Our Top Gadgets from The Gadget Show Live 2016

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01 Apr 16

The Gadget Show Live officially opens its doors to everyone today, once again bring the latest gadgets to the NEC in Birmingham across a wide range of technical innovation. Here is our run down of the show, and our favourite gizmos from the event.

VR… VR & Drones Everywhere…

The one thing you really couldn’t escape at the show this year was Virtual Reality. Not only people selling the actual tech, but also using VR headsets to sell their own products. There was an awful lot of this going on…

VR was everywhere

VR was going on everywhere

In fact the first thing you run into at the show is a huge NVIDIA VR stand, which was incredibly popular. I was in at 11am on the trade day, and only just managed to grab a time slot, so if you go to the show and fancy trying the NVIDIA VR (it is worth seeing), head straight to the sign up queue before you do anything else! It was one of the most impressive VR experiences I’ve had. The demo opens with you standing under the sea on a shipwreck watching the sea life, then moves to working in an office (more fun than it sounds!), and ends with a shooter game. The set up was really easy and comfortable to use and very intuitive.

The other item to dominate the show this year was Drones. From tiny 2 inch micro drones to huge 3 foot wide monsters, there were drones of ever shape and size and at every price point, so if you fancy picking up something to spy on the neighbours, The Gadget Show has you covered!

Special Mentions

Bags by BLACK

Bags by BLACK

Before we get to our top gadgets of the show, there were a couple of products to which we wanted to give special mentions. First up, Bags by BLACK. As you know if you read last years article, here at Geektown we love a good bag, and Bags by BLACK make some really lovely and different laptop bags. Just really stylish, cool, and not at all what you normal get when you picture a laptop bag. They have 2 designs – The Buddi and Lexi, but it was the Buddi (pictured) that really caught my eye. Solidly made, comes in a wide range of colours, really comfortable to wear, and looks great.

Next up SuperMarinovation – The underwater jetpack!

Coming in at just over 2 grand, it’s not exactly going to be for everyone, but it’s still looks like epic fun to play with, and who wouldn’t want to pretend to be a superhero underwater!

VRGo

VRGo

Lastly I wanted to mention VRGo. Not a VR headset, but a chair which you can use to control your movement in a VR environment. One of the biggest issues with VR is space. As impressive as the NVIDIA set up was, the size of the room you’re in restricts how far you can move before running into a wall. The VRGo chair is a nice compromise of giving you the feeling your body controlling the movement, but you’re sat in one spot, so you’re not going to find yourself knocking over lamps or walking into walls. Lean forward to move forward, back to go back, spin around on the spot etc… It basically works like you’re sitting on the analog stick of a game controller. Simple but effective solution to the VR movement problem.

Geektown’s Top Gadgets of The Gadget Show 2016

3rd – SAM Labs

SAM Labs

SAM Labs

SAM Labs create wireless electronics kits which allow kids and adults alike to quickly and easily build simple to highly complex inventions. I’ve seen a number of companies try to crack a way of getting people into coding and building tech, but no one has come close to doing it with the elegance of the SAM Labs system.

You start by buying one of their kits, which comes with a number of wireless ‘blocks’ with a variety of functions. You then download their free ‘SAM App’ software, which has an incredibly easy to grasp ‘drag and drop’ system to allow you to get the blocks to interact with each other. From simply clicking a ‘button block’ to making a ‘light block’ turn on, to setting it to send out a tweet, to spinning a servo to move something. It can all be done without any need for any actual coding. However, if you do have some coding knowledge, you can use JavaScript to write your own custom routines and build whatever you can imagine. It’s a beautifully put together, and wonderfully intuitive system. It’s only real issue at the moment is price. At £69 for the cheapest kit, it’s possibly a little on the high side at the moment for a lot of people, but hopefully that will come down over time, as i’d love to see this product in the hands of a lot more people.

2nd – Playbrush

Playbrush

Playbrush

Over the years there have been lots of attempts at products to help teach children to brush their teeth correctly, but Playbrush turned towards an novel digital way to solve the problem. Playbrush is a device which pushes onto the bottom of any normal manual toothbrush turning it into a gaming controller. You can then boot up the Playbrush app on your phone or tablet, and it allows the child to play games which teaches them how to brush their teeth.

These aren’t some dry educational ‘teeth based’ games though. These range from flying games (brushing top teeth to go up, bottom to go down), to cartoony shooters (brush on the left side to shoot left, right side for right etc…) The clever thing is the games adapt to how the child is brushing, so for example, in the shooter game if they aren’t brushing the top teeth enough, more enemies come from the top. It’s a really nice solution to help make brushing teeth a fun activity for children (and I suspect, some adults!)

1st – Milo

Milo Toy

Milo Toy

Still in development, but the Milo toy was the one gadget that really stood out to us this year as new, innovative and different.

Developed by a young designer called Hannah Sage, it’s purpose is to help families where a parent is separated from the child for extended periods, such as being in the military or working abroad. Milo allows the absent parent to record video messages to a website whenever they have an internet connection – which is obviously not a constant thing for someone on deployment. The recorded messages are attached to tokens which can be hidden by the parent or caregiver at home, creating a fun treasure hunt activity for the child. Milo can give out clues as to where the tokens are hidden, and when the token is slotted back into Milo’s base station, the video message from the absent parent plays out on Milo’s face.

What we loved about Milo was it tackled an interesting problem in a wonderful and unique way. A parent being away from home can be really tough on families, and anything that can help bring them closer together gets our vote. Milo helps keep that connection between parent and child in a difficult situation in an engaging and fun way. We look forward to seeing Milo developed, and if you want to know more, just go to their website at milotoy.co.uk