The tech that went too far at CES 2023

Glitching front door of the CES 2023 expo.
(Image credit: The Times)

CES 2023 is in full swing. We've been drowning in specifications for the best part of a week and it's starting to grate. Alright, there are some fancy bits we've spotted—a new range of 13th Gen, RTX 40-series gaming laptops here, a sprinkling of high refresh, low response time monitors there, but what about the real scientific innovations? 

Well, as much as I'd love to present you with timeline altering technological wonders, there's a lot more stuff out there that seems only to ring the gilded bell of consumerist marketing gumpf. Still, my spirits have been lifted somewhat by the smattering of hilarious technology worming its way onto the market.

So to break up the mundanity interrupted only by my singular insight of "Gosh, aren't there a lot of 16:10 gaming laptops this year," I give you Katie's worst of CES 2023. A wonderland of technological strangeness to set us up right for a new year of staring into the void that is humanity's future. 

Brought to you by boredom™, in association with Future Publishing.

Pissing contest

The Withings U-Scan pee pebble complete with steam of liquid for illustration purposes.

(Image credit: Withings)

Alright so let's start off with something meant to help you manage your physical well being. A noble cause, and totally not something that could ever be misused. It's tech that you're meant to pee on. Not that I'm inclined to do such things, but my colleagues assure me that "any tech can be peed on." Whether it should be peed on or not is another matter.

The U-Scan is a health monitor in the form of a little piss pebble to put in your toilet. Not only does this little pee monitor help you keep an eye on vitamin deficiencies, oestrogen, PH levels, and much more by analysing your urine, it does presents its findings through a handy mobile app. It's a great idea, but I don't see many people purposefully buying tech you're meant to pee on. Maybe I'm wrong, but I can almost hear our Jacob wincing through the computer screen over the uncleanliness of it all.

This thing is even smart enough to tell the difference between human pee and water from the flush. It can even detect exactly who is peeing on it.

God, tell me the Withings office that brought us this little doesn't have these lining their toilet cubicles in the office, keeping tabs on employee vitals. Old Orwell is rolling in his grave right about now.

Thousand dollar Rubik's Cube

The WOWCube complete with charging station.

(Image credit: Cubios)

Alright so this one's actually kind of cool, or at least it was before I spotted the original price tag. Essentially it's a Rubik's Cube, only electronic and with games. The press release simply notes that it's "a solid black glass cube..... alive... where you can change the screen geometry during the gameplay, cannot be described in words, it’s truly a sight to behold…"

If all those ellipses weren't enough to awaken the burning mystery of the WOWCube, its internal connections communicate through the use of magnets. Magnets, how do they work? Unfortunately the press release refuses to divulge the WOWCube's most intimate of secrets. Now, while the crossover between Rubik's Cube likers and those who understand obscure Insane Clown Posse references is relatively niche, at least the WOWCube is a little more relevant to gaming than some of the stuff on this list.

WOWCube preorders are open now, and the company will start delivering the first batch in "January 2023." Specific. Just know that the tip top "Black edition" will set you back $999, or $699 if you preorder. So, a Rubik's Cube that costs more than the Steam Deck? No thanks.

Stick Drift

The Sony Honda Mobility Afeela concept car.

(Image credit: Sony Honda Mobility)

Three years ago, Sony rocked up at CES with the Vision-S, a concept sedan packed with wall-to-wall entertainment features. It seemed to be no more than a publicity stunt, but now the company has paired with Honda to make the dream a reality with the Afeela.

In case you're wondering, Afeela is an Arabic name, numerologically associated with social prowess, companionship, and grace. Though it's the 'feel' part that the announcement stressed.

It's an AI-powered electric vehicle with, of course, an integrated PS5. The worst part is that, while the LED panel on the front of the car might be used for some cool stuff, we can see where it's going with this: cheaper leases for ad-laden cars, or worse, ads on the car you paid for that you can't turn off.

As our Jorge admits, he isn't really afeelin' the idea of a gross advertising trend

Don't get me wrong, the car is looking damn gorgeous, I just have my reservations when companies stray out of their main wheelhouse. Here's hoping the Afeela doesn't end up with just 417 hours to live like the Sony DualSense controller.

Smell your waifu

The Aroma Shooter Wearable on a blue/purple gradient background.

(Image credit: Aromajoin)

The Aroma Shooter quite possibly takes the crown for CES 2023 for not only the worst name, but also the most potential for perverted usage. It's a stinky tech necklace that transmits smells relevant to what's being shown on your computer screen. It uses "solid-state" cartridges that come in a variety of flavours, including papaya, chamomile, and even soy sauce.

It's essentially a wearable aroma diffuser, only the company has managed to do away with liquid and gaseous materials. The compatible app, AromaPlayer, is technically what's being showcased here. It's a platform that "integrates smell into your favorite movies" and allows you to create and distribute your own digital smellscapes.

Okay, nothing strange about that. People have been wanting to transmit smells digitally for some time. Maybe it'll catch on, I thought. 

Then—and if you watch the video below you'll understand why—my suggestive brain kicked in, and rolled a critical success. As our Robin mentioned, setting a somewhat degenerative tone for the rest of our morning meeting today, "It does look a bit like it may be for pervs."

Granted it does have some incredible potential for use in games, though there's another pungent contender in the game space: OVR technology. It's a little module that, instead of being worn around your neck, hooks onto the bottom of your VR headset.

Both could be pretty fun, used responsibly.

NFT anime PC accessories

Xtreme Saga's Mera with all the XPG gaming gear.

(Image credit: XPG)

The anime that tech brand XPG brought to us last year, Xtreme Saga, has just birthed a red-washed round of gaming gear from the Adata subsidiary. And while the peripherals and PC case actually don't look too bad, I have some serious reservations about the anime it's all based around. Mainly, it being a front to sell NFTs, but also as it's one of the worst anime's I've laid eyes on in some time.

Now you can base your entire PC setup around the main character, and why on earth wouldn't you? She's a badass redhead with a positive attitude and a penchant for kicking ass. 

It really is telling when the YouTube view to like ratio sits at 2M:397.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.