VIDEO: The weird, wonderful and expensive line out at the Consumer Electronics Show

The Ehang 184 autonomous drone, which the company claims can carry a human passenger for 23 minutes. Pic: John Locher/AP

A pair of headphones worth almost €50,000 and a beer-brewing robot were among the new products displayed at the world’s biggest technology show.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has been running for more than 40 years and is often seen as an agenda-setting event for the year to come, as the visiting public see a range of new products from the biggest names in technology.

Among those products is the new Orpheus headphone system from Sennheiser, which will go on sale this year for around €47,000.

The system combines over-ear headphones with its own amplifier — something usually reserved for stereo systems — which has been encased in a block of solid marble, complete with dials made from brass and finished in chrome.

The Orpheus headphone system from Sennheiser, which combines over-ear eadphones with its own amplifier, all encased in a block of solid marble. Picture: PA
The Orpheus headphone system from Sennheiser, which combines over-ear eadphones with its own amplifier, all encased in a block of solid marble. Picture: PA

Chief executive Daniel Sennheiser said the aim was to “push the boundaries and show that we can repeatedly set new benchmarks in excellence and with that, shape the future of the audio world”.

Samsung unveiled a smart fridge which has a 21in display on the door. This can be linked to a phone and used as a TV screen and reminders board. There is also a camera inside that captures images of food which can be used to plan shopping trips.

The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, which is connected and features a 21.5 inch full HD LCD screen. Picture: by Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, which is connected and features a 21.5 inch full HD LCD screen. Picture: by Alex Wong/Getty Images

As well as the big brands, CES is known as a platform for smaller companies to show off their potential.

They include PicoBrew, a robotic system that enables owners to brew, ferment, and serve their own beer. The system includes kegs, tanks, and a tap to serve the finished product. The firm also has an online marketplace of beer recipes from brewers around the world, making it possible for drinkers to recreate their favourites at home.

PicoBrew, a robotic system that enables owners to brew, ferment, and serve their own beer. Picture: Martyn Landi/PA
PicoBrew, a robotic system that enables owners to brew, ferment, and serve their own beer. Picture: Martyn Landi/PA

This year’s CES has more start-ups presenting than ever before, with 500 firms confirmed at the show.

Other highlights this year include:

A rechargeable coffee mug

Some people slurp their coffee while it’s piping hot, others warm their hands with it till it cools to a drinkable temperature. A smart mug called Ember aims to keep it at the perfect temperature for two hours using a rechargeable battery.

A touch-sensitive logo indicates the temperature at which your java is resting. Turning the ring at the bottom lets you adjust that up or down. A pop-up lid means you can drink from any direction.

Pre-orders for the Ember cost €118 and delivery is expected in May.

Digital shoes

They aren’t Marty McFly’s self-lacing runners from Back to the Future, but Digitsole’s shoes promise to tighten and loosen with a touch of a smartphone app.

The French company says the pair on display will sell for €415 starting around October.

Another French company says it has solved the problem of matching one’s shoes to one’s outfit.

Eram teamed up with BlueGriot to invent Choose, a shoe that the company says changes colours based on photos a person snaps — including images taken of a person’s other attire.

Digitsole founder Karim Oumnia uses his phone to operate the opening and closing system of his ‘smart shoe’. Picture: Getty Images
Digitsole founder Karim Oumnia uses his phone to operate the opening and closing system of his ‘smart shoe’. Picture: Getty Images

Human-carrying drones

Chinese drone maker Ehang unveiled what it calls the world’s first drone capable of carrying a human passenger.

The company played a video of the Ehang 184 flying over cityscapes. It looks like a small helicopter but with four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.

According to the company, the electric-powered drone can carry up to 100kg and fly for 23 minutes at sea level. With propellers folded up, it’s designed to fit in a single parking spot. The cabin fits one person and a small backpack, and even has air conditioning and a reading light.

Some of the company’s claims border on the heroic. The company said the drone can be fully charged in 2 hours, adding that after setting a flight plan, passengers only need to give two commands, “take off” and “land”, each controlled by a single click.

The beginning of life itself? (There’s an app for that)

Pregnancy-test maker First Response is introducing a Bluetooth-enabled stick that still requires nature’s call. But it will also distract a would-be mother with in-app videos or quizzes while she waits three minutes before she gets her answer.

Pregnancy tests have evolved from sticks with one or two lines, to digital readouts that say “yes” or “no”, to tests that can detect a likely pregnancy several days before a missed period.

First Response says the tests will ship to stores in the spring and should cost no more than €20.


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