Weird & Wonderful Things We Saw at the Mother of All Tech Shows

As always, Team Lenovo spent the first week of the New Year in Las Vegas for the unfathomably large Consumer Electronics Show. CES is everything you’d expect it to be--equal parts inspiring and unsettling--and it features a dizzying array of new tech from the world’s largest companies, some niche players and hopeful startups with half an idea and not enough funding. The assault on your senses is total and the combination of weird and wonderful settles in your brain like a pleasant dull buzz. 

Here are a few weird and/or wonderful things we saw at CES 2017 that stood out from the noise.

A Suitcase That Really Travels Well. A new ride-on suitcase from Modobag reminded me of a photo that went viral a few years ago featuring a Chinese man who had modded his suitcase to include wheels. Genius, right? Maybe I wasn’t the only one who saw promise in that. (Hope the guy gets a cut of any profits.)

Modobag

A Smart Cigarette? Um, No. File this one under weird and wonderful if you like. We unveiled a couple of new smart home devices at CES--one of them was Lenovo Smart Assistant, a nifty hands-free device that has Amazon's Alexa technology inside. The tech press gave us lots of praise for the gadget’s sound (thanks to Harman Kardon speakers on some models) and the artful design. Alas, our joy was tempered by one particular Twitter thread that devolved into a discussion about whether our orange version looked like a cigarette. Funny stuff but not our intent, promise.

Because Hailing a Regular Uber Isn’t Showy Enough. How do tech movers and shakers get around Vegas when they’re there for CES? Two inevitable words: Uber Chopper. Obnoxious, sure, but big fun for less than $100. Works for me, at least until Uber’s rumored flying car project comes to fruition.

photo: Maverick Helicopters

The Breast Pump That Won CES. For all the tech you see at CES that seems to exist merely because it can, here’s something that can make an enormous difference in the lives of some women. Show the Willow smart breast pump--which makes hands-free pumping a reality--to a mother who nursed a baby 25 years ago and watch them fall on the floor. Technology is cool.

photo: engadget

Keyboard Sorcery on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It’s been roughly four-and-a-half years since we unveiled the first Yoga 2-in-1 so the radical idea of a 360-degree hinge on a laptop has had time to settle. What gets me with the latest generation--and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga specifically--though is the subtle trick the “rise and fall” keyboard performs when you flip it around from laptop to tablet. To see what we mean, check out the demo at the 9-minute mark of our unboxing video.

 

The Cutest Robots. You can’t swing a cat at CES (I think this is a saying) without hitting a robot. My personal favorite was Buddy from Blue Frog Robotics because he’s open source and, well, super-cute.

Freaky AR Dance Parties. Weird often means delightful for people like us, and Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro demo area was the delight of my CES week. This was our way of showing people how augmented reality can change the game--for education and business or simply for dance parties.

 

Zombie dance party. Augmented reality via Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. #CES2017 #lenovoces #ar

A video posted by Lenovo (@lenovo) on

 

Caaaaars From the Fuuuuuuuture. Some have begun calling CES the Car Electronics Show and it’s easy to see why: automakers big and small show up every year with fantastical vehicles that are increasingly tech-laden and autonomous. I've been keeping an eye on Faraday the last couple years but I think they only make like 1 per century so I'm not holding my breath.

Faraday FF 91

Baby Needs a New Tattoo. OK, this last one isn't tech per se but it is both weird and wonderful. Some of you may recall a couple years ago when our crazy friend Atli got a ThinkPad tattoo. Well, Atli has company. Ross McDougall, a New Zealand-based Lenovo Insider and avid gamer, was so inspired by our new gaming laptops he got inked with our Lenovo Legion logo the minute he returned home from Las Vegas. (I’m thinking of having our guys change the logo next week just to see the look on Ross’ face.) It even got our CEO's attention.

 

Well, that’s it for now. You can learn more about Lenovo’s CES 2017 here and in our nice video below. Already looking forward to 2018--hope you are too.

 
Gavin O'Hara is Lenovo's Global Social Media Publisher.