Last year was a spectacular year in tech - with a healthy mix of ups and downs - so I thought I'd do a quick retrospective blog on six of the many gadgets and gizmos I was most revved up by.
I've tried to list mostly ready-to-go-now inventions, although some might be available only this year - hey, something to look forward to! In no particular order of preference, here they are:
1. Robot building anyone?: EZ Robot
This may seem to you like the domain of an elite few, but EZ-Robot make it pretty easy - you don't need programming experience. Their robots learn using simple drag-and-drop behaviour software, and are built using EZ-Bits (physical building blocks sold to add new components and features) which allow for with customizable movements, abilities and appearances. Entertaining!
2. The visual prosthetics revolution: Argus II "bionic eye" implant
I'm incredibly inspired by the social impact of this one for the visually impaired (and so are TIME magazine and CNN who listed this device on their 'best inventions of 2013' roster). The Argus retinal prosthesis is an electronic retinal implant produced by Second Sight. The Argus II version launched this year, combining a retinal implant and an external eyeglass-mounted camera with a small processor. It aims to restore some degree of vision to those suffering from severe retinitis pigmentosa, a condition often leading to blindness. Game changing.
3. Extreme immersion - yeah!: Virtuix Omni (for the Oculus Rift)
Many of you will know of the Oculus Rift, a next-generation virtual reality headset designed for immersive gaming. The developers, Oculus VR, have raised US$91 million dollars to date, of which $2.4 million was raised with crowdfunding via Kickstarter. While the Oculus Rift was designed as the future of video gaming, many are excited about potential applications for training, simulations for work and education, virtual meetings and more. As a great complement to it, the Virtuix Omni is an omnidirectional treadmill for virtual reality games.
The Omni works like a controller replacement based on human movement, and I love the idea of being able to walk around naturally in the virtual environment of my favourite game in the near future.
I've been chatting with the founder Jan Goetelguk and convinced him to guest blog on the future of virtual reality gaming - take a look here.
4. Wearable tech meets Biometrics: Nymi
Last year, a small Toronto-based outfit called Bionym announced a biometric ECG bracelet -Nymi - which really impressed. It uses an embedded electrocardiogram sensor to identify you, recognising your unique ECG pattern and then directly communicating with mobile devices as a replacement for passwords and PINs. Slipping it onto your wrist powers it on, then placing a finger on the sensor while your wrist is in contact with the bottom sensor completes the electrical circuit. At the time of writing, Nymi was available to pre-order, shipping in early-2014.
On my wish list.
5. And one for Ze Creatives: 3Doodler
The world's first 3D printing pen has to be seen to be believed. Using ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers), the 3Doodler can draw in the air or on surfaces to produce a 3D object in a variety of colors. As 3Doodler draws, it extrudes heated plastic, which quickly cools and solidifies into a strong stable structure. I love that it makes 3D printing accessible to anyone who can doodle, and is much more affordable than a full 3D printer!
6. Verification gets really personal: The Edible Password Pill
While still a prototype, I'm amazed by the potential of Motorola's ingestible FDA-approved vitamin pill (more here) that transforms your entire body into your own authentication system.
(above image courtesy psfk.com)
Made by Proteus Digital Health, the pill creates an individual 18-bit signal that would be detectable by devices like your phone and computer. Too much or too cool?
If you want to check out more of my innovation-themed blogs, try the Hub.