A few years from now, people might reminisce about a time when they watched movies on screens and manually closed their bedroom curtains. Fortunately, 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.
These innovative gadgets, however, aren’t only for wealthy corporations to enjoy. Many companies are creating innovative gadgets for everyday consumers as well. Here are 10 innovative gadgets built to make consumers’ lives easier in the next years.
1. Microsoft HoloLens
Until recently, holograms have largely belonged to the world of science fiction and Iron Man movies. 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.
2. Myo Gesture Control Armband
Dubbed “The Next Generation of Gesture Control,” Myo is an armband full of motion and muscle sensors that is able to pickup on the “electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control” your electronics via Bluetooth. According to the company, the device will work with Windows and Mac OS, with iOS and Android support coming soon. We’re not futurists, but if we were to guess at how we will control our home in the future, it looks very similar to this.
3. Meta Augmented Reality
Meta provides holographic glasses that see through display and allow users to see, create and interact with digital objects shown in physical space. The company has shipped its first product, the Meta 1 Developer Kit after a $194k very successful Kickstarter campaign that ran in June 2013 (read here). Coupled with independent funding, they raised a total of $2 million by the end of the campaign.
Last month, January 2015, Meta announced a successful Series A funding round. During this round, the company raised $23 million from venture capitalists. Now, over 1500 developers and companies such as the world’s largest architecture firm Arup, Salesforce and Stanford University based company, SimX are building augmented reality applications with its SDK.
4. 3D Bioprinting Machines
We know that 3D printing technology can be used to do more than make odd plastic trinkets. Thanks to a group of bioengineers around the country, we now know that the technology can also be used to develop human tissue. Dubbed Bioprinting Machines, these devices can build patches of skin, blood vessels, and cartilage using living cells.
Though years away from clinical use, one company, Organovo Inc., has already released a commercial 3D bioprinter that cost “several hundred thousand dollars each,” according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s not the hardware that’s holding the technology back, however, Hod Lipson of Cornell’s Creative Machine Lab, says, “We have machines that can make almost anything, but we don’t have the design tools/ In bioprinting, there is no computer-aided design software for body parts.”
5. Drinkable Water Billboard
In 2013, it seems advertising is needed about as much as clean water. So it’s refreshing to see one company work to combine the two. Located in Luma, Peru, and developed by The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) and ad agency Mayo DraftFCB, the billboard is able to produce around 26 gallons of water a day using five filtration devices and Lima’s extremely humid air. The billboard is designed to not only provide water to Peru’s largest city-one in which 1.2 million residents don’t have running water, but to also encourage kids to apply to the UTEC and study engineering.
We know: Having an airline lose your luggage is not the worst thing in the world, but it still sucks. GlobalTrac aggress. The company this year released its TrakDot luggage tracker, which allows you to use your phone or tablet or computer to see exactly where your bags are. All you do is slip the device into your luggage, and then fire up the app. Now if it could only figure out how to get your lost luggage back to you, that’d be great.
7. Tooth Sensor
No one likes going to the dentist, even if it’s just for check-up. Scientists at Princeton and Tufts have been working a thin tooth sensor that may limit the amount of times you need to get your teeth checked. The sensor would alert you (and/or your dentist) when it detects any bacteria that could cause cavities, plaque buildup, or any other infections.
The researchers say the sensor shows great promise: in tests on eight people with a prototype implant installed in their dentures, the system recognised oral activities correctly 94 per cent of the time.
8. Leap Motion
The Leap Motion Controller senses how you naturally move your hands and lets you use your computer in a whole new way. Point, wave, reach, grab. More than that The Leap Motion Controller doesn’t replace your keyboard, mouse, stylus, or trackpad. It works with them, and without special adapters. The Leap Motion is available for £65 (€89.99).
9. Personal Robot
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.
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 don’t need to 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 recognise, and possibly eliminate, the disturbances that wake them or lead to light, restless sleep.