Are gadget add-ons really necessary?
As smart technology grows, more and more items come with embellishments
Gadgets of the future will only become smarter, smaller and probably more expensive, if this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is anything to go by.
The annual electronics convention - which was held in Las Vegas in the United States, and concluded on Sunday - brought smart technology out in full force - perhaps too much force.
Everything from hairbrushes to jeans now looks set to be revolutionised and embellished with artificial intelligence in the years to come.
For example, luxury haircare company Kerastase and tech company Withings announced the Hair Coach - the world's first smart hairbrush.
It has sensors that monitor your movements to determine if you are combing your hair in the correct direction and with adequate force.
It collects data and transmits it to a mobile app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, before matching it against the weather, wind, humidity and ultraviolet light levels to advise the user on the best maintenance method.
French-based start-up Kolibree also unveiled a smart toothbrush, complete with artificial intelligence that analyses brushing patterns, sends the data to an app and provides recommendations on how to better brush your teeth.
There is also the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed that adjusts your sleeping position as soon as it detects snoring, or the Spinali vibrating jeans that vibrate in the direction you should go so you will never get lost.
While these devices nudge humanity towards a more efficient lifestyle, just how many of these do we really need?
I could get on board with the driverless cars and LG's space-saving and razor-thin 4K OLED television - which is just 2.57mm-thick - but I don't foresee a need for a brush to scold me for combing my hair back instead of to the right.
What is more worrying is that each smart device, assuming they are equipped with a pairing system to your mobile phone or computer, is a potential opening for a cyber attack into your home.
With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to devices and networks being connected to allow them to collect and share data, many gadgets are already becoming more interlinked without the necessary and sound cyber security measures.
Smart technology is supposed to improve lives by filling gaps man is unable to due to lack of skills or long hours of effort.
It is not supposed to convert any and every regular product into a luxury item.
I think a positive example is the PowerRay submersible drone that was also announced at CES and can dive to 30m underwater - a depth that humans need proper diving gear to reach - to look for fish.
It can even capture footage underwater at 4K resolution.
Now, this will be an innovation that actually helps anglers cheat at - I mean improve - their game.
There is no denying that products fitted with a virtual assistant will be the trend, along with our home gadgets becoming more connected, and we should embrace this technology.
After all, just 10 years ago, who would have thought a mobile phone would be able to take high-quality photographs, play music, allow you to surf the Internet or even stream live football matches?
But as companies and industries race to produce the next revolutionary product, we consumers can only hope this doesn't lead to every other product being unnecessarily fitted with smart technology and have its price pushed up.
8 quirky gadgets from CES 2017
LAS VEGAS This week at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 - the largest technology trade show in the world - The Straits Times scoured the show floors and now presents the top eight quirkiest gadgets of the show so far, in no order of merit.
Even your dog deserves something smart. A smart collar, that is.
The Kyon is a smart dog collar that is armed with a nine-axis accelerometer, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, two temperature sensors and an altimeter. It also has GPS and a cellular network, so you can keep track of your dog.
More interestingly, Kyon is supposed to be able to sense the mood of your dog - be it moody or happy. I thought dogs are always happy?
2. SLEEP NUMBER 360 SMART BED
Everything is becoming smarter, including your bed.
The Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed is able to warm your feet in order to help you sleep faster. Not sure if this will take off in a place like Singapore.
Crucially, the Smart Bed is also able to detect your snoring and automatically adjusts the mattress to create a position to help you stop snoring. In addition, it will automatically adjust the mattress' hardness to give you the best night's sleep possible.
The Smart Bed syncs with its SleepIQ app via Bluetooth to show you how well you are sleeping.
3. KERASTASE HAIR COACH
The Kerastase Hair Coach powered by Withings is the world's first smart hairbrush. It is supposed to help people understand their hair better.
It includes a microphone that listens to the sound of brushing hair to identify patterns, providing insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage.
It has a three-axis sensor that measures the force applied to the hair and scalp when brushing. An accelerometer and a gyroscope further analyse brushing patterns and count brush strokes, while conductivity sensors determine if the brush is being used on dry or wet hair.
The smart hairbrush then automatically synchronises via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a dedicated mobile app that provides information like hair quality score, data on the effectiveness of brushing habits and personalised tips.
Nope, I am not trying one...
Still on hair, there is the iGrow hair growth system. It is a helmet that blasts your scalp with a combination of red lasers and LEDs, in an attempt to stimulate hair growth.
These lasers are supposed to energise and stimulate activities within the hair-growing cell walls, so the hair follicles can resume normal working behaviour.
Again, I am not wearing this helmet. No way.
5. HiMIRROR PLUS
Enough about hairy stuff. It is time to look at yourself in the mirror. If so, why not use the HiMirror Plus?
This is no ordinary mirror, as you might expect by now.
It takes a photo and analyses your skin in a matter of seconds. And it syncs your HiMirror skin analysis results and customised skincare recommendations with your smart phone app, so that you may acquire beauty and fitness advice anytime.
In addition, the HiMirror Plus features LED makeup lighting to simulate different environment settings, such as shopping mall or restaurant, so you know how you look with your make-up in various scenarios.
6. GRIFFIN BLUETOOTH TOASTER
After you put on your make-up, maybe it is time to control your toaster using your smartphone.
Yes, this is the Griffin Bluetooth Toaster. It is "a full-featured digital toaster that helps users toast smarter", according to its maker.
It has two-slots with digital temperature adjustment and settings for bread type.
You control the toaster using a companion smartphone app to offer personalised settings for the perfect slice. And the app will remember how you like it, so it will do it the way you like it daily.
7. KOLIBREE ARA
Google has that toothbrush test about products being useful. Enter the Kolibree Ara, the toothbrush that boasts artificial intelligence.
It knows precisely where in your mouth you are brushing, even when not connected to the app on a mobile device.
The brushing data is captured in the toothbrush and automatically synced when the smartphone app is turned on. It will let you know whether you have been brushing properly.
In addition, Ara is an electric toothbrush with bristles and sonic vibrations gentle enough to effectively remove plaque without the tendency to "overbrush" that can cause gum recession.
8. RAZER PROJECT VALERIE
Another CES show, and another Project "Something" by Razer. This time round, it is called Project Valerie.
It is a gaming laptop with three 17-inch 4K displays. Yes, three displays on a laptop.
This is so that you can have a full immersive visual experience during your gaming sessions.
Or better productivity while at work, as you can spread your worksheets over three screens.
People who know me well know I love multiple screens.
So this is one Razer CES prototype that I hope will really see the light.