Cool Gadgets to Look Forward to this Year
What’s cool, what’s buzzworthy, and what’s going to change how you do things in the year to come.
Segway Advanced Personal Robot
It’s a hoverboard! It’s a robot! Segway, the company that pioneered the personal mobility device, has teamed up with Intel and Xiaomi to bring an advanced personal robot to market. It uses an array of built-in cameras to recognize objects and alter its path accordingly, moving from room to room and following you around. It’s also equipped with Wi-Fi, which enables it to connect to a range of devices, letting users issue voice commands or program it to record video or take photos. You can attach arms and other accessories, turn the robot into whatever you want or use it as a plain old Segway.
With Oculus Rift Crescent Bay, the virtual reality headset, players will be able to step inside their favourite games and virtual worlds and seamlessly look around, just as they would in real life. The latest iteration includes a 1080p, high-resolution 7-inch display that uses stereoscopic 3D to mimic normal human vision. Available now for $599, the headset ships with a sensor for motion tracing as well as an Xbox One controller.
If I can’t have my own X-wing fighter, I want my own drone car. EHang’s 184 is no ordinary drone — it’s a 200-kg, intelligent low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle. In other words, it’s a quadcopter drone that can carry a person to a maximum altitude of 11,000 feet, has a top speed of 100 kph and has 23 minutes of battery life. Designed to be as simple as climbing in, powering up, selecting the destination and pressing the “take-off” button, the drone manages landing, take off, communication with air traffic control and avoiding obstacles. I suspect that it may not get approval for consumer use in most countries, but when it does hit the market, the estimated starting price will be $300,000.
Kodak Super 8 camera
Professional photographers everywhere are playing with film cameras, and Kodak is placing itself at the forefront with its new Super 8 camera, aimed at putting film into the hands of a new generation of film-makers. Designed by Yves Behar, consumer-electronic designer extraordinaire, the camera pays homage to the design of the original Kodak Super 8 from 1965, yet looks modern. It uses 15mm film cartridges, good for several minutes of shooting, and when you purchase the film, you will be paying for the film, processing and digital transfer. The lab will send your developed film back and email you a password to retrieve your digital scans from the cloud. From JJ Abrams to Steven Spielberg, Hollywood biggies are backing this initiative.
Here Active Listening
This is a simple idea — use two wireless buds and a smartphone app to control what you hear and how you hear it. Imagine being stuck somewhere with unbearable noise — an open office with noisy chatter, a flight with wailing infants, the annoying hum of the subway trains. The Here Active Listening system, a groundbreaking set of earbuds from New York–based Doppler Labs, lets you customise how you hear the world around you, by taking audio in and simultaneously running it through a filter, so you can choose to hear only what you want to hear.
FitBit Blaze, the flagship smartwatch from FitBit, is getting into the game to fight off Apple’s Watch. Essentially a lot like the Surge in functionality, the Blaze looks more like a watch than a fitness band, with its touchscreen LCD display, stainless steel case and an assortment of accessory bands. It can track your daily steps, sleep, calories burned and heart rate, auto-track activities like basketball, tennis, running and football and has FitStar integrated, for on-screen workouts. Also built in is the ability to get notifications for text messages, calendar entries and phone calls from your smartphone.
LG Rollable OLED
It’s not ready for primetime yet, but if I had to pick one piece of revolutionary tech announced this year that screams “Welcome to the future!”, it’s LG’s Rollable OLED. Imagine reading the morning news on your own paper-thin OLED screen and then rolling it up and putting it in your bag. Once this becomes a reality, it will transform the way we interact with screens.
Find yourself misplacing keys or forgetting the combinations to your bike locks or home padlocks? Noke is the world’s first Bluetooth-enabled padlock. Powered by Bluetooth 4.0, this smart padlock automatically finds and connects to your Bluetooth 4.0 enabled smartphone. You don’t even need to remove your phone from your pocket or purse — it will automatically sense your phone and unlock. Using the Noke app, you can assign and revoke access to your individual locks. The history tab lets you monitor where, when and by whom your locks were accessed.
Ray Super Remote
If you are still living with a pile of remote controls, meet the Ray Super Remote — a custom-designed universal touchscreen remote like you have never seen before. It’s a sleek, comfortable piece of hardware with 5.5 inch touchscreen that offers the ease and simplicity of a mobile OS, including apps and personalisation, and connects users to their television, music and connected home gadgets in a way never done before.
HoloLens, Microsoft’s holographic goggles, is the most ambitious product to come out of Microsoft in years. Unlike Oculus Rift, which completely immerses the wearer in another reality, HoloLens offers an augmented reality experience, where your digital images mingle with real objects around you. By teaming the HoloLens with the holographic programs in Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to transform how we think about computing, productivity and communication.