While virtual reality, or VR, tends to steal all the headlines, there are so many gifts that expand the user’s world. VR can immerse the user in a new world. But other options give users better insight into their own worlds. These gadgets track steps, record backflips or block out unwanted sound. What makes them excellent gifts is these “toys” allow users to explore the world in a new way.
Although we’ve been hearing about wearable sensors for a while, they are just getting better and better. We’ve moved beyond counting steps on a belt-worn pedometer to counting laps in a swimming pool with a fitness watch. People can track their sleep patterns and heart rate on phones or watches. With this data, users can self-diagnose issues (like trouble sleeping) and make changes to improve their lives. The space is still expanding, as Google threatens to reveal its own smartwatch and FitBit teases users with a “new form factor” coming out later this year.
How do drones expand a user’s reality? Have you ever seen how you land a kick-flip while skateboarding? Wouldn’t that be useful information to know? Many of the latest drones are focused on recording the user. With these drones, people can see how they ski, snowboard, run or bike. Then they can share their best moves with their friends. The self-recording drones are only the latest trend. A recent Kickstarter called AirBlock (that raised over $800k) promised a modular drone by February 2016. Submersible and waterproof drones are just around the corner. Sure, just like all technology products on the market today, drones had their problems when they first came out. But if you’ve been watching the drone reviews over the past couple of years, even the extremely affordable drones are becoming very reliable.
Noise Filtering Earbuds
While most of us have been blocking out all sound with noise-cancelling headphones, a new company has been developing a more advanced product. The Here earbuds, which also got their start on Kickstarter, promise to filter out background noise, but still allow conversations to come through. Users can actually select what they want to listen to. It’s the next level of noise-cancelling headphones, which have been a popular gift in past years.
For those that are more interested in leaving reality than augmenting it, virtual reality gear is coming to many devices in 2017. The options are expanding. There is standalone VR gear, like the Oculus Rift. Other devices work in tandem with phones, gaming consoles or computers. Microsoft has teased about a VR option for Microsoft 10 devices. While the price can still be steep, there will be more VR options in 2017. If you want one as a gift, it’s more likely your friends will be able to find one that fits within their budget later this year.
All of these devices have been around for years, but advanced technology and decreasing prices have made them more accessible, and more likely to hide under the Christmas tree when next winter rolls around.