The first half of 2013 has been exciting in the tech world. From droolworthy smartphones to the world’s slimmest tablet, we’ve seen gadgets that have dazzled techizens. We pick eight superstar ideas, gadgets and concepts that have pushed the envelope.
1. Where’s the party tonight?
It takes design inspiration from the Swiss knife, is nearly as efficient and packs a mean punch in the kitchen as well. Packed with 10 essential tools that will help you mix a perfect drink, the Bar10der includes a knife, muddler, reamer, stirrer, zester, strainer, bottle opener, channel knife, corkscrew and jigger. Currently shipped only in the US and Canada, this has to top any decent party animal’s wish list.
2. Raise your glass
If seeing is believing, then we’d be hard pressed to find a cynic right now. All thanks to the Google Glass. Running on Android, this mind-boggling device comes with a 5-megapixel camera capable of recording 720p videos, is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled phone and offers 16 GB internal storage. And if the amount of opinion generated both for and against the Glass is any indication, Google already has a winner on its hands. It hits shelves by the end of the year.
3. Watch out
Often hailed as one of the “best buys of 2013”, this first-of-its-kind smart-watch developed by Pebble Technology was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of 2012. You can customise it with downloadable watch faces or try out apps built specially for it. Pebble also connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration about incoming calls, emails, tweets and messages.
4. Fine print
Truth be told, the concept of 3D printing isn’t new. Chuck Hill invented and patented solid imaging in the 1980s. So why are 3D printers the flavour of the season? Because it is only now that developers are understanding the potential of the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from digital designs. From scale models and prosthetic limbs to 3D-printed homes, the possibilities are endless. And to top it all, the devices are now becoming affordable.
5. Lock stock
You know of the smartphone war between Apple and Samsung, but who is winning the smart-lock race? Lockitron does seem to have a head start with an innovative device that allows for keyless entry using your phone. Expected to be launched soon, the device is compatible with almost every smartphone, and users can lock their homes from anywhere in the world using an intuitive two-button app. It also lets you see if your door is locked when you’re gone and will send a notification when anyone unlocks it using their phone or key.
6. Turn up the heat
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from experience, it is that there is premium value attached to gadgets that get things just right. And it is in this department that the Nest thermostat delivers. It understands the temperatures you like, learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills by 20 per cent. Decided to drop by early? Use your smartphone to adjust the temperature from kilometres away.
7. What a recovery
These days, we carry the world in our pockets. But what if the smartphone goes MIA? No need to press panic buttons, thanks to this USB-like device designed to retrieve data from iPhones (compatible with Mac and Windows OS) and Android phones. Originally developed in conjunction with law-enforcement agencies, the Enigma Recovery leaves no trace of its use on the device. You can recover deliberately deleted contacts, messages, call history, calendar and notes. How smart!
8. Spy story
This year, whistleblower Edward Snowden blew the lid off a secret NSA surveillance programme code-named PRISM. Apart from tracking phone calls within the US, it also taps directly into the servers of nine leading Internet companies: Microsoft, Skype, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, PalTalk, AOL and Apple. If the blatant spying on netizens around the world was not mind-boggling enough, Snowden’s escape from US soil and ensuing negotiations to seek asylum is nothing less than Hollywood blockbuster material.