The week in weird: Check out the strangest CES tech of 2024

Cat flap fever, a streaming service for dogs, and other oddities on display in Vegas this week

CES Ah, January: The start of a new year, crisp winter weather (if you live in the northern hemisphere, at least) and CES, with the latter giving us a look at what's in store from the biggest names in tech.

Of course, no CES would be complete without an exhibit hall filled with startups pitching their innovations. As always, some are remarkable and others … well, they're remarkable in their own right, too, if for no other reason than how bizarre they are. 

So let's take a stroll through the exhibit hall and gawk at the strangest, least asked for, most dangerous and questionable tech on display in Las Vegas this week. 

Upgrade your cat flap with cameras, AI and an app

The Flappie smart cat flap was dreamed up by a pair of Swiss brothers inspired by their mother finding finding feline presents of dead mice around the house. 

Flappie is equipped with a camera and AI programmed to detect when a cat is headed home with a dead or dying animal in its mouth. If it detects prey, the door locks itself and notifies the cat's assistant (that's you, human) that it's trying to get in with an employee appreciation gift. 


Flappie, the smart cat flap that'll keep dead rodents and birds out of your house - Click to enlarge. Source: Flappie.

Flappie claims it's 90 percent accurate, and that data is processed locally to protect user privacy. You could also try protecting local biodiversity by keeping your cats inside and saving $435. 

Earning an honorable mention in the CES strange category is an electronic plant pot that uses a sensor probe in the soil to not only monitor moisture levels, but to also make the plant move and respond to touch, like a foliar singing bass or animatronic plastic tree. It's weird, and feels like plant torture. 

We heard you liked phones …

Startup Rabbit designed a not-phone for your phone that can use your phone for you so you can use it instead of your phone. 


The Rabbit R1, an AI-powered device that uses your phone for you - Click to enlarge

And while we question who asked for such a device, apparently lots of people did, as the startup claimed it sold 10,000 units during the show. 

The Rabbit R1 is a small square chunk of kit equipped with a 2.88 inch touchscreen, 360-degree rotatable camera, and scroll wheel that uses a proprietary "large action model" AI system that can be trained to interact with smartphone apps. 

Because why use your smartphone to do stuff when you can use a $199 device to interact with those same apps for you? 

For an honorable mention, look no further than the Wehead, a bizarre head-shaped version of Alexa that even Amazon wouldn't consider, equipped with ChatGPT to converse "face to face" with a virtual companion. 

"Wehead GPT is embodied LLM that helps you with brainstorming, decision making and self-reflection," its designers claim. At $4,950 it better be more useful than it looks. 

Electric skis with a top speed of 50 MPH - yeah, those looks safe

What if we could take the hoverboard, responsible for lots of avoidable fall injuries, and make it even less safe?

That's the idea behind the Skwheel, which is named not for the sound you make when inevitably crashing while wearing a pair, but for what they're designed to mimic: Skis. 


A pair of Skwheels - don't they just look totally safe? - Click to enlarge

Able to reach a top speed of 80 KMPH (50 MPH) and able to travel 30 KM (18.6 miles), Skwheels are a pair of two-wheeled devices that mimic a "ski-like sensation" and can be used both on and off road, the French company behind the kit claims. 

Just watch out for rocks, sharp turns and accidentally doing the splits at high speeds. 

Dogs love lofi beats?

Japanese company One by One Music wants you to subscribe to its new streaming service that uses AI to generate "classic, timeless music" to relax - but it's not for you. It's for your dog. 

According to One by One, their app generates random musical sounds that were "verified through a two-year experiment" to reduce stress in animals by 84 percent, all for a mere ¥980 ($6.77) a month. 

Research into playing music for pets isn't anything new. Depending on the findings, you're better off leaving pets in peace and quiet, or playing anything that'll drown out noises coming from outside the house, which can be a big source of stress for homebound pets. 


Mosslab's Moss Air, with user at appropriate distance to gain its supposed benefits - Click to enlarge

Also in questionable CES technology is the Moss Air, a portable desktop humidifier and air purifier filled with living moss. Mosslab claims the Moss Air can remove fine dust and volatile organic compounds from the air around it - albeit in a space just 0.25 square metres (CO2 can be removed from one square metre of air), so you'd better haul the thing from room to room with you and keep it pretty close. 

Spot any CES oddities you want to share? Let us know in the comments. ®

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