By now the glimmer has undoubtedly faded from the stuff you found under your Christmas tree and you are being primed to find suitable replacements for these two-week-old, and hopelessly out-of-date presents. So, as I generally do this time of year, I present a treasure-trove of new gadgets that will make our lives complete–until at least this time next week.
I found this list in a December 29, 2017 (“back in the day”) Comparisons.org column by Dave Freeman, and it captures the spirit of what the new year will bring to all gadget lovers–of course, we should expect this list to be constantly changing as new gadgets yet undreamed of will inevitably appear on our wish lists.
First up, and appealing to our obsessions for tracking everything, is “TrackRBravo, an updated version of similar tracking devices already being marketed. Simply attach one of these coin-sized devices to all of of your favorite possessions and stop worrying about misplacing them. If it can locate missing socks in a dryer I will place my order immediately. “Even put one on your dog’s collar,” says the description. Although your pet might already have one of those implanted chips inserted under its skin, you might also want this extra protection. Hopefully before long we will able to implant one of these nifty little gadgets inside our skulls so we will never again worry about losing our minds.
If you are distrustful of auto mechanics, you will want to pick up “FIXD,” another small device that is linked to an app. Simply insert this into your car’s OBD port (if you can find this thing, which has apparently been installed on all post-1996 automobiles). This device plays into the current DIY trend that invites us to become experts on everything from medical care to plumbing. Needless to say, this gadget will not endear you to your mechanic.
My favorite item on the list is “Carbon Klean,” something that promises to “magically clean glasses with carbon technology.” Carbon is a popular buzzword and conjures up magical images in most people’s minds. This new item promises to clean your glasses much more efficiently that those pre-moistened pads that seem to dry out once they are removed from their packaging. The real selling point is that “even NASA uses it for lens cleaning.” And we know, or used to know, that NASA has ushered in the modern world, giving us everything from powdered breakfast drinks to teflon.
Two items by a company called iTAC have all sorts of potential to annoy just about anyone. The iTAC Flashlight has a LED beam that can cover an area as large as a football field, covering “thousands of feet.” This flashlight is very tough. You can “drop it, drive over it, and immerse it in six feet of water” and still use it. The iTAC Tactical Pen is more than just a writing instrument. It is also a “glass breaker, knife, and flashlight” (although probably not as powerful and potentially offensive as the flashlight previously described). Can it perform all these things at once?
Because we are a surveillance society, anything that allows us to monitor (i.e. spy) has instant appeal. If you are fascinated by all those police surveillance cams that appear on reality shows and the nightly news, you will want to install the DashCam 1080 HD on your car’s dash. How you might want to use this camera is the scary part. But no matter what you decide to watch, “no batteries are required, and you’ll never have to worry about the battery running out while you’re recording.” For your home, you will want the Snap SmartCam, which allows you to “keep an eye” on your children when you’re not at home–hopefully you are not planning to use this in your newborn’s nursery. But, wait there’s more. Not only is this a High-Definition video cam, but it also contains a handy phone charger. Why, we are not told. Maybe it also features a digital can opener and an Alexa/Siri voice assistant as well.
If you are paranoid about busting your smartphone’s screen, and are tired of attaching those bubbly and largely useless screen protectors, you will want to buy “WOWFixit Blass Protector.” This is a “space age” (NASA?) product called LiquidNano and when applied, “it forms an invisible, nearly impenetrable barrier that resists scratches, cracks, and even water!” Too bad it also resists touch. But it gives you such a great peace of mind.
If you are sick and tired of hearing all those car alarms going off when there is no apparently emergency, just wait until more and more people acquire the “Siren Song” personal alarm system. Apparently over 100,000 people already have one of these 130 decibel alarms that is described as “ear-piercing.” My prediction is that for every potential assault that is warded off, hundreds of false alarms will put our hearing at risk.
While these gadgets seem relatively benign, although at times pretty scary, we live in a world of algorithms that make our lives much less secure. In a recent New York Times article by Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the spellbing book THE GENE, we learn about “the dying algorithm” that may give us the ability to predict our time of death. He concludes his article with the confession that “I cannot shake some inherent discomfort with the thought that an algorithm might understand patterns of mortality better than most humans.” Let’s hope that some enterprising marketing genius doesn’t put this power into an app or a little device that has a phone charger built into it.
Before I experience a brain freeze, I will bring this column to an end while you place your orders for some of these products.
See you next week.