The Consumer Electronics Show is a big deal in precisely the same way political conventions are a big deal. There are speeches and introductions and a lot of people wearing lanyards, but mostly it’s about the hype. For one week at the start of January in Las Vegas, gadget makers gather to — when it comes down to it — out-gadget each other. This year’s event is now over, and Inverse is pleased to announce the six recipients of our Overengineering Awards. These guys went above and beyond to make things that nobody wanted before CES and no one will likely want after CES. But they’re still cool!
Best New Perspective on Life You Didn’t Know You Wanted
Prophix is a toothbrush with a camera! Hook it up to your smartphone, watch the video feed as your brush, and then vomit at the horror as you realize that the human mouth is a disgusting place that should’ve always been left to your dentist. Still, at least next time you see your dentist and they tell you to brush your teeth more, you’ll actually understand what they saw. Prophix is going to make you brush better using an incredibly powerful force: shame.
Best Gadget That Just Needs a Hug
Toyota’s Concept-i is no ordinary car, because this is CES and ordinary is so last year. The Concept-i is a self-driving concept vehicle that comes with Yui, an artificial intelligence companion that senses the driver’s current emotion and acts accordingly. For example, if the driver is feeling a bit glum, it’ll slow down a bit.
Presumably the inventors read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and took the wrong lesson away from Marvin, the permanently-depressed robot. Played by Alan Rickman in the film adaptation, Marvin has a brain the size of a planet but rarely gets the chance to use it, making him bored and sad. There were a lot of cool things about Douglas Adams’s fictional universe: depressed robots were not one of them.
Best Way to Remind Yourself that Hair Loss Runs in Your Family
The Withings Hair Coach has received a lot of press attention. It’s a hairbrush with wifi which will sync vital data to your smartphone and analyze into a readable report. You can look at hair health, damage, breakage, tangling, and dryness. It’ll even come up with a handy reminder on the app if your hair is fragile, offering up a personalized care routine to help you repair it.
If you’re blessed with baldness genes, watch as the days wither away, as the hairbrush cries out for you to “do something,” anything, to repair your hair. Yes, even your hairbrush is about to start commenting on your combover. Isn’t the future great?
Hottest New Gadget
The Griffin Connected Toaster, set to launch in the second quarter of this year, is controlled via a smartphone app that can regulate temperature, remember bread types, and stores user preferences. If you have less-than-satisfactory toast in the morning, and you think the solution is spending $99.99 on an internet-connected toaster, then the Griffin is perfect for you.
Best Way to Ignore Your Cat
Bought a cat, only to realize that you’re allergic, or that you got confused and had some other animal in mind? Fear not. The Catspad is a Kickstarter project that made an appearance at CES this year. It’s a connected cat feeder and water fountain that notifies you when your pet’s food supplies are running low, or when the water needs a top up. Two dispensers add more food and water to their bowls, and a smartphone app tells you how much your cat has been consuming and lays it all out on a fun in-app calendar. All the fun of owning a cat, without ever having to actually see the cat or walk over to the bowl. What more could you want?
Best Way to Feel a Human Connection Through a Gadget
By now you’re probably exhausted, brushing your connected hair and eating your connected toast before driving across town that keeps slowing down because you’re not happy enough. Well, there’s a solution for that. The LoveBox is a beech wood box with a heart on it that spins when a message comes through. A user can send messages to the box using the mobile app, so when the owner lifts the lid, they see a little message under the mirror. In the promotional materials, someone has sent “I love you” to the LoveBox, waiting for someone to open up and read. Isn’t that nice?
Prices start at $120, and the heart comes in a choice of three designs. Who said the future had to be depressing?