Wings takes a look at the gadgets and tech that’ll be making our lives more fun and less hassle during 2013 – in our homes and on our travels
Words Owen Bailey
Nintendo Wii U $299 / $349
Kiss goodbye to: All your free time
Nintendo’s Wii console has always been a party starter. Its emphasis on communal gameplay and fitness was coupled with revolutionary and fun motion controllers, resulting in gamers excitedly swiping, batting, punching and exercising away in a virtual reverie. The new Wii U adds GamePads with touchscreens and added online capabilities, opening up intriguing new interactive possibilities – and brand-new flavours of mildly tipsy party fun.
NestLearning Thermostat $249
Kiss goodbye to: Ugly plastic boxes on your walls
Tony Fadell helped design the iPod, and ran Apple’s iPod and iPhone divisions. Perhaps the temperature in Apple’s HQ wasn’t quite to his liking, however, as his new company Nest has created the ultra-stylish Learning Thermostat. It learns your heating habits, and sets its own schedule based on them. It’s online via WiFi, you can set it using your iPhone wherever you are, its display is colour coordinated, and it senses when you’re around and turns its display on and off accordingly. Plus it saves you money on bills…
MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer $2,199
Kiss goodbye to: Buying stuff ever again
The first 3D printer for consumers creates highly detailed models from PLA, a renewable bioplastic. You can design product prototypes, toys, art, anything you can dream up, to fit the MakerBot’s 410 cubic-inch volume capabilities, then press print and watch the machine magic it into being before your disbelieving eyes. The technology might be in its infancy, but one day soon, there’ll be a 3D printer in every home, and our lives will finally look like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but without the leotards.
Kiss goodbye to: Björn Borg headbands
You know those exercise nights where you know you should just do it, but you just can’t be bothered? When a glass of wine and a bit of TV seems infinitely preferable to pounding the streets or sweating it out at the gym? Well, thanks to technology, there’s now no place to hide, as Nike’s FuelBand not only tracks all your actions and logs all your goals, it syncs up with a motivational web and mobile experience. This wearable tech bracelet also tracks walking and running, too, though, so at least you get some freebies.
Paul Smith For Leica X2 camera $3,025
Kiss Goodbye To: Uninspiring photography
This meeting-of-minds collaboration between British designer Paul Smith and high-end camera people Leica is as stylish as it is sophisticated. A limited-edition model, the Paul Smith X2 has a vivid orange top plate, racing green cowhide leather body binding and a bright yellow bottom plate. It also has a pro-quality CMOS image sensor with 16.5 Megapixels and a Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 APH lens – all of which means you’ll look pretty sharp as you focus.
PowerTrekk Fuel Charger $250
Kiss Goodbye To: Running out of gas
Remember the end of Back To The Future, where the Doc powers his DeLorean time machine with a few bits of trash out of a bin? Well, here’s today’s equivalent. Put water in the Powertrek Fuel Charger’s cell, let it ‘breathe’, and you’ll be free to charge your portable gadgets – smart phones, digital cameras, GPS devices and laptops, for instance – with blissful independence from the power grid. Aimed primarily at outdoor enthusiasts, we foresee one of these in car glove compartments everywhere…
Bodum Bistro Electric Coffee Grinder $35
Kiss Goodbye To: The daily grind0
Caffeine-lovers will appreciate how important good coffee beans are to a satisfying cup – but only true connoisseurs really fret over how finely ground the beans are. If you want to experiment to see what difference it makes to the taste, invest in one of these cute containers and twist the lid, observing the ‘fineness grade’ through the glass top. The longer the grind, the finer the powder… The silicon outer casing improves grip over smooth plastic, aiding sleepy-headed operation.
Parrot Zik headphones $399
Kiss Goodbye To: Dangling wires
What does the world need right now, more than anything? Gesture-controlled Philippe Starck-designed high-tech headphones? We thought you might say that, so thankfully, Parrot’s Zik, “the world’s most advanced wireless headphones”, are here. Inbuilt gesturing control means you merely need to touch the hyper-intuitive control panel to change tracks or adjust volume, while removing them pauses them and putting them back on resumes play. Digital Sound Processing algorithms reconstruct the sound so it appears to emanate from in front of you, and an app enables you to configure the ’phones to your taste.
