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The Shiny Shiny team were invited to The Gadget Show Live 2014 event at the Birmingham NEC yesterday and we went along armed with a camera and a tonne of questions ready to grill the top tech companies about their latest products.

Although there were no big launches, and many of the gadgets have been featured here on Shiny Shiny already, it was a great chance to have a hands-on with some of the latest tech that we've only seen in press shots up until now.

Throughout the day we saw so many gadgets, but here are our top picks, featuring health and fitness wearables, pet wearables, cool DIY gaming kits and the most beautiful headphones we've ever seen.

Fitbug Orb


The Fitbug Orb, a tiny, disk-like fitness tracker, has been on the market for a few months, but The Gadget Show gave us a great chance to see how it compares to similar trackers on the market. We found that it's light, compact and most importantly can be worn with both a wrist strap and a belt clip. We're hoping to get our hands on a Fitbug Orb to review soon, so watch this space!

Technology Will Save Us DIY Gamer Kit


Technology Will Save Us is a truly awesome company dedicated to empowering anyone to make their own tech. At The Gadget Show, the Technology Will Save Us team were showing off a number of their DIY kits, and we thought the DIY Gamer Kit was the most fun. The kit allows complete beginners to learn the basics of constructing and programming their own basic, mini games console.

Garmin Vivofit


The Vivofit wrist band is Garmin's consumer-focused fitness tracking product (it also makes a lot of high-end trackers specifically for runners and athletes). The great thing about the Vivofit is it's an advanced tracker in a small and flexible band that actually feels really comfortable when you try it on. It's different to competitors like the Jawbone Up and the Fitbit Flex because it's got a huge LED screen. For some people this will look a little ugly and OTT, but for those who want to know how they're doing throughout the day and don't want to keep checking their smartphone, it's ideal.

Parrot Zik


I rarely swoon over tech and care much more about how gadgets feel and work, but even I was blown away by how amazing Parrot's Zik headphones look. It's no surprise they look good considering they're designed by Philippe Starck, a French designer known for his interior and product design innovations.

But enough of how they look and onto the tech that's packed inside them. The Parrot team was keen to show off the device's new high performance noise-cancellation system, which promises to cancel out more than 99% of ambient noise.

Another great feature of the Zik headphones is that you can activate basic controls by swiping across the cup, you can slide your finger vertically to adjust the volume and horizontally to skip to the next track.

I put the headphones to the test - see my awkward selfie below - and not only do they look a little more subtle than I expected once they're on (they are bright white and shiny gold after all), but they're incredibly comfortable and the noise cancelling tech inside them meant my music had a lot of depth and clarity despite being in the middle of a crowded show floor.


Fitbit Flex


It's one of the top contenders in the fitness tracking space and the Fitbit Flex certainly didn't disappoint in the flesh. The gadget gets a huge thumbs-up from Shiny Shiny because it's flexible and feels comfortable on the wrist, has a very basic LED light functionality that tells you how you're doing throughout the day and of course syncs up to Fitbit's comprehensive dashboard.

For those looking for something a little more advanced, the Fitbit Force is a device with a larger screen that'll serve up even more information about your day.



Sick of reading about wearables for your wrist? Well this one isn't for you, it's for your dog. Fitbark started its life out on Kickstarter, and after smashing its funding goal it's been developed into a compact wearable that straps onto your pet's collar. The idea is that really we're all aware of how much activity we've had during a day if we're paying attention to our movements, right? But a lot of the time we're not so sure what our dogs have been getting up to. The Fitbark solves that problem by tracking movements 24/7 and then serving up insights via an app.

iHealth Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker


iHealth's activity tracking offering may not look as slick and well-designed as the likes of the Jawbone Up or Fibit Flex, but it's a much cheaper offering for those who can't splash the cash to get fit. It tracks your steps and activity throughout the day, as well as painting a pretty accurate picture of your sleep. It's another one that can be worn on a belt clip or on your wrist - this means the wrist straps look quite basic, but does give you the freedom to mix it up depending on where you prefer to keep the tracker or what you're going to be doing throughout the day.

There's not long to go now until Mother's Day here in the UK (it's Sunday the 30th of March you terrible human being), so we've collected together some last-minute gift ideas for those in a panic about what to buy.

We know that not all mums are the flower-loving kind, but these Ted Baker cases provide your iPhone with a decent level of protection, as well as looking all cute and floral.

