A few days ago, Geektown had the pleasure of visiting The Gadget Show Live 2014 at the NEC in Birmingham. As with last year there where a number of interesting items on display, some practical, some just for fun. Here are the top 6 gadgets we saw at the show:
6. E-Bikes (Electric Bikes)
Last year you couldn’t move for 3D printers at the show. This year’s darlings appears to be the humble bike, but with a twist. There were a number of bike accessories and some foldable bikes, but the one that really caught my eye were the E-Bikes. The show had a big track set up so you could try out a number of battery operated electric bikes, which are essentially normal pedal bikes, but with a battery which can either assist you with your peddling, or take over completely.
It’s a slightly odd, but not unpleasant experience. On full battery power, it’s like free wheeling down a hill, but on the flat. Using it in assist mode is like having someone pushing you from behind. Like having some giant parent pushing you along, like they did when you learned to ride in the first place. The bikes are obviously a bit more expensive that your run-of-the-mill pedal bike, but they tend to get used a lot more, due to the fact the rider doesn’t have to worry about going out somewhere and not having the energy to pedal home again!
5. SunnyCam (Hands Free Video Camera)
I actually first saw the SunnyCam at ComicCon a few weeks back, when one of the photographers was wearing a pair of them to record footage (and if your reading this SunnyCam people, send a pair to Sleepy Hollow star Nicole Beharie as she was after a pair!) Put simply, they’re glasses with a HD video camera in them. No need for additional mounts, or things strapped to the side of your head. Just pop on the glasses and click the record button. They record 720p HD video on to a 16Mb SD card which slots into the arm of the glasses. All the controls are easily accessible via buttons on the top of the arm, and you get 3hrs recording time from a charge. They actually look pretty stylish too!
4. OneWheel (Electric Skateboard)
OneWheel is the world first self-balancing electric skateboard. Taking inspiration from Back To The Future 2’s hover board, they wanted to build an easy to use ride that felt like you were floating across the ground. What they came up with was a board which, although it doesn’t actually hover, still looks awesome and performs beautifully. The main wheel is like a mini F1 tyre, and you control the board by a switch under your front foot. They’re in the process of building the product right now, and are taking preorders on their website. Interestingly, they assumed it would just be used as a fun cool toy, but some of the business guys that are backing them have said they want them for the commute to work!
3. Technology Will Save Us (DIY electronics kits)
Technology Will Save Us create as sell these great little DIY electronics kits. From simple circuits that click together, to more advanced kits that require a bit of soldering, they’re wonderful ways to introduce kids to electronics and programming. Whether it’s creating speakers, musical instruments, or simple hand-held games, it’s a brilliantly put together, inspirational product that totally deserves a place on this list.
2. Tactus Smootch & VitriFender (Phone Covers)
As any regular reader of this site will know, we love phone accessories at Geektown, and the folk at Tactus had 2 which really caught my eye.
First up is the VitriFender screen cover. Pfhh… screen covers a screen cover you say? Not in this case… VitriFender is a piece of 0.4mm tempered glass, with a surface hardness of 8~9H. That means it’s 3 times stronger than your standard PET film. As I walked up to the stand, the sales guys was happily dropping 1 inch diameter ball bearings onto the screen from a fairly decent height without a mark being made on the phone. They even say you can take a knife to it and it won’t scratch!
The 2nd item is the Smootch. Made from ‘plubba’ (i swear i’m not making that up!), it’s a pliable rubber that has micro suction technology, allowing you to ‘stick’ your phone or pad to a smooth surface. At the show they had a number of them just ‘stuck’ to a plexiglass wall of the stand. You could take it off, and the cover itself is not sticky at all. Then just place it back to the wall, and it stays there. It’s like witchcraft!
1. 1stFone/OwnFone (Phone)
For me, this ingenious little device was the star of the show. It’s an easy to use, well built, small phone. Just the size of a credit card, about 0.5cm thick, and very light, you can have it pre-programmed with up to 12 numbers. No text, no apps. Just a phone that make voice calls to the people listed on it.
If you want to give a phone to your young child so you can call them, and they can call you, but don’t want them to have internet access or be able to run up huge bills, then you can give them a 1stFone, and it will only let them call the people programmed into it. Or if you have an elderly relative that struggles with technology, then an OwnFone will let them have a set of numbers they can call at the push of a button. You can even design the front to have photo buttons rather than names, or even have the letters in Braille for blind users. All the numbers are stored in a cloud, so if you need to change a number, just call them up, and they’ll change it there and then. If you need to change the names, you can get your phone re-printed (they’re 3D printed) for £10 with the new names or photos on them.
Prices for the phone start at a very reasonable £40, and kids (or big kids) can pick and chose from a number of colourful designs. You can even upload your own images to customise the cover. Contracts start at £7.50 a month, and also come on pay-as-you-go. It should in theory also be safer from theft. Apart from the fact it doesn’t really look like a phone, what would be the point of someone stealing a phone that can only call preset numbers?
A genius, simple, easy to use product, with a wide range of uses.