The tiniest tech companies and the largest tech companies, and plenty of in between sized tech companies descend on Las Vegas the first full week in January every single year. Their goal is to excite us with new products or advertise plenty of existing ones. In some cases their goal is just go get us to murmur the name of their company in confusion.
Regardless it means sometimes you see really cool stuff! And sometimes you see really, really bad stuff. And sometimes what you see if just plain weird. Here we’ve gathered the weirdest stuff we saw, as well as the three worst things we saw at CES.
WORST: Ivanka Trump’s Keynote
We interact with technology throughout our day and it is a key driver of our economy and political policies so CES has always, inherently, been pretty political. Yet this year CES invited Ivanka Trump to give a keynote. Given Ivanka’s biggest impact on technology is when she takes her dad’s tweeting phone away it felt like a confusing choice on the part of CES and the organization that oversees it, the CTA. Things only got worse at the actual keynote where it was clear Ivanka has absolutely nothing to say, while she and her family have a whole lot to answer for. The fact that she was only one of two women keynote speakers makes her appearance at CES all the more shameful. — Alex Cranz
Segway’s self-balancing technology that allows personal mobility devices to get around on just two wheels has always been impressive, but no one has managed to find a great application for it. Segway-Ninebot’s latest attempt to make self-balancing vehicles something every consumer wants is the S-Pod: a two-wheeled self-balancing throne designed to be an alternative to e-scooters and even bicycles. With a top speed of 25 MPH and an expected range of over 40 miles it could be useful as a way to quickly get around airports and college campuses but despite its appearance, it’s not designed to be an alternative to wheelchairs or self-propelled mobility aids. Getting in and out seems tricky for even able-bodied riders. — Andrew Liszewski
I don’t know who at Lenovo is responsible for continuing to put e-ink screens in random devices, but I hope they don’t stop, because the ThinkBook Plus is awesome. When it’s open, it just looks like a normal laptop. But on its lid, there’s a 10.8-inch e-ink screen that you can customize with whatever picture you want, use it to keep tabs on your calendar and email, use OneNote, read a Kindle book, or annotate on PDF. The ThinkBook Plus is the mullet of laptops, business in front and fun in back. — Sam Rutherford
Who in the world actually wants an electric skateboard combined with an expensive cooler? I mean really? And yet here we are. By Frankensteining a OneWheel with a Yeti cooler, what you end up is something that’s way worse than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t transport drinks well, and the more you load it up, the harder it is to ride until you become an uncontrollable train of liquid and ice. And if you add booze to this mix, piloting this thing is probably more dangerous than driving drunk. But at least it’s good for a laugh, right? — Sam Rutherford
When someone tells you they are on a quest to discover the “soul of tech,” you know they are way out there. Like beyond the limits of the solar system out there. But that’s exactly what Pranav Mistry is trying to do. Neon is a company hoping to create artificial humans. But Neons are also intelligent beings with realistic human mannerisms, emotions, and memories, or at least that’s the goal. Neons are a test to see if cold hard silicon can produce the spark of life. And if none of this makes sense to you, that’s ok, because we don’t quite get it either. — Sam Rutherford
Quibi is either going to inspire a content revolution or be the biggest flop Hollywood heavyweight Jeffery Katzenberg has ever attached his name to. The new streaming service has some seriously cool tech behind it, but we haven’t gotten to see a lot of actual content for the service yet, and the decision to stream it only on the phone and only in 10 minute chunks means it could have trouble finding an audience. Personally we’d love to know actually who that audience is. — Alex Cranz
There’s a ton of massage chairs at CES, but OHCO and Esqape upped the ante this year with a VR massage chair. As in, you stick an Oculus headset on your noggin and try to drown out the din of the LVCC with serene beach scenes as a beefy massage chair manhandles your body. The two separate technologies make sense, but it’s admittedly a bit odd to see them working together on the show floor. — Victoria Song
It’s great that sex tech actually has a presence at this year’s CES, but Morari Medical’s prototype wearable premature ejaculation patch—a taint bandage if you will—was something else. It’s meant to use “neuromodulation” so you don’t jizz before you want to. It’s a worthy problem to tackle, but the presentation left something to be desired. In person, it was basically a bandaid taped to a mannequin and some slideshows of distraught men. It left us with burning questions like, ‘what would happen if you ripped it off to quickly?’ — Victoria Song
The whole point of this damn robot is to get you talking, so we probably shouldn’t talk about it. But seeing everyone cover this robot as if it were anything more than some cheap publicity for a toilet paper company was deeply disappointing. This robot, which delivers you toilet paper, isn’t a big innovation or something coming to bathrooms everywhere soon. It’s just an ad. — Alex Cranz