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Published: Thursday, 1/10/2013

Engineers’ ingenuity, skills put to test with wacky gadgets at Consumer Electronics Show

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The iPotty for iPad potty training device is see on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. No app is available to go with the trainer, but the idea is to keep the child on the toilet for as long as necessary by keeping them digitally entertained. The iPotty for iPad potty training device is see on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. No app is available to go with the trainer, but the idea is to keep the child on the toilet for as long as necessary by keeping them digitally entertained.
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LAS VEGAS — From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden “smart” TVs, the International Consumer Electronics Show is a forum for gadget makers to take big — and bizarre — chances.

Many of the prototypes introduced at the annual gadget show over the years have failed in the marketplace. But innovators who shop their wares are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, many of which are designed to solve problems you didn't know you had.

Here are some of this year's strangest electronic devices:

● HAPIFORK

If you don't watch what you put in your mouth, this fork will — or at least try to. Called HAPIfork, it's a fork with a fat handle containing electronics and a battery. A motion sensor knows when you are lifting the fork to your mouth. If you're eating too fast, the fork will vibrate as a warning. HapiLabs says using the fork 60 to 75 times during meals that last 20 to 30 minutes is ideal.

But the fork won't know how healthy or how big each bite you take will be, so shoveling a plate of arugula will likely be judged as less healthy than slowly putting away a pile of bacon.

WHO IT'S FOR? People who eat too fast.

PRICE: HapiLabs is launching a fund-raising campaign for the fork in March on the group fund-raising site Kickstarter.com. Participants need to pay $99 to get a fork.

● iPOTTY

Toilet training a toddler is no picnic, but iPotty from CTA Digital seeks to make it a little easier by letting parents attach an iPad to it. This way, junior can gape and paw at the iPad while taking care of business in the old-fashioned part of the plastic potty. iPotty will go on sale in March.

There are potty training apps out there that'll reward toddlers for accomplishing the deed.

WHO IT'S FOR: Parents at their wit's end.

PRICE: $39.99

● MONDO SPIDER, TITANBOA

A pair of giant hydraulic and lithium polymer battery-controlled beasts from Canadian art organization eatART caught some eyes at the show. A rideable eight-legged creature, Mondo Spider weighs 1,600 pounds and can crawl forward at about 5 miles per hour on battery power for roughly an hour. The 1,200-pound Titanoboa slithers along the ground at an as yet unmeasured speed.

Hugh Patterson, an engineer, said they were made in part to learn more about energy use.

WHO IT'S FOR: Your inner child, people with extra-large living rooms.

PRICE: The spider's parts cost $26,000. The Titanoboa costs $70,000.

● EYE-SENSING TV

A prototype of an eye-sensing TV from Haier didn't quite meet viewers eye-to-eye. An on-screen cursor is supposed to appear where the viewer looks to help, say, select a show to watch. Blinking while controlling the cursor is supposed to result in a click. In our brief time with the TV, we observed may quirks and comic difficulties. For one, the company's demonstrator Hongzhao Guo said the system doesn't work that well when viewers wear eyeglasses.

WHO IT'S FOR: People too lazy to move their arms.



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