We’re in the midst of a smart gadget revolution. Anything that can be given wireless connectivity is getting it, from refrigerators and home lighting to smoke detectors and doorbells. While many smart gadgets have broad usage and many more solve specific, niche problems, there are a lot of weird devices out there that leave us scratching our heads. Today we’re running down some of the weirdest smart devices that you can buy right this minute, so settle in for some tech oddities.
Image credit: Banana Phone
Before diving in, keep in mind that while these gadgets may appear weird, they still have the potential to be useful. We’re not saying these devices aren’t worth the money or that they’re entirely without utility. Instead, the gadgets on this list may fill a niche that we didn’t know needed filling or take an interesting approach to solving a common problem. Remember: strange products can still be practical.
Revolution InstaGLO R180 Toaster
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen a lot of kitchen appliances become internet-connected smart home gadgets. The kitchen has gone through an internet-of-things revolution, undoubtedly prompting companies to explore the appliances and tools they can outfit with displays and WiFi radios next. If you figured we’d eventually see toasters donning touchscreen displays, pat yourself on the back because your prediction was right on the money.
The InstaGLO R180 smart toaster from Revolution is quite possibly the most high-end toaster we’ve ever laid eyes on. While it doesn’t connect to the internet or sync with any mobile apps, it does come with a large touchscreen display on its front and uses a “smart toasting algorithm” to perfectly brown your toastables. In addition, it offers five different food settings – breads, bagels, English muffins, toaster pastries, and yes, even waffles – along with fresh, frozen, and reheat toasting modes.
There are even seven different toasting levels you can pick for each food, ranging from a very light toast to what appears to be completely burnt. While the whole thing seems a little excessive, we’ve certainly charred enough pieces of bread beyond recognition using cheap, $20 toasters to wonder if it’s worth upgrading to the precision toasting of the R180. However, with a price tag of $300, the R180 is no mere impulse buy and one that’s probably best left to only the wealthiest of toast lovers.
Ruggie Alarm Clock
Getting people out of bed on time is one of the biggest challenges we humans collectively face. All but the chirpiest of the morning birds know what it’s like to hit the snooze button one too many times and the chaotic mornings such indulgence can cause. The Ruggie Alarm Clock claims to have worked out a solution, and it might just be weird enough to work.
As the name suggests, the Ruggie is part rug, part alarm clock. When it goes off in the morning, you’ll need to stand on it for at least three seconds (up to 30) before the alarm will turn off. The idea is that by the time the alarm has shut off, you’re already upright and out of bed, thereby reducing the chances of you going back to sleep.
On its website, Ruggie’s manufacturers say that it’s outfitted with a loud alarm clock that can wake even the deepest of sleepers. The Ruggie can even give you a daily affirmation or motivational message after the alarm shuts off, so at least it’ll have something nice to say after it forces you out of sweet slumber.
Anyone who has ever attempted to lose weight via calorie counting will tell you that it isn’t exactly fun and can often be confusing. It can be difficult to make sure everything is accurately measured, and while apps like MyFitnessPal can help when used in tandem with food scales, SmartPlate is attempting to unify the process.
Shark Tank fans will probably remember SmartPlate as one of the pitches that crashed and burned, with the presenter asking for far too high a valuation for a product that hadn’t even made it out of the prototyping phase at the time of the pitch. While SmartPlate was originally envisioned as an all-in-one product that could weigh and scan food through embedded scales and cameras, these days it’s three products: a plate, a separate scale, and a mobile app.
According to SmartPlate’s listing on Amazon, the app can automatically identify 1,500 foods. It can also scan barcodes like MyFitnessPal, and has a database with nutrition information for 300,000 restaurant meals. While it might streamline the process of counting calories and weighing food, it isn’t exactly blazing a new trail, and at $300 for the plate and a one-year subscription to the plate’s app-linked service, the cost is likely a little heavier than most will consider.
Bartesian Cocktail Maker
As we said at the outset, “weird” does not necessarily mean “bad,” and the Bartesian Cocktail Maker might be the best example of that rule on our list. Bartesian positions itself as the solution for those who want to make cocktails and mixed drinks at home but don’t have the mixology know-how. It’s almost like a Keurig for adult beverages, and it looks cool to boot.
The pitch is a simple one: fill the machine with water and the spirits of your choice, then decide on the cocktail you want to make and insert the appropriate Bartesian Cocktail Capsule. The capsule contains all of the mixers required for the drinks in question and also sports a barcode that the Bartesian uses to recognize your cocktail of choice. The machine also recommends the type of glass you should use – just place that glass under the spout and let the machine do the rest.
It’s definitely a niche product, and it looks like it belongs in a chemistry or alchemy set rather than on a kitchen countertop. With those capsules costing $20 per 8-pack and the machine itself priced at $349.99, it certainly isn’t a cheap device. Still, it may eventually pay for itself if the alternative is relying on a bartender to make all your cocktails.
For the final entry on our list, we’ve got something that’s both weird and (mostly) useless – the only difference here is that the creators are in on the joke, so to speak. Like the classic Raffi song come to life, Banana Phone is essentially a Bluetooth speaker and microphone that can be paired to your smartphone and used for calls. Yes, the year is 2021 and you can, quite literally, use your Banana Phone to call Beijing.
The Banana Phone is compatible with both Android and iOS and is a novelty in every sense of the word. It has a 60-foot Bluetooth range and can be used as a speaker for music when not in use as a phone. You can use it to summon Siri or Google Assistant, and it boasts 20 hours of talk time on a full charge. The creators even promise that 2% of all Banana Phone revenue is donated to support gorilla conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so not only can you live in the Banana Phone future that Raffi promised us, you can also give a helping hand to Central Africa’s great ape!