CES 2013: Lapka. Just Lapka.

by Jason Toon
Particle board is the new white

Mystery can be an effective tactic in piquing the public's interest. The makers of Lapka prove that "excessive minimalism" is not a contradiction in terms. Their inscrutable booth consists of an arty video loop set to Erik Satie, some text-free postcards showing Lapka, and a few examples of the enigmatic product itself. Of course, people were lined up three deep at the counter. For every baffled showgoer who shrugged and walked away, two more elbowed forward to take his place.

So, OK, what IS Lapka?

Hmmm....

Eventually, we were able to tease out that it's a set of devices that monitor the ambient humidity, radiation, and electromagnetic waves around you and show the results on your smartphone with a wistfully twee animated infographic. You can also jab a piece of fruit with a spike on one of the little pieces, and Lapka will tell you whether that apple is really organic.

Pretty cool, I guess. But is there a market for a $220 mini-geiger counter, even one this cute? Is the geek-hip overlap big enough to sustain a "luxury tools" category? The Lapka people are betting on it. On the one hand, I think they could stand to be a little more articulate about what Lapka does. But then, if they had a regular booth cluttered with signs and banners and brochures, would I even have stopped to look at it?

Further mystery awaits in our CES 2013 coverage.