Like all great inventions showcased at CES, the ice sculpture pictured above is an exercise in functionality as much as aesthetics. Look closely at the object's top corners and you'll see two funnels into which bartenders poured a variety of liquors. Snaking through pathways embedded in the frosty block, the chilled booze emerged into martini glasses at the bottom, mixing into blue or green cocktails that -- like the neon lights outside on the Las Vegas strip -- glowed in the dim light.
The libation-dispensing creation was but one of many attractions vying for attention Sunday night at CES Unveiled, where more than 70 exhibitors were on hand to show off their latest and greatest. It's a testament to these vendors' salesmanship and ingenuity that their various gadgets consistently drew bigger crowds than the mixologists manning the ice block. The setting was the main drag of Sin City, after all, a place where yard-length margaritas are ubiquitous and almost every convenience store has a bottle opener at the counter, ideally placed so customers can begin imbibing their spirits before they reach the exit.
What sorts of products attracted the attention of the hundreds of journalists crammed into the Mandalay Bay ballroom? Literally too many to mention. Technically, CES doesn't start until Tuesday, but just as the world's biggest trade show has expanded beyond the Las Vegas Convention Center into other venues throughout the city, so too has its duration expanded beyond its official calendar dates. This early sneak peek included only a fraction of the companies participating in the show, but they brought along enough toys to keep a tech enthusiast busy for months.
The roster included several huge companies with household names, such as Lenovo, which took up four tables with a fleet of Ultrabooks. But there were also dozens of newcomers and startups.
Smartphone accessories were a common theme. So many companies were showing off speakers that their respective demonstrations often blended into the cacophony, making it difficult to untangle which ones offered a prize-winning sound. There were also enough cases to outfit an iPhone with a different look for not only every day of the week, but probably every day of the next decade.
Fitness products were a related trend, with several exhibitors bringing gadgets or apps that turn smartphones into portable assessors of a user's heart rate, blood pressure and overall wellbeing. Another push was devices that connect vehicles and household objects to the Internet. And of course there were big TVs, legions of novelty toys and more touchscreens than one pair of hands could hope to try out.
Luckily, what happens at CES doesn't stay in Vegas, and these gadgets, along with more that haven't yet been revealed, will be hitting the mass market soon. InformationWeek will be detailing more products as the show continues -- but here are seven that caught our eye at CES Unveiled.