Day four of IFA is now under wraps, just like the feet of everyone trawling through the endless tech wonderland put on display here. Since Segway just announced those convenient Rollerblades and they were only available for testing in tiny rings, we, unfortunately, could not use them to zoom around and take in every IFA hall.
We did, however, enjoy quite a few coffees to keep us going, since we had one of the most hectic days in recent memory.
We had the chance to swing by Asus and do a demo of the Asus ROG phone, which is probably the best gaming device of the entire show. And quite possibly the year. It was hard to know how to approach this baby since it’s a strong device on its own thanks to the Snapdragon 845 and the complimentary GB of RAM. Using the same combo of cameras from the Zenfone 5, it’s also a general use smartphone, so that explains why Asus’ place was packed.
Of course, the focus of this device is pure gaming, since it will ship with a complimentary clip-on fan that you can control from the dedicated app. It actually keeps your fingers cool. Yue was particularly impressed by the bulkiness of the dock, which also features a secondary screen to turn the Asus ROG into an overpowered Nintendo DS-like device. But more on that in our hands-on video, which will be up shortly!
Speaking of that, we also talked at large with Mobvoi, one of the most interesting up-and-coming players in the smartwatch area, backed by Google’s Wear OS. No spoilers here but we do promise that their watches deserve more than a second glance.
After Asus, we decided to spend a lot of time near robots, since that’s what we promised you we’d do. The halls were packed with companion robots doing synchronized dances or promising educational tools and encouragement for kids to pick up programming. We spent a glorious few hours there, eyeballing the newly-unveiled Segway rollerblades and doing a few dances with the cutesy Danny from Nuwa. We were also hoping to see the Sanbot Max, a service robot that can lug around 800 lbs but unfortunately, we had to settle for his little brother, who did a cute ballet routine for us.
Then, we found an amazing project with a humanitarian focus. At first glance a cow made out of pipes with a solar panel on top, upon further examination we discovered it’s… actually, a cow made out of pipes with a solar panel on top. What’s the catch?
Well, the udders are actually batteries that the cow charges. These batteries will provide encouragement for poor kids to actually afford attending school. How? Stay tuned, Yue got the scoop and what we found was a really well-thought-out NGO-backed project. Once you see what Solar Cow wants to do, you’ll definitely want to try the SunMade Cheese and even back it on Kickstarter.
Speaking of kids, one little CEO utterly charmed us and made us swing by his booth, where we saw a lot of e-skateboards and the gorgeous electric Flowbike, which folded in 3 quick moves.
A Swiss start-up, So Flow definitely saw some traffic by its booth, especially since it had probably the best rep on the showroom floor.
Another charming little find was Flyte, which mesmerized all passers-by through the IFA Next area, even though the Swedish company has been around for quite some time. Floating clocks will definitely steal the show every time, won’t they?
Apparently, the guys from Flyte are planning a Kickstarter in the next week or so, which is awesome for those in search of unique tech and decorations.
In the rest of IFA, we saw a lot of established companies iterating on what really worked last year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the iterations are based on what the consumers demand. There were so many beautiful appliances designed to make a home feel really welcoming, especially since some of them featured Google Assistant or Alexa integrations, and so many sound systems that made audiophiles do the happy dance (Sennheiser’s Ambeo sound bar deserves a big mention since it’s all about that bass).
While the phone area only had little surprises like the Honor Play, the accessories on display at IFA Berlin were nothing to sniff at. Literally.
Check out these fragrant phone cases coming from a tiny Slovakian company. Even though they turned their noses up at mid-range devices and are only available for iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy 9, we have to give them props for creativity. They’re made out of natural materials like roses, jasmine or hemp (cough cough) combined with a sugar-based resin and we gotta say, they smelled delicious. Because of the naturals materials used, obviously the scent won’t carry for long, so they do ship with an extra bottle of deliciousness. We loved the smell of fresh hay but we demand more variety from MMORE, their maker, at least on the compatibility front.
How would we sum up IFA Berlin? For us, walking alongside Yue, it was almost a week of chasing around robots and being chased by robots. For the latter, we mean the Google Assistant, which was literally present in every nook, cranny, smart speaker, and somewhat clever fridge. As Yue also said, this was clearly a European event. Unlike previous years, there was no mention of social media or sharing.
Instead, the tech on display either seemed designed with one niche in mind or to be as unobtrusive as ever. As we noticed with the wide range of smart appliances, the goal seems to be for technology to remain in the background and enrich our actual true lives, discreetly lending a helping hand into offering better sleep, better atmosphere, and more meaningful connections.
With so many creative projects on display and so much energy put into designing pleasant and soothing experiences, we were glad to see that tech is once again taking the lead in showing us a better way.