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CES 2012. Curious Accessories to Any Taste and Budget
Imagine for a second that CES got visitors from space and they would like to know what products are the most popular among Earthlings. I am quite sure that number one on the list would be iPhone skins produced today by virtually everyone. The whole expo is completely inundated with iPhone cases. It is a real big business as the demand for cases is a lot higher than the demand for phones. At one showcase I heard a rep of a major accessory manufacturer say that an average iPhone life cycle is just over a year and an average iPhone owner buys at least two phone skins and some other trinkets like screen protectors and stickers. The rep was talking about the US market but I think it is applicable to any country. A part of the Apple phenomenon is that people 'domesticate' their Apple gadgets by buying unnecessary accessories.
I, on the other hand, am against ruining the looks of a device with cases. But as far as iPhone 4 or 4s is concerned a case is a necessity as the phone is rather slippery and I dropped mine a few times. But I will only use a case with my MacBook Air if it becomes completely unpresentable from scratches. I like the way it looks and I think it is stupid to hide this great design under a case. But every time I visit an Apple Store besides bumping into a flock of Russians who seem to be make pilgrimage there I can't help but browse the accessories. And every time I fight the urge to buy something: all accessories look really nice and are inexpensive. But then I realize I already have heaps of useless accessories at home I have collected over many years. Such things are purchased on an impulse and rarely become useful. But there are a lot of people who cannot resist buying a nice looking trinket so the accessory market is flourishing as ever.
Let's talk about miscellaneous accessories Ц I have stories about all sorts of them to suit any taste and any budget. I will not be talking about manufacturers today I just want to speculate on several curious contraptions. I want to start with a small conundrum for you Ц look at the photos below and try to guess what this is:
I bet you'll never get it right but don't worry I am going to tell you the right answer by the end of the article. I was frankly amazed that such things exist.
Firstly, smart electric sockets that have been pretty popular at CES and many manufacturers presented their own versions. This one is called Kill a Watt Ц it remotely turns the electric socket off and then tells you on its display how much many it has saved you.
I think Belkin's concept was a more elegant:
Tablets have spawned an entire ecosystem of accessories and this boom is creating some extravagant products like project Fiona by Razer Ц gamepads for tablets which I think are completely pointless.
Victorinox have been putting memory sticks into their knives for many years now but this time they managed to pack a whole 1TB into a tiny knife. Naturally, this knife is outrageously expensive but it demonstrates how quickly storage space requires less and less room. They managed to attract a lot of attention at the expo with this presentation Ц well done.
I loved the settings of some showcases like this robot and the pin-up posters.
The showcase with a 3D printer featured a big collection of toys printed right on the spot.
Some of the reps played live billboards like this guy here he was selling cell signal boosters.
Leonardo for All Ц is an amazing game that includes a 3D TV that you use to sculpt. You need to cut off parts of the shape to sculpt an object. It looks boring on the outside but is actually very addictive and I am sure the skills you get playing this can be totally applied in real life.
The product called QOOQ is kindred to tablets but the manufacturers say it is a French cooking book. For a few years now the US has been witnessing a surge of interest for cooking books so the idea is not that ridiculous as it may seem at first. It is designed to be used in kitchen and is available in different colors.
One of the awarded products was a Geiger counter for iPhone. At first, I did not get what it was and pushed the sensor pretty hard and watched as the gauge maxed out Ц Chernobyl is a summer camp as compared to my hands. I don't know whether it is any good in real life but you'd better not touch the sensor or you might get a heart attack.
Scosche presented an interesting health monitor that tells you heart rate and how much calories you are burning. It is a nice sports accessories and it is already available in the Apple Store.
iHealth products turn your iPad or iPhone into blood pressure monitors, glucose meters and so on. It is a simple and elegant solution. The downside is they cost on a par with real health monitors but I hope that as the demand grows they will get cheaper.
Here is another crazy idea Ц how about putting a battery and interface ports into a bag? I can already see you get home and put your bag on charger. Inside the bag is a small 2000mAh battery (other variants are available and you can have a backpack instead of a bag) and a whole bunch of ports. I find this contraption (accessory?) very impractical and I think that in a couple of years such devices will be gone from the market.
Besides the usual satnav systems Garmin also presented watches with GPS tracking and a heart rate monitor that look very nice too.
Garmin's traditional rival in this domain is Polar:
This year there were hardly any half dressed models at the expo but they were attracting a lot of attention. There were crowds of men around them probably looking for something they have never seen before.
There were so many case that I don't even know which ones to show you. How about this protective bumper for iPad that can probably withstand any attack of your kids.
These iPhone skins have a number of perks according to the manufacturer. Firstly, they are made in the USA. Secondly, they are eco friendly and are made of a biodegradable material (don't worry it won't fall apart in your hands).
I loved the Verso cases Ц they look really great and the quality is very high.
Crystals have long become ubiquitous but this fashion is dying and this year's CES had a lot fewer of them.
But famous brands still display some of the products that are already on sale Ц what else can they do?
Here is another set of cases to suit anyone:
Sometimes minor manufacturers turn to famous brands to sell their products Ц how do you like a Pier Cardin tablet? However, their showcase was empty and the reps jumped to me with joy when they saw me taking a picture of their showcase.
Although some manage to use a famous brand right:
Now the answer to the conundrum I gave you earlier. The device on the picture is just as useless as the diving mask with an iPhone case attached to it for underwater shooting.
The thing on the picture is not an external battery in a case it is actually a hand warmer with aluminum body to ensure quick heat-up and stuff. This is by far the most useless and pointless device I saw at CES 2012.
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Published 25 January 2012
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