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Tech companies have their own events where they show customers and shareholders what they’ve been working on all year, but they also take part in annual industry conferences like MWC and SXSW where they’re still expected to give the public something interesting. With pressure to push the envelope, they get so busy asking if they can that they sometimes forget to ask if they should, and we end up with several sublimely strange gizmos to admire. So from streaming ovens to streams of urine, these are the quirkiest, funniest, and downright weirdest new gadgets we’ve seen at CES 2023.
1. BMW color-changing car
We’ve seen color-changing cars before — in fact, we’ve even seen color changing BMWs before — but we haven’t quite seen one like the German automaker’s new concept car, the i Vision Dee. Unlike the iX Flow showcased at last year’s CES, which could smoothly transition between black, white, and shades of gray, the i Vision Dee can switch between 32 colors in multiple patterns thanks to a set of 240 e-ink displays that cover the exterior.
This is, of course, only a concept car, and none of BMW’s color changing cars created with the help of digital paper manufacturer E Ink have made it into production so far. This year’s model was designed to showcase BMW’s vision for an augmented reality system and an AI assistant named Dee — two things that are, safe to say, won’t be hitting public roads anytime soon. But it’s still fun to see that the technology is at least getting close. Uh, closer.
2. Withings U-Scan smart urinalysis
French fitness gadget manufacturer Withings thinks you’re flushing away valuable health data. With its new U-Scan smart home urinalysis kit (debuting in Europe later this year), you’ll have a stream of previously-untapped fitness info teleported from your toilet over Wi-Fi directly to your phone on a daily basis.
Just pop a tester cartridge into the pebble-shaped enclosure, then hang the device on the lip of your toilet like one of those weird blue sanitizing tablets some people have. Go about your business as usual and when a built-in temperature sensor notices that things are suddenly getting warmer, urine will be tested for things like specific gravity, ketones, and hormones. You’ll get an instant report beamed to your phone, no stones about it.
3. L’Oreal makeup printer
L’Oreal has shown off a makeup printer in the past, but things are getting a lot more compartmentalized this year. Unlike 2020’s Perso, which tried to do it all by combining lipstick, foundation, and skincare into one handheld printer, this year’s Brow Magic focuses solely on eyebrow makeup.
There’s a companion smartphone app that uses augmented reality to show you what your printed eyebrows should look like in real time. After fine-tuning the style, you just run the device across your eyebrow with a steady hand as 2,400 tiny nozzles print the cosmetics onto your face like an inkjet. No pricing has been announced yet, but L’Oreal expects Brow Magic to launch sometime this year.
4. Kohler aromatherapy shower pods
Staying inside the bathroom as we all like to do sometimes, Kohler has a new aromatherapy system to help start your day off right. Debuting this coming May and available for pre-order now, the Sprig shower system isn’t actually a shower head — it adapts to your existing shower head with a quick and easy installation, allowing you to pop in a Sprig aromatherapy pod whenever you’re in the mood for an olfactory scene during your personal hygiene routine.
It’s surprisingly affordable with a price of $140 for the shower system and $24 for the pods which can be used eight times each. The pods are infused with combinations like lavender and vanilla that envelop you in scented steam, and they also include ingredients like hyaluronic acid and sodium PCA that are supposedly good for your skin and hair.
5. Nowatch smartwatch with no screen or clock
Do you really need a second screen on your wrist or does your smartwatch mainly exist to serve fitness data up to your phone? If you’re in the latter group, you might be better served with a stylish Nowatch than something more tech-forward like the new Pixel Watch.
The watch can’t tell time because it doesn’t have hands or even a display. Instead, the face is covered with a natural gemstone and the insides are packed with fitness sensors from Philips. Currently only available in Europe with a starting price of €363, Nowatch is the brainchild of Hylke Muntinga who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease and realized the need to cherish moments instead of watching the clock.
6. Displace wireless TV with batteries
In this list, a 55-inch flat screen almost seems tame, but the Displace TV is quite innovative and unconventional nonetheless. It’s a truly wireless TV system, meaning you don’t plug cables into it if you don’t want to, and you certainly don’t plug it into the wall. Instead, the screen is powered by four hot-swappable batteries that can hold a charge for one month.
A separate unit is used for inputs, but it can be tucked away in a closet somewhere because video can be cast to the screen wirelessly — you can even pair multiple screens with the same hub. Sensing software will ensure that whatever you’re watching follows you as you move to different rooms. A limited number of pre-orders are available for $3,000 a pop, but shipments aren’t expected to reach customers until much later this year.
7. Blok smart cutting board
After reaching its Kickstarter goal in 2022, the Blok smart cutting board made its big debut at CES 2023. The dark walnut cutting board has an integrated detachable display and can be propped up on a wireless charging base just to look pretty when it’s not being used to cut up veggies.
The idea is that you’ll use the screen to watch Peloton-style live cooking classes while following along in your kitchen. None of this comes cheap, though — classes are locked behind a subscription fee of $39 per month and the cutting board itself will run you $699. Not to rain on the Blok party, but for that price, you could get a really nice cutting board and about ten Nest Hub smart displays now that they’re $40 off.
8. Samsung live-streaming oven
Samsung has a massive appliance division to go along with its electronics branch, so it’s only natural the Korean conglomerate would look for crossover opportunities. While the company has made smart ovens in the past, this year, it is adding video to the list of intelligent abilities.
As part of its Bespoke Connected Kitchen lineup slated to drop in Q3 2023, Samsung is debuting an in-wall oven equipped with a camera that can live stream your baked goods straight to the SmartThings app. For an undisclosed price, you’ll get other smart features like recommended cooking settings for certain dishes and it will even send you a notification if it detects that your food will burn soon, probe thermometers be damned.