Santa's Se­cret Helper

Cool gifts for picky peo­ple, imag­ine 3-D jew­elry, lost no more

RSWLiving - - Contents - BY SANDY TEGER 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.

If 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 Jan­uar y’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 amer­i­can­ and amer­i­can­di­a­mond­

Can you pic­ture the jew­elry you are look­ing for but can’t find it? At you can post a re­quest and re­ceive free quotes from its com­mu­nity of free­lancers.


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.


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.


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 fore-warned―as you ex­plore some of th­ese good­ies, the per­son you end up buy­ing for could be YOU.

At right from top to bot­tom are a lau­rel crown charm made by Shape­ways, a LEGO BOOST robot, TrackR bravo de­vices, and a Petcube.

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