Every January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, gadget companies are under tremendous pressure to look innovative. They pull out all the stops. They spend months creating products that may never hit the market. When one of these gadgets fails to arrive, and we no longer trust that it will, it's known as "vaporware."
Here, we've rounded up 16 exciting products we spotted at CES 2015 which vanished off the face of the map. We've tried to determine whether they're real. It's not an easy task: some of them are from tiny crowdfunded companies that might simply be bad at setting release dates. Either way, we think you'll enjoy hearing what happened to some of your favorite gadgets from CES 2015.
The Saygus V2 smartphone was the darling of CES 2015, a 5-inch superphone that claimed to be waterproof, feature two SD card slots, wireless charging, a fast processor, a large battery, a fingerprint scanner and more. It also happened to come from a tiny Utah-based company whose previous VPhone made a big splash at CES 2010 without ever coming out.
Since CES, the company has repeatedly pushed back the Saygus V2's release date: first to May, then October. (The company raised an additional $1.3 million on Indiegogo in July.) Now, Saygus won't quote a release window at all.
"There have been unforeseen challenges in procuring and integrating the high-tech, high-end, high-quality components and features that will allow the device, in the end, to speak for itself," founder Chad Sayers told CNET.
The AmpStrip, an innovative band-aid like fitness tracker which housed a thermometer, accelerometer and heart-rate sensor, won a couple of Best of CES awards. Then in October, the company abruptly decided it wasn't going to make the product. Maybe it didn't work, or maybe it decided that the $537,000 it raised on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo (from a mere 4,000 backers) didn't portend a large enough market for the technology.
"Going forward, we are going to first focus on the device's potential uses as a medical device rather than a fitness device," the company explained. AmpStrip is offering a refund to all IndieGogo backers.
The Zano drone was a huge success on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, raising $3.4 million to develop a tiny flying machine supposedly intelligent enough that you wouldn't need to take the controls: it would fly around, follow you and snap pictures all on its own. It got a bunch of attention at last year's CES. But in November, after shipping only a small number of the promised drones (and apparently without the promised features), the company imploded.
Kickstarter has now hired an independent journalist to investigate what went wrong.
The Razer Forge TV looked like the one box to rule the living room: a $99 Android TV set-top that would stream movies, play games and even stream games from your gaming PC in the other room. You'd be able to buy an ingenious wireless keyboard and mouse, the Razer Turret, to play those games too, with magnets that would keep the mouse from sliding off the surface when you moved it around.
But the Forge TV flopped as soon as it went on sale, garnering loads of negative reviews on Amazon. It soon vanished from shelves, and the Turret never came out. In fact, nobody heard a peep about the Turret mouse and keyboard or the PC streaming software to go with it...until now.
Razer tells CNET that the Turret is finally coming out next month for $150 (about £100 or $210). Apparently, the company merely had some issues fine-tuning the way the lapboard would balance on a lap and the way the magnets worked. The Cortex: Stream game streaming software is well and truly dead, but Razer says that's because free third-party apps like Remotr can do the job. The Forge TV is also back on sale for $99.
Status: Hazy, but getting much clearer
For two years running, Samsung has shown off one of the wildest TV concepts we've ever seen at CES: a giant 4K television with integrated motors that can actually bend the screen. You can have a flat TV, or a curved TV, and switch between them with the press of a button. At CES 2015, Samsung swore that its new 105-inch bendable TV would be a real product that people would actually be able to buy come summertime.
We haven't seen it hit shelves yet. Sure, it's possible that Samsung only sold it to a few wealthy South Korean collectors, but that doesn't sound like much of a product. LG also showed off a bendy 77-inch TV at CES 2015, but the company says that one didn't go on sale either.
Status: MIA, probably vapor
Just what we all need: a belt with integrated motors that automatically adjust it to fit when we stand up, sit down, exercise and eat, much like those famous "Back to the Future" shoes. That's what the Belty promised at CES 2015, and it stole the show. (It didn't hurt that the ugly, bulky prototype actually seemed to work.)
But in the months since, the company's website has gotten mighty vague about what the device actually does. Now, it's being marketed as a fitness tracker that acts as a virtual coach that helps with breathing exercises and suggests power naps -- not a belt that adjusts to fit. There's no mention of self-adjusting mechanical components. When we reached out to Belty's founders about the discrepancy, they told us that there are two different belts now, and that the original Belty Adapt with the self-adjusting mechanical components is currently on hold.
The device was also supposed to ship by the end of 2015. Oh well.
We didn't have lot of faith that a Chinese video game company would be able to successfully merge an Android smartphone and a handheld game console, much less put it on sale in the US, but that was the promise of the W3D from Snail Games. The device actually went up for pre-order on Amazon this June...but in September, the company delayed its release indefinitely.
The Philips Fidelio NC1L sounded like it would be a fantastic set of on-ear headphones, offering a direct digital connection to an iPhone using Apple's Lightning connector, an integrated 24-bit digital-to-analog converter, plus active noise cancelling without requiring batteries. They were announced at CES 2015, and were supposed to be out this spring. There's been no mention of them since. We reached out for comment, but haven't gotten an answer.
