Top 10 Gadgets of 2014
The start of a new year is a perfect time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past year and get excited about what’s to come in the future. In 2014, we saw countless new products with breakthrough technology and innovative ideas, combining gadgets and gizmos with new software to redefine convenience for millions of smartphone users. Some names that we’ve heard before, while others are fresh faces on the tech scene. I decided to compile a list of the coolest devices that Team WigWag thought stood out this year, including wearables, smart home devices, and—of course—the phablet.
Who says two is better than one? Whether you’re a busy exec who doesn’t have time to handle multiple devices or a college student with less cash to burn on expensive toys, phablets offer a great compromise, and 2014 was a banner year for the phablet craze. Apple released the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung had the Galaxy Note 4, LG the Optimus G Pro, and the list goes on. Bigger than a phone but smaller than a tablet, the phablet screen is optimized for better multimedia and graphic display and web browsing on the go, and consumers snatched them up like hot cakes in 2014. Sure, they may be a little big for your pockets, but with better processors and more storage than the average smartphone, the phablet doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but up. sigh... and I just got an iPhone 5S over the summer… Maybe there’ll be an iPhone 7 Plus in my future.
Humans spend about one third of their whole lives sleeping, so we might as well make the most of it, right? The creative team over at Hello based in San Francisco created the Sense system to do just that—and over 19,000 Kickstarter backers fell in love! Sense monitors your sleep through a Sleep Pill that attaches to your pillow and detects when you are sound asleep or tossing and turning. This allows Sense to track the stage of sleep you are in and use it to wake you at the ideal time, so that you don’t awake tired and sluggish, but awake refreshed and ready for the day. Sense also analyzes variables such as the light, noise, and temperature in your bedroom and gives you a sleep score each night out of 100 to show you how well you slept. Come to think of it, a nap sounds pretty good right now!….Zzzzzzz
GoPro continued to up their game in 2014 with one of the newest members to their line of durable compact cameras, the Hero4 Black and Silver. GoPros have garnered a lot of attention for their HD quality and lightweight, waterproof design that makes them perfect for shooting extreme action footage. You can mount them on a head strap or helmet for unique point-of-view shots, attach them to a dog harness for some fun footage of your furry friend, or mount them to a pole to take an epic selfie. Add Bluetooth connectivity, faster video frame rate (Black edition), and a built-in touchscreen (Silver edition) to GoPro’s existing list of features, and you have a powerful portable camera capable of delivering cinema-quality footage without the blockbuster cost.
So far, the creation of innovative wearables has largely focused on the wrist as the frontier for new ideas. Ringly breaks that mold by adding style and chicness to smart wearable technology and wrapping it all into a beautiful ring. Ringly’s collection of smart jewelry offers a convenient way to stay connected to what matters to you while you’re on the go—in five fashionable designs. Four different vibration patterns and five light colors correspond to different alerts to let you know when someone is calling you, when you receive a text message or email, or when you get a notification from one of your mobile phone apps. With Valentine’s Day coming up, Ringly sounds like the perfect gift for someone who is always leaving your phone around the house and the office (Ok…I’m guilty!). Pre-orders are open now for shipping this winter/spring, and this blogger is DYING to get her hands on one!
August Smart Lock
We’ve all been there: You’re running late and flying out the door to get where you need to be. As you are making your way through traffic, you suddenly ask yourself, “Did I lock the door?” You don’t have time to turn around and drive back home to check, but the thought of leaving your home unlocked for all the world to stroll into drives you crazy.
The August Smart Lock gives you peace of mind to control who you let in and keep out all from your smartphone or computer - and it’s keyless! Beta testing is currently underway for technology that will allow your August to unlock when you approach and lock itself behind you. Can I get a “Yes, PLEASE?!” It’s easy to install, and secure encryption and battery power make sure that your home is always safe, even if the power goes out. (Don’t worry - it will send you a notification when the batteries are low.)
Watches don’t just tell time any more, and although Pebble isn’t a brand new face in tech this year, Pebble Steel, released in early 2014, adds some extra flavor to the smartwatch. With its new, sharp, and fashionable take on the original Pebble, Pebble Steel maintains the features that consumers have come to love: waterproof, up to 7 days of battery life on a single charge, easily readable screen, and it displays your text messages, emails, and notifications right on your wrist. You can customize your Pebble with a variety of applications including fitness tracking, sports scores, social networks, and even some games—most of which are free. With your choice of leather or metal band, you can choose the Pebble Steel that fits your style and then never take it off… Just kidding! Or am I?
The Internet of Things (or IoT) has been a popular buzzword for techies in 2014, but what about the folks outside of the tech circle? LittleBits is designed to educate and inspire anyone young or old at any skill level to create their own smart devices. Their recently unveiled Smart Home Kit brings users into the home automation space by allowing them to retrofit any existing object or device in your home to make it “smart.” Spare yourself the hassle of tossing out your “dumb” devices and shopping for new ones - just add Internet-connectivity and start making your home smarter. The Kit comes with over 20 modules and accessories to start making your things smart—including an IR transmitter, light and temperature sensors, a button, a speaker, and more. Create sensors to make your lights come on when you get home, turn your smartphone into a remote control for your A/C, or make something totally new. LittleBits ever-expanding collection of modules means you have practically infinite possibilities to learn and build innovative new technology right from your own home. Make a fun family weekend out of it, and enjoy building things together!
Imagine you’re away from home for the week, and the refrigerator starts to leak and ruins your flooring. Water damage can wreak major havoc on your home (and your wallet), especially when it’s left undetected. Enter Wally - a home sensor system that detects water leaks, as well as changes in humidity and temperature (it works with Nest!) and notifies you when a problem is found. The WallyHome Kit comes with one hub and 6 sensors (additional sensors available to purchase) that you can place all around your home to protect your household from water damage by notifying you about small issues before they become big ones. Place one underneath the kitchen sink, behind the toilet, or anywhere else you want protection, and save the water works for an amusement park.
Gardening is a beautiful and rewarding hobby, and the Edyn system is designed to make it easy to monitor environmental conditions and keep your plants alive and healthy for longer. The Edyn Sensor analyses data collected about your garden’s soil as well as the surrounding light, temperature, and humidity to determine which plants will thrive best at what time of the year. The Sensor can also trigger the Edyn Water Valve if it determines your plants need to be watered, based on the moisture of the soil and the weather forecast. Notifications sent to your phone let you know when Edyn detects changes in the environment that may affect your garden, so you can make sure your plants and your garden continue to flourish. Get your green thumb ready and pre-order your own Edyn system just in time for spring showers and May flowers!
What do you get when you combine a wide-angle HD camera, motion sensor, and the technology to detect sound waves from anywhere in your home? You get Cocoon - the palm-sized, spherical security device designed to keep your home safe by providing live video and audio sent straight to your smartphone whenever something unusual is detected. Cocoon arms itself using your phone’s location to know when you’re away from home, and it learns what activity is normal for your household to avoid sending false alarms. The Leeds-based company had a successfully funded IndieGoGo campaign this year, and they are currently taking pre-orders for its second production run, which is scheduled to ship in February 2016.
What were some of your favorite gadgets from 2014?