Mike Isaac

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CES: Fixing Your First-World Problems Since 1967

Cord_cruncherLarge swathes of the globe may be struggling with hunger, disease and poverty, but here at CES some manufacturers are focused on an entirely different topic: The little things that get under your skin.

That is to say, the quibbles. The “darn its.” The minor annoyances in life.

Remember the “One Laptop Per Child” sub-$150 tablet from last year’s CES, one of the few stabs at a humanitarian effort on the sprawling show floor? Well, that thing is toast. OLPC killed it last fall. Sadly, the numbers just didn’t work out (though a newer effort is reportedly close to launch).

What does sell, however, is all the junk hanging on the shelf when you walk into the Apple store or browse the Verizon kiosk in the mall. It’s the little stuff.

Case the first: The CordCruncher, a set of earbuds sheathed in a rubber hose, aimed to keep your cords from tangling and knotting up in your pocket — the quintessential frustration of gym-goers taking a power lunch hour to hit the gym and lift.

Minor? Perhaps. Maddening? Almost certainly. Twenty-five bucks puts an end to that headache.

Or say, for instance, you’re travelling on one of your many important business trips, and the stupid airline has once again lost your luggage. Trakdot, a flask-sized GSM-based tracking mechanism, solves that problem. Shove the device inside your bag, and it’ll send status updates on its whereabouts directly to your smartphone. Future apps on the horizon will alert you if the bag moves outside the area it’s supposed to be in.

dacor_ovenIt’ll set you back $50 bucks. Pricey for a use case that arguably doesn’t happen all the time to me, but it could be worth it if you’re sporting Tumi luggage.

Something for the culinary lot: Dacor’s Discovery IQ oven bakes an Android tablet directly into your oven. So if it’s your turn to cook for the family and you’re running late, you could ostensibly start preheating the oven halfway through your commute home, firing up the burners from an app on your smartphone.

But with all that delicious food you’re cooking with the Android oven, how can you be expected not to gorge yourself?

Say hello to Hapifork, the electronic utensil that aims to keep you slim enough to fit into your jeans. It keeps track of the way you eat, literally giving you a little vibrating jolt if you’re shoveling food into your mouth too fast.

hapiforkYes, this is what it has come to: Selling utensils that are practically shock-collar sporks, aimed at barring us from eating too much delicious food.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of these aren’t worthwhile pursuits (well, maybe the fork thing). I’m just saying don’t expect a slew of noble, world-changing products to come out of Las Vegas.

Or at least not products that will change the “third world.”

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