The Weird and Wonderful Things I Spotted at IFA 2018

By Tom Pritchard on at

IFA is currently going on over in Berlin, having kicked off last week. I was in attendance for a few days, and got to wander the show floor to see what was what. There were plenty of smart home devices, phones, and all the other bland things that are always there. That said, there were plenty of weird and wonderful things that definitely deserve to be shown off. Let's take a look at the things that caught my eye.

Wonderful

A Giant Polaroid Camera

A little bit bizarre to be sure, but nothing says 'Polaroid' like a gigantic version of its iconic cameras. It even has a giant viewfinder on the back, but sadly the buttons didn't work.

A Sparkly Dog

This beauty was kitted out with a GPS collar from Tractive, designed to help you keep tabs on your pets through the power of satellite navigation. I would have preferred if there was a real dog here modelling it, but this bedazzled version will do just fine.

A Smart Streetlamp

Part of a smart city feature, this street lamp is deigned to provide power to a bunch of different things. Cameras, 5G or WiFi routers, electric cars, weather sensors, and of course lights.

This Wooden Thing That Also Charges Phones

I didn't get the name for this, but it looks quite cool. It offers some sort of shelter, has a screen with the local time (that I assume could also show important local information), and ports for charging gadgets. Slap some solar panels on the top and it sounds like the kind of thing we should have on the street, ideally with WiFi access.

A TARDIS

The 11th and 12th Doctor's TARDIS to be exact, and it was roughly lifesize from what I could tell. This booth was advertising a German broadcaster, which doesn't have a huge relevance on us, so it feels a bit off at a big trade show. Then again this sort of thing happens every year, and a TARDIS is one of the more sensible displays.

A Robot-Shaped Display

That's a curved display inside, in case it wasn't obvious.

Panasonic's Giant Phone

This one was for a competition that was all in German, so I didn't give it a go, but from the looks of things it had proper working buttons. While it isn't likely to be making any calls anytime soon, it's an impressive display.

Compostable Coffee Pods

If you love pod coffee, but want to be better for the environment by not using all that disposable plastic, Phillips has something for you. The Senseo machine uses pods made from all-natural filter paper. They're totally compostable too, unlike some teabags. Making coffee other ways is probably cheaper and easier, but, you know, this works too. Just don't do what I did and flood one of the display machines.

Dancing Robots

This Holographic Display

You can even press the buttons, even though they're not really there. It's called the Aska3D Plate for those interested

A Smart Strap

This is actually pretty incredible. If you hold your finger to your ear and use that weird flap of flesh to block it up you can hear audio coming from the strap. So you can make phone calls as if you're a member of the Secret Service guarding someone important. The strap works by Bluetooth, has a mic inside, and can be added to other watch straps to smarten things up without changing your wearable fashion.

It worked as well, even though I found the audio to be rather quiet. Then again, it was a busy (and loud) convention centre showfloor

Weird

A Bixby Demo Booth

This was a weirdly-shaped booth designed to let you test Bixby on a Galaxy phone. Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps because Samsung still wants to make Bixby a thing, whether we like it or not.

A DeLorean

Normally this would be a wonderful thing, seeing a DeLorean kitted out like it appeared in the first Back to the Future film. But it was being used to advertise JLab Audio, a company that has just launched a pair of wireless earbuds. How they relate to Back to the Future isn't clear, but hey it got people talking about their stuff. The Marty McFly mannequin might have been a bit much, though.

A Mannequin With Fake Nails

It was holding a phone to advertise some fake-jewelled pop sockets. Kinda creepy, really.

A Sitdown Hoverboard-Type Thing

Because the worst thing about a hoverboard-type thing is that you have to stand up and go to all that effort remaining standing. This one seems to solve that problem, having you sit down the entire time. Unless you have mobility issues, and still want to enjoy the hoverboard experience, I can't see why anyone would need one of these. They're probably illegal here anyway.

Sony's E-Ink Trainers

These shoes had e-ink displays on either side, and on the sole. Apparently these displays are entirely customisable, for whoever might see the bottom of your soles for some reason. There's no word on if they're going on sale, or how much they'll be, probably because no one would ever buy them. And not just because they're fuck-ugly.

A weird lifelike Baby

I wasn't sure whether this was a robot baby, or just for show, because frankly it was terrifying and I didn't want to get too close. It's definitely a very strange thing to have at a tech show. Possible reasons I came up with for it being there include:

  1. Something to help train would-be parents
  2. A deterrent for teenagers, showing them the consequences of having sex
  3. Something for weirdos who want a realistic baby, to treat like it's a real thing

Sony's Giant Phone

Unlike Panasonic's phone, which had working buttons, this one seems to be a TV display inside a smartphone frame. Pretty weak attempt, if you ask me.

T-Mobile's Absurdly Pink Displays

This seems to be a common event at IFA, so expect these every year.

Whatever this is

It was spinning around quite fast, and didn't have any labels. It was a stand for luxury smartphone cases, so I can only assume it was for polishing them.

A Camera for a Fridge

Turn your fridge into a smart fridge! Without all the cost or hassle of buying a new, expensive fridge. Just slap one inside and you'll be able to see whats in your fridge at any given time. Because opening it and looking is obviously too much work. It's simply called 'FridgeCam' if you want to check it out for yourself.

Samsung Frame

So one of Samsung's press conference features was Frame. It's not really new, but it was on display in Berlin. Essentially it disguises your TV as a piece of framed artwork when it's not in use, for all the people who just love to leave their TVs on all day. If that wasn't weird enough the TV was mounted inside a cheap-feeling fake wooden frame, like the kind you'd get in Wilko or Tesco. You know the ones I mean, they're wood mesh, and if you put any tape on them the fake wood vinyl on the surface peels away to reveal that.

It's fine for displaying stuff in your own home on the cheap, but an expensive TV? Not so much.

A Presentation With Dancing, Not Words

I have no clue what was going on here, and since I'd just almost broken a coffee pod machine I wasn't in the habit of sticking around to find out. Something to do with blenders and smartphone apps, I think.