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The Good and the Weird from CES 2014

motherLast week, Las Vegas became a zoo of crazy new gadgets and electronics thanks to the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. The technology on display ranged from very cool to terribly impractical. A 105-inch curved 4K television? That sounds neat, but you probably won’t find one in your living room anytime soon due to the price and lack of 4K content.

The most interesting parts of CES to me, however, are just the weird, obtuse, and bizarre gadgets that tech companies tend to debut at the show. Thoughts go from, “Neat,” to “Why?” and even “What?” So among the hundreds of crazy electronics I’ve seen over that past week, these are the ones that stand out in my mind. Who knows if they’ll end up being successful products in the end, but they’re just too weird not to discuss.

Sense Mother, If your mom was a robot…

From the same person who brought the world the adorable, yet questionably useful, Nabaztag comes the equally questionable Mother. This Matryoshka-like Wi-Fi enabled doll seeks to emulate a nagging maternal figure. Like any good mother, this white plastic doll has a fresh set of “cookies,” except these are made of plastic and aren’t meant for eating. These cookies are actually a series of sensors that track motion and temperature, and the Mother doll will notify you of any change to these elements.

Such a simple device has a variety of uses. Mother can tackle home security in that attaching a cookie to a door will cause Mother to notify you when that door is opened. You could theoretically use Mother to keep track of any movement-based changes, but some stranger, more specific motions are programmed into Mother itself. You could keep a cookie on your person while jogging to track your steps and calories burned. Attach a cookie to your pillbox so Mother can nag you if you don’t take your medication. You can even attach it to your toothbrush if you want to be reminded to brush your teeth. Mother will take information it gets from these cookies and make sense of it with a companion app for you phone or tablet. It’s certainly a strange device, if a bit creepy, but it’s kind of cute in a way.

chefjetChefJet, Food from a printer

I’ve covered the concept of the 3D printer before: printing your own three dimensional models with plastic. Only one obvious thing could improve the 3D printing experience: the ability to eat your creations!

3D Systems showed off the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro, 3D printers that print with chocolate and sugar! The $5,000 ChefJet can build monochromatic creations, while the $10,000 Pro version is capable color, even to the point of creating “photographic-quality” pictures. Like traditional 3D printers, this robotic chef builds layer by layer, but instead of plastic, the ChefJet sets down layers of sugar, coating it with water to turn the sugar into hardened crystals.

Unlike the Mother, the practicality of the ChefJet is immediately pretty obvious. I want to see delicious mini-confectionaries in the form of Mass Effect characters atop my birthday cake in the future.

Kolibree Smart Toothbrush, Gamifying dental hygiene

kolibreeSo what do you after guzzling down those 3D-printed treats? Your mother (robot or human) would probably remind you to brush your teeth, and Kolibree wants you to do it well with the debut of their smart “connected” toothbrush, which grades your dental hygienic performance.

The Kolibree toothbrush is equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer that measures the inside of your mouth while brushing and grants you a percentage-based score depending on how well you do. The toothbrush then sends this data to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth for a thorough analysis of your brushing habits. It turns brushing your teeth into a game, encouraging you to improve your performance by competing with others and earning rewards. That’s one way to get your kids to brush their teeth.

By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra

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