CES: Consumer Excess Show
Each year tech nerds from around the globe converge on Sin City for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to get first looks at the near future of gizmos. Walking the floor of the expo, you’re surrounded by some truly incredible tech that will certainly enhance our lives. Conversely, you can also stumble onto some earnest tech that ranges from unnecessary to downright terrifying. Here’s a collection of some of the most absurd technologies from CES 2018.
CES isn’t just a straight-laced trade show. There are tons of corporate-sponsored parties and after-hours events that allow attendees to partake in some of the more leisure-focused offerings of Las Vegas. Most of these events entice party-goers with promises of access to big names in tech or with free food and drink. Others might go a little overboard with their PR stunts. This year, that honor (or shame) is bestowed upon Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club and their creepy Orwellian robot strippers.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, these bots are less Pris and Zhora from Blade Runner and more like a scintillating pair of gyrating fax machines. The website of Sapphire Las Vegas invited patrons to “Come watch sparks fly as the Robo Twins shake their hardware and leave everyone wondering if those double Ds are real or made in ‘Silicone’ Valley.” How charming.
However, it seems that the organizers of this spectacle completely missed the point of these particular robots. The artist who built the bots, Giles Walker, said that he was influenced by the increasing numbers of CCTV cameras which made him want to explore voyeurism and turn that on its head by making the cameras themselves “sexy.”
Weight-Loss Brain Zapper
Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry filled with fads and endless gimmicks promising to not only help you lose weight but to do it with the least amount of effort from you. Usually, when a weight loss product sounds too good to be true, it likely is. This brings us to the second of CES’s absurd technologies, the allegedly headache-inducing headset from Modius Health.
The plastic headset features two dangling electrodes that you attach to pads that you stick behind your ears. The headset is said to send electrical signals to your hypothalamus, the hypothesis being that stimulating the hypothalamus makes you want to eat less.
The company’s website has a “science” section where it touts the results of a study. However, the study only included 15 people over the course of 16 weeks. Neuroscientist, Sandra Aamodt, told The Verge, “I can say with confidence that they haven’t tested it carefully enough to prove that it does work. If someone approached the FDA for approval of a weight-loss drug based on evidence like this, they’d be laughed out of the building.”
Intimate Digital Art
This next product may not fall into the absurd technologies category, but it could be penalized for debuting at the wrong venue. Project ARTGASM comes off more as an avant garde art exhibit than a serious consumer product. The message behind the tech is very sex positive, and there is definitely room in the market for it. But still, the idea of recording data from sexual experiences and turning it into a colorful laser-light-esque spectacle is not likely to appeal to everyone.
The tech is designed to work with the Lioness smart vibrator to map data metrics like force, motion, and temperature. That data is then converted into a unique visual experience. The project may not attain iPhone-level success, but it is bound to open greater conversations about the role that developing technology will have in the future of sexuality.
$6,000 Smart Toilet
Generally, Japan is a much more technologically forward-thinking nation than the United States, at least in terms of everyday conveniences. The country has long had fancy high-tech toilets with enough features to confuse the typical Westerner not familiar with this level of decadence in the bathroom. Even so, it seems that the U.S.’s attempts to catch up may be a little more zealous than necessary.
Kohler has unveiled their Konnect suite of smart bathroom products, featuring the Numi, an Amazon Alexa-compatible toilet that can lift the lid for you, play your favorite playlists from its built-in sound system, flush with a magic wave of the hand, and even track your bowel movements. Yes, in the age of constant hacking, someone thought it might be a good idea to upload your poop data to the cloud.
The basic Numi models start at $5,625 with more advanced models costing up to $7,500.