Every year the Consumer Electronics Show hits January like a technological train, and every year the general public marvels at the future being now. This year the future is arguably more now than it’s ever been, thanks to a selection of madcap inventions (vagina speaker, we’re looking at you) and proper useful stuff like the fifteen inventions below.
1. Sony and Panasonic have revived their record players
Both Panasonic and Sony are getting back in bed with vinyl. Sounds uncomfortable, but there’s good reason: the market is at its most profitable in years, with one record player sold every minute in the week leading to Christmas. It’s an unbelievable turnaround considering only 205,000 vinyl records were sold in 2007 – in 2016 we’re now looking at annual sales of ten times that figure. Sony’s player can turn records into hi-def digital files, while with Panasonic’s you can use their rug speakers to play the music. Yep, that’s music that comes from a rug.
2. These Bluetooth headphones wrap around your wrist for safekeeping
If you’re the kind of person who’s always losing or breaking their cheapie headphones, these bluetooth ones could change your life. You do have to wear the accompanying bracelet to make it work, but it comes in loads of different colours.
3. These earbuds silence your commute, or anything really
It’s not just silencing they do, though. You can also alter the acoustic of any room you’re in so that it sounds like you’re in a cavernous, echoing chamber – plus you can increase or decrease the volume of the world around you. Perfect for deciphering those quiet talkers.
4. These 3D-printed arcade cabinets
Need we say more?
5. This face-scanner that makes you the star of video games
In the games where it’s possible to change your character’s appearance, some gamers might try and fail to get their cyber-doppelganger’s face exactly in proportion. Not with this tool. With a bit of facial scanning work, it puts your face into, for example, the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Fallout 4. No biggie.
6. Virtual reality headsets that have become super-intense
Many journalists have described themselves as feeling nauseous and shaken after taking control of a flight simulator or climbing Everest using these VR headsets.
7. These double-sided TV screens
How much energy does this thing use, though? And apart from in airports, where would you actually see one? Cool though.
8. These drones, which have seats
Personalised air travel is looking distinctly possible.
9. These lightbulb speakers
Lots of people are making these space-saving double-use pieces of tech. What happens when the bulb goes, though – do you throw out the speaker?
10. This lightbulb speaker that’s also a burglar alarm and baby crying detector, so there
One for the more responsible bulb-listeners out there.
11. The best car speakers ever, probably
12. This self-drivin’ Netflix-playin’ Volvo
Eventually robots will do everything for us, and all we’ll do is watch Netflix in self-driving cars.
13. This resurrected Super-8
Fans of old-school film-making will be pleased to know Super-8 tech is still as accessible as ever. Inception director Christopher Nolan said, “The news that Kodak is enabling the next generation of film-makers with access to an upgraded and enhanced version of the same analogue technology that first made me fall in love with cinematic storytelling is unbelievably exciting.” Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ JJ Abrams was similarly enthused. His third film, Super 8, was actually named after the camera. “While any technology that allows for visual storytelling must be embraced, nothing beats film … The fact that Kodak is building a brand new Super 8 camera is a dream come true.”
14. The waterproof gadget-charging Bluetooth speaker
Not only can you play music by the swimming pool or in the rain – sure – you can also charge your phone/tablet off this piece of kit. And it’s got a noise- and echo-cancelling feature.
15. Bendy TV screens
One day we’ll have e-newspapers that look and fold just like newspapers. Not yet, apparently, but soon.