We've been trialling the Susu case (on the right) for the past few weeks and it's got us a tonne of compliments and survived a fair few (OK twenty) falls onto concrete.


Ted Baker iphone cases from Proporta from £24.95.

We know, we know, buying many mums a fitness tracking bracelet might seem like a not-so-subtle hint that they need to get into shape, but we couldn't resist adding the all new Jawbone Up24 tracking bracelet to the list.

For those into health and fitness it's a mid-range option that will track your activity levels, steps and sleep, as well as providing you with motivational goals and tips throughout the day.


Jawbone Up 24 from Amazon, Apple and John Lewis from £125.

If your mum likes coffee but just sticks with an old machine or (shock horror) the instant stuff, then you can pick up a decent and multipurpose machine from John Lewis for under £100.

We like this one from Lavazza, which allows you to create all kinds of hot drinks at the touch of a button and comes in bright red.


Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Coffee Machine by AEG from John Lewis for £69.95.

If your mum isn't the type to stalk you online, then share what you've been up to with a personalised Instagram poster. Many companies allow you to create your own Instagrammable merchandise, but we like these simple (and fairly cheap) poster options from Firebox.


Instagram Poster from Firebox for £19.99.

The second Jawbone product of the list, meet the Mini JAMBOX speaker. It's a pocket-sized, lightweight Bluetooth speaker that pairs with a range of devices and comes in a choice of bright colours.


Jawbone Mini JAMBOX Speaker from the Apple store for £129.95.

ideal-home-show-big.jpgThis week the Shiny Shiny team were invited along to the Ideal Home Show at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre in London.

After hours getting lost in the maze of smart tech products, treehouses that looked like huge spiders and a sickeningly pink health and beauty section, we've managed to pick out just five things we learnt during the show.

Unlike big tech events there were no huge launches to shout about, but plenty of gadgets, exhibitions and accessories dedicated to making your life just a little bit easier.

1. Virgin Media wants to be the key to the connected home

Virgin Media put on a flashy show detailing all of the new products hitting the market that will bring us the smartest most connected homes imaginable. Of course the whole point was to prove how great Virgin's high speed broadband is, but that didn't stop us from being introduced to Jamie Oliver's HomeCooker that stirs itself and the team at WiFi Plug...

2. The WiFi Plug is a smart, simple and cheap way to control your home from your phone

As part of the Virgin Media demonstrator's performance about the connected home, the WiFi Plug played a key role because it's just such a simple but smart way of controlling what goes on inside your house. Simply purchase a WiFi Plug (or a dozen of them for even more control) and you can then decide when to turn it on and off remotely via a dedicated app and easy-to-use labelling system.

It sounds really basic but there are so many possibilities - controlling a fan from your bed, turning off the kid's TV after an hour, switching on a lamp at home while you're on holiday for a few hours to deter burglars... The list really is endless.

3. Tree houses are still really cool - even after you've grown up

quiet-mark-treehouse.jpgIf you visit the Ideal Home Show this year you'll see that The Quiet Treehouse is the star, towering above all over the exhibitors like some kind of giant, friendly spider. It's a pretty impressive structure in itself, but inside there's lots going on too. The treehouse has been made by a partnership between Quiet Mark and John Lewis to evolve our understanding of sound quality and development.

Sounds cryptic, right? Well Quiet Mark is a not-for-profit that aims to make the world a quieter, calmer place by reducing the noise of household tools and appliances and giving its universal symbol of approval for manufacturers who play by its quiet rules. John Lewis is getting involved because Quiet Mark will be deeming loads of the department store's electrical products as "ear-friendly" or something more technical.

The Quiet Treehouse itself was built specially to keep out the noise of the really busy trade show and achieved that in style, as the interior was kitted out with John Lewis furnishing and a tonne of amazing tech products.

4. Bose is still the boss when it comes to sound

bose-sound-link.jpgSeasoned Shiny Shiny readers may remember our encounter with the awesome Bose SoundLink Mobile Speaker back in 2011. Since then, the audio specialists have launched the SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III, an audio device that seamlessly pairs up with your phone via Bluetooth and lasts up to 14 hours on a single charge. We put the speaker to the test with the guys at Bose and were (kinda literally) blown away by the depth and clarity of the sound.

5. When your phone runs out of juice it really isn't the end of the world

Admittedly more of a gadget for on-the-go than in the home, Ye!!'s Energy Pocket has been around for a few months now. However, it's still a winner for fast recharging on-the-move as it's super light and pocket-friendly at 87g, packs enough power to charge your phone 1.5 times, and looks bright and colourful while it's at it.

the-miracle-machine-big-image.jpgThe Miracle Machine manages to be miraculous and completely ridiculous at exactly the same time.

