A slump in economic climate inevitably inspires a whole new level of creativity from an assembly of competent entrepreneurs, leading to profitable economic times and booming businesses. It is part of a natural cycle. The superiority of automation and technology that exists on the globe today has freed us from the bonds of putting all our efforts into basic survival. We have time on our hands for expanding our mental horizons and according to the marketplace, far more disposable income than ever before. As technology moves forward in quantum leaps and bounds it unceasingly delivers us gadgets and toys that improve our quality of life and give us plenty of entertainment value. Here are some of the most interesting gadgets (some not quite on the market yet) you will want to have the moment you know they exist…
Electronic Grocery Tags
This is a gadget for shopping soon to be available that will potentially speed up the amount of time you spend a checkout counter at the grocery store. It’s a radio frequency identification tag for groceries being developed by researchers from two universities – South Korea’s Sunchon National University and Houston’s Rice University. The tag incorporates semiconducting ink containing carbon nanotubes for printing electronics on plastic and paper that will emit a radio frequency. A frequency detector at the checkout instantly detects everything in your cart so you get to walk out with your cart in seconds flat, especially if you remembered to bring your own “green” canvas shopping bags and pack your items at your car. This is the same technology currently being used with passports that allow travelers to instantly pass through airport security check points. If you don’t like the idea of your food broadcasting inside your pantry, the radio waves can be blocked by covering the tags with aluminum foil.
LED Light Cake Tray
Ever suffered through the embarrassment of baking a perfectly scrumptious, triple-layer chocolate cake for your dinner guests but totally botch it when you try to slice the correct number of pieces? This gadget for bakers is your savior. It’s a 12-inch cake tray with LED lights that show you exactly where to make the slice. After pressing the power button it gives you the option of 2 to 12 slices. (FYI – do the math; the lucky people using the 2-slice option get a 6-inch piece of cake.) This amazing tray includes a spinning feature that helps guide your hand while topping it with icing. It also plays a chipper rendition of “Happy Birthday” if you are a person unwilling to sing out loud in public. The cake tray is sold through Amazon for about $40 US.
Pet lovers understand the feeling of degradation that happens when someone uncouthly accuses them of having stupid goldfish. Now you can prove them wrong and keep them quiet forever. The Fish School is a training gadget for goldfish, guppies and other small species that teaches them to do rather impressive tricks. Based on a trial and reward method you will soon have your fish swimming through hoops, playing football and eating out of your hand. It comes with an excellent instruction DVD and detailed written instructions. You could have guessed it’s available at “iwantoneofthose.com” for £24.99.
Flexible Solar Panels
Admit it – you would not mind getting more exercise and fresh air but the thought of being outdoors long enough to run out of charge on your cell phone or laptop computer weighs more heavily on your mind than the extra pounds you need to lose. There is a solution! Flexible or foldable solar panels were created for people that like to hike, backpack, fish or sail the open waters but cannot live without their portable electronic devices. The panels can roll or fold up into a tight, neat package and easily tossed into a bag or a backpack. They are made for rugged use and come with lengthy extension cords and attachments for easily charging 12V batteries. This is enough juice to run your electronics and laptops. “Flexsolarcells.com” sells them through eBay and Amazon anywhere from $80 to $3,000 US.
While this is no replacement for a live barmaid, the Heineken Bot does have appeal for bar patrons even if they don’t drink Heineken. The robot, designed by the super techies at Middlesex University, drifts around the bar top on sturdy wheels waiting to serve those in need. It cheerfully dispenses a full cup of lager to the patron that waves his/her hands above it head. A sonar sensing device on the droid lets it know it has a customer. It is not currently sold to individual consumers, but you can contact your Heineken distributor if you are a bar owner.
Touch Screen Skin
Touch screen computer fanatics will be thrilled to know research has taken the “touch” concept to a whole new level. Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft’s Redmond research lab have teamed up and are working on a prototype system dubbed “Skinput” that uses your skin as the screen and input device. A micro-sized pico projector (used in handheld devices) embedded in an armband projects images on the user’s hand or forearm. When the user taps on an image the device acoustically determines which icon has been touched and activates it. In effect your own body becomes your computer screen. The technology is still in early stages of development.
Ultimate Lounge Chair
The ability to relax after a long, hard day at the office has become the focus of entrepreneurs attempting to grab a portion of the ever-growing basket of disposable income. Hammacher Schlemmer does it best. It manufactures the Vibroacoustic Relaxation Lounger that cannot be beat, even if you feel like you have been. It sends low frequency sound vibrations through the lounge chair’s mattress for soothing the mind and body. It comes with headphones that play calming music or any music of your choice through a CD or MP3 player. The soft foam cushion contours to your body, surrounding you in total comfort. It sells for just under $2,000 US.
USB Coffee Warmer
Here is a gadget that will make you very happy if you have a laptop computer and drink hot beverages. That would be most of us right? It is a “plug & play” USB powered coffee warmer that keeps your coffee, tea or hot cocoa steaming. There is no driver required for this nifty little gadget; simply plug it into a convenient USB port on your laptop and away you go. On the flip side, if you prefer chilled beverages there are refrigeration models available that keep your drink cold. Either model is usually available through Amazon or eBay for around $10 unless they are out. It is one of those things you just “have to have.”