CES 2019: The weirdest gadgets so far, from smart belts to bread vending machines

 

Beauty facial analysis, furry robots and a vending machine for fresh bread are among the first gadgets to be unveiled at this year’s CES, the world’s biggest technology show.

The showcase, which attracted more than 182,000 visitors last year, highlights the key trends from established tech giants and start-ups alike for the year ahead in consumer technology.

While some concepts are so outlandish they’re unlikely to ever make it to shop shelves, others are already on sale online or gathering funding with the aim of bringing it to market.

Furry robots for children

Codi can be used to teach children educational routines (Photo: i)
Codi can be used to teach children educational routines (Photo: i)

Educational robots for children are a cornerstone of each annual CES, but this year’s show highlighted how artificial intelligence (AI) smarts are being integrated into intelligent toys which are also cute and cuddly.

Woobo, furry little creatures with large touchscreens for displaying animated facial expressions, are capable of answering youngsters’ questions and playing games including charades and relaying voice messages. They are already available to buy online for $149 (£117).

Woobo's facial expression changes with its mood (Photo: i)
Woobo’s facial expression changes with its mood (Photo: i)

Codi is a small silicon robot which can be programmed to help teach children how to brush their teeth, send voicemails and play child-appropriate playlists. It’s currently available to buy priced from $99.99.

A fresh bread vending machine

In the best thing since sliced bread, the BreadBot vending machine sent attendees into a frenzy with its promise of freshly baked loaves at the push of a button. The brainchild of the Washington-based Wilkinson Baking Company, the fully-automated machine mixes, kneads, proofs and bakes loaves over a 90 minute cycle.

The Bread Bot: Each loaf takes around an hour and a half (Photo: i)
The Bread Bot: Each loaf takes around an hour and a half (Photo: i)

After baking, the loaves are transferred into a cooling chamber and onto the shelves to be bought. The bread itself tastes like that made in a standard bread maker, fine, but not a patch on an artisanal bloomer.

Bread of heaven (Photo: i)
Bread of heaven (Photo: i)

Smart belts – even James Bond wears them

As items of clothing go, a belt is probably not the first to spring to mind when you consider the potential benefits of AI technology. The Welt, or wellness belt, has made its debut at CES and claims to track fluctuations in your waist circumference over time, your gait pattern and walking speed and subsequent likelihood of falling via a paired smartphone app.

Smart belt, anyone? (Photo: i)
Smart belt, anyone? (Photo: i)

The Welt comes in a range of shades and sizes (between 24 and 50 inches), and boasts a 50-day battery life. It’s already available to buy on Amazon priced at $199, and included a picture of Daniel Craig as James Bond in its advertising material, though Craig doesn’t appear to be wearing a belt in the picture.

A smarter set (Photo: i)
A smarter set (Photo: i)
Hmm (Photo: I)
Hmm (Photo: I)

Cordless hairdryers

While Dyson has done the most in recent years to shake up the image of the humble hairdryer, Volo wants to take it one step further with the advent of the cordless hairdryer, removing the need for a plug tether.

It uses infrared light and ionic technology to dry and smooth the hair from the inside out, and is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery. The product was named a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in November last year. It will be available to pre-order from next week from $399.

The Volo cordless hairdryer (Photo: i)
The Volo cordless hairdryer (Photo: i)

Autonomous mobility scooters

The Model Ci is an autonomous mobility scooter  manufactured by mobility firm Whill. It can be unassembled to fit in the boot of a car, and can be driven remotely and locked/unlocked using a paired iPhone app. It can also play audible messages to alert the driver of upcoming obstacles, and in the future could be used in airports and other open public spaces to collect and drop off passengers, before automatically returning to a designated base. It is available to test drive at scooter retailers across the US.