It's a wine-loving megalomaniac's dream, simply add ingredients and water into the device, download the MM app, connect it up to your phone via Bluetooth and then a sudden puff of magical smoke (and a few days) later you'll have turned water into wine.

On The Miracle Machine website the team state that they're keeping the tech behind the gadget secret, but hint that the magic is all thanks to "an array of electrical sensors, transducers, heaters and pumps".

At around $500 for everything you need, the wine-making device certainly isn't cheap and we also wouldn't want to bet the stuff you end up creating is particularly tasty. But for those with money to burn, a weird desire for omnipotence and a thing for super-connected appliances, The Miracle Machine might be worth showing off at your next dinner party.

The Miracle Machine will be seeking funding on Kickstarter soon.

According to Mashable, it was all just a big hoax to get people to pay more attention to a not-for-profit organisation called Wine to Water. The original story was picked up by more than 600 media outlets around the world because it's actually not that much of a crazy hoax - you CAN make wine at home, it just would usually take more than a few days.

mwc-hola-big.jpgSo MWC is over for another year! And the world's mobile bigwigs have left the tapas bars and headed home. But what caught our eye at this year's exhibition? Here are ten things we learnt this week.


1 By far the sexiest item at the show was the Samsung Gear Fit - With its curved AMOLED screen this is how I'd imagine that the iWatch will look. It also works with any Samsung Galaxy phone which potentially gives it a very wide reach. The jury is out though on how useful it will be. It is not as highly specified as the Galaxy Gear 2 or other fully specified smartwatches, so you can read messages but not respond to them. For fitness types the heart rate monitor and its accompanying software is handy, though annoyingly it doesn't measure your heart rate on a 24 hour basis. So Samsung have created a stunning design, but the rest of the Fit is a bit of a work in progress.

sony xperia z2.jpg

2 The Sony Xperia Z2 has an amazing screen - Sony's next generation smartphone has a significant wow factor in the clarity and resolution of its screen. That camera looks very impressive too. More on it here.


3 Nokia's X Series cheapo Android phones might do surprisingly well - Kudos to the company for doing that it perhaps should have done a year ago and launch Android phones. The new mobiles, the X, X+ (which both have a four inch screen) and XL (five inch screen) should appeal to the millions who still have a soft spot for the Nokia brand but can't afford larger and higher spec phones. The Windows style tile system makes it easy to use too, and that price, shame though about a relative iffy camera.


4 Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2 watch has a great camera - The jury is also out on the new Samsung Galaxy Gear watch, but this time it works with any Galaxy phone - the original was Note 3 only - and the camera is actually rather good for a two mega pixel jobbie. I bet this fella fancies one.


5 The cheesiest ad of the week winner is this... - Just what is he doing with his hand?


6 Samsung are being a bit over protective of the S5 - Rather odd really as the phone didn't appear at the main show and was only available for viewing to the privileged few behind closed doors.


7 Curved screens, you can keep them - LG seem to be fighting a losing battle in convincing punters and the industry of the merits of curved screens as featured on its G Flex six inch screen mobile. They might apparently be much better for viewing video with superb colour saturation, but no one seems too interested.


8 Ford are doing some very clever things with the car dashboard - Its AppLinks platform is starting to roll out across Europe and there just huge potential to customise phone apps so that make getting information or entertainment easier for the driver. The voice controlled Spotify app works very well and Glympse could prove to be highly useful.


9 The smartphone might just be about to hit an innovation buffer. We have now had innovative apps, bigger screens, ever higher quality cameras. However a lot of the secondary brands launches Huawei (whose seven inch phone/tablet hybrid the MediaPad X1 is pictured), Lenovo etc at MWC had a decidedly similar feel to them. And how much of leap is the Samsung Galaxy S5 on from the S4? Maybe smartphone tech is hitting an innovation wall.


10 MWC is still The Olympics for petty criminals - All those phones and tablets, all those industry types on a bender down the Ramblas, and half of the best pickpockets from southern Europe. Barca's police must really hate MWC.


It may look a little like an unfinished circuit board, but this cute device is called an Ototo. It's a small synthesizer that you can play with your fingers or hook up to other conductive objects, like fruit, paper, metals... The list of things you can turn into a musical instrument is pretty much endless.

