Skip to main content

Filed under:

The weird side of CES 2012: Justin Bieber, Solowheels, a Kinect-powered skateboard, and more

Share this story

Because CES is more than just Android phones and tablets. It's more than just Windows laptops, HDTVs with various levels of 3D interaction and 12K resolution. It's more than just virtual storage and refrigerators. This is the CES we really and truly love. This is Sony CEO Howard Stringer awkwardly hugging Will Smith on stage. This is a closet that will shake, steam, dry, and freshen your clothes up for you with a variety of selectable aromas. This is more than one instance of dancing robots and more than one celebrity cameo — and one time where both those groups intersected to make Joanna's heart skip a beat. This is our love letter to you, the Consumer Eccentric Show.A special thanks to Borrow Lenses, who provided us with cameras and lenses for the week!

  • Thomas Ricker

    Jan 16, 2012

    Thomas Ricker

    4moms Origami is the highest tech stroller yet (hands-on video)

    joannastroller
    joannastroller

    Conversations between newborn parents meeting serendipitously on the city sidewalk tend to splinter along two threads: mothers commiserating over the tribulations of day-to-day care; fathers quietly judging one another's stroller selection. Really, a MacLaren? Yes, that's stereotypical but it's also true more often than not.

    The 4moms Origami is a power-folding stroller guaranteed to win those sidewalk battles every time. It features two built-in generators in the rear wheels that recharge its batteries while you walk. Those stored electrons are then used to power a monochrome LCD, running lights, and even a USB jack for charging your portable electronics. A twist and push of the button on the stroller handle causes the buggy to automatically lower itself to the ground into a relatively compact package. Do it again and it'll stand back up ready for baby. Sensors in the seat prevent it from folding while baby's on board and it's light enough that Joanna can hoist it up the stairs of her double-wide while holding her illegitimate Bieberbaby. Origami costs $849 which is actually quite reasonable as far as premium strollers go.

    Read Article >
  • Jamie Keene

    Jan 15, 2012

    Jamie Keene

    The Verge logo gets Cubified

    The Verge Logo Cubified
    The Verge Logo Cubified

    On Thursday's podcast, we chose Cubify as one of our favorite things at this year's CES: a 3D printing service that can turn almost any design into a plastic model 5 inches squared. The company has a bunch of its Cube printers here at the show — as shown in our hands-on a few days ago — and its team has been producing everything from shoes to chess pieces throughout the week. We thought we'd put it to the test, and gave them a challenge — could they print our Penrose-like impossible logo?

    Read Article >
  • Sam Sheffer

    Jan 14, 2012

    Sam Sheffer

    Chaotic Moon Labs Board of Awesomeness: your hand is the throttle on this Kinect-controlled skateboard

    Gallery Photo: Board of Awesomeness pictures
    Gallery Photo: Board of Awesomeness pictures

    Chaotic Moon's Board of Awesomeness is one of the craziest things we've seen here at CES 2012. And by crazy, we mean awesome. The frankenstein creation was built in just two weeks and is composed of a longboard with a set of gigantic rugged wheels, electric motor, batteries, Kinect, and Windows 8 tablet.

    I've been skateboarding on and off for around eight years and I'll admit — knowing how to skateboard doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to handle the Board of Awesomeness. Riding it requires a ton of balance and concentration, and you need to be focused on a few things at all times: leaning forward, keeping your foot down on the kill-switch and making sure your hand remains very steady when it's in the hitbox. All three things work in concert together. For example, when I wasn't leaning forward, the torque threw me off balance, causing my foot to come off the kill-switch and my hand to move, which caused the board to not move at all. However, I started to get the hang of it after a few runs on the slowest setting, and was on the highest speed setting in no time.

    Read Article >
  • Sam Byford

    Jan 13, 2012

    Sam Byford

    LG Styler 'New Concept Clothes Manager' hands-on (video)

    LG STYLER
    LG STYLER

    Continuing our voyage into the world of extravagant Korean home appliances, we went to check out the LG Styler. Billed as a "New Concept Clothes Manager", it is essentially a $2,000 closet that will shake, steam, dry, and freshen your clothes up for you with a variety of selectable aromas. The monochrome screen is pretty great, appearing to shine through the surface of the door and offering a litany of programs, including bedding and soft toys. It'll also sanitize non-washables for you. We suppose there are worse ways to spend $2,000.

