There's a fine -- if not blurred -- line between innovative and wacky, a point well illustrated at this year's CES 2011 show in Las Vegas, which concluded Sunday. Alongside the next-generation smartphones, tablets, and TVs rolled out and heavily touted by industry leaders were a wealth of products that received little to no attention but warrant a second look -- or a double take.
Following is a look at the wackier -- and in some cases, quite innovative -- products that cropped up at CES 2011.
[ Also at CES: A glimpse of mobile's future and how Microsoft's quiet keynote shows its decline in action. | See more tech oddities in InfoWorld's "10 even wackier USB devices" and "7 crazy iPad accessories" slideshows. ]
Scent Sciences ScentScape
While plenty of vendors have been dabbling in bringing 3D products to the consumer market, a company called Scent Sciences is pushing to add a fourth dimension to the mix: scent. The company has plug-and-play product called ScentScape; compatible with PCs and gaming consoles, ScentScape is designed to emit aromas -- birthday cake, flowers, fresh mowed grass, ocean, and roasting turkey -- to complement the action on the screen.
Using the ScentEditor application, a movie such as "Beaches" could be updated (or "scent-enabled") to include the aroma of salty surf. A Vietnam-themed online shooter could include the musk of the jungle or smoke -- or hey, perhaps napalm, for gamers who happen to love that smell in the morning.
The $70 ScentScape is 3.5 inches tall, 4.25 inches wide, and 5.5 inches long, and it provides 20 basic scents per cartridge; each cartridge lasts up to 200 hours.
Marchon3D EX3D glasses
Perhaps you're not ready to embrace the fourth dimension that Scent Sciences can provide. But you could be enthusiastic about 3D -- and you want to look your best while taking it all in. Enter Marchon3D. The company, a division of eyewear maker Marchon, announced the mass-market availability of its customizable EX3D glasses at CES.
The glasses themselves are intended for viewing all types of 3D content, including games and movies. The lenses are designed to provide high-definition 3D optics, increased picture clarity, and ultrahigh 3D contrast, while minimizing light contamination, distortion, and haze, according to Marchon. Additionally, Marchon says the 3D glasses can be used outdoors like regular sunglasses, complete with UV protection.
Marchon will offer 25 styles of its 3D glasses, representing "an array of frame and color choices to suit individual tastes." Do consumers really care about what their 3D glasses look like? Darn tootin' they do, according to Hannah Sarbin, VP of new business development at Marchon. "As consumers invest in 3D electronics, they're looking to personalize their 3D eyewear to fit both their aesthetic and technological need. Theater frames simply don't make the cut when viewing 3D content at home in the daylight," she said.
It's a good thing the glasses are designed to block out peripheral distractions. Otherwise, everyone in the room would be too busy admiring one another's slick 3D eyewear to pay attention to the action on the screen.
Marchon3D EX3D glasses will come out later this year and cost $30 to $35.