Designed by Dentaku for creative types that are into music (not super techie geeks or programmers), the Ototo uses sensors, inputs and touchpads that can be hooked up to different surfaces with the help of crocodile clips.

The simple nature of the Ototo means users can really let their imaginations run wild, using the kit to just have fun attaching the clips to weird and wonderful objects, prototyping a new controller idea or creating an interactive sound installation.

The team doesn't just throw an Ototo your way and expect you to go it alone either (but you totally can if you'd like), Dentaku also runs workshops dedicated to collaboration and sharing musical creativity amongst like-minded individuals.

The Dentaku team has been looking for funding on Kickstarter in order to turn the Ototo musical dream into a tuneful reality. Fortunately they've already surpassed their funding goal of £50,000, but with another few days left to go you can still pledge £45 for your own Ototo Pack, containing a board, 12 crocodile clips and a guide to get you up and running.


Exciting new startup Cuff and its range of sparkly accessories proves that personal security systems have come a long way since the days of bulky rape alarms.

Cuff consists of three different things, the CuffLinc, which is the Bluetooth brains behind the whole system, Cuff jewellery and the Cuff iOS app.

The idea is that people will slot the CuffLinc into their Cuff jewellery (there's a special little slot for it), then if they have a medical or safety or any other kind of emergency, they'll press the device and a circle of friends will be alerted via a vibration to their own Cuff or a push notification to their phone through the dedicated app.

Cuff describes its CuffLinc and jewellery as a "security" device, but although there's a rather ominous video on its website complete with predators lurking in shadows and under bridges, it could also be useful for those with health problems to alert friends and relatives about any medical emergencies.

In fact, you can also send a smaller "hey you" vibration as apposed to the big scary "I'm in a huge emergency" vibration, which seems to be geared up for people trying to reach a friend or relative when they're away from their phone.

Cuff is certain the CuffLinc is fully waterproof and will never need to be charged, meaning it's effective 24/7 - as long as you wear it that is. And that's the huge question here, will anyone actually wear one of these things?

If you cast your eye over all of the Cuff jewellery collection it's a little OTT and glitzy, but each piece actually looks quite understated and classic when it's on its own. Interestingly, Cuff also plans on releasing its technology to designers and third party retailers, so they can incorporate it into more of their own products and hopefully reach an even wider target audience.

It'll be interesting to see whether Cuff develops its technology further down the line in order to compete with other popular wearables currently on the market, branching away from a sole focus on security and instead into health and fitness tracking.

The Cuff jewellery will be shipped later in the year, but is available to pre-order now with prices ranging from $50 to $150 from its US site.

They say that life is a game, and every day that feels more true. No longer are high scores and levelling up simply the domain of Playstation, but "gamifying" everyday tasks has become the measure of a person. You can no longer go for a run without your Nike+ wristband judging you on your progress, and even going for a nightout has become all about who is the "mayor" of a place, thanks to Foursquare. The latest technology to join this trend gamifies... umm... your shower. It's sort-of a for the bathroom. Seriously.


The Amphiro a1 is the result of a crowdfunding campaign and is device that plugs into your showerhead to monitor your water usage - and you can use the accompanying website to get an analytical breakdown and a grade on how well you did at saving the planet (!).


Plugging the Amphiro into your shower is a piece of cake - and I say that as someone who is essentially completely hopeless at all manual and DIY tasks. The device sites between the shower head and the tube linking it to the taps. This means that it should work on anything - even those ultra-fancy power showers.

It's just a case of unscrewing it, and screwing the a1 in between - making sure the small sieves stay facing the right way round. Easy.


So you're in the shower, and a few seconds after turning on the taps you'll notice that the screen on the Amphiro starts to display some numbers - it'll count how much water you're using and will display it in real time. It's not a screen - more akin to a giant watch face.

Along the top is a letter rating derived from both the water usage and the average water temperature - like the rating scale on your washing machine, it goes from A to G, and even has positives and negatives.

After you've finished, the display will begin to cycle between your grade and water usage stats and the combination of code and number you can enter into the Amphiro website to log your shower.

So head over to the Amphiro Portal, enter your code into your account and it'll give you your own analytical breakdown:


I know what you're thinking - an "E" grade isn't very good, but hey, I need all that time in the shower. Where else am I going to win arguments in my head over disputes that happened years ago?

