Internet of Tat: The very worst of CES 2015

It’s that time of year again. The Consumer Electronics Show is finally here!

Very much the Christmas of shit consumer PR, CES is one of the few times when even the BBC can get away with fobbing off a segment on 50 Cent’s new headphones as genuine news. As always, this year’s CES has been a veritable smorgesboard of pointless consumerist tat.

Here are a few of my favourites from the last week:

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Belty – The Smart Belt

I’m sure we all know the feeling. You’re standing in your string vest, bottle of Queen Margot scotch in one hand, leather belt in the other, watching as your loved ones quiver in fear. You raise your arm back for that fatal KO, only to pause for a moment, and think to yourself… if only there was some way to digitalise this experience. To bring it into the 21st century. Well now, thanks to Belty, you can!

Yes, this year saw the launch of the first smart belt – a wearable tech device which both keeps your trousers up and helps you drunkenly discipline your kids. By wirelessly connecting to a “virtual fitness” app, Belty keeps you active by monitoring your waistline and then judging you for your various life choices.

Why anyone would need a belt in order to keep fit is beyond me. We already have a device to tell you when you’re getting too fat – it’s called a mirror. Maybe if people stopped wasting their money on get-fit gadgetry and invested instead in a decent salad, this sort of thing wouldn’t need to exist.

Smart Belt

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Virtual Reality Headsets

Driven by the launch of the Oculus Rift, along with a wider demand for interactive pornography, VR headsets have been all the rage at this year’s CES. While the technology behind virtual reality is clearly awesome, I just wish its makers would be more honest about how their products are going to be used. While I’m sure the Oculus Rift will revolutionise video games, we all know that’s not what’s going to draw the eye of the teenage market.

Why can’t these companies just say it as it is? Snapchat is not a “perishable photo messaging system”; it’s a sexting service. Facebook isn’t really a “social utility”; it’s a way to spy on ex-girlfriends while sobbing tears of gin into a bucket of CFC chicken.

Likewise, the Oculus Rift isn’t “the world’s most immersive gaming unit”, it’s the world’s most immersive sex simulator. The sex industry has helped drive adoption across virtually all new devices, from DVDs to internet streaming services. Enough of the bullshit marketing speak. Let’s just stick a USB Fleshlight on it and get it over and done with.

Oculus Rift

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The Sony Walkman

Somewhere between making preparations for the Millennium Bug and promoting its new Geocities page, Sony has managed to find time to build and launch a brand new Walkman. Happy 1998 everyone!

Riding on the back of the public’s renewed interest in vinyl records, the new Walkman aims to provide a superior quality of audio to any traditional mp3 player. While I’m sure this seemed like a great idea back in Sony HQ, sadly it looks like the aging tech giant  has once again completely missed the point.

People aren’t just buying records because of their higher audio quality; they’re also buying them because they’re sick of paying good money for things that don’t physically exist. Through a combination of torrenting, Vevo  and Spotify, mp3s have lost all worth as a real life commodity. If people are going to pay for music they want something that they can physically touch, something they can collect and own.

Without that tangible aspect, Sony has just given people yet another iPod with an obscenely high (£905!) price tag. Nobody wants your overpriced mp3 player or its stupid retro name. Your time is over, move on.

Sony Walkman 2015

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IoT: The Internet of Tat

Now that Apple, Google and Amazon have monopolised all the technology that people might actually want, millions of small businesses are investing in as much of the remaining tat as they can get their hands on.

Collectively known as the “Internet of Things”, this accumulation of scrap is helping to connect every random household object into a single interactive web. From connected toilet seats to smart dog collars, the main motive behind this trend seems to be to try and make individual privacy a thing of the past.

Forget the NSA spying on you from your computer, now you won’t even be able to take a shit for fear that your toilet might accidentally tweet a Vine of your pulsating arsehole. If I wanted rectal excrement all over my Twitter feed I’d follow Jaden Smith.

Internet of Tat CES

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Well that’s all for this installment of the very worst of CES. I’m off to dictate my suicide note to an uncaring smart fridge.

Until next year everyone!

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.