The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, going on this week, may be loaded with head-turning gadgets riding a wave of post-holiday curiosity, but once the attention of the electronics world has moved on, some of those heralded items tend to slip between the cracks.
Tech that never quite lives up to the hype and CES are close companions. Sometimes, a product morphs significantly, and the final release is far removed from the original gadget that turned heads at CES. Other times, companies realize an item that might seem hot at the show is unlikely to find a mass audience. And sometimes, the ideas are just ridiculous from the get-go.
As the consumer electronics world prepares to inundate people with bright, shiny "next big things," it's worth taking a moment to reflect on some of the once-hot gadgets that never made it on to store shelves.
In 2011, Polaroid made a big splash at CES, bringing in Lady Gaga (then at the height of her fame) and naming her as its creative director. The GL20 — aka Lady Gaga's photo-capturing glasses — was the centerpiece of that partnership. The futuristic-looking lenses were said to capture and display images and videos and send data to a companion USB earpiece. Three years later, the singer and company parted ways — and the glasses never saw the light of day.
Technically, MySpace TV did exist. The social network launched a version of it in June 2007. But in 2011, MySpace's new co-owner, Justin Timberlake, announced a rebranding of the social network that would change its name and assemble its library of 42 million songs and 100,000 music videos. It was supposed to include reality TV and sports channels eventually, as well, thanks to a partnership with Panasonic. It never quite made it that far.
One of the big hits of last year's show was this "smart belt" prototype, which used motors to expand and contract as you went from a sitting to standing position (or gorged yourself at the dinner table). It was supposed to hit shelves in 2015. It failed to do so, though the company is still taking pre-orders for a much better-looking product than the one shown last January. (It now says that version will ship Dec. 15, 2016.)
Haier's transparent washing machine
This was the CES equivalent of a concept car. In 2013, Haier showcased a neon, transparent washing machine that served no discernible purpose. The pure whimsy of the device turned heads, but the company wisely decided that it wouldn't be a good fit in most people's homes.
Razer Project Christine
Razer's ultra-modular PC design is still featured on the company's Website (albeit as a concept project), but it hasn't made any real advances toward a true retail product since it won "Best PC" of CES from Engadget in 2014. Razer blames the issue on OEM manufacturers, who it says aren't interested in breaking so dramatically from the standard PC model.
Hailed as a real-world medical tricorder from "Star Trek," the Scanadu Scout picked up CES Innovators awards in both 2013 and 2014. But the roadmap from peer acclaim to becoming a tool of medical professionals (or home users) is a long one. While Scandu says the device is being tested across the world, it has not yet been cleared by the FDA.
Samsung's bendable TV
In both 2014 and 2015, Samsung showcased a massive high-end TV that went from flat screen to curved screen at the touch of a button. In 2014, it was 85 inches. In 2015, it was 105 inches. Neither saw a showroom floor. Price is the likely culprit — a non-bendable, 105-inch high-end SUHD set cost an eye-popping $120,000, so there probably wasn't much of a market for a device that cost noticeably more than that.
Vizio 10-inch Android tablet
Having established a strong position in the HDTV world, Vizio came to CES in 2013 ready to make a big footprint in the tablet space. The prototype it showed off looked like it could help it achieve that goal, too. Equipped with Nvidia's then-brand-new Tegra 4 processor, a remarkably light body and 32 GB of storage, it made an impressive debut. Vizio wouldn't talk pricing or availability, though, and the tablet eventually (and quietly) slipped into oblivion.
AmpStrip fitness tracker
This new sort of fitness tracker pocketed a pair of Best of CES awards in 2015, then raised more than $537,000 on IndieGoGo. The Band-Aid-like device (which contained an accelerometer and heart-rate sensor) seemed poised to be a hit in the exercise world. In October, though, the founders pulled the plug on AmpStrip as a fitness tracker and decided to focus on its possible use as a medical device. (They did, however, refund the IndieGoGo funds to supporters.)
Saygus V2 smartphone
Offering support for dual SD cards, Saygus racked up the awards at 2015's CES. But in June, it abruptly pushed back the launch of the phone and launched an IndieGoGo campaign, raising $1.3 million. The release was rescheduled to the fall of 2015, but that deadline came and went. Today, users are encouraged to sign up for notifications when the V2 (pronounced "V-squared") will be available for pre-order. It may yet find its way to retail, but when that will be is anybody's guess.