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Weird and wacky tech gadgets

IF YOU have ever wanted a robot to fold your washing, a mirror to tell you how you really look, or an eye mask to put you to sleep, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show offered solutions.

While the world’s largest technology show took over Las Vegas this week and set the agenda for the year’s biggest tech trends, it also debuted some truly unexpected innovations — some wacky but useful, and others just plain strange.

This year’s big trend to make home appliances smart, for example, took a strange turn with two cupboard-sized devices designed to fold your washing … and perhaps even remove some wrinkles.

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Start-up firm FoldiMate showed off a non-working prototype of its machine that will cost $US980 when it ships early next year.

Users feed garments, like shirts or towels, into the front of the machine, and collect them in folded form in a drawer at the bottom of the machine.

“I started this journey with a humble goal to help out with laundry folding in my home,” founder Gal Rozov said.

“My family is eagerly waiting for our own FoldiMate and the team has worked hard to meet our expectations and those of fans around the world.“

While the idea might seem far-fetched, more than 8000 people have ordered the device on crowd-funding website Kickstarter so far, and it has a competitor, Laundroid, developed by Panasonic and Daiwa House that has an estimated price of $US16,000.

For smart bathrooms, CES exhibitors not only showed off smart toilets, taps, and shower heads, but smart mirrors that could connect to the internet and answer your questions,

Kohler’s Verdera is, rather unsurprisingly, the first mirror to feature Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, and can read the weather forecast, dim the lights on its sides, or play music while you’re in the shower.

Naturally, its electrical parts are designed with withstand steam.

The more portable HiMirror Mini, which earned a nomination for a CES innovation award, analyses user’s faces and identifies dark circles around their eyes, red or dark spots, wrinkles, pores, and skin smoothness and gives them a rating and recommendations. Perhaps not one to try first thing in the morning.

If the smart mirror on the wall recommends more sleep, there are CES solutions for that too.

The Dreem headset promises to improve your sleep quality by emitting a special sound when it determines you’re in the deep sleep phase.

Spokesman Hugo Jourde said the headset featured five EEG sensors to monitor the user’s brainwaves and sleep cycles, and would sell for $US499.

Another sleep aid, NuCalm’s $US799 ReNu eye mask, instead offered better sleep by “micro current stimulation” to relax the wearer, and drew huge crowds with its promise to deliver the equivalent of two hours’ sleep in 20 minutes. Pets were not left out of the wacky gadget offerings either.

The Laika mobile robot is designed to entertain dogs, letting their owners drive the barrel-shaped gadget remotely, while watching from an embedded video camera.

Cat owners should also appreciate the spaceship-shaped Litter Robot Open Air III — a robotic kitty litter box that recognises when a cat enters the space, waits seven minutes, and spins to remove waste, which is left in a tray beneath it. Thanks to a wi-fi connection, the litter tray can notify you when it needs to be emptied.

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to CES as a guest of Samsung.

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