There was a lot to see at the Consumer Electronics Show this past week. And some of it was worthwhile! Walking across the floor, I found myself drawn towards trivialities — the dead ends of the technological, taxonomical chart — than the true innovations or marketable ideas. Capitalism is fine and progress is great, but beautifully executed silly ideas are glorious.

Here are things that happened in Vegas that will likely stay in Vegas, but that you should know about to better appreciate the joys of the human/transhuman experience.


You want to sing Led Zeppelin songs like a robot? They have a function for that. Want to be a church choir? A chipmunk? A death metal singer? Fine. No Problem. Singtrix, a new kind of karaoke technology, can let you do all of that and more. I can honestly say I did not expect to be greeting people with the voice of Barry White at some point in my life, but hey — that’s Vegas, baby.

How does Singtrix work? Fuck if I know! A recurring problem at CES is that a lot of the people heading up these booths are salespeople — not tech developers. Ask them how something is able to do what it does, and you’ll get a shrug. Say the word “monetize,” however, and they’ll dance. It’s adorable.

BeamPro’s Telepresence Army

BeamPro's telepresence bots come in regular and in 'Paul Bunyan'

Oh, how about that one time I walked through BeamPro’s booth and was immediately preyed upon by an army of a dozen or so telepresence bots — including one that was 50 feet tall? I mean, sure, everyone was friendly and easy to talk to, but if I don’t like people in real life, what could possibly make me like them better if they’re an LCD screen on wheels??

Intel’s Sandbox Tanks

Intel, for good reasons, had built a village to show off all of the company’s different emerging products and technologies. Over in a tiny nook by the side, was a box full of sand flanked by a couple of buttons and joysticks on both ends. I asked the Intel dude standing by what this was, and things escalated quickly.

Turns out, the contraption was a game designed by sensory gaming technology Torch. Using Intel’s RealSense camera, the game creates a topographical map based on the shape of the sand — including peaks, valleys, and other physical characteristics. And players get to push the sand around themselves and decide what they want to see for themselves.

The map is made instantly, and the game begins with a projection overplayed on top of the sand. With the joysticks and buttons, you move around a miniature tank and shoot at your opponent. Each player can use the terrain to put themselves in a better position to strike — or avoid their opponents firepower.

A second game requires you to search for mines and destroy them. How? Dig into the sand with your hands, find the blinking lights of destruction, and fire away.

The Intel guy kicked my ass two games straight. Still fun, though.

Postal Service Tetris

The U.S. Post Office was at CES, presumably because you’ve got to do something. And for some reason, they had some strange puzzle game where players had to stack boxes on top of one-another as they fell down from top to bottom. Pretty neat to watch, but I do question how much taxpayer money went into this…

*Correction: The USPS informs me that it actually receives zero tax dollars for its operations. #TheMoreYouKnow.*

The U.S. Postal Service, at CES.

Is this U.S. Postal Service suddenly becoming cool? Are they trying too hard? Will mail ever becoming trendy again? These are questions that need answering.

Intel’s VR Drawing App

Although Oculus Rift is looking towards gaming as its biggest selling point, that hasn’t stopped a lot of companies from thinking about the potential of VR in more creative ways. Intel is one of them. At the entrance of their booth, attendees were greeted with a drawing app that lets you create some wicked cool artworks in a 3D space.

(Ignore how horrible the dude in the video is at drawing things.)

Corning’s Smart Glass

Better known for its glass and ceramics manufacturing, Corning was at CES to show off its admittedly cool new touch-sensitive glass. As you can see in the picture, a transparent foil fitted with electronic hardware can be applied to any glass surface and create an interactive display that looks like it belongs in the future.

Corning's smart glass.

Corning itself demonstrated how such technology could be used in retail stores to help consumers search for different styles and sizes of a particular product, like shoes or clothes. I was thinking more like Minority Report where we can use pre-cognition to stop future crimes, but maybe that’s a little far off.

808 Audio

808 Audio isn’t on this list because their new product or technology was super cool or strange. They’re here because they win the award for the most awkward booth. And this is tech conference — that’s a pretty difficult feat.

Here’s the scene: a DJ in the center spinning away obnoxious club music while taking hard chugs of beer; attractive women hired to dance in the middle of the booth, but looking extremely shy and weirded while doing so; a side-stand where people can make their own colored vinyl records because why not; and a crowd of CES attendees standing around — mostly guys, mind you — standing around for long periods of time and taking pictures and videos of the whole thing.

Number of people I saw actually buying 808 Audio products? Zero. Even CES isn’t immune to bad ideas.

This Private Internet Access Booth

The outright most balls-to-the-walls booth award goes to Private Internet Access, which stocked several dozen people in green skin suits to hang around and scare everyone off. Great business plan, I must say. Makes me definitely want to hire them to manage my internet security.

Photos via Neel V. Patel

Elon Musk has a tough schedule. In an explosive interview published Thursday night, the Tesla CEO defended sometimes erratic behavior by revealing details about his 120 work weeks, factory all nighters on his birthday, and a sleep schedule that’s all but impossible to maintain without Ambien.

“It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” Musk told the New York Times. Two people familiar with the board told the publication that some members are concerned about his use of the drug, with some noting that instead of going to sleep Musk stays up and posts on Twitter.

AirPower, Apple’s wireless charging mat, is almost here. That’s according to a Friday report that claims the long-awaited peripheral is due for launch at a September press conference, alongside a cheaper MacBook and three new iPhones.

It’s the latest sign of an imminent launch for Apple’s charger, announced at last September’s iPhone X press conference alongside the company’s first wireless-supporting phones but missing in action ever since. The device, which uses a Lightning charging port to receive power, can charge up to three devices at once as long as they support the Qi standard. The pad will also support an extension to the Qi standard that enables support for smaller devices, like the Apple Watch Series 3. The DigiTimes report claimed that the pad would cost somewhere around $161 to $193, placing it at the high end of charger prices.

Those following Elon Musk’s work knew the Tesla CEO put in long hours at the company’s factory. An interview with the New York Times published on Thursday showed the sheer amount of hours he puts into his company, and HuffPost co-founder Arianna Huffington offered some advice to the CEO. Musk responded to her on Twitter, of course.

Much of the innovation that’s happened within the workplace, even if it’s in the form of innovative ways to joke around, has been geared toward making work lives more collaborative. The once fashionable open office floor plan was adopted across the land to enable better communication and ideas, not as a cost-cutting measure, swore managers.

Apple at trying to fix a barrier to both language and commerce that currently exists between users and Siri: having the A.I. actually recognize names of local businesses. Its plan? Giving the system access to knowledge of users’ geolocation so it understands the restaurants, boutiques, and hardware stores in specific neighborhoods.