The Least Necessary New Products From CES 2018

Some things don’t require innovation. And attendees of CES 2018 didn’t have to travel far for proof.

During the consumer electronics expo, the Las Vegas strip club Sapphire offered robot strippers to attract media and customers. But, Wired reported, the android burlesque performers were ignored in favor of their flesh and blood counterparts. Exotic dancing works just fine on its own, it seems.

Useless tech innovation continues nonetheless. The latest products displayed at this month’s CES convention are evidence that gadgeteers don’t know what people want or need. From making coffee to pooping, tech companies want to disrupt aspects of our lives we’re probably pretty OK with.

Coffee makers are boring but effective. Consider the French press, a device that many contend produces the highest quality coffee. It doesn’t require electricity, just patience and pressure. Drip coffee makers are only slightly more complicated. It heats water and pours it through beans and a filter, producing coffee.

Companies are evidently eager to gunk up this simple and reliable process. First, they created single serve pod coffee machines, which create landfill-swelling trash and awful coffee. Pods are technically recyclable but they have to be painstakingly separated into their component parts first. The environment is crying out for an easily recyclable pod. Instead, coffee maker makers are adding Wi-Fi. The Illy coffee machine connects to an app that lets you create profiles for up to five people, so you can get the perfect ratio of water to pod in each cup.

But coffee machines aren’t alone in getting unneeded innovations. Toilets are getting smart, too. There’s been one major innovation in toilet technology. The squatty potty, a footrest that supposedly corrects the posture problems of sitting on a standard toilet. I think it’s OK to have a degree of skepticism about how much the Squatty Potty helps but I appreciate the product’s simplicity.

Counter that simplicity with the the Numi intelligent toilet, which offers a sensor that detects when someone’s coming and heats a foot warmer and the seat.

If you want a preview of how these technologies will look in the real world, you could check out the trash cans with motion detecting lids in my office’s kitchen. I guess the motion detection tech is supposed to save you from the minimal effort of stepping on a foot lever to open the lid. But the trade off is ill considered. If I’m holding trash in both hands, I either have to put it down on a counter, contaminating that surface, or hold onto the trash as I wave my arms to activate the sensor.

Foot levers were fine. There was no reason to get motion sensor tech involved.

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