Over the past few days, every tech geek's dream event, CES in Las Vegas, has showcased scores of gadgets that have made the news headlines, from roller skates that mimic the experience of being on a travelator, to a seatbelt clip that alerts parents if they've accidentally left their baby in the car, to curved phones and TVs.
But it's often the gimmicks that make the most interesting story, while the genuinely useful stuff gets sidelined. To help sort the wheat from the chaff, here are three game changing gadgets from CES, and three you'll probably never own...
THE GAME CHANGERS
Lenovo's Vibe Xtension Selfie Flash solves the age-old (in tech terms that's about a year) problem of selfie darkness, caused by the fact that most smartphones boasting a front-facing camera for such frolics lack an accompanying front-facing flash. It means this $29 flash that plugs into a headphone jack is one of the more useful, as well as affordable, gadgets at CES this year. That is until mobile makers wise up and start furnishing phones with built-in selfie flashes.
Smart bicycle pedal
The Connected Cycle bicycle pedal could solve the scourge of bike theft - a huge problem in urban areas - as well as tracking your activity in the saddle. A bit like the FindmyiPhone of the cycling world, GPS means you can keep track of your bike, and tail it if stolen, while the pedal also tracks your speed, incline, route and calories burned - sending all that data to a mobile app. It's a mere prototype at this stage, but a useful bit of kit for pedal monkeys.
Steam refresh clothes cupboard
The LG Styler looks a bit like a high-tech wardrobe, only you hang your clothes in it, and instead of being eaten by moths, your clothes emerge wrinkle and odour free, and steam cleaned. Best of all, it's safe for dry-clean only clothes.
The Styler's 'Steam Spray' feature refreshes clothes, while the 'Moving Hanger Action' feature gently shakes steamed items to reduce wrinkles, odour and dust. In addition to removing stale smells, users have the option to select an aromatic scent to spray on clothes. We've seen this before, as a first generation model, but is it just me that still finds this ridiculously exciting?
AND THE GIMMICKS
Smart baby bottle
For hundreds of years, mums and dads have been bottle feeding without much fuss. We all know you have to tip the bottle so that your baby doesn't swallow air, and we can all see how fast the baby is drinking by looking, with our eyes. But apparently there's now a gadget for that. The Baby GlGl is a smart baby bottle holder, which sends data to a smartphone showing time and quantity consumed. Most parents of newborns I know wouldn't have time to check the app.
Smart self-loosening belt
Normally, when you've just chowed down a burger and fries, you loosen your belt an inch or two. Imagine a gadget that loosens and tightens itself as your waistline expands and contracts, saving you the 4 calories and 3 seconds it takes to do it yourself. Well, that's precisely the point of the Emiota Belty, the smart belt designed to automatically adjust itself based on your activities for the day. Here it is:
For $299 you can pre-order a headset that claims to rid you of stress in just 15 minutes. The Melomind uses music and meditation to relax you and measures your brainwaves, transmitting its findings to an app on your phone. The science behind how it works seems rather vague. Wouldn't a YouTube meditation video, or some relaxing tunes on Spotify do the same job?