Hit or miss? Five bits of weird tech at CES we're not sure about


The latest innovation in ovens sees Whirlpool adding a touchscreen to an oven that shows you recipes, cooking tips and the family calendar. Best of all, you can zoom in on food in your oven. — dpa

The latest innovation in ovens sees Whirlpool adding a touchscreen to an oven that shows you recipes, cooking tips and the family calendar. Best of all, you can zoom in on food in your oven. — dpa

Apart from being a showcase for car technology and entertainment systems, CES in Las Vegas is also a platform for all kinds of other companies looking to show off what they've been creating in their tech labs. And a lot of the time, the stuff they come up with is, well, weird.

Here are five gadgets and gimmicks from CES that we're not really sure anyone needs:

A pet feeder with facial recognition

Problem: Your dog's bowl can't tell if the right animal is getting the food you've put out. Solution: Facial recognition.

Using the same facial recognition tech that unlocks modern smartphones, the pet feeder will only unlock to one select pet. Because after all, you don't want your neighbour's cat sneaking in and stealing your beloved's food.

AI specialists at Italian tech firm Volta used cameras, artificial intelligence and facial recognition to build what they say is the equivalent of a flagship Apple product for pets.

The Mookkie smart feeder can even be connected up to your smartphone so you get notifications and video footage every time your pet eats, and you can check how much it's been eating and how much food is left.

A tap you can turn on with your voice

Nobody expected to need a tap that turns on when you speak to it. But in practice, a voice-controlled tap may turn out to be kind of useful, if you're prepared to pay a luxury premium.

Kitchen manufacturer Kohler thinks its high-tech faucet will come in handy when your hands are covered in food during cooking, when you'd rather not smear minced meat or cookie dough all over the tap's handle.

Need exactly 700ml for a recipe? Tell the new Sensate tap and it'll pour out that exact amount.

A skateboard you can rent out to people

When you're not using it, your skateboard is probably just lying around at home, when it could be making money for you.

That's the thinking of the makers of the Walnutt Spectra X, a shareable electric skateboard that you can unlock and rent out to others or share with friends.

Using an accompanying app, you can let your electric skateboard join the shared economy alongside your Airbnb flat.

Zoom in on food with your oven's LCD screen

Most fridges and ovens don't have touchscreen displays on them, but manufacturers are increasingly making use of what they see as empty space.

The latest innovation in ovens sees Whirlpool adding a touchscreen to an oven so you can see recipes, cooking tips and the family calendar. Best of all, you can zoom in on food in your oven. The Connected Hub Wall Oven comes with what Whirlpool calls an internal vision system that lets you get a close-up view of your food through the screen.

Whirlpool says the zoom function will speed up the cooking process since you don't have to open the oven door to check if what you're cooking looks done, which wastes energy and slows the oven down by letting heat escape.

A sticker that measures your skin's pH

A sticker that you put on your arm so L'Oreal can recommend the right kind of products to balance out your skin's pH might seem like a marketing gimmick to you.

But if you're one of the millions of people around the world who suffer from dry or irritated skin and eczema, then you may actually be interested in L'Oreal's My Skin Track sensor.

L'Oreal says it's the first wearable to measure individual skin pH levels using microfluidic technology, which it does by analysing sweat from skin pores. The cosmetics brand says it can tell your pH level within 15 minutes, which will help you apply the right kind of product. – dpa