Boxx One Meter Vehicle $3,995
Kiss Goodbye To: Traffic jams
Computer hardware supplier Boxx Corp has come up with an emission-free, all-electric roadworthy vehicle device – an electric bike to you and me – that will do 80 miles and reach a top speed of 35mph with no pedalling. It already sounds better than cycling, and you’ll only need a moped driver’s licence to take advantage of its ergonomic and aerodynamic design and surprisingly capable performance. Weighing 120lbs, with standard 10-inch tyres, it has plenty of storage for your paraphernalia and comes in a range of 10 eyecatching finishes.
Looxcie 2 Live-Streaming Video Camera $279-349
Kiss Goodbye To: Tedious family slideshows
The Looxcie 2 is the world’s first hands-free live-streaming web cam, meaning you can capture your experiences first-hand with the wearable technology and stream them live to Facebook so friends and family can watch. It offers 1080p high-definition recording, and a unique Instant Clip function that enables you to capture instant replays of what just happened when offline. Plus, it connects wirelessly to smartphones and tablets, has a rechargeable battery, works in low light and is water-resistant, making capture of snowsports a cinch. “Share life as you live it,” says Looxcie: are we ready for a world of instant personal broadcasting?
ZBoard Skateboard $549 / $849
Kiss Goodbye To: Walking up hills on your commute
What happens if you put mechanical engineers who love surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding together in a room? They come up with the ZBoard – a device which was designed to be ‘faster and easier to ride than a skateboard, and more fun and portable than a bike’. This powered skateboard senses your weight and passes the info to an onboard microcontroller, which dictates the speed of a 400W electric motor. So when you lean forward you accelerate, and when you lean back, you brake. It also auto-recharges, has a top speed of 15 or 17mph and a range of between five and 10 miles, depending on whether you go for the Classic or Pro model.
BioLite CampStove $129
Kiss Goodbye To: Damp firewood
Some high-tech outdoors types seem to have more technology in their tent than in their home, and you wonder whether they’ve set out to enjoy nature, or to conquer it. However natural you like your trips to remain, however, the new BioLite stove is such a no-brainer that it’ll tempt even the most ardent technophobe. Feed the fuel chamber with dry twigs, leaves and other biofuel and using thermoelectric technology, the 8.25-inch tall stove converts heat to electricity, which powers a fan to make the fire ultra-efficient. And while dinner cooks, you can charge your gadgets via USB. Make fire. Make food. Charge phone. Feel gooooood.
Motorola MotoActv Fitness Tracker $249.99/$299.99
Kiss Goodbye To: Long-distance loneliness
Motorola’s MotoActv wristband is a gadget for the fitness fanatic keen on tough terrain. Billed as ‘the ultimate fusion of music and fitness’, it’s a light and durable touch-screen GPS fitness-tracking buddy with a smart MP3 player. Motorola’s AccuSense technology and GPS combine to measure the stats of your performance, from distance to calories burned, which can then be analysed via an online portal. There’s 8GB or 16GB of music storage, Bluetooth sports headphones with built-in heart-rate monitors, and the MotoActv even measures your performance against music to create high-performance playlists. Getting fit has never been so futuristic.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 $299.99
Kiss Goodbye To: Your neighbours’ privacy
The Parrot AR Drone is a flying quadrocopter (ie a four-motor) drone with a 720p HD video camera that you control from your iPhone or tablet (£200). It’s made of lightweight foam reinforced with carbon-fibre tubes to withstand impact, and is satisfyingly easy to control from your iOS device; there are even easy and advanced control options on the app. With a range extending to around 165 feet, the AR drone has an onboard computer and 3D compass to aid manoeuvres and stability. Even though battery life is limited to 15-20 minutes, we love this toy – and we know you want one.