Sadly the analytics side of things needs a bit of work. As you'll see from the screenshot - though I know that I used 62 litres of water, there's a big chunk of German text next to it. And even though I'm trying my best on language learning site Duolingo (another Gamified service), I've still no idea what that means. To be fair to Amphiro - this is a German product, so I imagine English localisation is something they'll be getting around to soon.

Similarly, though I can go through a view a log of previous showers (this doesn't get any less weird to describe), there's no comparative analytics. So I can't view graphs of water usage over time, or anything like that. And yes - this time last week I had no idea that comparative shower analytics was something that I needed in my life either, yet here I am yearning to track my progress.

Still - all of this can be fixed by the time the Amphiro launches properly on these shores. Another huge improvement would be a mobile app to enter codes - as otherwise it's a race against time to dash to your computer and enter the code before you forget it. (The Amphiro only displays the code for around 3 minutes after a shower as the unit is powered by water sloshing through it). According to the company - this is currently being worked on but isn't ready yet.

Similarly, you can easily imagine a future version having embedded wifi or bluetooth - enabling the seamless transmission of your data to the cloud, with no need for human intervention.

The Verdict

So is it worth taking the plunge? Will the Amphiro make a splash? Or will it sink without a trace? Will it rain on your over-consuming parade? Or is it only for people spending money like water?

The A1 currently retails for €59.90 - or around fifty quid, which feels rather steep for a device that isn't hugely smart in and of itself. Though as the company grows and increases production, you'd expect the price to come down as they achieve economies of scale.

Similarly, I'm not sure the technology is quite there yet. As I mention above, the website needs some significant improvements (and this is comparably easier to do), but I'm left wondering if a smarter internet-connected device might be just around the corner.

This said - it is hugely interesting to see how much water you're wasting, and is certainly behaviour shaping. Even in the short time I've used the A1, I've started to be more conscious of just how high I crank the hot tap, and how long I spend pondering the universe's biggest questions rather than washing my damn hair.

After a couple of F minus ratings, you'll be starting to despair at how you're killing the planet, and will be starting to wonder if you really need to shower every day. So blame Amphiro if the world starts getting a whole lot stinkier.

roadtune1.jpgThe RoadTune Universal is a hands-free charging kit that packs a ton of awesome features, whilst retaining a relatively cheap price tag at only £19.99 from MobileFun

In terms of design, the RoadTune is rather attractive, made from high-quality polycarbonate and ABS composite, which is strong enough if you were to drop it. It's also worth mentioning that the kit can be extended to a width of 85mm, perfect for use with larger handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note. 

One of the RoadTune's headline features is its ability to hold your smartphone safely and securely, charging it from your vehicle's 12v or 24v power outlet at the same time - something you won't get with all universal hands-free kits out there.

As well as this, the kit also offers up a built-in FM transmitter for connecting to your in-car radio, to allow the streaming of music and calls through your car's speakers. That's not all, because there's also a built-in microphone for making calls from your handset. 


If you travel regularly, and own a smartphone which you use a lot, then the RoadTune is worthy of your attention - after all, it does a lot, and is rather inexpensive.

The Internet Of Things: Game On!

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Big news in the tech world this morning, as it has emerged that Google have paid a cool $3.2bn for Nest, a company best known for making smart thermostats that can be controlled over the web. Not only is this big news - when someone as big as Google pays $3.2bn, you know they're serious - but it also fires the starting gun on the real Internet of Things.


"Things" have been doing the internet for some time now - there's all sorts of unusual wifi-powered products. The likes of Tado, who have been carving out their space in the market. Tado have just announced they'll be making a similar system for air conditioning in warm countries - and Nest have also branched out into smoke alarms.

What's big about the Nest acquisition is that it is the first time one of the titans of the tech industry has got directly involved. Now Google have a direct stake on the success of smart devices - beyond simply supporting their apps on their phones. Now the game is on, and it is inevitable that the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Samsung will be getting out their chequebooks to respond. Apple already sell Phillips Hue bulbs, which can be controlled via app in their stores (you can change the colour of the bulb at the touch of a button!).

For Google, the move makes a lot of sense. Not only are Things going to become the next place major growth can take place (mobile phones are saturated, and market shares are trickier to shift around, lest anything as game-changing as the iPhone appear again), but a smart thermostat helps satiate their endless appetite for data.

