Eight Tech Gifts for Early Adopters
From a personal drone and a 3D printer to sleep and sport performance trackers, these gadgets will please the technophiles in your life
When a new product comes out, there are those who rush to get it and those who wait for the kinks to be worked out. There are the Joneses, and then there are those keeping up with the Joneses. Make someone the talk of the block with one of these eight gifts.
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An Invisible Bike Helmet ($372)
Swedish designers Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt found, while working on their thesis at Lund University, that people generally do not like to wear bike helmets because they are uncomfortable and unattractive. To remedy this, the pair invented a new form of protective gear—a helmet they have described as "invisible."
So, the Hövding—the name means chief, leader or role model in Swedish—isn't exactly invisible. But instead of wearing it on your head, the helmet is a collar that uses airbag technology to deploy a nylon hood in the instant embedded motion sensors detect any abnormal body movements.
The Pocket Drone ($599)
Timothy Reuter, founder of the Drone User Group Network, an organization devoted to teaching people to build and operate their own personal drones, raised nearly $1 million dollars this year on Kickstarter to develop the Pocket Drone. The flying robot is ready to fly, right out of the box, and conveniently folds up to the size of a small tablet. Pre-order the device now, and a budding pilot could be taking astounding aerial photography in just six to eight weeks. (The FAA may make a pilot's license a requirement by the end of the year.) The pocket drone, capable of 20-minute flights, can house a GoPro camera. It tops out at an impressive 40 miles per hour and can travel one mile, with an altitude range of up to 11,000 feet. The makers, however, note the FAA recommends flying no higher than 400 feet.
Rachio Smart Sprinkler ($249)
It can't hurt to dream of greener pastures in the middle of winter. (I'm thinking of you, Buffalo!) So, consider gifting a friend or family member a Rachio smart sprinkler. A perfect choice for the person who is swapping old thermostats, smoke alarms and other home devices, one by one, for smarter versions, Rachio's Iro replaces the sprinkler controller that sends water to inground sprinkler heads.
Once installed, the user connects Iro to WiFi through Rachio's smartphone app. Immediately, the device creates a watering schedule that takes the conditions of that specific location—soil type, for example, and real-time rain, wind and humidity data—into consideration. A homeowner can tweak this schedule from a smartphone or tablet, and Iro will learn from these behaviors. Makers of the product estimate that users will pocket thousands of dollars annually—huge savings that monthly water reports will make clear.
be3D DeeGreen Ecological 3D Printer ($1,999)
While pricey, the be3D DeeGreen ecological 3D printer is one of the easiest to use on the market. CNET editor Dong Ngo actually finds it more intuitive than most ink printers. The DeeGreen is equipped with a sensor that allows it to self-calibrate before each print job, ridding the need for any tricky steps on the user's part. "I was able to get the printer ready to print from out of the box in just about 10 minutes," writes Ngo in his review.
About the size of a microwave, the printer uses fused-deposition modeling to melt layer by layer of plastic to form a 3D object. In anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, the DeeGreen produces a sculpture up to 5.9 cubic inches in size.
These days, we're all about tracking fitness stats—steps, heart rates, calories burned and hours of deep sleep—with wearable tech, such as the Fitbit and Jawbone Up. So it is no surprise that developers are creating sport-specific devices. The recently released ShotTracker actually logs a basketball player's shot attempts and registers each bucket and miss. The system consists of a net sensor, a wrist sensor that fits into a wrist band and compression sleeve, and a charging unit. With the ShotTracker app, coaches can design drills and players can work to improve their shooting percentages.
S+ Sleep Sensor ($149.99)
Speaking of trackers, the ResMed S+ takes sleep monitoring to a new level. The eight-inch-tall device has a super-sensitive motion sensor that actually pick's up a person's respiration and heart rate from a distance of four feet—no contact necessary. The monitor also tracks light and temperature with a sensor and thermometer. Through a ResMed app, users get a report, complete with a sleep score, and tips for a better night's rest.
Rubbee Electric Drive For Bicycles ($1,190)
Only about one percent of the 16 million bikes sold in the United States last year were electric, but interest in e-bikes is growing. Rather than buying new rides, many cyclists are just converting ones they already own. When you add the 14-pound Rubbee to the seatpost of a standard bicycle and pull a throttle on the handlebar, the electric drive gives you the needed boost—up to 16 miles per hour—to tackle a hill.
A Curated Package from Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanion ($50)
At age 31, Alexis Ohanion is already a serial entrepreneur. In 2005, after studying business and history at the University of Virginia, Ohanion founded the social network reddit with Steve Huffman, a classmate. Two years later, he launched breadpig, a means of providing business advice to creators of some pretty wild products. Then, the internet marvel helped Huffman and author Adam Goldstein create the travel search site, hipmunk.
Ohanion undoubtedly has an eye for what people want and need. So wouldn't you want to know a few of his favorite things?
Quarterly offers a package of items—a DIY pickling kit, perhaps, or sunglasses—handselected by the Brooklynite. You can purchase his next curated box, which ships in January, or buy a subscription for his picks to be delivered to your doorstep every three months.