Welcome, dear readers, to a new installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a fresh peek at gadgets hurtling down the pipeline toward our homes.
On the docket this time around are a motivational wearable device, a smart yoga mat, a golfer-focused smartwatch, a drone with a difference, and a way to stop food from going bad.
As always, these aren’t reviews — partly because some of these items are nowhere near market-ready yet — and the ratings denote only my interest in actually using them.
I’m the first to admit I struggle with motivation sometimes. Why actually bother to do anything at all when my couch is so darn comfortable, I often ask myself. Pavlok (pictured above) wants to jolt people like me into action. Literally.
Affix the device to your body and its makers promise it will shatter bad habits and form positive ones through beeps, vibrations and electric shocks.
They insist it can help slovens wake up early (great! I’m terrible at that) and eat better (fine, but I’m not giving up cream cheese) among other healthy habits.
The trouble is, I despise the sensation of electricity zapping my skin. I once tried a muscle-toning device on a low setting and lasted for about two seconds before tearing off the nodes. Give me the splattering of hot oil on my arm while cooking before a static shock.
Shocks give me an intensely awful feeling, and I would absolutely be eager to avoid shocks in order to get things done. The only problem is I’m so motivated not to feel electric shocks, I have little motivation to actually buy this. It seems far too risky.
Rating: 2 Out of 5 Buzzes
Speaking of motivation, I am somewhat interested in taking up yoga, though the prospect of contorting one’s body amid a group of strangers is off-putting.
SmartMat has slipped a bunch of sensors inside a yoga mat, and it connects to a smartphone or tablet to provide advice on how to perfect poses while guiding you through a workout.
The only time I’ve tried yoga was on the Wii Fit Balance Board some years ago, so I can see the value of plugging tech into the most peaceful of physical activities and getting some direction on one’s poses.
That said, I am concerned I would develop bad habits without having the guidance of a professional teacher, at least until I understood the basics. The price tag is also a steep hurdle: there’s a US$297 early bird special for IndieGoGo backers, but those who pick up the SmartMat at retail will have to fork over $447.
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Downward-Facing Dogs
Golfer GPS Watch
Having a solid gimmick is one way for a gadget to get noticed, and TomTom’s take on the smartwatch certainly grabbed mine.
The Golfer GPS Watch is designed to help golfers play better, by tracking exact distances to hazards and the green, and tracking information about the player’s round, thanks to a tethered smartphone.
It doesn’t seem to do much outside of that — TomTom surely could have added some notifications functions, for instance — so it seems a little pricey at $199.
There are more versatile smartwatches around, and golfers can find the same information on their smartphone.
Since I am no golfer and this column covers what I care about, I am inclined to give this a low rating. Nice idea though, TomTom! It might make a nice gift.
Rating 2 Out of 5 Birdies
The basic pitch is enough to make the staunchest of wearable-skeptics sit up and take notice.
The flexible arms of the Nixie drone wrap around one’s arm when not in use. Toss it in the air and it will soar upwards, detect where you are, and use its camera to film you.
It’s one for people who enjoy adventurous sports, solo hikes, or capturing themselves from odd angles. For me, it’s a way to live out my childhood dreams of dispatching mesmerizing gadgets from my wrist la Batman.
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Surveillance Images
These smart food containers are right up my alley. I’m perhaps a little too trusting of food that’s lingered at the back of a fridge for a week or more, relying on my insensitive nose to tell me whether it’s still good or not.
Once you scan into a smartphone app the QR codes embedded in these containers and input the type of food, Cuisinart SmarTrack will alert you when something is about to become entirely unappetizing.
There’s little fundamentally groundbreaking about these containers and yet they manage — if they work as promised — to accomplish the one thing every piece of technology should strive for: to make our lives better and easier.
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Spoiled Soups