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The fun side of wireless technologies

By Reidar Martin Svendsen January 4, 2017

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Not every wireless gadget needs to have a practical purpose like tracking fitness or providing alerts. Some can improve our lives by simply causing a smile. Here’s our round-up of some of the coolest products to hit the market recently.

It happened quickly, but today many of us depend on technology for almost every aspect of our daily life. Some are critical, others are just for fun. I have for a long time been fascinated by the kind of technology that adds an extra dimension to our enjoyment of life, whether it be social, entertaining, a tool to impress, artistic, a creativity booster, or educational.

Following the wireless boom have come a vast range of devices that serve these purposes. The gadgets become personal, and the best become almost an extension of ourselves. While there is an ocean to choose from, a couple of interesting products and companies are driving this philosophy of fun more than most.

Injecting some fun into the smart home

One area normally considered serious is artificial intelligence (AI), with products envisioned to take care of everyday duties around the home and make basic everyday decisions on our behalf.

> Read more: Exploring the smart aware home

But in-home AI can also have a fun side, which American company Anki are exploring with a range of smart, wireless toys.

Their Overdrive system of battle racing cars is a long overdue update to toy car racetracks for the home. Each car is a self-aware robot, capable of learning the tracks you build and your racing style, and adapting itself to it.

Anki have also released Cozmo, a walking, talking robot straight out of a sci-fi movie. Unlike other AI robots, Cozmo isn’t going to vacuum the floor while you watch TV. He’s designed to keep you company, play games with you, and seek out his own fun if necessary.

Although designed for kids and big kids alike, this form of entertaining AI could help to support elderly people living alone or those with learning difficulties. Although safety is a priority in these cases, a tool that prevents loneliness can be incredibly beneficial. There’s a hidden benefit for children too. Studies have shown that kids with a virtual pet engaged in an entire hour more of daily physical activity than those without.

Extending the LED

The humble LED is such a flexible technology as it is, but Divoom have found a way to take it even further. Their new Aurabox combines audio and LED matrix displays into a gadget that can work as a lamp, digital palette, thermometer, alarm clock, and more.

Although marketed by Divoom as an “smart LED speaker”, the Aurabox is one of the more flexible gadgets we’ve seen in a while. It can display the temperature, the time, work as a Bluetooth speaker or a hands-free speakerphone. To top it off, its water-resistance makes it ideal as the centrepiece for an outdoor pool party.

Music devices with a twist

We’re also keeping an eye on the Swedish company Teenage Engineering, who are creating a range of creative audio equipment.

Their synthesizers spark with creativity. The latest generation Pocket Operators hark back to retro computers such as the C64 while providing a modern music-making experience in a battery-operated device that fits in your pocket. They have also started to tease their upcoming OP-Z synthesizer, which has wireless connectivity as well as video synthesis. I am sure it will be awesome!

> Read more: Improve battry life in Ultra Low Power wireless applications

With wireless technologies and added smartness to devices from the phones or cloud, I think we will see more of this kind of gadgets coming. Are these important? I say yes. Of course, life will go on without them, but products like these can spice up an otherwise dreary day. And what would life be without a dose of fun?    

 

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By: Reidar Martin Svendsen

Martin has worked in Nordic since April 2011. He is a technical product manager, mainly focusing on software solutions. Before joining Nordic, he was a researcher and project manager in the telecom business. He has also worked in academia focusing on human computer interaction and interaction design.

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