Checkin’ it twice
There’s nothing like the impending doom of the gift-giving season to keep us up to date on all the coolest new tech. From home security to virtual reality and learning robots, this Christmas will certainly not be lacking in cool new gadgets. Give your family and friends tech gifts from our round up that will change their lives, or just buy yourself something fabulous. Either way, here are the top gadgets this holiday season. We want them all.
Video creation and entertainment
Snap Drone: $895
Snap drone is a foldable, packable, all-in-one video drone that tracks you via GPS and films you doing awesome stuff. Right now, it’s only available for pre-order (will ship early 2017) but it’s worth the wait. No other video drone comes close to this portability and price point.
Polaroid Cube: $70
The Polaroid Cube is a tinier and cuter version of a goPro. This screenless, one-inch cube shoots 1080p video on a wide angle lens, and is outfitted with a magnet so you can attach it to anything metal. Perfect for the photographers in your life!
360 degree 4K camera: $499
Make your own virtual reality videos with this 360 degree camera. Shoots in 4k, comes with a mounting system, and is ready to share your experiences with the world. Great for your favorite VR enthusiasts.
Safety tech gifts
While Roav may not get there in time for Christmas (they’re taking preorders and shipping in the spring of 2017), this new dash top display is worth mentioning. Roav connects with your phone and displays your directions, texts, and phone calls on a transparent screen that attaches to the dash of your car. It’s a great gift even if it won’t arrive until May.
Silver Mother: $499
Silver Mother is a sensor tracking system that helps caretakers make sure their loved ones are staying healthy from afar. Monitor their meals, comings and goings, sleep habits, and medication so both of you can keep your peace of mind.
Ring video doorbell: $200
Ring is the video doorbell that lets you pretend to be home even if you’re not. See and talk to the people on your doorstep from your smartphone, monitor package delivery, and protect your home every time someone rings your doorbell.
Nest Cam: $200 plus $100/year
Give your loved ones the gift of safety this year. Help them keep tabs on their house with Nest Cam, an indoor security camera that can distinguish humans from animals or objects, and let homeowners know when something at home doesn’t look right. With the Talk and Listen button in the app, your loved one can tell burglars to get out of their house (or say hello to Puff Kitty), even if they’re a million miles away.
Google Home: $130
Google home is the latest in smart home innovation, cheaper than the Echo, and with more potential. Stream music simultaneously to Chromecast speakers, make shopping lists, turn off lights, and even play trivia! Google home is perfect if you already have Google products and don’t have an Alexa yet.
TP-Link Wifi range extender: $100
Make sure wifi covers every part of your home with this range extender. It expands your wifi network, acts as a port for a wired device, and even helps you find the best place to put it with its signal strength meter. Anyone with wifi range issues or an upstairs TV that needs a hard internet connection would love it.
Alexa-powered Smart bulbs: $19.99-49.99
These smart bulbs are fully integrated with your smartphone and Alexa. Set light timers, change light colors (16 million color options), track energy usage, and turn on and off lights from anywhere using the app or Alexa. These light bulbs can even track natural light throughout the day and turn on when you need it most. Awesome for anyone on your list.
Samsung Gear VR: $60
Powered by Oculus, the Samsung Gear VR works with your galaxy smart phone to provide 360 virtual reality experiences. More high tech than the cardboard, GearVR responds to motion more accurately, and has a touchpad on the side of the head set for more control. Great for the kid on your list (or grown-up kid), Gear VR is this Christmas’s high tech View Master.
Xbox One S 500GB console: $299
Xbox One S will turn any TV into a smart TV with integrated DVD player and video apps. It’s not just for gamers (though the gaming is top notch), it’s for anyone who wants an integrated Blu-ray player, 4K content streaming, and high powered smart TV machine all in the same slim device.
Anki Cozmo: $180
Cozmo is your self-aware robot pet who learns as you play. With an app on your phone you can interact and teach Cozmo new tricks. See what Cozmo sees with streaming video, play games with power cubes, and unlock new tricks in the app. Perfect for the kid on your list who can’t stop talking about a puppy. You both might like this even better.
iWatch: from $269
iWatch series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters and is your fitness band with all the benefits of an iPhone. It’s a step counting, work out coaching, Siri-enabled, heart rate sensing GPS watch with awesome apps and features. It even tells the time. Fitbits just won’t cut it this holiday season.
