The wildest and wackiest tech things on the show floor at CES in Las Vegas.
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
ExpertiseTy has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast.Credentials
Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
CES has been around for a long time, and as the world's largest tech show, it has a notorious reputation for turning up gadgets that we didn't really need. Self-adjusting belts, toilet robots -- you name it, someone paid to have it built. CES is over for another year, and there were some real doozies this time around. Pillows that move your head around as you sleep? Meat toasters? Yet, there's one thing that really made me go "WTH?" And it is...
The weirdest thing at CES 2024
Everyone, hold the inside-out phone. This product, this is the weirdest thing at CES 2024. Dancing plants, or rather quite jiggly ones. The PlantPetz is designed to turn your green thumb into Gizmo (from Gremlins). They gurgle when they don't get water and there's a capacitive sensor inside -- meaning electricity, albeit mild -- which makes it move when you touch it. I'm shaking my head at this thing through my computer screen in disbelief. I mean, it's fun, but so potentially torturous.
Meanwhile, I've got some dried dirt clods on my window sill that could do with some electrical jolts. Arise, my lovelies! It's time.
Watch this: Watch These Plants Move and Coo When You Touch Them
AI meat cookers replacing $50 pans
"Darling, I'll have two pieces of meat toast, please!" Just chuck a couple of steaks in the freight-elevator-like cages of the $3,500 AI-enhanced Perfecta Grill. Two minutes later, you'll have a perfectly cooked ribeye. This is taking brunch to a new level.
Stalker robot that watches you sleep
In New York City it's said you're never more than six feet from a rat, and at CES you're never more than six feet from a robot. Based on what we know about this one, we want to stay as far away as we can. Samsung's Ballie won't like that, of course; it will follow you. It watches you sleep. It has cameras. It can determine how you're sitting to show you YouTube clips with its built-in projector -- even on the ceiling.
On a side note, this AI robot bears a striking resemblance to the Among Us character.
Watch this: Samsung Has a Ballie: AI Robot Helps Around the House
A computer you put in your mouth?
The Oclean Ultra X is a smart toothbrush that has an interactive touchscreen and gives you AI voice tips via bone conduction. Why do they keep inventing computers you put in your mouth? Why, CES? Why? Call me old-fashioned, but I don't want a toothbrush using my skeleton to tell me how bad I am at brushing my teeth.
CES is really leaning into the future of assisted living. Here's a pillow that lolls your unconscious head around when it detects "snoring" movement. The DeRucci Anti-Snore Smart Pillow claims to reduce snoring by 89% -- but look at that super-chunky control pad attachment. I'd rather snore, thanks anyway.
Dead mouse alarm
Just as Ballie sounds like the movie Wall-E, this gadget sounds a lot like the film Chappie. Unlike the sweet swag of the fictional robot Chappie, this gadget is not saving the people of near-future South Africa. No, instead Flappie keeps your house free of dead birds and mice. Through your cat flap. Surely this smart device should be able to detect something more useful entering your house, like possums, raccoons or interloper neighborhood cats intent on stealing your cat's food and spraying its territory. Better yet, circus performers, moonlighting as international master thieves.
Here's another thing: If Flappie won't let your cat inside if it detects your feline friend dragging dead things around, that still leaves you with a dead thing in your garage or on your doorstep.
An app-free personal assistant that isn't your phone
I've always been of the mindset that single-use devices are the best -- a record player, or a bicycle, for example -- they don't need to do other things because they're good at what they do. Sometimes this can go too far, as with the Rabbit R1 machine. It strips out apps and is essentially a Star Trek communicator for talking to the "computer" (or, the AI assistant). Does it portend a post-app world? Are you really supposed to carry it around alongside your regular phone? Sure, our phones might be privacy nightmares, but the Rabbit still has a camera on it, and it looks awkward as hell.
AI at CES 2024: Take a Look at the Coolest Tech From the Show
CES is all about getting people's attention and we're used to the toilet paper robots and the vacuum shoes, but one of the silliest announcements at this year's conference is "AI-free orange juice." Yes, Tropicana is making a special edition of its OJ called "Tropcn" because... it doesn't have computers in it or something. No "A's" or "I's" in there, that's for certain. If you spell out the missing letters in order, "IAA" is a plant hormone, so maybe this is an inside joke for horticulturalists. Fetch the surgeon, our sides are split.