Jan. 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM ET
This week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas may be the place where the likes of Samsung and Panasonic announce their latest TVs and cameras, but it's also full of extremely weird — yet sometimes surprisingly useful — devices from big companies and small. Here are a few we thought especially fun.
Is this guy rocking a Viewmaster in 2014? Nope — although you're not far off. That's a Poppy 3D, which lets you take and view 3-D images on your iPhone. The mirrors in the front split the image into two, each piece from a slightly different perspective. The camera captures the two views, and inside, each eye sees just one of them, creating the illusion of 3-D.
It might sound corny, but it actually works! The 3-D images were pretty convincing, and although the device felt a little chintzy, it definitely served its purpose.
Boys in a bubble
These guys were blissing out in an inflatable room made by Casa Bubble. We don't blame them — the CES show floor can be overwhelming — but whose idea was it to make a room that can pop?
Calling all first-person shooters
If you prefer to stay in and play video games, maybe the Hipshot Dot will be of service. A suction cup with a tiny red LED in the middle, this thing goes on your TV right where your bullets are supposed to go, to help you in your accuracy during your afternoon "Call of Duty" session. Sure, it's kind of cheating, but if the alternative is losing to some 13-year-old...
Then again, maybe you're too cool to own a TV. And of course game controllers are yesterday's news. The Macron Virtual Mouse attaches to your wearable computer of choice and, by using a camera to track your hand against the background, lets you use your finger as a cursor. It's not working with Google Glass yet, and since so very few people have wearable virtual reality computers of any sort, it may not catch on for a while. But it sure does look like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Full-body gaming suit
As for virtual reality, this guy is experiencing the next best thing. The PrioVR "gaming exoskeleton" puts trackers on your head, body, arms, and legs — but you still play games on the TV, at least for now. All this might be obsoleted by 3-D tracking systems like the Kinect, but there's something special about getting wired up with all that gear. The zombies don't stand a chance.
Too many scary games troubling your sleep? Perhaps you should invest in a Sleepow, the only pillow with a built-in MP3 player that lulls you to sleep with soothing melodies only you can hear. Operation seemed a little bit of a chore for the adult version (made of a nice memory foam-like material), but the kid ones are both cute and simple. Load a chapter or two of a kids' audiobook on there, tuck Junior in and watch him drift off. After all, if he lifts his head from the pillow, he'll miss part of the story.
And we mustn't forget about the family pet. If you can't be bothered to speak commands aloud, or the dog is in the other room, just activate your Pet Remote and your animal's collar-mounted dongle will emit noise and vibration corresponding to "come," "stay," "play dead," or anything else. Or, if you're afraid your cat has been sleeping the day away while you're at work, use this pedometer (pet-ometer, if you will) to track its activity. The GPS option is also available for outdoor cats.
On a similar note, Sony had this dog-mounted camera placed prominently in its booth. Is it just us, or does that rottweiler look embarrassed? (To its credit, the stabilized sample video from a dog-cam looked like a ton of fun).
What is this, another fitness doodad? Yes, but though it's offbeat, this one is no joke — in fact, it might save lives. Reebok's CheckLight is a thin headband that can be worn under helmets or during any other activity that monitors the head's movements (with a sensor near the temple) for any sudden shocks — a tackle or fall, for instance. If the force on the head meets a certain threshold, the wearer could be at risk for a concussion. The red light in the back comes on, and the coach pulls her out of the game.
It's reminiscent of a student project from October that did a similar thing with mouthguards for hockey players and boxers. Undetected concussions can be deadly and millions of players are at risk.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.