The products making old-school technology cool

Olly Mann

A preview of some of the products launched at the 50th Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas…

Anker Roav VIVA


Amazon’s Echo product range has recently expanded to 
offer voice-controlled speakers for seemingly every environment. But they’ve yet to release an in-car version—which is rather odd, since hands-free technology strongly appeals when you’re driving. Enter VIVA, a £35 marvel that plugs into your cigarette lighter and syncs with your smartphone so you can call a friend, choose a radio station, listen to Spotify or navigate with Google Maps…all by just asking Alexa. Oh, and it can also fast-charge two USB devices at the same time.

 

Kohler Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror


This Alexa-enabled bathroom mirror finally offers everyone the opportunity to talk to their mirrors  
à la Snow White. It’s a neat concept, using your voice to adjust the integrated LEDs, time your tooth-brushing, or reorder razors in the post. But if you’re after a shower sing-along or a mellow soundtrack for bathing—speakers are mostly about music, after all—do you really want that sound emitting from halfway down your wall?

 

Atari Pong Coffee Table

The first video game in history—now a physical table! If you think that sounds like an amusingly lo-fi concept, you’d be right: this air hockey-style game is all paddles and wires and pulleys, like an old school pinball machine. But the finish is sleek and high-end, and it emits some seriously satisfying sound effects. The underlying trend—grown-up geeks willing to part with hundreds of pounds for a sophisticated take on nostalgia—isn’t going anywhere. Witness the release, later this spring, of the Ataribox, Atari’s first new games console in more than 20 years. Its target market? Forty-somethings who want to play Pong.

 

HTC Vive Pro

HTC’s VR system is now wireless—which means an end to gamers precariously tangling themselves in a mess of cables as they fend off zombies in their headsets. But there are implications beyond gaming, too. Since it’s now possible to support a high-resolution, power-hungry VR system without wires, surely it’s time our TVs became wireless too? Why, in 2018, do our so-called smart TVs—even those so thin they appear flush against the wall—still require cabled connections for soundbars and satellite receivers? The campaign for change starts here!

 

Sony Aibo

First unveiled in 1998, Sony’s robotic puppy is now even cuter. The aesthetics remain brazenly mechanical—there’s no attempt to disguise that this is a robot—but his movements now stunningly imitate a real-life dog, with touch sensors on his back, neck and chin, so you can pet him, and AI cameras in his nose, so he can recognise your family and fetch his bone. Children would go nuts for this, but he commands 
an executive price-tag: Aibo has just hit the shelves in Japan for 198,000 yen—about £1,275.