LAS VEGAS -- Some of the weirdest gadgets at the International Consumer Electronics Show are designed to solve problems you never knew you had. Is your toddler having trouble sitting still on the potty? Let the iPotty come to the rescue. Are you bored driving to work in a four-wheeled vehicle? Climb inside a 725-kilogram mechanical spider for your morning commute. Phone not small enough? Here's one you can fold in half.
Of course, not all of the prototypes introduced at the annual gadget show will succeed in the marketplace. But the innovators who shop their wares here are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, be they flashy, catchy or just plain odd.
A search for this year's strangest (and perhaps least useful) electronic devices yielded some weird devices that may or may not make it market.
TOILET training a toddler is no picnic, but the iPotty from CTA Digital seeks to make it a little easier by letting parents attach an iPad to it. This way, junior can gape and paw at the iPad while taking care of business in the old-fashioned part of the plastic potty. The iPotty will go on sale in March, first on Amazon.com .
WHO IT'S FOR: Parents at their wits' end.
BY showing off a phone with a flexible screen, Samsung is hinting at a day when we might fold up our large phone or tablet screens as if they were maps.
WHAT IT IS: Brian Berkeley, head of Samsung Electronics Co.'s display lab in San Jose, Calif., demonstrated a phone that consists of a matchbox-sized hard enclosure, with a paper-thin, flexible colour screen attached to one end. The screen doesn't appear flexible enough to fold in half like a piece of paper, but it could bend into a tube.
The company also showed a video of a future concept, with a phone-sized device that opens up like a book, revealing a tablet-sized screen inside.
MONDO SPIDER, TITANOBOA
A pair of giant hydraulic and lithium polymer battery-controlled beasts from Canadian art organization eatART caught some eyes at the show. A rideable eight-legged creature, Mondo Spider weighs 725 kilograms and can crawl forward at about eight kilometres per hour on battery power for roughly an hour. The 550-kilogram Titanoboa slithers along the ground at an as yet unmeasured speed.
Titanoboa was made to match the size of a 15-metre-long reptile whose fossilized remains were dated 50 million years ago, when the world was five to six degrees warmer. The original version of Mondo Spider, meanwhile, first appeared at the Burning Man arts gathering in Nevada in 2006.
WHO IT'S FOR: Your inner child, Burning Man participants, people with extra-large living rooms.
PRICE: The spider's parts cost $26,000. The Titanoboa costs $70,000. Engineers provided their time for free and both took thousands of hours to build.
-- The Associated Press