Six pieces of new technology that are super weird
Richard Howard • November 19, 2019if( has_post_thumbnail( $post_id ) ): ?>
There’s a lot of tech out there that’s incredibly useful. Certain things like our cell phones, step trackers and smart devices have become indispensable. And while we love covering new technology that can make your life easier, there’s a completely different side to the story. We’re talking about the world of wonderfully weird, ‘why the hell would anyone invent this’ tech. We decided to see just how weird things can get. Spoiler alert: the answer is “very, very weird.”
The human skin phone case
Listen, we weren’t kidding when we said we found some strange stuff. First off, we’ll start with the caveat that the case isn’t made of actual human skin, but rather an artificial facsimile. Still, the ‘ultra-realistic’ version is, for want of a more professional term, pretty creepy. So why would anybody create this abomination? It turns out there’s a legitimate scientific basis. Télécom ParisTech student Marc Teyssier created Skin-On interfaces to allow the simulation of ‘touch communication’ which we regularly use in face-to-face interaction.
At this point, most of the case’s uses are alternative methods of input (e.g. pinching it to turn up the volume) and improved grip position detection. But in the future, Teyssier hopes the interfaces can be used on robots and prosthetics in order to allow more humanlike tactile interaction. For now, though, the best feature for our money is, without a doubt, the ability to elicit a laughing emoji by tickling your phone. What can we say? We’re easily amused. Fun fact: this isn’t even the creepiest bit of weird technology Teyssier has come up with. Apologies in advance for the nightmares.
The smart toilet
Hey, you there. Yes, you! Are you tired of your ho-hum bathroom-going experience? Just standing or sitting then flushing is so 2017, isn’t it? Well, Kohl has the solution for your doo-doo doldrums. Introducing the Kohler Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet. To answer the inevitable question – yes, this is actually the second version of the Numi. Apparently, 2018’s version wasn’t quite brainy enough for customers’ discerning bums. The 2.0 is undoubtedly the Cadillac of commodes. In fact, Kohler was unable to resist using the worst of puns to highlight that fact, describing the Numi 2.0 as “a fully immersive experience.’
Okay, we’re just jealous we didn’t think of it first. Anyway, what do you get with an intelligent toilet? How about hands-free opening and closing of the lid, auto deodorization, a heated seat, UV sanitation wand and adjustable water temperature, pressure and spray. Of course, if you’re spending big bucks on your throne, you’re going to want some swag to go with all that practicality. In which case, you’ll enjoy the ambient lighting, surround Bluetooth speakers and the fact that everything can be controlled through an app, touchscreen remote, or built-in Alexa. And how much will this glorious addition to your bathroom run you? Just a paltry $7,000; $9,000 if you prefer sleek black. But hey, as this promo spot explains, this is a toilet for rock stars. Barf.
The high-tech horse blinders for humans
You may have noticed we’re playing the ‘if they named their products honestly’ game. Well, this one is our favorites. You can call the Wear Space “a device that creates psychological personal space” all you want, we know horse blinders when we see them.
Designed by Panasonic’s Future of Life design studio (nothing foreboding about the combination of that name and this product at all), the Wear Space is basically a piece of lightweight fabric with noise-canceling headphones hidden inside. Fittingly, its second purpose after promoting concentration is the same as your headphones on transit – to signal to people you really don’t want to talk to them. Last year, interested buyers could purchase the Wear Space for about $250. Here’s hoping those headphones are valued at $245.
The fork that shames you for being a glutton
We take back what we said before. This is one of our favorite honest product names. The HAPIfork is the piece of cutlery your Mom wishes she had when her pleas of, “stop scarfing your food down so quickly!” fell on deaf ears. How does it work? Well, this Bluetooth-enabled fork is chock full of sensors that can sense how quickly you’re eating. If it senses you’re being a Greedy Gus or Gertrude, it vibrates and lights up as if to say, “hey. Not cool. Think of your poor tummy.”
The HAPIfork also connects to an app that records your eating habits and lets you set goals. While in theory, this would make the device a truly useful piece of tech, this feature gets a B-listing because of an obvious issue. The HAPIfork has no way of knowing what’s actually on your fork, so it basically relies on the honor system. You may be eating at the right speed and setting portion sizes to receive a pat on the back from your app, but if every meal is bacon-wrapped fried chicken, those props aren’t really deserved. If you’re an otherwise responsible and healthy eater but just can’t seem to stop shoving said health food into your mouth at lightning speed, however, then this just might be the $65 smart fork for your not-that-smart face.
The egg tray that keeps your egg game on point?
Thus far in my life, I’ve been able to successfully navigate my egg use using my formidable wits and cunning. In other words, I’ve read the expiry date on the carton, eaten the eggs before that date, and counted how many I had left so I wouldn’t run out. That’s a lot of reading and counting though. To do away with the necessity for all that rocket science, Quirky and GE have come up with the Quirky Egg Minder. According to the manufacturers, this technological marvel connects with the app to tell you how many eggs you have left, which you should eat first, and when an egg has gone bad. Somewhere, Walt Jr. from Breaking Bad is cuddling an Egg Minder and calling it, “My Precious.”
Unfortunately, this egg tray is a heck of a lot less smart than advertised. Sure, it’ll tell you how many eggs are in its 14 unit tray. And to be fair, it’s not unusual to get to the grocery store and realize you’re not sure how many eggs you have left. However, reviews abound of incorrect egg counts being reported in the app. This, of course, affects the ‘which egg should you eat next’ feature. And as for the ability to tell you when an egg has gone bad? There’s no sensing involved – you type in the expiry date or preferred freshness period at the end of which, you’ll get a red light warning. We’d argue purchasers should have been tipped off to something being amiss after seeing the ludicrous MSRP of $80 having been slashed to $10. Sorry, Walt Jr.
The hands-free umbrella drone
It’s based on an ultra-high-end drone. It uses GPS and video tracking to follow you around and keep you dry. It goes 44 mph so it could be used for bike rides (or going for a run in the rain if you’re Usain Bolt). We want one. Now.
Unfortunately, we can’t have one. While it was posted on a British drone site as a product in development, it never came to fruition. Which is annoying, as this was actually one of the cool gadgets in the weird world of tech. Considering the physics of a rotor-powered flying machine operating with an umbrella attached, the noise of a drone, and the fact that drones are illegal to fly in populated areas, we guess there wasn’t really a chance. Plus, it was going to cost a preposterous $1,600. Hey, let us dream.
Bonus: The phone that absolutely is not a phone
We don’t think anyone would argue the fact that, as a whole, we’ve become addicted to our cell phones. A common tool used in weaning addicts off of their dependencies is introducing a less harmful alternative. Enter the NoPhone: a hunk of plastic engraved to resemble a smartphone. With cheeky messaging like “the least advanced phone, ever,” “completely toilet bowl resistant” and marketing collateral like the above video, you could be forgiven for thinking this is just classic internet humor.
The fact is, this product is 100% for sale, and people are buying it. When they appeared on Shark Tank, they shocked the investors by informing them they had over $40,000 in sales. While the Sharks decided to pass on the NoPhone, the company is still going strong. You can nab a regular NoPhone for $12, a NoPhone Selfie (featuring a reflective panel in the front) for $19 and the steal-of-a-deal NoPhone Air for just $5. If you haven’t guessed yet, that one’s a bag of air. Turns out the weirdest tech is no tech at all.
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