Classic Examples Of Bizarre Stuff At CES

Dream Cheeky, a Hong Kong based purveyor of products that have dubious practical value, had one of the weirdest products at CES 2010: A missile launcher that connects to a PC via USB and lets office miscreants bombard their colleagues with tiny Nerf-style missiles.

"This USB gadget can be strategically placed anywhere within three feet of your computer to intimidate your office enemies!" reads the description on Dream Cheeky's Web site.

Hmmm, let's see. Missiles ... office ... what could possibly go wrong?

Although the USB missile launcher has many possible uses, figurine effigies of disgraced Wall Street investment bankers are unfortunately not included, which means folks looking to exact voodoo-style revenge will have to do so with a different product.

Taiwanese firm BigC, which has U.S. offices in Los Angeles, brought an array of portable digital microscopes to CES that offer a fascinating glimpse of life at high magnification depicted in high resolution.

Medical and research applications are among the logical uses for digital microscopes, but these devices can also open up worlds that you never knew existed. For example, pointing one at the palm of your hand reveals a sharp-relief world of canyons and dried up riverbeds. At the very least, this device will keep your kids occupied for hours on long car trips.

If collecting bugs is a hobby of yours, BigC's digital microscope can transform your view of the bug world. The device is so powerful that you can almost see into this butterfly's soul. Here's another great example of technology that's coming down in price and entering the consumer market for the first time.

Camera gear maker Tiffen shot fish in a barrel at CES 2010 by having Elvis Presley and a friend on hand to pose for photos. Searching for a logical tie between camera accessories and Elvis? Good luck with that -- we couldn't find one either.

There wasn't an actual competition at CES 2010 for products of little discernible value, but had there been, the Spiderman USB Can Cooler would have garnered top honors in the category. What's interesting about this USB 2.0 device is that, according to the product packaging, it comes with online support.

Seriously? Can you imagine the kinds of conversations that take place? "Um, my USB can cooler isn't cold enough, should I reboot?"

Also, why Spiderman? It's hard to imagine a crime fighting superhero that swings his way from building to building relegated to performing the functions of your basic refrigerator.

Virtual reality is quickly becoming indistinguishable from real stuff. Golf simulation games are also marching forward when it comes to offering a realistic game play experience, and this booth at CES 2010 gave attendees a chance to spend some quality time swinging the wrenches. No word on how many attendees were injured by errant backswings.

Paro, a robot harp seal developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, is designed to bring emotional calm to patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Paro's embedded tactile sensors cause it to blink its eyes and wag its tail when being petted. Only a true sociopath could look into Paro's deep dark eyes and not feel a pang of affinity for the little beast.

Merkury Innovations came to CES 2010 to show off its DJ Mixer for iPod, which enables armchair DJs to look and sound like they know what they're doing. Pounding dance beats aren't a normal staple of CES, but this year attendees couldn't help but notice Merkury Innovations' booth due to the borderline painful decibel level of the music.

Here's another entry for the 'Products Of Dubious Practical Value' contest: Glowing shelves. Yes, that's right, they are shelves, and they glow from within in a variety of colors.

Yep, that's pretty much it. Move along people, nothing to see here, go back to your homes.

If you thought you'd seen the last of Dream Cheeky in this particular slide show, think again. The company's USB electronic drum kit is portable and guaranteed to allow budding drum students to further their skills without making life hellish for mom and dad. It's another example of the kind of bizarre products that make CES truly special.

Japanese firm Kokoro, a subsidiary of Sanrio (Hello Kitty), showed off one of their creepily humanlike "I-Fairy" robots at CES 2010. Priced at $70,000, I-Fairy detects when people are approaching and automatically begins talking, which makes it ideal for giving directions to lost tourists or fielding annoying questions from museum and amusement park visitors.

Creepy or not, service robots are emerging as a viable market in Japan, and future CES events are sure to bring even more disturbingly real technological approximations of human form.