    Our man Nilay Patel will walk you through the ins and outs.

    Read Article >
  • Sam Byford

    Jan 13, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Riding the Solowheel of death at CES

    solowheel
    solowheel

    The North Hall is the dark underbelly of CES, where earphones and iPhone cases go to die. It's also a pretty good place to check out some bizarre products with zero chance of making it to the mainstream, and that's certainly the case with the Inventist Solowheel — a crazy take on a Segway crossed with a unicycle. You ride the thing by squeezing the central pillar between your calves and leaning in your desired direction. What could go wrong?

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Jan 13, 2012

    Adi Robertson

    ioSafe puts Thunderbolt drive to lightning test (hands-on and video)

    External storage company ioSafe likes to put on a show at CES. Last year, it demonstrated its ultratough Rugged Portable hard drives by unleashing journalists with shotguns and assault rifles on them. This year, it decided to test its Thunderbolt-compatible prototype's shockproofing instead — by bringing in Tesla coil enthusiast Austin Richards, also known as Dr. MegaVolt.

    After shocking the drive multiple times with Richards' million-volt coil, ioSafe plugged it in. A snap-on metal cover is supposed to protect the drive's inputs, but the Tesla coil has apparently still overloaded it in about a third of the demos; unfortunately, this was one of those times. The controller board had been fried, so we got a view of the dual RAID 1 solid-state drives inside while the CEO performed some recovery. Once a new board had been plugged in, the drive mounted and we found the text file we'd made beforehand unharmed. Of course, ioSafe isn't suggesting you take your hard drive into a thunderstorm, but for sheer showmanship, the demo's difficult to beat.

    Read Article >
  • Joshua Topolsky

    Jan 13, 2012

    Joshua Topolsky

    Totally random, end-of-CES meetup at The Verge trailer, 3PM Friday... and we're bringing the iNuke Boom

    Josh iNuke
    Josh iNuke

    Guys. This is happening.

    Friday at 3PM, we're having a one-hour, full-on jam session outside of our trailer, just across from central hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center (you know, where CES takes place).

    Read Article >
  • David Pierce

    Jan 13, 2012

    David Pierce

    CTX MIseeTX is a computer, keyboard, mouse, and monitor in one tiny box (hands-on video)

    CTX MiseeTX
    CTX MiseeTX

    Laptops are so 2011. That's why CTX built the MIseeTX desktop computer, which is smaller than a laptop but considerably more complicated: the Windows 7 machine has a projector for showing its picture on a wall, another for projecting a virtual keyboard and trackpad onto a flat surface, and just about every port you can think of. There's a 4.3-inch touchscreen on the computer, along with a 1.2GHz processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, two USB ports, SD and mIcroSD slots, a webcam, and more. The whole thing would fit easily into a backpack, and you'll never forget your mouse again. The computer isn't especially new (though it hasn't been released yet), but when we stumbled upon it at CTX's CES booth, how could we resist?

    Leaving aside the fact that the MIseeTX makes absolutely no sense as a product, it's really, really cool. It's not exactly a powerhouse productivity machine, but it seemed to work reasonably well once we figured out how to use the keyboard. It can be a super-simple home theater PC that can project an 88-inch image (though it's only an 854 x 480 picture), and can rotate to even project on the ceiling. It's also the most eye-catching computer you could possibly take to Starbucks. Its battery will last two hours, or you can plug it in and use it endlessly. The projector lens is on a hinge, so it can rotate and project on the ceiling while you're in bed. If you want something portable that makes much less sense than a laptop but will assure you endless street cred, you'll be able to get the MIseeTX for about $600, from CTX as well as LG and other partners.

    Read Article >
  • Joanna Stern

    Jan 12, 2012

    Joanna Stern

    Justin Bieber. A dancing robot. CES 2012.

    Justin Bieber
    Justin Bieber

    If Justin Bieber can take the time to unveil a robot, it's got to be totally amazing and beautiful just like him, right? Well, sort of. The TOSY mRobo is a speaker dock that snaps up into a dancing robot when it begins to hear music. However, right now it seems mRobo, which is in a serious prototype phase at the moment, can only go through a set of automatic functions. Understandably, the mRobo seemed a bit nervous during his unveil with Bieber, but he had a bit of trouble showing his moves during the press conference. It was able to shoot up its head and then do a few splits, but other than that it wasn't much of a show. I also got a look at the robot (and Bieber) after the presser and the poor thing still has a bunch of wires hanging out of its back. According to TOSY, by the time it hits this summer for around $200, it will be able to do a series of dance moves. But hey, I got to meet Justin Bieber, and well, that makes the TOSY mRobo best robot ever. Video of it all below.

