The weird and the wacky of Consumer Electronics Show of 2019

Bell Nexus a flying taxi
Bell Nexus a flying taxi

The world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held annually in Las Vegas, showcases everything about technology from futuristic to functional, to downright wacky. CES 2019 was no different. It brought us affectionate robots, smart clothing and nappies, flying taxis, foldable smartphones and, uh, luggage with ears that wiggle when you pet it.


Royole FlexPai foldable phone

Royole FlexPai Foldable Phone

We’ve seen teasers about it for more than a year and, finally, the world’s first foldable smartphone-tablet combo has been unveiled. The Royole FlexPai is a 20cm device with a flexible spine that folds as if you are closing a book. The scratch-resistant screen is made of flexible plastic and bends from zero to 180 degrees, which won’t crack. It has a dual SIM and wireless charging capabilities, a fingerprint sensor, a large battery and two cameras (20Mp telephoto and 16Mp wide angle). The leap in technology is remarkable, but we have to wonder how useful it will be to the average consumer. Available later this year.

Your flying taxi has arrived

Flying taxis are coming and we’re here for it. Uber and Bell Helicopter jointly unveiled the Bell Nexus flying taxi of the future; it will be operational by 2023. The electric aircraft seats five people and will take off and land vertically. It is powered by a hybrid electric propulsion system that will be a lot quieter than a regular helicopter and more efficient. With a range of about 240km, it is ideally suited for getting around urban jungles to avoid traffic. We’re counting down the years.

Fravel, the luggage you can pet

You get wacky – and then you get the Fravel suitcase. The company calls it the “world’s cutest suitcase” that feels like the pet you can’t take on holiday. Available in five pastel shades, it features (detachable) ears that wiggle when you pet the luggage, or walk with it; a “heart” that beats faster when you go outdoors; and paw-shaped wheels. It has multiple sensors built into it, a battery that lasts a day, a smart switch and a USB charger for mobile devices. If you’re not weirded out already, pricing starts at $299 (about R4 100).

Groove X’s Lovot wants to cuddle you

Lovot, the teddy bear-looking robot by Groove X has one goal: To make people happy. Using “emotional robotics” technology, its more than 50 sensors can react to your moods to enhance the feelings of comfort and love, says the company. The robot sits on two wheels, has a thermal camera and microphone attached to its head and can scan a room to find its owner. It has various eye displays and supports movements, such as blinking. It can be dressed up in various outfits, too. We think it’s better suited as a teddy bear replacement for a child; for anyone older, it’s just creepy. Open for pre-order.

A smart belt called Welt

A smart belt called the Welt

Welt is a smart belt that tracks health data, such as waist size, over-eating, step count, calories burnt, how long you’re sitting and even has fall detection, similar to the Apple Watch. It works with an app to provide you with the necessary data to help you stay fit.

If you’re not weirded out by a belt tracking each moment your waist is expanding, it’s available to buy from Amazon.

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