By: Steve Blakeman, Managing Director, Global Accounts, OMD, UK
Well it’s almost that time of year again when every other advert is about toys, turkey or tinsel and we begrudgingly accept that we might need to start our holiday shopping. So to give you a little help I’ve been online trawling for three of the best tech based gifts for 2017.
In a world awash with voice activated speakers, ever smarter smartwatches, more sophisticated drones and ultra-high definition TV screens I’ve decided to focus on some of the more unusual technology on offer this year…
Taclim VR Shoes
Previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, these sneakers use haptic feedback to simulate a variety of surfaces that you walk over. I tried the technology for myself and it was remarkably lifelike whether the surface was meant to be sand, gravel or even water. Kicking out at a monster also had a gratifying thud when your foot connected with the virtual beast. I can see how the technology could be adapted for all types of sports-based gameplay although the shoes will need to be heavily modified before that happens. The cost of the initial iteration is around $1500 but be warned, there is very little compatible software available for your new kicks.
We are all a little obsessed with voice activation right now. But what if you don’t want to talk? Or maybe you have a sore throat? Then Bixi is your solution because it recognizes hand gestures which will then control various devices either in your home or in the car. By swiping up, down, left or right you can control your music, make a phone call or select the sat nav. Because Bixi is also compatible with a whole series of smart home devices such as Phillips Hue and Apple TV you can dim your lights and select which movie you want to watch all with a couple of hand movements. With a little practice I’m sure you could develop some pretty intricate ninja moves to simply set your Spotify Christmas playlist going. It works via a Bluetooth connection and hence doesn’t require an internet connection to work so it’s simple to set up and use. And the real bonus? It’s only $69.
Possibly the cutest home robot on the market is the $800 Kuri which is designed as a mobile entertainment device which can play back your favourite music tracks via inbuilt Bluetooth speakers but Kuri’s party trick is that it can also dance along to the tune as well. Well, I say dance, but it’s more of a shuffle as only the head and body can rotate.
Kuri is also able to watch over the family and capture candid moments with its HD video recording capability. The robot also has facial recognition software and if, for example, a child is crying Kuri can play some soothing music to calm them down. The 20-inch-high bot can also be used to interact with your pets to keep them entertained, though given Kuri has no arms I can’t see how it is going to throw a ball for my pooch. Although Kuri doesn’t speak it apparently has a cheery demeanor according to its makers and will delight its owners with a series of electronic beeps and lights akin to R2D2.
So what will be on your shopping list for this year? Are you going for this year’s big sellers such as the Amazon Echo 2, Apple iPhone X or Google Daydream VR unit? Or do you fancy going for something a little more left-field like the Taclim, Bixi or Kuri? Well, as a self-confessed tech head, I know what I’m going for. All of it.