IFA Consumer Electronics Show: Brilliant innovation or useless gadgetry?

The IFA (consumer electronics unlimited) show was held in Berlin from 5-11 September 2013. Thousands upon thousands of consumer electronic products. Some good, some not so good, some just plain bewildering. Anyway, I went so you didn’t have to*. And here are five of my favourite products that were on show that fall into the category of ‘curious’.

Happy Plugs

Happy Plugs produces exclusively handmade headphones in solid gold.

They say: “The latest product from Happy Plugs is just as much a jewelry as a technical gadget. Happy Plugs is the first Swedish company to design exclusive headphones in 18-carat solid gold. A Swedish goldsmith in Old Town, Stockholm, makes the headphones by hand and can be ordered at a price of €11.000.”


I say :If you are selling solid-gold headphones at 11,000 euros a pair (and I assume that they are €11,000 and not €11) then the least you can do is employ a PR company who can spell ‘jewellery’. Maybe okay for Jay-Z but not for the likes of me (or you). On the upside, if you can afford them, then I guess you are happy. So the name fits even if the headphones don’t.


Belkin Vans Waffle Sole Case for iPhone 5

They say: “The Belkin Vans Waffle Sole iPhone 5 Case was inspired by Vans skate shoes made famous in Southern California during the 1960’s. The waffle sole provides a textured finish and shapes to your iPhone 5. It offers a shock-absorbent, form-fitting layer of protection that grips your iPhone 5 and hangs on for kickflips, tailslides and anything else you can dream up.”


I say: Am I missing something here? It’s an iPhone case inspired by a shoe? I don’t need one and I don’t want one. Did they have a load of rubber left at the shoe factory and someone in for work-experience?


Automatic Cooker EA 3657

They say: “The heyday of home canning spanned from the beginning of World War I to the 1960s. By the beginning of World War II, about 90 per cent of all German households canned fruit, vegetables and meat. With the advent of freezers and the availability of all food at markets, home canning faded into oblivion. Today, it’s a real insider’s tip which SEVERIN are now presenting to the general public with their new, compact Automatic Cooker for Parties.”


I say: Let’s get one thing clear. It’s not an automatic cooker. It’s a home canning machine!! How retro can you get? Cool. Forget the steam baths and the pasta makers. Let’s start canning stuff. At home! This is either a brilliant idea or a novel way to get food poisoning. Anyway, I want one. I don’t know why, but I do. I wonder why it’s got a spout…..


Hama Wi-Fi SD/USB Data Reader for Apple

They say: ‘Your vacation was divine, and the pictures on your camera came out great – but how do you get them onto devices like the iPad, which doesn’t have a USB port or a card slot? With Hama’s new Wi-Fi data reader for all Apple devices with the iOS 5 operating system or later, it’s no problem.’


I say: How does Hama know about my vacation? Or my pictures? Do they mean my vacation was with Divine? Because it wasn’t. Anyway this is a neat idea. Anything that helps to bypass iTunes is a neat idea. Thumbs up for this.


Samsung Smartwatch GALAXY Gear

They say: “Eine ausführliche Produktbeschreibung steht in Kürze zur Verfügung”


I say: Looks good. Tells you the time and the weather. So you don’t have to look out of the window. To be fair, it probably does other stuff as well. I put the above phrase into Google translate expecting it to say ‘the first watch to offer both time travel and to read people’s thoughts’. It actually says ‘A detailed product description is coming soon.’ Which is a disappointment…..


Pioneer’s NavGate HUD

They say: Pioneer announces the release of its augmented reality NavGate head-up display (HUD) for smartphone navigation apps that attaches to the driver’s sun visor and projects traffic, navigation and other info in full colour through the windscreen, just above the horizon, allowing him to keep his eyes on the road at all times while navigating.


I say: Now this is smart. Technology to keep your eyes on the road and off a tiny screen shouting commands at you. Although I’m not sure if arrows flying across the windscreen is any less distracting?


*I didn’t really go. I looked on the website.

by John Holdsworth

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