When it comes to a a consumer tech show as big as IFA, there's always going to be a lot of variety. Basic home tech, like TVs and appliances, dominates the landscape, but there's still plenty of stuff that stands out for being weird or downright stupid. Here are some of the things that stood out to me on the showfloor.
Aurai Water-Propelled Eye Massager
Weird doesn't always mean bad, but there's no better way of describing this. While it makes you look like a rubbish Cyclops cosplayer while you're wearing it, it's actually quite nice. It's an eye massager, but instead of using mechanical components to do the massaging (like those you'd find inside a massaging chair or something) it simulates the same effect with water.
That is a strange bit of design at first glance, but there's actually a good reason for it. Using water means you can choose to cool or heat the water for a slightly different sensation each time. The cool cycle was rather relaxing, and I could have easily fallen asleep if I didn't have some sort of mental block that prevents me from dozing off in public. That could have also been the fact I'd had about 6-8 hours sleep in the previous 48 hours, but it was rater refreshing to be sitting there for the six-minute cycle and let it get to work.
The warm cycle wasn't quite the same, and I took it off after a couple of minutes because I was getting a bit too hot. But I was in a rather warm convention centre at the time. It wasn't for me at the time, but it could be helpful for someone if they need to warm up their eyes for whatever reason.
An Electronic Scarf
My expression says it all really.
When I say electric scarf, that's exactly what it's designed to be. The point is that elements on the inside of the neckpiece (neckset) heat up, which then heats up the veins in your neck which carries the warm blood to the rest of your body. An intriguing idea, but really not the kind of thing you need to solve with technology. People have literally been using clothes (like scarves) for that for tens of thousands of years.
The neck scarf also does the opposite, however, cooling your neck to spread that feeling to the rest of your body. A nice idea, but it doesn't necessary need to be hi-tech. You can get cooling collars for pets that are designed to do the exact same thing - but without costing £169. There's no reason why those couldn't be coupled together to fit a human-sized neck, even if it needs some time in the fridge to get going.
Personally I couldn't feel the effect while I was wearing it, though I was wearing the small model. The neckpiece is supposed to reach almost all the way round to the front, which this couldn't do on my thick-ass neck. There is a larger size, but it didn't have any power. That itself is a downside to this thing, since actual scarves don't stop working if you use it too much. Those cooling collars do, but that's because entropy is a bitch.
I could feel the cooling effect with my hand, but only very slightly. I didn't feel the heat, though, but that might be down to my own impatience more than anything else. But that's not really the point. This is a hi-tech solution to a problem that didn't really exist, and it's a gadget that you don't need to pay for unless you have more money than sense.
A 3D-Printer Bigger Than My Oven
This is ComeTrue's T10 3D printer, which uses coloured powders to offer a full colour 3D printing experience. It's designed for industrial use, and it supposedly costs between $10,000 and $50,000. That's a lot of cash, though for something this big you should probably expect it.
It's not the kind of thing any consumer would buy (why it was at a consumer tech show is beyond me), particularly since it's bigger than my oven. It's a cool idea, but come on. Look at this thing, it's enormous. It literally is bigger than my oven.
Whatever This is Supposed to Be
Pretty eye-catching right? That's what I thought. I'm not entirely sure what the point is, but I'm pretty sure it's a 360-degree camera rig made up of the new RX-0 action cams. It would have helped if there was a label, but all it said was 'concept', which means this isn't a commercial product. Probably a good thing too, since this looks expensive and there are plenty of more discrete 360-degree cameras on the market.
Not entirely sure how you'd use it either, given how many lenses it has. I know I couldn't get my hands through those gaps in the frame.
Smart is being added to everything these days, and mirrors are no exception. Some show the weather and calendar events, some show you off in different outfits, but Hi Mirror is designed to show you how good your skin looks. It's the perfect tool in either aiding or abetting your self-confidence, if the state of your skin is a big factor.
The skin analysis tool was being showcased at IFA, and I got see what it thought of me. Apparently some of my fringe hairs can be classified as wrinkles, I have a few dark pores on and around my nose (I'm sure some of those are freckles), and I had black rings under my eyes because I'd had about eight hours sleep in the previous 48 hours. But at least I didn't have any red spots, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.
It also has a bunch of features designed to aid the application of make-up, like a zoom, better lighting, and so on.
It's not offering the kind of information I ever really needed to know, especially since I can already see my face. The quality of a man's skin probably isn't high up on the list of societal expectations, though. It really does seem a bit daft that this is actually a thing, particularly since it's not that big. Just get a big mirror, a light, and one of those zoomed-in shaving mirrors if you really need to get up close and personal.
Shadecraft Sunflower Robotic Parasol
Not one most people will be concerned with, certainly not in this country where it's sunny for a combined three weeks of the year, but if you're a sun worshipper or have a villa somewhere in Europe, this might be worth paying attention to. Still a robotic parasol is a high tech solution to something that doesn't really need fixing. But it is perfect for the lazy.
What it does is simple. It uses AI to follow the sun around the sky and makes sure you stay in the shade. It's also got Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, and is completely wireless. It's designed to follow the sun around, so it can power itself using integrated solar panels. It only needs 30 per cent charge to function, and has a 72 hour battery life for days without much sun. If that sounds a bit stupid, you can use this to charge your phone or laptop.
Also included are weather sensors capable of keeping on top of everything happening, and notifies you if the UV levels get dangerously high. Not such a bad idea in all honesty, just incredibly niche. Or at least it is in this country. If you live in, say, the south of Spain, it might not be such a bad idea. There's no price yet, but it's unlikely to be cheap.
"Seriously?" was the first thing I said when I noticed this. "Yep" was the response I got from the rep manning the booth.
I'm sure you can understand my reaction. It's a Bluetooth controller that gamifies teethbrushing. At first glance that sounds pretty daft. You add the Bluetooth controller onto any manual toothbrush, and it syncs up with a gaming app. Once that's done each brush stroke is applied into the game as a move. There are only four of them (up, down, left, right) and each one corresponds to brushstrokes in one of the four corners of your mouth.
The game is designed to make sure kids brush correctly, with post-game analysis for parents to show them which areas need work. The games are free, and I think this is a fun way to make sure kids (or even adults) learn to brush their teeth properly. Still, it's a bit strange to know that this thing actually exists.
This Very Pink Room
I think this might have something to do with T-Mobile, but I'm not sure. The whole, very large, room was pinker than pink, and everything was in German.
That is a shot of three people dressed as ink cartridges handing out flyers for Epson. What was on those flyers? I don't know exactly because I can't read German, but I can assume from context that they're advertising printers.
This Fucking TV
I believe I've covered this. Fuck this pointless TV.
The Star Wars TV
Just because you slap Star Wars branding on something doesn't mean it's good. The design is horrible, and it plays Star Wars clips each time you turn it on and off. It's also only got a 24-inch display. It might only be €219, which isn't such a bad price, but is it worth all the bullshit?
Mill Smart Heaters
Weird because they look like giant Wi-Fi routers, not because they're not very useful. Being able to control and schedule the individual heating units in your home sounds incredibly useful. There doesn't seem to be the option to turn it all the way off on a whim, but you can't have everything. They're launching in the UK this Autumn.