Santa's Secret Helper
Cool gifts for picky people, imagine 3-D jewelry, lost no more
I f you still need presents for those “have everything” people, you could settle for a gift card or necktie― but don’t do it! Clever folks keep figuring out ways to apply technology to intriguing new products that don’t require you to become a tech genius. Here are a few we saw at last January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and we’re using some of them ourselves.
Give something unique to the jewelry lover on your list. 3-D printing services offer one-of-a-kind rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings in unending materials, colors, shapes and sizes. Although this jewelry is machine-printed, the real secret is the jewelry designers whose imaginations have been set free by 3-D printing technology. You can find anything from $40 rings with someone’s name spelled out to $100,000+ diamond necklaces. Check websites like Shapeways or AnnXAnnXDesign to get inspiration. For something higher end, check out americanpearl.com and americandiamondshop.com. Can you picture the jewelry you are looking for but can’t find it? At fiverr.com you can post a request and receive free quotes from its community of freelancers.
FOR THE KIDS WITH (ALMOST) EVERYTHING
Lego has long been my default present of choice for kids from toddlers to teens (and their parents). LEGO® BOOST―released in August for children 7 and up―lets kids bring their Lego creations to life. BOOST comes with instructions to build five creations such as Vernie, a moving and talking robot; the Guitar4000, a musical instrument with sound effects; and Frankie the Cat, an interactive pet that plays and purrs. Children build actions and behaviors by linking digital coding blocks. They can add voice recording to their creations to provide personality. Kids have grown up with intelligent devices such as tablets and cellphones, so while this toy might intimidate some parents, the kids are likely to love it. $149.
LOST NO MORE
Perhaps your relatives or friends constantly misplace their keys, wallet or glasses. You can give them stick-on or clipon devices that will make their searches a thing of the past. TrackR bravo, a coin-sized device you attach to items you want to be able to find, works with a free TrackR app on your smartphone to locate the item by ringing it. The sound will lead you to your keys even if they’re under a pile of magazines. Can’t find your cellphone? Press the button on the TrackR bravo you put on your keys and it will ring your missing
phone—even if it is on silent! TrackR devices communicate with Bluetooth, so have a range of a few hundred feet. TrackR’s Crowd Locate function helps find your keys even if they’re far away. If anyone with the TrackR App on their phones comes close to them, you’ll get an update on where they were last seen. Tile and Chipolo have similar devices. The devices are $30 to $40, and you can reduce your cost by buying multi-unit packs to go on all easily misplaced items.
FOR PET 'PARENTS' ON YOUR GIFT LIST
Losing keys can be bad enough, but a missing dog can be an emotional nightmare. Link AKC is a GPS dog collar that makes sure your pet won’t stay lost, transmitting your pet’s location to your cellphone. It works through a cellular network, allowing it to work nearly anywhere. Additional features include making sure Fido gets enough exercise and the ability to remotely turn on a LED light to be seen at night. There are other choices for pet-locating devices. Most entail an upfront cost, plus a monthly service cost. Perhaps the pet owners on your list think of themselves as “pet parents” and would like a way to check how their four-legged baby is doing while they are away from home. A Petcube might be the right gift for them. It enables owners to watch, talk and play with their pets from smartphones. It even has a built-in laser toy controlled from the smartphone. The basic version costs about $150.
There you have a few hints. But be forewarned―as you explore some of these goodies, the person you end up buying for could be YOU.
Sandy Teger lives on Sanibel and is a technology consultant at System Dynamics Inc. She’s also a grandmother of four, organizes the annual Sanibel Captiva Heart Walk and is a garden and wine enthusiast.
At right from top to bottom are a laurel crown charm made by ® Shapeways, a LEGO BOOST robot, TrackR bravo devices, and a Petcube.