CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

A look at some of the 'more niche' wearables and connected tech on show
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Mercifully, the Consumer Electronics Show is not just about super-sized tech companies and their efforts at world domination via blanket brand extension.

For every mighty oak with its fitness tracker designed to keep up with the Joneses, there is a startup looking to emerge from the showroom floor like the green shoots of a rainforest sapling dreaming of its place in the canopy of giants above.

Wareable picks: The top wearable tech from CES 2016

Now sometimes those saplings are strong, straight and destined for their time in sun and others, well, others are reachers all right but not necessarily in the right direction.

They range from the innovative to the avant-garde, the crazy to the so crazy they might just catch on. But whether they make it or not, now is the time they can all get a piece of the limelight even if it is only for this briefest of seconds.

Here is our pick of the wackiest wearables of CES 2016. Let us know which tickle your fancy.

Concepter Soul

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

This is not an album from the 1970s but a wrist-worn or key fob-style tracker that has no interest in how many steps you've taken nor what your resting heart rate might be. Instead, it keeps tabs on how much time you've spent with your friends, and, when it reckons that you need to get back in touch with someone, it'll let you know.

We're not convinced. Facebook seems to have taken care of that whole issue with the words Like and Poke but who are we to say what the kids want these days. Them and their music.



CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

Belty's back and it's just as beltingly wacky as before. The CES 2016 model from Emotia is known as the Belty Good Vibes. It's a little more stylish than before and still features that amusing motorised tightening/loosening system that auto-adjusts your trousers as required because on-the-fly weight gain is a very serious issue.

What's been added is a vibration alert system to tell you when to sit up straight, drink water and, quite probably when to loose some damn body mass too. Yours to pre-order for...WHAT!...$370! Blimey.


Smarter Fridge Cam

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

We've been starting to feel a bit guilty about the perennial lambasting we've served up to Smarter, the company behind the dubiously relevant iKettle, as an ever-present reminder of how not to design a smarthome device. And now they've done it again to the grand slapping of a million face-palms. Included in its CES 2016 range of kit is the Smarter Fridge Cam.

Essential reading: Hottest wearable trends to look out for in 2016

It's an internal eye on your integrated Smeg with a live stream that you can app-access. We could give you the apparent reason for its existence but it's no less ludicrous than any you might make up as a joke.


AiraWear Vest

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

Chair massagers are a thing. They're not everyone's thing, but a thing they are nonetheless. So, a vest with the massage rollers built in that you can wear underneath any clothing is a great idea, obviously. You want to hunk around an extra mass on your back, plus a battery pack, plus you want to remember to charge it. And you want it to look like you're full of lumps from the outside too because one of the main tenets of any good wearable is that it should be something that looks weird.

Ok. That's enough of the sarcasm. You get where we're going with this.



CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

Sleepion is all about getting you to sleep. All good so far. It promises to do that by soothing the shit out of you. Ok. It has a natural light. It has 16 different sounds to play to you; streams, rain, wind - that kind of hippy jazz. And it even comes with three different oils - probably essential (aren't they all?) - to gently release into the atmos and get sucked up into your snoring hooter.

Essential reading: How wearables will take over your life in 2016

We'd be able to stomach all the mumbo-jumbo about how it's suppose to keep you in REM sleep for longer but what pushes it over the edge for us is that, shaped like some kind of horn of plenty, it's meant to sit by your bed looking like a futuristic sex totem. Never going to catch on, but might make your room smell less like sweat. Still, $12,000 of backing on Kickstarter says otherwise.


First Response Bluetooth pregnancy test

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

Now here's an item that never needed to meet the internet. First Response has come up with a lot of valid reasons of how an app-connected pregnancy test might be helpful but none of them are worth the $20 it will cost to buy one.

There's some app-guided reassurance while you wait and some suggested actions depending on the outcome but, frankly, peeing on a stick and waiting for some lines doesn't really need to be any more technical than it already is.


Orphe LED dance shoes

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

We want these to happen but they're crazy like a feverish dingo. The Orphe LED dance shoes are, yeah, shoes with, yeah, LED lights around the soles which, yeah, light up and change colour according to the ambient music. Maybe not so spesh when ambling down the high street but the baddest set of kicks in the club by a long shot.

No New Folk (good name), the company behind them, has even managed to make them pretty tasteful too. After a sell-out Indiegogo campaign, the Orphes are looking to get real this April. Get with the programme or, you know, don't.


Digitsole Smart Shoe 01

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

No, no, no; they've gone and made the self-tightening trainers from Back to the Future II. Right, well, we're all going to have to buy them even if they're nothing more than a day's worth of novelty. Sorry, no choice. That's an order. Zhor Tech is the company to blame. Fortunately, they have other tricks like the built-in foot warmer and pedometry metrics all collated and controlled from your smartphone.

Prototype at the moment but around $400 should some damn fool ever bring them to market. If that's all too much then the Smart Sole is the insole version which covers the tracking but not the heat, nor McFly action.


Icaros VR flying rig

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

VR is going to need a lot of peripherals to bring that in-goggle experience to life, and the Icaros flying rig is proof of how weird things are going to get as well proof of how much redundant kit we're going to have lying about our homes.

Somewhere between fun and fitness, it's designed to give the user any kind of mid-air or swimming experience that one could develop for, and your mind and body would probably go along with it too. Plenty of fun to be had but don't expect to meet to many people who own one.


Sentio Feel

CES 2016: The wackiest wearables in town

Wearables that help keep our minds fit are obviously the big new frontier but somehow we don't get the inkling that Sentio Feel is going to be leading that charge. It spends the day on your wrist measuring galvanic skin response, blood volume pulse and skin temperature and keeps an eye on how stressed you are.

The app gives you graphs, suggestions through an Emotional Plan and you'll also get buzzed when emotions run high which will doubtless only make them run higher. As you were, then.


How we test


I'm a technology and sports journalist and writer with over 15 years experience. Most recently my role centres around monetising editorial in a content lead role at Future Publishing, writing for What Hi-Fi, TechRadar.

I'm also a published author and a presenter for both national radio and for video too. I've appeared on TV news channels, online videos, podcasts and I've worked for BBC Radio 2, Radio 4 and had a regular slot on BBC Asian Network as the resident gadget expert.

In a previous life, I was a professional actor. I also lectured at Harlow College on digital publishing for two years. Loves include skiing, cats, canoeing, singing and football.

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