There are gadgets and gizmos aplenty. We know. So we've taken the time to narrow the field down to these nine gift ideas, with broad appeal, for your favorite tech enthusiasts.
Gas Sense ($62)
Maybe you've already gifted the master griller in your life a smart meat thermometer and a monogrammed steak brand. This time, consider pre-ordering Gas Sense, a magnetic sensor strip that attaches to any bottled gas and sends warnings to its owner via an app when fuel is getting low. George Edwards, who came up with the idea while studying engineering at a private school in Kent, England, raised nearly $23,000 on Kickstarter this year. He's now in the business of saving BBQs.
Mount this T-shaped device to the handlebars of a bike, and it becomes an easy-to-read wayfinder, with LEDs lighting up on its right or left side to signal a needed turn. The rider carries his or her smartphone, connected to the device via an app, and the Hammerhead gives its cues based on the phone's GPS.
Drop Kitchen Scale ($99.95)
Some of the best bakers measure their ingredients by weight. None of this nonsense about measuring cups and spoons, which can be less precise. With this in mind, there is a new kitchen scale called Drop. The scale is connected to a recipe app. The user pulls up one of a few hundred recipes available, places a bowl on the scale and gets step-by-step instruction. Start to pour flour or another ingredient into the bowl, and the scale registers it. There is even a visual on the user's iPad or iPhone screen that signals to keep pouring and when to stop. The app has a very useful function in that it can alter a recipe (the selection has expanded to include savory dishes and cocktails) to fit the specific amount on hand of an ingredient. It took the amount of ground beef a Wired reviewer had, for example, and adjusted a meatball recipe.
Ricoh Theta S 360-degree Camera ($350)
The Ricoh Theta S is a 360-degree camera, meaning it shoots photographs and video in all directions. With the ability to capture 14 mega-pixel images and 25-minute-long HD videos at 30 frames per second, it's one of the best available. The Theta S was just named a CES Best of Innovation Awards Honoree, and it will be featured at the massive consumer electronics tradeshow in Las Vegas held January 6-9, 2016.
Did I mention it's pocket-sized?!
Call this new product, which raised more than $370,000 on Indiegogo this year, a toolbox and the Los Angeles team behind it will correct you. It's a Coolbox. That's because it's not your grandfather's tool chest. Capable of carrying 65 pounds in more than 1,700 cubic inches, the box has a bevy of upgrades: 2 USB ports, an internal battery, Bluetooth speakers, LED lights, a white board, a tablet stand and a retractable power cord. If that wasn't enought, the creators through in a few extra niceties. The Coolbox has a magnetic lid for keeping track of screws mid-project and a bottle opener. Why not?
Tube Wringer ($19.99)
Sometimes simple, low-tech gadgets can be refreshing. This one, an all-metal tube wringer, might hit the mark if, like me, you are a squeeze from the middle of the tube kind of tooth brusher with a neat and thrifty mate. Mind you, it can be used on paint tubes, glue, countertop adhesives and caulk too.
Microduino mCookie Basic Kit ($99)
Representatives from a company called Microduino demonstrated their latest product, mCookie, at the World Maker Faire New York this past September. The stackable, magnetic microcontrollers can add a range of functions—Bluetooth, WiFi, sounds, LED lights and more—to DIY electronics projects, when a tinkerer programs them using Arduino or Scratch, a visual language geared toward young programmers. In layman's terms, the quarter-sized modules can bring your Lego creations to life. (They're built to snap right into Lego pieces.)
The Pulse ($99)
It started with a soccer ball. Jessica Matthews and some fellow classmates at Harvard built Soccket, a soccer ball that when kicked around for an hour generates enough electricity to power an LED light for three hours. She founded Uncharted Play, a New York City-based company, in 2001, to sell the ball, and applied the same thinking to a jump rope. When the Pulse goes around, it collects kinetic energy. A little more efficient than the soccer ball, 15 minutes of play with the jump rope translates to two hours of light. With a USB add-on, users can plug phones and other devices into both the Soccket and Pulse to charge.
MudWatt Science Kit ($39.99)
Those who love gadgets often love to take those gadgets apart to understand how they work. To inspire this curiosity in kids, scientist Keegan Cooke and engineer Kevin Rand teamed up to create MudWatt. The kit, consisting of a container, an anode, a cathode, a hacker board and gloves, guides users in building a battery powered by microbes, always multiplying, in dirt that release electrons as they eat.