Every year at CES, some time by mid-November, pitches start to stream in from companies telling you about what they'll have on display at the show and asking you to come check it out. Sometimes, these are your run-of-the-mill innovations: new displays, speakers, headphones, smart home products, and the like. And sometimes, they are totally mind-boggling. Remember the AI fork? Or that machine that folds laundry for you?
With that said, here are some of the most bizarre CES 2020 pitches we've received thus far. And yes, these are 100% real and will be at CES. Booth numbers provided where available in case you want to see it for yourself!
The Heatbox Lunchbox
This is exactly what you think it is: a lunchbox that is self-heating so you can bring hot lunches with you to work, school, or anywhere on the go. There's no need to worry about stuffing a Thermos in a lunch bag (apparently that's too arduous a task, as is using the microwave in the office). Sarcasm aside, the idea behind the creation of the Heatbox is to encourage people to bring hot lunches with them instead of relying on fast food. It can be controlled by an app where you can follow recipes, track caloric intake, and start specific steaming programs. Yes, it uses steam to reheat your food, which helps maintain nutrients. The rechargeable system can heat three meals per charge. It is totally leakproof using a patent-pending double sealing technology. The product was fully funded on Kickstarter in just one day, so clearly, they are on to something. Check it out in the Dutch Pavilion, booth 51726.
Hap2U Hap2Phone Haptic Smartphone Display
This neat display purports to allow you to feel and sense objects in photos that appear on the touchscreen. Wait, what? Today, sensations in smartphones are limited to vibration when receiving a text message or playing a game. With this technology, you get HD texture sensations so OEMs can add new performance capabilities. This means phone owners could actually "feel" to texture of a piece of clothing they're looking at via an online store. It works through the integration of a thin film piezoelectric solution (2 micron in thickness) under the glass cover so haptics can be felt over the full screen. Once the hardware is installed, it is the role of the software to get the exact haptic feeling in the right place. By applying a friction coefficient, Hap2U can make distinct variations in touch sensations (intense or soft nicks, springs, buttons, elasticity and all kinds of high-to-low elevation points and textures, etc.), allowing the nerve endings in fingertips to detect different sensations, then signaling the brain to interpret them. Any additional weight is marginal (<1g). The impact on display power consumption is also minimal, at roughly one per cent. The ultimate goal for the company: to allow people to send text messages by simply feeling letters on the keyboard instead of actually looking. A prototype will be on display in the Sands Expo, Level 2 at booth 41958. The company was named a CES Innovation Award honoree this year, so it might be worth checking out.
Cybershoes VR Accessory
This virtual reality (VR) accessory was actually introduced at CES 2019, but the company is returning in 2020 to showcase an updated design that now adds physical activity tracking. What is it? It's a VR accessory you wear on your feet (yes, your feet?) that allows you to walk or run through VR experiences. Now in finished product versus prototype stage, new features can track your physical activity and determine the distance of your travels. They strap to your feet and you are seated in a swivel bar stool. They are compatible with any VR game and can work with SteamVR, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Oculus store games, Windows Mixed Reality, and Pimax. As you actually walk you will feel as though you're actually there in the virtual scene in which you are experiencing. You can try them out at the company's booth, and the Cybershoes are an actual saleable product you can buy today on Amazon.
AC Air Conditioned Baseball Cap
Not since the helmet with built-in beer can holders and straws has there been such an innovative twist on the traditional baseball cap. The AC Cap, developed by Steve Feher who also invesnted the air-conditioned car seat and motorcycle helmet, uses thermoelectric technology to product sub-ambient air that can cool your noggin which can, in turn, cool your entire body, says the company. Since there are no refrigerants or ice, you stay cool and dry, too. See it in action at the Aria in the SportsZone, Booth IW-12.
Singular Hearing HeardThat App
This app isn't so much bizarre as it is potentially ground-breaking and could really serve a useful purpose...if it really works as promised. Created by Vancouver-based Singular Hearing, it's an
AI-powered app that can purportedly tune out background noise so that those with hearing loss can hear speech more clearly and thus engage better in conversations. It uses advanced machine learning machine algorithms to separate speech from noise. It listens to the noisy environment and delivers denoised speech to the individual's Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid or other listening devices via their smartphone. Set for availability in Q1 2020 for both Android and iOS devices, you can experience a demo at their booth in Eureka Park, 31504.
Fitterlab SmartDesk Series App-Controlled Smart Standing Desk
There's nothing new about standing desks, but this one offers an interesting twist: it can be controlled via an app. It offers four modes: manual, auto, saved height, and schedule so you can customize the setting as desired. Set it for standing mode after you come back from lunch, for example, and reset to seated mode for when you get into the office in the morning. The ability to schedule and save desired heights is great for customization, though why this can't just be achieved by a button on the desk itself, or manually pulling it up and down, is puzzling. That said, these days, if you can build an app for something and have it remote controlled, why not? Plus, the idea, says Fitterlab, is that if multiple people share a desk, they can ensure that it's reset to their ideal height each time they come into the office. See it in the Eureka Park exhibit in Sands Expo, Booth 52501.