LAS VEGAS – From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden smart TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big – and bizarre – chances.
Many of the prototypes introduced at the annual gadget show over the years have failed in the marketplace. But the innovators who shop their wares here are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, many of which are designed to solve problems you didn’t know you had.
Toilet training a toddler is no picnic, but iPotty from CTA Digital seeks to make it a little easier by letting parents attach an iPad to it. This way, junior can gape and paw at the iPad while taking care of business in the old-fashioned part of the plastic potty. iPotty will go on sale in March, first on Amazon.com.
There are potty training apps out there that’ll reward toddlers for accomplishing the deed. The company is also examining whether the potty’s attachment can be adapted for other types of tablets, beyond the iPad.
It’s novel to a lot of people but we’ve gotten great feedback from parents who think it’d be great for training, said CTA product specialist Camilo Gallardo.
Who it’s for: Parents at their wits’ end.
Bass-heavy headphones that borrow the names of hip-hop luminaries like Dr. Dre have become extremely popular. Rock fans have been left out of the party – until now. British metal band Motorhead, famous for playing gut-punchingly loud, is endorsing a line of headphones that go to eleven and are hitting U.S. stores now.
Says lead singer and bassist Lemmy Kilmister, explaining his creative input: I just said make them louder than everybody else’s. So that’s the only criteria, and that it should reflect every part of the sound, not just the bass.
Who it’s for: People who don’t care about their hearing. According to Kilmister, the headphones are ideal for Motorhead fans. Their hearing is already damaged, they better buy these.
Price: Prices range from $50 to $130.
If you don’t watch what you put in your mouth, this fork will – or at least try to. Called HAPIfork, it’s a fork with a fat handle containing electronics and a battery. A motion sensor knows when you are lifting the fork to your mouth. If you’re eating too fast, the fork will vibrate as a warning. The company behind it, HapiLabs, believes that using the fork 60 to 75 times during meals that last 20 to 30 minutes is ideal.
But the fork won’t know how healthy or how big each bite you take will be, so shoveling a plate of arugula will likely be judged as less healthy than slowly putting away a pile of bacon. No word on spoons, yet, or chopsticks.
Who it’s for? People who eat too fast. Those who want company for their smart refrigerator and other kitchen gadgets.
Price: HapiLabs is launching a fundraising campaign for the fork in March on the group-fundraising site Kickstarter.com. Participants need to pay $99 to get a fork, which is expected to ship around April or May.
Mondo Spider, Titanoboa
A pair of giant hydraulic and lithium-polymer-battery-controlled beasts from Canadian art organization eatART caught some eyes at the show. A rideable eight-legged creature, Mondo Spider weighs 1,600 pounds and can crawl forward at about 5 miles per hour on battery power for roughly an hour. The 1,200-pound Titanoboa slithers along the ground at an as yet unmeasured speed.
Computer maker Lenovo sponsored the group to show off the inventions at CES.
Hugh Patterson, an engineer who volunteers his time to making the gizmos, said they were made in part to learn more about energy use. One lesson from the snake is that side winding, in which the snake corkscrews its way along the ground, is one of the most efficient ways of moving along soft ground, like sand.
Titanoboa was made to match the size of a 50-foot long reptile whose fossilized remains were dated 50 million years ago, when the world was 5 to 6 degrees warmer. The creature was built to provoke discussion about climate change, Patterson said.
The original version of Mondo Spider first appeared at the Burning Man arts gathering in Nevada in 2006.
Who it’s for: Your inner child, Burning Man participants, people with extra-large living rooms.
Price: The spider’s parts cost $26,000. The Titanoboa costs $70,000. Engineers provided their time for free and both took thousands of hours to build, Patterson said.
AP writer Peter Svensson and Luke Sheridan contributed to this story.