    Read Article >
  • Sam Byford

    Jan 11, 2012

    Sam Byford

    TOSY Robotics mRobo Ultra Bass: 2 gigabytes of dancing robot (update: pics)

    tosy robom
    tosy robom

    Remember Sony's Rolly, the auto-rolling MP3 player? The mRobo Ultra Bass from TOSY Robotics looks to be along those lines, though it manages the considerably more complicated feat of bipedal motion. It has 2GB of onboard memory that can be filled up with tunes over USB, and will morph from a speaker into a 18-inch-tall dancing human form with a speaker once you press "play". The mRobo dances with pre-programmed routines, but is apparently capable of analyzing beats and rhythms so that it can get down to "virtually any" genre of music. Justin Bieber will help unveil the product this afternoon, and you'd better belieb that we'll be there to verify TOSY's claims.

    Read Article >
  • Jacob Schulman

    Jan 11, 2012

    Jacob Schulman

    Kopin and Motorola's Golden-i head-mounted PC (hands-on video)

    Gallery Photo: Kopin / Motorola's Golden-i wearable PC hands-on pictures
    Gallery Photo: Kopin / Motorola's Golden-i wearable PC hands-on pictures

    The Golden-i is a futuristic wearable computer that you need to see to believe. The technology behind comes from the Kopin Corporation, but Motorola Solutions — the arm that makes enterprise solutions, not consumer products — has licensed the technology and plans to bring it to market by the end of the year (though the form factor may change). The Golden-i unit is a head-mounted PC running Windows CE embedded, controlled completely by gestures and voice. An internal accelerometer controls scrolling with head motion while dual microphones cut down on ambient noise. Just below the line of sight, there's a .44-inch display that appears to be 15 inches when it's in focus.

    Specs wise, there's a TI OMAP 3730 processor clocked at 1 GHz, 512 MB of RAM, as well as 512 MB of internal flash storage. That's more than enough storage for the lightweight OS, though there is also a microSD card slot and mini-USB on-the-go slot for attaching peripherals or doing development work. It also has Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, low-power Wi-Fi, and Verizon Wireless will offer a 4G dongle to provide connectivity everywhere.

    Read Article >
  • Dieter Bohn

    Jan 11, 2012

    Dieter Bohn

    Behringer's iNuke Boom is the essence of Vegas

    Gallery Photo:
    Gallery Photo:

    There are ducks, and there are decorated sheds.

    Most booths at CES are decorated sheds, boxes adorned with color and light, structures with signs to entice you to look at the gadgets within. They call to you with thumping music, colored kliegs, and shouting carnival workers hawking their wares with boy-band boom mics floating an inch from their mouths like buzzing flies at the end of thin electronic wires. Sweeping yet taut reams of fabric are buttressed by steel and mesh create faux tents and false ceilings to reorient the gadgets held within. Hordes of shuffling convention goers conventionally turn their glazed gaze towards an endless kaleidoscope of logos and stock photos of smiling models without seeing any of it. Decorated sheds: forms whose function is to direct you within to the consumer electronics collected inside.

    Read Article >
  • Dante D'Orazio

    Jan 11, 2012

    Dante D'Orazio

    Cooler Master demos heatsink with a computer built in

    Cooler Master CPU heatsink
    Cooler Master CPU heatsink

    Strange gadgets aren't a rarity at CES, but this processor heatsink is quite an interesting device. It's called the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ CPU heatsink, and it has a computer built into it. Behind a large fan and lots of aluminum fins for cooling down that processor in your gaming rig, there's an AMD E-350 Brazos APU on a micro motherboard. According to PC Perspective, the built-in computer has Wi-Fi, ethernet, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. We're not completely sure why you'd want a second computer in your computer, but it's a pretty neat demo. It's not a perfect solution: we suspect that your CPU will not be getting cooled properly with a motherboard blocking it, and it's certainly not going to be easy to open up your computer's case to add USB storage. There's no pricing or availability info: we think this is something that isn't going to have a life off of the show floor. See the source link for a few more shots of this heatsink.

