This list is for anyone who ever wished their cat was more like a Roomba.
Every year, CES brings us some of the most innovative, futuristic concepts -- things we expect to be talking about for years to come. It also brings us technology that's a bit out there. Products that make us scratch our heads and ask, "What the heck inspired this?"
To be clear, that doesn't mean it's bad tech, nor does it mean it's unexciting. They're just the things that none of us had on our CES 2022 bingo cards.
There are massage chairs, and then there's the Pharaoh O2 by Bodyfriend -- a CES innovation honoree and premium massage chair that looks like something out of a futuristic first-class flight. Bodyfriend's other chairs start at $2,499 and go up to $9,999, and all come packed with high-tech features to maximize your comfort.
What kinds of features? The Pharaoh O2's innovation award page says that the chair uses advanced sensors to help you recuperate. We're not just talking about back massages, either. According to Bodyfriend: "The perineal massage function not only helps the blood circulation of the pelvic floor muscles and the perineum, it also induces the user to do Kegel exercises to help maintain health."
Kegel-related tech is nothing new, as CNET's Claire Reilly discovered in 2017, but a chair that induces Kegel exercises seems like the first of its kind. The product page doesn't explicitly say the chair is intended for pregnant persons, but the specific callout of perineal massage seems like the product was made with that audience in mind.
OWO Game wants you to feel the games you play -- not just emotionally, but physically. The wireless vest uses haptic technology to mimic real-world sensations. Imagine putting on a form-fitting vest, almost like an athletic compression shirt, that responds to what's happening in the virtual world. In OWO's words: "Our algorithm ... allows us to create infinite different sensations such as the rain, a gunshot, the wind or a hug."
The concept itself isn't as weird as the decision to sandwich "gunshot" between other, gentler feelings like rain, wind and hugs. As gaming tech evolves, people are looking for more ways to make them feel more immersive, and a haptic vest is just the latest stop on that quest. OWO Game is also considerably sleeker than haptic vests we've seen in the past.
Humans can use fingerprints as unique identifiers, but dogs' paw pads lack the distinctive features (and manual dexterity) that would let us fingerprint them. Except Petnow has found a way to do without getting your pup to high-five a tablet -- just take a picture of that beautiful snoot instead.
Canine noses have unique patterns of ridges and bumps, and Petnow uses neural networks to identify them. The tech even earned a CES Innovation Award honor in software and mobile apps. And Petnow is putting the technology to practical use: "With advanced identification technology-powered registration system for dogs with their nose prints, Petnow aims to build a world without lost or abandoned dogs."
Robotic pets have been around since at least 2000, when Poo-Chi hit shelves. After all, electronic pets are much cheaper than owning a living cat or dog. But Macroact wants to bring these toys into the future with Maicat. A "social robot," Maicat is designed to adapt to your home environment, which sounds a bit like a robot vacuum with four legs and no cleaning function.
However, Maicat can do more than just learn how not to bump into walls. Macroact says Maicat is "equipped with face-, voice and emotion-recognition" and "capable of analyzing and evaluating situations via emotional intelligence algorithm." Worried you won't get the authentic cat experience? Not to fear, says Macroact: "Maicat reacts differently depending on its own mood and situation, avoiding repetitive [experiences]."
Cats are notorious for pretending things don't bother them. Fell off the couch? Walk it off like nothing happened. Missed a jump onto a countertop? Pretend you weren't interested in the first place. In most cases, this is a harmless and humorous tendency, but when it comes to your cat's health, it can be more dangerous.
The PurrSong Lavvie products want to take some of the guesswork out of monitoring your cat's health by monitoring their activity and bathroom habits. As CNET's Patrick Holland wrote, "The idea is that any and all of this data can help you see your cat's everyday routine and, more importantly, notice early enough when they break that routine."
It's cool and useful technology, but "feline bathroom monitoring" is definitely one of the surprises from CES this year.
For more from CES 2022, check out our experiences with Ameca the robot, the first look at new (expensive) recycling tech and the CES tech you can actually buy this year.