Of course, it's possible Philips is just waiting for a larger opportunity. If Apple really is killing off the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, you may see a lot of Lightning headphones in the next 18 or so months.
It's been over two years since Sixense raised $600,000 to produce a unique set of motion controllers to let you interact with virtual worlds. The Sixense Stem is a set of wireless modules that you can attach to your hands, feet or any number of game controllers, which you can then see inside a VR headset. They communicate with an electromagnetic base station, making them harder to confuse than controllers that rely on a clear line of sight to a camera connected to your PC.
And at CES 2015, Sixense showed off a demo which let you wield a Star Wars lightsaber -- a demo that blew attendees away. In September, the company told journalists it was three months away from shipping the product, the latest in a long series of delays. Three months and plenty more demos later, it's still not here.
What does the company have to say for itself? Founder Amir Rubin told CNET that the Stem did pass its final wireless radio certification tests in November and was finally ready to go into manufacturing...but the company had missed its production slot at the factory by then. Now, it plans to ship the trackers in April. Rubin says his company has spent $7 million so far on the project.
Status: Very, very hazy
It's a tiny robot printer that you place on a piece of paper. You send it a print job over Wi-Fi, and it does the rest! Originally, the Zuta Pocket Printer was supposed to ship to Kickstarter backers in June 2014. When we saw it at CES 2015 in January, the company said it was ready to start production.
Then, it was delayed to September. Then October. Now, they say it might ship in May 2016. Meanwhile, there seem to be a lot of backers who are angry that Zuta decided to move to a nice new office instead of focusing on finishing the product.
"So I guess it's not going to be a 'flattering' article...We probably deserve it," said Zuta co-founder Tuvia Elbaum when we asked about the delays. He insists that Zuta will ship the product, though. "We're late. Maybe even very late. But in no way are we not going to deliver," he told CNET.
Status: Very, very hazy
Bragi raised $3.3 million on Kickstarter to build a set of truly wireless headphones: wireless Bluetooth audio, wireless charging and no cable connecting them to each other, either. Plus, the Bragi Dash promised a whole set of impressive features like noise canceling, touch control, waterproofing, even an internal fitness tracker. This year, it made a couple of new Best of CES lists.
Bragi didn't make its November 2014 ship target, nor its August 2015 target, and the Dash still isn't here today. But if the company is telling the truth, it seems like it might actually ship. Bragi announced this November that the headphones received all the required certifications, and the company's already started to ship developer kits. Mass production hit another snag this December, though, due to only 70 percent of each yield of devices passing the company's waterproofing test.
Status: Hazy, but getting clearer
The AirDog promised to be the first backpack-friendly auto-follow camera drone, one whose arms could fold right up into a nice compact package, and keep a camera always trained on you while you tackle extreme sports by following a wireless armband you keep on your wrist. It definitely looked like a winner at CES 2015.
The AirDog's planned summer release date came and went...but just this month, it actually started shipping to its Kickstarter backers, and Amazon is now taking pre-orders for a February 2016 release. While we can't say whether it's a good product yet -- and it's pricy at $1,600 without the required camera -- it appears to be quite real.
Much like the AirDog, the Hexo+ is an auto-follow camera drone that ran into some difficulty, slipping way, way past its planned September 2014 release. But as of this month, the company says it's shipped over 500 units to Kickstarter backers, and is now ramping up production for retail.
There's a very simple probably explanation why you haven't heard anything about Belkin's WeMo smart water gauge -- a super cool device that could monitor the water consumption of your entire house with one device under your kitchen sink -- since CES 2015. Belkin never promised when it would ship, and even suggested it might quite take a while.
Still, it's been a year without any word about when it might ship, and we thought you might like to know the latest. "WeMo Water has successfully completed several large-scale pilots," Belkin's website says. "Stay tuned for future updates on this product."
When we reached out to Belkin, they said: "We are still in a trial phase, and are focused right now on finding the right partner to help us get to a critical number of households that will help us get to the accuracy level within the data that is critical for the mass consumer piece. Essentially it will end up being a phased approach, where we have the sensor professionally installed and monitored on a smaller scale with a commercial partner, and then we will expand to a phase where consumers will be able to walk into a retailer, purchase and install themselves."
The Amplicity is dead, but only in name. The crazy modular battery-powered pocket PC we saw at CES 2015 is actually already on sale -- only now, it comes from a different company (InFocus) and it's called the Kangaroo. Instead of using a Core M processor, it features a slower Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor, and you'll only pay $99 once instead of paying for a $99 subscription every year. It has a fingerprint reader now, too.
It's still not clear why you'd want an underpowered PC with a four-hour battery and no screen, but it's definitely not vaporware.
The Mad Catz Lynx 9 is one of the craziest gaming peripherals we've ever seen. It's a $300 gamepad that physically transforms into four totally different configurations for smartphone, tablet or PC use. I figured it had to be a marketing stunt or something, particularly when it didn't ship for months and months and nobody wrote about the thing after CES.
And yet, the Lynx 9 is indeed on sale now. I have one sitting on my desk.
Did we miss any wonderful gadgets from CES 2015 that didn't actually ship, and probably never will? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, look forward to our coverage of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. It all kicks off right here in less than a month.