    Read Article >
  • T.C. Sottek

    Jan 11, 2012

    T.C. Sottek

    SpnKiX motorized skate shoes (hands-on pictures and video)

    We just caught up with Peter Treadway, the creator of SpnKiX motorized skate shoes, at his booth at CES — he was gracious enough to strap them on and wheel himself around for us. SpnKiX is sort of like those rollerskates that strap over your shoes, except way more high tech: the skates are controlled by a handheld remote and can propel riders along at up to 10 miles per hour. There's no final price or release date yet, but we'll let you know when they surface.

    Read Article >
  • Jamie Keene

    Jan 10, 2012

    Jamie Keene

    Cubify.com builds your digital designs in five inches cubed of ABS

    Gallery Photo: Cubify
    Gallery Photo: Cubify

    3D Systems has unveiled Cubify.com, a service which creates single-color 3D models up to five inches square using quick-setting liquid ABS. Similarly to Shapeways, it allows you to turn your virtual 3D objects into something you can hold in your hand, and both the level of detail and physical strength of the products is astonishing. It's possible to create almost anything using the printer, from iPhone cases to chess pieces, or a tiny sneaker which encases a USB drive. The service also offers tablet apps, and the ability to create models using 3D photos taken by the Kinect camera — as demonstrated in the gallery by LL Cool J.

    If the remote printing solution isn't quite enough for you, the company has good news: you'll soon be able to order one of the printers for use at home. It's not cheap, with the unit costing $1299 before you buy any of the raw material, but can you really put a price on being able to hold your 3D models minutes after you've completed them?

    Read Article >
  • Adi Robertson

    Jan 10, 2012

    Adi Robertson

    Vuzix transparent 'smart glasses' prototype hands-on

    Vuzix Smart Glasses
    Vuzix Smart Glasses

    Looks like the Vuzix heads-up display glasses we wrote about earlier are still very much a work in progress. At the CES Vuzix booth, we were able to see a proof of concept of the ultrathin lenses, which displayed a semi-transparent hologram that we were able to capture (quite imperfectly) in the gallery below. The looped video was small but very vivid, partly because the colors have a bit of a neon gleam to them. Besides the prototype, we also got a look at the military and industrial eyepiece, albeit from behind glass. The eyepiece is supposed to be coming out in the third quarter of this year, but according to Vuzix, the consumer glasses are still up to two years away.

    Read Article >
  • David Pierce

    Jan 10, 2012

    David Pierce

    Recon Instruments announces MOD Live SDK, lets developers build apps for ski goggles

    Recon MOD Live
    Recon MOD Live

    Recon Instruments released the SDK for its MOD and MOD Live displays today, allowing developers to code apps for the Android-based ski goggles. Back in November, we got to play with the MOD Live, which slides into any compatible pair of ski goggles and add a telemetry display that shows your altitude, speed, coordinates, and more. Thanks to its Android operating system, it can also connect to your phone and display incoming text messages or phone calls — now, with developer help, there are many more possible ways to use all the MOD’s sensors and instruments. Recon also announced the first app built with the SDK, an app connecting the MOD Live to the Polar WearLink+ transmitter, a heart rate monitor that works with Nike+. Check out the video below for our hands-on impressions of the MOD Live from November, and stay tuned to find out what extreme sports-loving coders can come up with.

    Read Article >
  • Joseph Parish

    Jan 10, 2012

    Joseph Parish

    Chaotic Moon's 'Board of Awesomeness' is a Kinect-controlled electric skateboard

    Board of Awesomeness
    Board of Awesomeness

    Chaotic Moons Labs is showing a motorized longboard controlled by a combination of Kinect and a Samsung Windows 8 tablet at CES 2012. Affectionately called the "Board of Awesomeness," the off-road skateboard uses video, voice, gestures, accelerometers, and localization data to ascertain the rider's intentions and accelerate or slow down, as shown in the video. The tablet does all the data processing and is used to turn the board on and off and adjust the top speed which can reach 32mph. It's 2012 and we don't have hover boards, but maybe this will do until they arrive.

