A few years from now, people might reminisce about a time when they watched movies on screens and manually closed their bedroom curtains.
We’re in the midst of a technological revolution. Nanoparticles might soon internally diagnose diseases. Machines might build themselves. And virtual reality headsets might replace televisions — some boutique movie studios have begun to prepare for the shift to virtual reality by designing 360-degree films suitable for the headsets.
These high-tech advances, however, aren’t only for wealthy corporations to enjoy. Many companies are creating innovative gadgets for everyday consumers as well.
Here are 10 devices built to make consumers’ lives easier or, maybe, just a little cooler.
Until recently, holograms have largely belonged to the world of science fiction and Iron Manmovies. Microsoft is hoping to change that with the Microsoft HoloLens, unveiled in January.
Users will be able to create and interact with personally built or digitally projected holograms while wearing the HoloLens goggles. If users are especially fond of a holographic object they’ve built, they can bring it from the digital world into the physical world with the HoloStudio’s 3D printing capability. And, among other features, wearers of the HoloLens will be able to visually transport themselves to a different location — be it via a friend’s view of his or her room or the Mars Rover’s view of extraterrestrial life.
The wearable tech movement is gaining ground, creating a market for products like Logbar’s Ring. The Ring, though not the one to rule them all, actually can rule your camera, music and social media accounts. This gadget is slightly bigger than a typical ring, and uses Bluetooth technology to complete a myriad of tasks with a flick of the wearer’s finger.
Ring is preprogrammed to respond to default gestures, such as drawing a checkmark in the air to get a taxi, but users also can customize their gestures with iOS and Android devices. To turn on the television, upload a picture or exchange contact information with someone, wearers simply tap the Ring’s touch sensor, gesture appropriately and hold their finger’s position. These tasks and many more are available for the Ring to complete, as developers can create their own actions using an “Open URI,” making the Ring’s potential virtually limitless.
By 2018, nearly 60 million health and fitness trackers will be in use, according to a November report by Juniper Research. Because these trackers monitor aspects of wearers’ lives beyond the gym, Swarovski and Misfit have partnered to provide consumers with tracking technology that can be integrated with Swarovski luxury jewelry. These pendants and wristbands are designed in Swarovski’s characteristic style and compatible with the Swarovski Shine Activity Tracking Crystal to help consumers monitor their well-being without sacrificing style.
First there were phones. Then there were camera phones. Now there are camera and personal assistant and ereader phones. Gadgets have begun to perform tasks beyond their primary use, and the Zcan+ is no exception.
Foremost a mouse, the device doubles as a scanner that can swipe over text or tables and instantly scan them into document or Excel formats. Although the current version uses a wire to connect to a computer, a wireless version capable of scanning and reading text aloud is now available for pre-order.
Mint is the most recent breath analysis tool from Breathometer. Instead of measuring quantity of alcohol consumed, however, it measures quality of breath projected. The device is small enough to stash in most purses, and connects to smartphones to measure and analyze breath quality and hydration levels. In other words, it will let users know whether they have minty or morning breath, and whether their oral health has improved with time.
Few experiences are as frustrating as a morning alarm going off seemingly minutes after it was set. To combat this feeling, sleep tracking device Sense is equipped with a Sense Smart Alarm that will wake users at an optimal time in their sleep cycle. Users needn’t worry about being late to work, as they still set their own alarm, but Sense will wake users slightly earlier if the Sleep Pill attached to their pillows detects they’re stirring earlier. Users will therefore be prevented from falling deeper into sleep minutes before their alarm goes off, and will feel less groggy as a result.
Sense not only monitors sleep quality, but also works to improve it. Its sensors monitor noise, light, temperature, humidity and particles to help users recognize, and possibly eliminate, the disturbances that wake them or lead to light, restless sleep.
Instagram accounts like Cooking for Bae that showcase baking fails might soon run out of content thanks to products like the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro. These 3D printers substitute sugar for ink to produce reliably beautiful, edible treats.
Apple created Siri, Microsoft created Cortana, Amazon created Alexa and Robotbase is in the process of creating Personal Robot. Unlike the others’, the Personal Robot’s name is decidedly generic so users can christen their robots themselves.
Although Robotbase’s future Alfreds and Dianas and R2-D2s aren’t slated for production until late 2015, the company’s Kickstarter claims its artificial intelligence personal robot will act as a stylist, office assistant, security system, speaker, camera, storyteller and household efficiency monitor. Shaped somewhat like an oversized spoon, the robot has a round monitor that’s attached to a mobile base with a built-in speaker, USB phone charger and 3D depth camera.
Long distances and steep hills are typically great excuses to avoid cycling. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on a person’s affinity for exercise, the Copenhagen Wheel eliminates these excuses. As its name suggests, this device is a motorized wheel that is designed to replace a cyclist’s back bicycle wheel. The Copenhagen Wheel uses a motor, batteries, sensors, wireless connectivity and a control system to maximize riders’ own pedaling power and to track their rides.
Because the wheel is equipped with sensors and wireless connectivity, it can record informationabout riders’ surroundings as well as their riding habits. This data, if riders choose to anonymously share it, could help city officials optimize infrastructure and better understand the environment.
Like people, plants are living and breathing beings that now have their own version of wearables. Parrot Flower Power’s branch-shaped sensor can be partly pushed into a plant’s surrounding soil to measure sunlight, temperature, fertilizer and moisture levels. If Parrot Flower Power detects insufficient nutrients, its smartphone app will alert the owner. The app also includes tips and data analysis, assisting avid green thumbs everywhere and making it nearly impossible to kill your plant.