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Products go 'smart' at gadget show

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Here's a morning routine for you.

After the alarm on your smartphone goes off, it's time to roll out of your "smart" bed and give your hair a good run through with your app-connected brush. Don't forget to use your smart toothbrush in front of your smart mirror.

After that, your smart pillbox will remind you to take your medication. And remember to put on your smart jeans, so they can give you directions while you leave your phone in the pocket.

Sound like a typical morning? Tech companies at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas would like it to be. They're unveiling products that do all these things and more. But do we really need them -- or even want them?

"When an industry is nascent, you will see experimentation," said Mark Hung, a vice president at Gartner Research. "Companies will throw things against the wall to see what sticks."

You decide whether these are cool innovations or just junk.

Box o' love

Can't express your feelings adequately through emoticon-filled text messages? For you, there's the Lovebox.

The wooden box plugs into an outlet and connects to Wi-Fi. A heart on the outside spins when you get a message. Open the lid to see a digital screen with the message. You can reply with a digital heart by rotating the heart on the box.

The Lovebox won't be out in the U.S. until June, so forget Valentine's Day. And virtual smooches come with a price: $120 for one box or $185 for two.

Hair goes high tech

The Hair Coach from L'Oreal's Kerastase brand uses a microphone, gyroscope and other sensors to monitor how fast and how hard you're brushing.

An accompanying app recommends how to brush for optimal quality and minimal breakage and split ends. It can also factor in heat and humidity and even discern if hair is wet or dry.

Kerastase teamed up with tech company Withings on the battery-powered brush, due out in mid-2017. It comes at a hair-raising price: $200.

Fashion on the move

Want to look smart while tooling around an unfamiliar neighborhood? How about a pair of vibrating jeans to get you where you're going?

The jeans from Spinali Design, another French startup, will vibrate on your right or left hip to let you know which direction you should head. Sure, a smartwatch can do the same thing, but why get something that can do more?

If that's too much clothing for you, try bikinis that buzz when you're out in the sun too long and need to apply more sunscreen.

The jeans cost about $100, and the bikinis about $140.

E-skin

Want body monitoring that rivals that of an intensive care unit?

Xenoma's "e-skin" is essentially a shirt with sensors that measure movement, breathing, pressure, perspiration and body temperature. The shirt connects wirelessly to a smartphone or personal computer for real-time number crunching.

Developers at the Tokyo-based Xenoma say the shirt can be used for health monitoring, fitness tracking and even virtual-reality gaming. But they're still working on it, so it's not available for sale yet.

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