CES 2013: The good, the bad and the weird

Bendable smartphones? Great! A kiddie potty decked out with an iPad? Unnecessary!

Topics: ces 2013, tech, smartphones, toilets, , ,

CES 2013: The good, the bad and the weird (Credit: Samsung)

Have you noticed a spike in gadget stories on your social media feed lately? That’s because it’s January, the month when every tech journalist, blogger and fetishist heads to Las Vegas for a swag-filled week of ogling new toys. That’s CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, the event jaded tech reporters love to badmouth.

The show has long been an opportunity for giants and start-ups alike to show off the gadgets that could (and often do) change the way we communicate, eat, read, drive, sleep — you get the idea.

Here’s a rundown on some of what’s coming out of CES this year.

The good:

Flexible phones

Samsung unveiled a flexible phone prototype that runs Windows Phone 8 and won’t break when you drop it because you’re holding coffee, car keys, a laptop and your infant child. But a possible snafu for the flexible displays is the size and rigid composition of the processing and memory technology that helps your phone run.

Tobii REX

A sensor embedded at the top of a TV or monitor, the REX follows users’ eyes around the screen, enabling hands-free cursor manipulation. Or, almost hands-free: You’ll still need to click the old fashioned way, with your keyboard.

Parrot Flower Power

Sure, not killing houseplants isn’t high on the list of world-altering innovation, but it’s still pretty cool. Once inserted in your pot, the Flower Power, which looks like a miniature slingshot, will tell you when a plant needs water, fertilizer or a sunnier spot on the windowsill. As is required these days, it can send wireless reminders about tending your foliage, putting a green thumb within reach for anyone with a smartphone.

The bad:


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Pretty much exactly what it sounds like, the iPotty is a potty attached to an iPad holder. Sure, you could screen your toddler into potty submission. Or, just stick to M&M’s and positive reinforcement, keeping that pricey gadget away from any and all possible disasters.


These bass-heavy headphones are branded as the “loudest in the world.” But consider this: Creative consultant and Motörhead lead vocalist Lemmy Kilmister has been suffering with tinnitus — a persistent and irreversible ringing in the ear associated with hearing loss due to too-loud music — for decades. Is that what you want to do to yourself?

The weird:

Mondo Spider

A pair of giant hydraulic and lithium polymer battery-controlled faux arachnids from Canadian art organization eatART, the Mondo Spider weights 1,600 pounds and is fully ridable. This particular innovation was developed at Burning Man.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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