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Gadget, product highlights from CES Unveiled 2018

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Sunday night’s CES Unveiled, which just wrapped up, is a sneak preview for CES 2018 itself — the tech expo extravaganza that draws well over 150,000 people from around the world each year.

At this year’s CES Unveiled, where we pored through hundreds of gadgets and services, there was no shortage of wacky prototypes and new devices, from pricey earbuds that use artificial intelligence to tune out background noise to autonomous luggage that follows you around for hours on end.  

An electronic watch strap called SGNL, for instance, seems like a prop ripped right out of the near-future sci-fi flick. Launching sometime later this year, the $249 Bluetooth strap can be used with various smartwatches like the Apple Watch or traditional watches as a strap, or simply used on its own. When you receive a call, it transmits sound vibrations through your hand to your fingertip, which you place on your ear, much in the way you’ve seen Secret Service agents do. The sensation of listening to a call through your finger is both disconcerting and cool, although we’re not sure how many people would actually use SNGL in the real world.

Elsewhere on the wackiness scale, we stumbled upon an Alexa-enabled bathroom mirror from Kohler, called the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror. The mirror, which starts at $1,000 and comes in different sizes, also includes two motion-activated strips of LED lights on either side, two microphones for catching your voice commands, and speakers with sound that one Kohler spokesperson described as “bumpin’.” (Yes, really.)

Photo credit: Business Wire

For those with cash to burn who expect the absolute best from their water bottles — hardcore athletes, for instance — the $150 LifeFuels water bottle uses different “FuelPods” you can insert into the bottom to create different, healthy personalized drinks with vitamins and electrolytes. (One FuelPod serves up to 15 drinks before it needs swapping.)

There was also the autonomous wheeled CX-1 luggage from Forwardx, which turned more than a few heads with its slick, vaguely robotic design. The suitcase, which arrives some time later this year for around $500 isn’t the first of its kind, and we doubt it’ll be the last. That’s all well and good, because not only was the CX-1 slow — one Twitter follower joked their cats can run faster — it also had trouble keeping up with someone during a hands-on demo on the crowded showroom floor. That’s probably not a good sign, given airports can be packed with people, too.

Attendees take pictures of ForwardX Robotics’ CX-1 self-driving luggage during CES Unveiled at CES International Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

For TV and movie fanatics, Mirraviz’s MultiView Home Entertainment System, lets viewers at home watch multiple high-definition videos all on the same screen, with the image changing entirely based on the angle you’re sitting. So, you may be watching a full-screen sized version of “Wonder Woman,” while your brother who is sitting just a few feet to the left of you may be watching a full-screen sized version of the Netflix Original Series “Black Mirror.” The execution is far from perfect — you need to find the viewing “sweet spot” just a few feet away from the screen — but the idea could be intriguing for households with several family members or several gamers who want to get their game on without having to bother with smaller split-screen options.

A robotic My Special Aflac Duck, for children facing cancers, is demonstrated at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

But probably the biggest highlight of the showroom floor on Sunday night came from an unexpected source: The oversized electronic, stuffed Aflac duck, which allows kids to sort of project their emotions onto it by choosing from different small plastic discs that represent different feelings and placing it onto the stuffed toy. Best of all? Aflac is giving out the stuffed duck for free to pediatric cancer patients throughout the U.S., no strings attached.

Innovative? Maybe not. Refreshing in a sea of the forgettable, pricey devices? Absolutely.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

More on CES 2018 from JP:

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