Lumo Run (smartpants): $100
Give your loved ones the gift that melds with their lifestyle. Lumo Run is a sensor you clip on your running shorts that monitors your running form and gives feedback straight to your smartphone. It can coach you on basic running technique, from bounce to cadence braking and pelvic movements. If someone you know wants to run their first marathon this year, or is picking up a new hobby, this may be the perfect gadget for them.
‘Tis the season
These gadgets are on the cutting edge of technology today, and they’re no match for a pair of socks and an orange. Gift the gift of innovation this holiday season. We know your loved ones will fall in love with anything on our totally-cool-never-fail-innovation-station tech list. We know we would be. (Hint hint!)
Not just for gaming: How virtual reality can save PTSD patients
(TECH NEWS) Thanks to its ability to simulate situations safely, virtual reality technologies are proving effective in therapy for PTSD patients.
Over the last year, a great many people have developed a new and sometimes dangerous relationship with a new emotional state, anxiety. I know that personally I’d never had a panic attack in my life until the middle of the pandemic. For many these emotions have taken the form of actual disorders. Actual mental influences which affect everyday life on a large scale. One of the most common forms of which is PTSD.
This disorder has many different aspects and can affect people in a number of different and debilitating ways. Finding treatments for PTSD patients and other anxiety disorders – especially treatments that don’t involve drugging people into oblivion has been difficult.
A lot of these disorders require exposure therapy. Putting people back into similar situations which caused the original trauma so that their brains can adjust to the situation and not get stuck in pain or panic loops. But how do you do that for things like battlefield trauma. You can’t just create situations with gunfire and dead bodies! Or can you?
This is where VR starts coming in. Thanks to the falling cost of VR headsets, noted by The Economist, psychologists are more capable of creating these real world situations that can actually help people adjust to their individual trauma.
One therapist went so far as to compare it to easy access opioids for therapy. This tool is so powerful that of the 20 veterans that they started with, 16 of them no longer qualify for the categories of PTSD. That’s a 75% success rate with an over-the-counter medicine. I can think of antihistamines and painkillers that aren’t that good.
I’ve grown up around PTSD patients. The majority of my family have been in the military. I was even looking at a career before I was denied service. I have enough friends that deal with PTSD issues that I have a list of things I remember not to invite certain people to so as not to trigger it. Any and every tool available that could help people adapt to their trauma is worthwhile.
Tired of email spam? This silly, petty solution might provide vindication
(TECH NEWS) If you struggle to keep your inbox clean thanks to a multitude of emails, the widget “You’ve Got Spam” could provide some petty catharsis.
We’re all spending a lot of time behind our computers and inside of our inboxes these days, so it makes sense that some people—not naming names—might be sick of seeing several unsolicited emails a day from marketers and other unsavory businesses.
While we can’t recommend a mature, adult solution that hasn’t already been beaten to death (looking at you, “inbox zero” crowd), we can recommend a childish one: Signing solicitors up for spam.
If you do decide to go the petty route, “You’ve Got Spam”—a free email widget from MSCHF—has you covered. Upon installing the widget, you can configure it to respond automatically to incoming cold-marketing emails with tons of subscriptions to spam sources, thus resulting in overwhelming the sender with a crowded inbox and cultivating a potentially misplaced sense of catharsis for yourself.
The widget itself is fairly simple: You only need to install it to Gmail from the MSCHF website. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive an email from a person from whom you can safely assume you’ll never be receiving favors ever again, you can open it and click the “You’ve Got Spam” icon to sign the sender up for spam lists galore.
See? Petty, but effective.
The developer page does fail to make the distinction between the promised “100” subscriptions and the “hundreds of spam subscriptions” discussed on Product Hunt. But one can assume that anyone who dares trespass on the sacred grounds of your squeaky-clean inbox will rue the day they did so regardless of the exact number of cat litter magazine subscriptions they receive.
Of course, actually using something like “You’ve Got Spam” is, realistically, a poor choice. It takes exactly as much effort to type, “We’ll pass – thanks!” as a response to anyone cold-emailing you, and you’re substantially less likely to piss off the actual human being on the other side by doing so. Services like this are heavy on the comedic shock value, but the empathy side tends to lack a discernible presence.
That said, if you absolutely must wreck someone’s day—and inbox—MSCHF’s “You’ve Got Spam” is a pretty ingenious way to do it.
Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?
(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.
Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.
If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.
Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.
But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.
Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.
A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.
Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.
It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.
As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.
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