Jeans that give directions and other ‘smart’ products unveiled at CES
Here's a morning routine for you. After the alarm on your smartphone goes off, it's time to roll out of your 'smart' bed and give your hair a good run through with your app-connected brush. Don't forget to use your smart toothbrush in front of your smart mirror.
After that, your smart pillbox will remind you to take your medication. And remember to put on your smart jeans, so they can give you directions while you leave your phone in the pocket.
Sound like a typical morning? Tech companies at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas would like it to be. They're unveiling products that do all these things and more. But do we really need them or even want them?
"When an industry is nascent, you will see experimentation," said Mark Hung, a vice president at Gartner Research. "Companies will throw things against the wall to see what sticks."
You decide whether these are cool innovations or just junk.
BOX O' LOVE
Can't express your feelings adequately through emoticon-filled text messages? For you, there's the Lovebox.
The wooden box made by a French start-up, of course plugs into an outlet and connects to WiFi. A heart on the outside spins when you get a message. Open the lid to see a digital screen with the message. You can reply with a digital heart by rotating the heart on the box.
The Lovebox won't be out in the United States until June, so forget Valentine's Day.
And these virtual smooches come with a price: US$120 for one box or US$185 for two.
HAIR GOES HIGH TECH
The Hair Coach from L'Oreal's Kerastase brand uses a microphone, gyroscope and other sensors to monitor how fast and how hard you're brushing.
An accompanying app recommends how to brush for optimal quality and minimal breakage and split ends. It can also factor in heat and humidity and even discern if hair is wet or dry.
Kerastase teamed up with tech company Withings on the battery-powered brush, due out in mid-2017. It comes at a hair-raising price: US$200.
If sharing your pictures on Instagram isn't enough, why not wear them?
A California start-up called Pop-I has a backpack for just that. A built-in digital screen displays photos you just snapped or have in your photo gallery.
The backpacks will come out later this year and range from US$99 to US$399, depending on material and screen size. Pop-I is looking to expand to clothing and other products, too.
FASHION ON THE MOVE
Want to look smart while tooling around an unfamiliar neighbourhood? How about a pair of vibrating jeans to get you where you're going?
The jeans from Spinali Design, another French start-up, will vibrate on your right or left hip to let you know which direction you should head. Sure, a smartwatch can do the same thing, but why get something that can do more?
If that's too much clothing for you, try bikinis that buzz when you're out in the sun too long and need to apply more sunscreen.
The jeans cost about US$100, and the bikinis about US$140.
Want body monitoring that rivals that of an intensive care unit?
Xenoma's 'e-skin' is essentially a shirt with sensors that measure movement, breathing, pressure, perspiration and body temperature. The shirt connects wirelessly to a smartphone or personal computer for real-time number crunching.
Developers at the Tokyo-based Xenoma say the shirt can be used for health monitoring, fitness tracking and even virtual-reality gaming. But they're still working on it, so it's not available for sale yet.
Elsewhere at CES, connected pet feeders and dog collars were on display, while chefs for humans could see WiFi-enabled air fryers and sous vide cookers. Run out of an ingredient? A smart trash can automatically add it to your shopping list.
And if you don't have time to read to your kids, the Lunii storytelling speaker can come to your rescue. Never mind that this can be done through a phone app rather than a US$60 device.
With all that help, you'll have plenty of time for 18 holes with your 3D-printed connected golf club. It promises to let you know through an app, of course just how bad your form actually is.
Just don't forget to send a note to your loved one through the Lovebox.