Google already track your location, know what you're searching for and can read your emails - now they'll know if you're at home by tracking room temperature. Consider how Nest also make smart smoke alarms that can be used as presence detectors - Google will even know what room you're in. In the kitchen? Your phone could recommend some recipes. In the bedroom at 11pm? Your phone is set to "do not disturb", your alarm is automatically set and your smart lights are dimmed. This is the automated and slightly creepy future we face.

Smart devices are genuinely useful though. Having used a Tado myself for the past few months, I can confirm that nothing beats cranking up the temperature before you get home, so it'll be warm when you get there, so the utility to users of being able to use their Android phone to control their Nest will be super useful.

Plugging temperature into Google also creates many different interesting possibilities. From the potentially useful (auto-adjust the temperature based on whoever is in the room's personal preference) to the frivolous. Imagine if the Siberia mission on the next Call of Duty would subtly decrease the temperature in your living room, so you get a shiver go through you as you trek through the Russian forests.

It is inevitable that this is the start of the arms race - and that all of the manufacturers will now be trying to figure out what appliances they can stick wifi into next. My only hope is that the industry do the sane thing and work out either some standards, or agrees to be cross-compatible. If I make the switch from iPhone to Android, I don't want to have to replace my thermostat, washing machine and fridge too!

It'll be interesting to see what happens next. The Internet of Things is On.

Potentially wonderful news is being reported by Ars Technica - soon laptop power leads may be compatible with each other. If we're lucky.


Remember how a few years ago, if you had a Nokia, you needed a Nokia charger, and if you had an Ericsson, you needed an Ericsson charger? Mercifully those bad old days are behind us now thanks to the heroes at the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), who were the group who convinced all of the competing manufacturers to use Micro-USB. (Apart from to-cool-for-school Apple, of course).

Word on the street is that they could be about to work the same magic on a similar bane in our lives: laptop chargers. They're working on a standard which could mean a huge reduction in "E-waste" - apparently the amount of chargers and the like thrown away every year are comparable to half a million cars.

Apparently the standard, dubbed "IEC Technical Specification 62700: DC Power supply for notebook computer" could be published in early 2014. Here's hoping!

paristhumb.pngPKParis have announced a clever new USB device, which enables you to transfer files between your computer and your tablet more easily... it's easy because... it has two different connectors.

The PK K'2, unlike other USB storage has both a standard USB plug, for when you plug into your computer - and then on the other side there is a Micro-USB. If your phone or tablet supports USB On-The-Go (OTG) - then all you have to do is simply plug this into the bottom (no special adapter cable required), and you'll be able to mount it on your phone and access the files. This means if you can play media straight off of it if you have the right media player - for example, copy across a video file from your computer to the stick, and play it straight off the stick with Astro or ES media player on your phone. Brilliant.

Some of the phones that are compatible include the overwhelming majority of Samsung Galaxy phones, the Sony Xperia, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and many others. You can see the complete list on their website.

The stick itself has 16GB of built in storage, and despite only being 34.5x17x7mm also sports a micro-SD reader - which can expand storage available on the USB by up to 32GB. And there's also a loop for it to be threaded on to a key chain, so you can't lose it.

The PK K'2 is due to retail for €29.90 - which works out as £25 exactly, which seems like a good deal to me.

You may have seen the news today that Amazon are working on a drone delivery system (over at TechDigest, we're not so sure about it ourselves). Whilst Amazon reckon they'll have their system ready for 2015, there's a new drone that you can buy today for yourself - the Parrot AR 2.0.


Why would you want a drone? Not only are they great fun, and would make an incredible Christmas gift (who's going to be disappointed with a DRONE?!) - but they can do all sorts of cool stuff too. The Parrots that have launched today are special too - because they come in camouflage. That's right - whether you're tracking bad guys in the jungle, snow or the sand - there are three relevant designs available. Though we're assured by the manufacturers that the drones will still fly in your local park - no monkeys, igloos or yurts required.

So what can the drones do? They're radio controlled and are controlled through an app for your smartphone (Android or iPhone). Here you can adjust height, move it around - and even tell it to do a flip. Apparently the app also has built in sharing functionality too - so you can share photos and videos with friends, and the wider drone-using community.


As for the actual drone hardware: There's a built in HD camera - that runs at 1280x720 (720p) - which you can monitor in real time through the app - and crucially, it'll keep itself stabilised. There's also a built in battery that after charging will apparently give you 12 minutes flight time - which might not sound like a lot, but even the top-end consumer drones are stuck at around 20 minutes at the moment.

If Obama is reading then sorry - no missiles on this model! You'll have to look elsewhere if you want to carry out an extra-judicial aerial killing.

If you would like a Parrot though - you can pick one of the new camouflaged models up for £279.99.

Seven great Kickstarter gadget projects

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Kickstarter is great for gadgets. It's the site that started the crowdfunding revolution - in which rather than have to go cap-in-hand to investors, would be able to raise the cash themselves from the general public. Given how cutting edge it is, it's no surprise that technology is one of the website's strengths. Here's our pick of seven Kickstarter gadgets to look out for.

Michron: Timelapse for Everyone

Michron is an intervalometer - a device commonly found on posh cameras to trigger photo timings, and take timelapse photos and that sort of thing. What Michron does differently is that it doesn't have buttons or a screen - that'd be far too fiddly. Instead, it's programmed via an app for iPhone or Android. You simply plug the device into your phone (into the headphone port!), tell it what to do - and then plug it into your camera, and it will take photos with the settings that you've told it to. Brilliant - and much less fiddly than pressing buttons and hoping for the best.

ROCKI Wifi Music System

If you're looking for a wireless music system for your home and a Sonos is out of your price range, then the Rocki could be exactly what you need. Rather than sell you whole new speakers and speaker system, the Rocki Play is a wifi receiver device that plugs into the RCA or 3.5mm jack input on your existing speaker systems - be it the hifi in the living room or the smaller radio in the kitchen. The Rocki app will then let you control music playing in your house in a similar way to Sonos - choosing what plays in different rooms, and what device the music is coming from - and different members of your household will be able to control the music too using an app on their phone.

Neptune Pine

One of the most famous early Kickstarter successes was the Pebble, a smartwatch that took the deliberate deicision to be stripped down - using a Kindle-style e-ink display, and requiring tethering to your smartphone for data. The Neptune Pine by contrast goes completely the other way - and puts a fully functioning Android Jelly Bean device on your wrist.

Needless to say, it's a bit of a beast - 2.4" screen, a 1.2ghz CPU, wifi, 3G... there's no corners cut here. There's a 5 megapixel rear camera, for when you take the Pine from it's wrist mount - and use it to take photos. Examples on the Kickstarter page also show it mounted to a bike helmet for use as a bike camera. And there's even a front-facing VGA camera, for use when Skyping, for the fully Dick Tracy effect.

There's also built in fitness analytics: gyroscope, accelerometer, pedometer and digital compass, so you can also wave goodbye to your Nike fuelband.

The only awkward thing is that it's so large you risk looking a bit like Leela from Futurama.


Ever wanted to see in the dark? The Snooperscope will turn your phone into a gadget fit for a utility belt. It's pretty clever - it doesn't actually use your phone's existing camera, but instead is a separate wireless device that can be mounted on your phone - which will beam pictures back via wifi, to be viewed in the Snooperscope app. This means you can shoot nightvision video, take pictures and more. It apparently even works in pitch black conditions.

The Kickstarter page does a good job of highlighting the sorts of things that it can see - including detecting fine particles (ideal if you have to climb through a laser system when breaking into the bad guy's lair), and you can even blink more code to your colleagues if both of you have a scope.

And the best bit, of course, is that you'll never have to snipe blind again - and I think that's a problem we can all relate to.


Woojer sits between your music device and your headphones, and generates vibrations in time with the music so you can really feel the music too - presumably it will make a dubstep even more intense (just be careful if you have a weak heart). Personally - I'm a little sceptical of the talk of "acoustic meridians" (does it work better depending on your horoscope too?), but it's an interesting way of augmenting the musical experience.

And we're certain that it'll only be used for 100% clean and above-board purposes.


Ever looked back at your holiday photos only to see that they're all just of your other half? Did you even go too? Quebee aims to solve the problem of wanting to take photos and shoot video... but wanting to be in it too.

It's a little wireless camera that connects to your smartphone, which you then use as a control panel. On the phone you can setup all of the settings - choose timelapse, or timed shot or whatever, and then you simply set the Quebee down to look at you, and snap away.

The camera itself is a "full HD camera" with a wide angle lens. It's water resistant, and has a built in mic and speaker for video purposes, and will last up to 5 hours when recording video, or 48 hours if you're shooting a timelapse. If there's a wifi connection it will even automatically upload your videos to the cloud for you.

The app can view the live stream, and can even control multiple cameras - as well as geotag photos and videos.

Unfortunately it's still early days (well, this is Kickstarter) - so if you want one you'll have to wait until late 2014.

10 quirky Christmas gift gadgets

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We're now exactly a month away from Christmas... so now is the time to start thinking about gifts! Here's our pick of ten quirky gadget gifts for the geek in your life!

Paul Hollywood Pies and Puds.jpg
It seems shows like The Great British Bake Off, featuring Paul Hollywood (right), are leading us to splash out more on kitchen gadgets investing nearly £700 every month turning our kitchens from drab cooking spaces into high tech showrooms.

More than 82% of those surveyed by Currys and PC World admitted to forking out on their kitchen every month with 15% spending between £300-£650 a month on kitchen gadgets, including top-end mixers, such as Kenwood's Patissier Food Mixer, and colourful Dualit toasters.

60% of shoppers revealed they shelled out on premium-branded kitchen products, such as those by KitchenAid, Bodum and Nespresso, over basic kitchen tech. 

Around 1 in 3 of Brits owns a coffee machine, with 65% now making home-made smoothies using their own blender, or a juicer.

Currys & PC World's latest study shows that technology in the kitchen is rising most quickly among the younger generation with 18-24 year olds updating their kitchen tech more regularly than any other generation. When asked what type of gifts shoppers were purchasing this year for Christmas, it was revealed that 8 in 10 Brits are now buying practical gifts for their loved ones over more traditional toys and games.

Says Currys & PC World spokesperson Ben Lovett:
"It's no real surprise that people are investing more in their kitchens with the surge in popular cooking shows such as The Great British Bake Off, Rick Stein's India and Nigel and Adam's Farm Kitchen. We've seen a greater demand for quality kitchen gadgets and a rise in sales. We are expecting to see a lot of consumers stocking up on kitchen gifts this Christmas especially seeing as practical gifts seem to be the most popular."

Interestingly people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire are more likely to see their kitchen as a showroom than any other region, with over 50% of residents there having a TV in the kitchen.

Top 10 Kitchen gadgets

1. Kettle

2. Microwave

3. Fridge/Fridge Freezer

4. Toaster

5. Blender

6. Radio

7. Toastie maker

8. Phone

9. Coffee Machine

10. Juicer

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5 Exciting Wearable Tech Devices

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Do we really need the latest gadgets? Aren't they just fashion accessories? The next big thing in tech looks set to be 'wearable' tech... which could blur this distinction even more. It's still early days in the wearable space but there's already been some exciting developments. Here's our pick of the 6 most exciting wearable tech devices.

Feeling eeeeeeevil? *scary scream*. Here's our top scary outfits and assorted scary stuff for this extra creepy '13 Halloween.....Whoah-hah-hah-hah-harrrrrrrrrr! (coughs)

Our favourite new-ish Kitchen Gadgets

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The days are getting colder and the sun will start setting at some bonkers time soon. Which means that it is time to swap the great outdoors for a spot of nesting. And if you want to up your game in the kitchen some of these might come in useful.

There is a fabulous tale from the early days of the airship Back then aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont would parade his new fangled Airship by hovering at roof level along the boulevards of Paris.

Santos-Dumont's party piece was to fly one of his smaller airships to his favourite restaurant. Suitably emboldened by steak and frites and a glass of Beaujolais he'd just hop back into his shop and fly home.

In many ways personalised air travel of that kind hasn't progressed a great deal in over 100 or so years until perhaps now. We have seen jet packs before but the Martin Jetpack which will go on sale next year in New Zealand takes the concept out of the James Bond book of gadgets and into the real world. Within a couple of years anyone will be able to own one, provided that is they can stump up the $150,000 price tag.

Check the video above - it certainly looks like a huge amount of fun. The jet pack can apparently go as high as 7,000 feet in the air and travel at speeds of 50 miles an hour. Though at the moment you can only put enough petrol in it to run for half an hour.

So will we soon be seeing jet packs over our heads as we walk through British cities? possibly not. A lot apparently depends on the categorisation of the jet pack. Is it a helicopter, an aircraft?

"Think of it like a motorcycle in the sky," Peter Coker, chief executive of Martin Aircraft Co. Ltd., told the WSJ. It is apparently unique in that it is not rocket powered but has a gasoline engine driving twin-ducted fans.

That didn't conceive the Kiwi authorities who described it as a micro light which means potential pilots will need a licence to fly it. There is no decision yet as to whether they will eventually be allowed to fly over built-up areas.

For now though enjoy the video and picture yourself in the hot seat.

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