametag.com.
Ion's iCade for iPad
The iCade was originally a fictional product, mocked up by gadget seller ThinkGeek as an April Fool's joke. But people loved the idea, so Ion had the iPad arcade cabinet created for real. It launches in April or May for $99 and includes Asteroids, and Atari is partnering to sell other games through the App Store.
Inductive Heating Food
The food of the future will come with its own power button: Using Fulton Innovation's inductive charger, this can of Campbell's Chunky soup heats up faster and more efficiently than a microwave while staying mildly warm to the touch on the outside.
RotorConcept's Chopper With Camera
Yup, it's a remote-controlled helicopter, which is impressive enough on its own, but this one from RotorConcept has a techie twist: On board is a 720-by-480 resolution video camera, which can wirelessly provide a live feed to a PC. It sells for $499 plus shipping at rotorconcept.com.
eTime Home Endoscope
Finally--a way to peer into your loved ones' mouths and ears, putting their orifices on display in a live computer video feed. The endoscope also doubles as an electronic microscope, as seen here.
Seal Shield Washable Keyboards, Mouses
These dishwasher-friendly PC peripherals have been on the market for years, but seeing a keyboard safely dunked into a bucket of water never gets old. This year's addition is a waterproof TV remote control.
This pair of pulsating hands is supposed to relax the body when stuck to your sore spots, but every time they vibrated, my shoulders tensed up uncontrollably. Therapeutic? Not sure, but it was the weirdest massage I've ever had.
Breffo Spider PodiumTablet
One of the cleverest tablet stands I've seen is also one of the creepiest. Just keep most of the legs out of sight, and no one will think you've re-purposed a dead, gigantic spider for technological purposes.
Mint by Evolution Robotics
The Mint robot dusts and mops your floor with help from a cube-shaped beacon that maps out your room. But more importantly, it sometimes performs a choreographed dance to Boom Boom Pow.
With Google TV getting Android apps soon and phone makers like Sony building full HDMI out support into their handsets, Android TVs from Haier and Hisense are unlikely to find a home in the United States. At least they're fun to look at.
Casio Prizm Graphing Calculator
This is not the graphing calculator you had to use for 8th grade calculus. Inspired by smartphones, the Casio Prizm, in stores now for $129, has an app-style menu and 16-bits of color, but still cranks for 130 hours on four AAA batteries. And it can probably be hacked to play some awesome games.
Steve Jobs iPad Sticker
In case anyone questions your dedication to the Cult of Mac, this iPad sticker, which looks like embossed metal, erases all doubt. Unfortunately, Ozaki hasn't yet decided whether to manufacture the product line, which for fence-sitters also includes a Bill Gates sticker.
Sphero by Orbotix
Just a rolling ball remote-controlled by iOS or Android devices, the best part about Sphero is the boost button, for when you need that extra oomph. I had a great time trying -- and failing miserably -- to jump a small ramp that Orbotix had set up on floor. It should be out by year-end for less than $100.
Fancy a bit of technology in your food? The iGrill is a meat thermometer that snakes out to a counter-top appliance and transmits temperature data to iOS devices via Bluetooth. The free app also includes cooking tips and recipes. Tip one: Don't burn the chicken while playing with your iPad.