ePawn Arena (ePawn)The Consumer Electronics Show isn't just about a bunch of drool-worthy TVs and doomed-before-they-launch tablets. Gaming is a big part of the show.
While new games aren't announced or showcased and major new hardware announcements by big industry players don't typically happen (even rumored ones like the Xbox 720), there's plenty of gaming on hand. Sony and Nintendo have been busily showing off the PlayStation Vita and Wii U, respectively, and many of those fancy sets and mobile devices are geared towards those who like to play.
But if you like your gaming with an extra helping of weirdness, it's a virtual smorgasbord. There's no end to the companies showcasing quirky, unusual, or downright head-scratching pieces of gaming technology. Here are five of the most interesting game gadgets of CES 2012.
Remember the last time you went to the video game arcade? Of course you don't. But if you did, you might have fond memories of the Asteroids cabinet.
Courtesy their cutting-edge eye-tracking tech, Swedish company Tobii has re-imagined the game, getting rid of the joystick and letting people blast things with their eyes. THEIR EYES.
The Tobii tech, which can be built directly into a laptop, uses infrared lights to track the glint off your eyeballs and follow your focus. Or something. The point is this: you stare at asteroids, and they explode. Take that, Kinect!
Sick of awkwardly trying to play action-oriented games with your iPhone's touchscreen? Ion Audio, the team behind last year's awesome iCade arcade cabinet shell for the iPad, hopes to change that.
At this year's CES the company unveiled the iCade Mobile, a wraparound controller for the iPhone that converts your sleek piece of technology into something resembling an Atari Lynx. On the left side, a D-pad. On the right, the standard four-button diamond layout. Priced at $80, it could be a boon for iOS gamers dying for more conventional controls. Creator Ion Audio says over 100 apps are already compatible with the system. We're gonna guess Angry Birds isn't one of them.
Razer has a history of unveiling off-the-beaten-path concept devices at CES. Last year, it was The Switchblade, a multi-touch tablet whose keys would change based on the game you were playing. That one quickly faded away, making room for another crazy Razer concept.
This year, the company's showing off Project Fiona, a gaming tablet that it vows is capable of playing current generation games. Project Fiona comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, an accelerometer, force-feedback, and, weirdly, two chunky controllers built into either side. Razer's not giving out a price, but says we could see this by the end of the year.
A ball that you roll around using your iPhone sounds kind of weird -- and it is, but it's also kind of fun for short bursts. By installing different apps on your phone, you can play up to five games with the Sphero. At their core, they're all variations of the same thing: Steer the ball with the phone's touchscreen. It's a great way to annoy your pet, but the novelty is short-lived.
Also short-lived? The product itself, unless its makers can do something about the over-the-top $130 price-tag.
Still in the prototype phase, this strange new technology blends touch screens, bluetooth, your iPhone and action figures to create a very unique play experience.
The company is creating a 26" screen that uses special figures/controllers to let people play games they download to their iPhone on a larger arena (it's a bit like last year's breakout hit, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure). An air hockey demo was shown as well as an RPG that used little fantasy figurines. That last one could be killer for tabletop gamers, especially if a company like Wizards of the Coast -- the lords of Dungeons and Dragons -- get their hands on it.
Whether or not it will make it onto store shelves is still debatable, but personally, we're rooting for it, because the demos were fascinating. See for yourself: