It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Gadgets

Don’t be afraid to phone it in this Christmas.

We live in such an endlessly convenient world that a lot of classic gifts for the folks nobody knew what to get have all but been replaced by a variety of digital whosits and whatsits galore. Everyone’s toting around a smartphone now! But it’s not necessary to fight it. Really, the best course of action here is to embrace our new, technological tyrants with only the coolest collection of slightly unorthodox gadgetry that works with smartphones. A few of our picks might even make you say, “Whoa, you can do that now?”

12-15 Tech EDITED_web2Google Chromecast 2

Google’s come up with a nice new version of their Chromecast, a little hockey-puck looking thingy that you plug into your TV.  It enables you to send videos, pictures, websites, and almost anything else from your smartphone (or tablet, or PC) to your television set. It’s different from something like a Roku or Apple TV, because your phone is what’s actually dishing up the content to be sent to the TV. But that means they keep costs down on the Chromecast device. At only $35, it’s hard to find a better bang for your buck—you could even drop one into a stocking. $35,


Spire12-15 Tech EDITED_web1

Spire is a stylish breath (pardon the pun) of fresh air in the realm of tech-equipped wearable devices. Unlike a Fitbit-style movement and activity-tracking device, Spire allows you to hone in on stressful elements in your life and let you know the times you’re at your most calm by tracking your breathing. About the size of a poker chip, Spire clips on to a bra strap or waistband, then sends your breathing information to your iOS device. It’ll buzz when you’re sitting for too long, send you a notification if you are getting tense, and even walk you through a few breathing exercises to help you relax, refocus, or re-energize. $149,


12-15 Tech EDITED_web3BB-8 by Sphero

If you still have some senses remaining that haven’t been assaulted with advertising and merchandise related to this month’s new Star Wars movie, allow us to take care of that for you. Sphero has put together an absolutely charming (and actually kind of magical) little gyroscope-enabled toy based on the BB-8 Droid from The Force Awakens—and it is a real trip to a galaxy far, far away. You charge it up on an induction base, and then drive it around with your smartphone or tablet through a special app. It reacts to your voice, can record videos, and is guaranteed to cause great distress to any cats you may have milling about faster than you can say, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.” $149,


August Smart Lock12-15 Tech EDITED_web4

For the particularly interested parent or homeowner comes the August Smart Lock, a future-tech gadget that attaches to theinterior side of your front door in under 10 minutes, augmenting your deadbolt with a virtual doorman. It allows guests to unlock the door merely by waving their phones in front of it—meaning you can issue “virtual keys” that expire at a set time to temporary houseguests. You can also track whoever is coming and going, and when, with its 24/7 door activity log. You can even lock or unlock it remotely (and it always locks behind you). But if your phone battery dies, there is no need to worry—you can still use your traditional key-in-lock method. $199,

12-15 Tech EDITED_web5TYLT VÜ

Let’s face it—people use their phones when they drive, and that’s awful! Maps, music, calls, videos? (We hope you’re not watching videos, at least.) Do some of your most favorite people a favor that will keep them and the drivers around them safe. Consider the VÜ car mount from TYLT, which will both juice up your loved one’s wireless charging-enabled phone (such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Google Nexus 6) and hold it firmly and steadily on the dash, meaning no more looking down to check messages or see where the next turn is. One touch unlocks the device from the holster, and the whole thing is powered by your car’s own cigarette lighter outlet. It even adds an extra USB port to charge another device. $79,

By Brandon Daiker

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