    Read Article >
  • David Pierce

    Jan 10, 2012

    David Pierce

    Sensics Smart Goggles put your head in the game (hands-on pictures and video)

    Sensics Smart Goggles
    Sensics Smart Goggles

    Pepcom's the perfect place to find things you might not hear about otherwise — like Sensics' Smart Goggles, which we got a chance to play with tonight. The Smart Goggles are basically an insanely heavy helmet containing a heads-up display that runs Android (Android 4.0, to be exact, though we're not sure if that really matters) — it's kind of like the virtual reality helmets many of us played with as a kid at science museums, with a few 21st-century upgrades. You can run regular Android apps inside the device, and pair it with a smartphone or wireless controller, but where the Smart Goggles really get fun is gaming. Sensics developed a test game for the Smart Goggles that turns you into a robot, traipsing through a city. As you walk around and press a button, the robot punches; jump, and your robot jumps as well. The gadget works 360 degrees and is fully 3D, making for an impressively immersive gaming experience as you walk around.

    The Smart Goggles' graphics aren't very good (the Wii puts them to shame, really), but the company promised that its games would get more immersive and more impressive over time. Sensics is also planning to completely remove your controller from the equation, so instead of pressing a button to punch you'll actually punch. No word yet on pricing, or when the Smart Goggles will be available (they seemed rather unfinished in our time playing with them), but we're hoping they're expensive — otherwise we're going to be seriously dangerous to others while we crush the city around us.

    Read Article >
  • David Pierce

    Jan 10, 2012

    David Pierce

    Victorinox Swiss Army launches ‘world’s smallest high-capacity SSD drive’

    Victorinox Swiss Army SSD
    Victorinox Swiss Army SSD

    Victorinox Swiss Army is Swiss, so every good stereotype means the company must be obsessed with Swiss Bank-level security. The company's showing off its aptitude at CES, launching two new storage products that are designed to be super secure — the new Victorinox SSD and the Victorinox Slim 3.0 USB drive. (The it couldn't keep the new products a secret, which might not bode well.) The thumb drive-sized SSD is full of superlatives: according to the company, it's the smallest high-storage SSD on the market (it's the size of a Swiss Army knife), the first SSD with one connector for both USB and eSATA, and the first with an E Ink-based Bi-Stable graphic display for labeling the drive — plus, we're assuming that the two knives that come attached are also a first. It's available with between 64GB and 1TB of storage, and is capable of 220MB/s read speeds and write speeds up to 150MB/s. It has Victorinox's security software on board, which encrypts and backs up data, and also provides private browsing and safe syncing of bookmarks and passwords. The Victorinox Slim is similarly secure, offering lots of security and encryption software on USB 3.0-friendly flash drives with capacities between 16GB and 128GB. And yes, there are still two knives attached. Pricing and availability weren't announced, but you can bet these won't come cheap when they do arrive.

    Read Article >
  • Sean Hollister

    Jan 9, 2012

    Sean Hollister

    Thermador Freedom auto-sensing induction cooktop hands-on (video)

    Gallery Photo: Thermidor Freedom auto-sensing induction cooktop hands-on pictures
    Gallery Photo: Thermidor Freedom auto-sensing induction cooktop hands-on pictures

    Perhaps you're familiar with how an induction stove uses electromagnets to heat cookware, reducing the risk of burning your hands? Thermador's high-tech Freedom Induction cooktop kicks it up a notch by detecting the actual position of your pans, up to four at a time. Rather than put a single inductor under each burner and limit you to pre-determined locations to fry and simmer, 48 auto-sensing inductors under this stove light up (metaphorically) to match the size and location of your cookware. You can even move a pot from place to place and the computer will update its position. There's also a handy touchscreen for setting timers for your cuisine. You'll pay a price for convenience, though: the freedom to place your cuisine anywhere will cost $4,949, when the stove goes on sale this July.

    Billy Disney contributed to this post

    Read Article >
  • Dieter Bohn

    Jan 9, 2012

    Dieter Bohn

    Disposable body metric patch from BodyMedia coming later this year

    Gallery Photo: BodyMedia health monitors at CES
    Gallery Photo: BodyMedia health monitors at CES

    Devices to monitor your health and exercise are nothing new, and neither are devices that communicate with apps on your computer or smartphone. BodyMedia has been offering all of the above for some time (its latest product is a USB-only body monitors that saves $20 off the retail price of the Bluetooth version), but it's planning on trying a few new things in 2012 and 2013. First is the Body Monitory Patch, a disposable body patch designed to track calorie burn, steps, and more — BodyMedia claims it collects 5,000 data points per minute. After a week's time, the patch can be simply removed, its data downloaded, and then it can be disposed. It's meant to have applications in health care, where long term tracking may not be as important as a short term diagnosis.

    Read Article >