April 8, 2015
Here on the East Coast, a brutal winter is just releasing its grip. If you're like us, you're probably itching to get out and spend time in the great outdoors. Not without your gadgets, of course! Fortunately, spring has brought a crop of new apps and devices designed to help maximize your enjoyment of the warm weather.
Your first download should probably be Outdoors.io, a new app that works like AirBnB for sporting goods. Rent your neighbor's unused mountain bike, camping stove or kayak for a few bucks a day, and you'll be saving money as well as space in your own garage.
Next up is finding the perfect place to enjoy the fresh air - and for this, we'd turn to Hike.io, a new app that helps you find the most picturesque hiking spots in your area. After all, what good is trekking out into the wilderness if you don't come back with some great Instagram pics?
Of course, pictures are just part of it - if you want to get video, but don't want to enlist a fellow traveler as your videographer, you may want to look into the AirDog, a new autonomous drone funded on Kickstarter that will be going on sale later this year. The AirDog will follow you wherever you go, traveling at up to 45 miles per hour, for up to 20 minutes. And it's small enough to fold up in your backpack, making it an easy travel companion.
The impulse to escape into the wilderness might be driven by a desire to get away from it all, but it's obvious that at every stage the latest technology is redefining how we're enjoying those wide open spaces.
March 20, 2015
In the interest of security, many of us have switched over to password managers - those clever programs that store all of our various security credentials somewhere in the cloud, keeping us from having to walk around with our pockets stuffed with little scraps of paper.
Now, a new service called KeyMe looks to do something similar for physical keys. Take a photo of each of your keys on a white background, and you can upload them to KeyMe's servers. Then, any time you need a key, just stop by a Lowe's, log into their kiosk and print out copies of whichever key you need. You can even share key files with housemates electronically.
Exciting, to be sure, but also a little scary in a world where reports of new hacks seem to come in daily. KeyMe is a great example of how the cloud can make our real-world lives easier; we just hope they don't turn out to be a cautionary tale, too.
For more, check out this article on Ars Technica.
February 27, 2015
For those of us who watch food culture obsessively, it's easy to forget that beneath the constantly churning waves of blog-worthy trends and counter-trends there lies a mainstream that changes at a far slower pace. While hotter, spicier foods of all kinds are hardly news in the foodie sphere, we're seeing some signs that the broader American palette has started taking to the heat in a big way.
In what appears to be the final stage of sriracha assimilation, Heinz has announced a soon-to-launch sriracha ketchup blend. While we imagine the spiciness will be toned down quite a bit, the launch is nevertheless a sign that sriracha has transcended the novelty stage (think sriracha lollipops, beer, chips, etc.) and found a place on kitchen tables across America.
And in the drink world, Bud Light has announced MixxTails, a line of bottled pre-mixed cocktails (an idea that's older than you might think) that includes a "Firewalker" cinnamon flavor. As Grubstreet points out, this is a move that might not have happened without the recent, massive success of Fireball, a cinnamon whiskey from Sazerac that has become something of a cultural phenomenon.
So, what's next? Szechuan peppercorns? Bhut Jolokia? Probably not any time soon. But if you're thinking about adding a little heat to your next offering, or including a spicy SKU in a new line, it's likely that even the most traditional palettes will be interested in giving it a try.
January 30, 2015
A recent article in Packaging World examines the world of printed electronics, or PE, which stand ready to revolutionize product packaging. Using ultra-thin electronics and power supplies, they can be used to add flash to items on store shelves (check out Bombay Sapphire's awesome phosphorescent box) or even automatically update to display the freshness of the product contained within.
We hear about unusual new packaging innovations every once in a while, and to be honest, most of them seem to fizzle for one reason or another before they reach shelves. But PE could be different - check out the video embedded in Packaging World's article, showing some Gillette Fusion packages recently sighted at a Walgreen's in Boston that appear to be using PE. The future could be coming sooner than we think.
January 23, 2015
Sometimes it just takes a few tries for an idea to stick. Augmented reality, for example, was a big buzzword a few years ago; apps like Layar and Google Goggles were must-downloads, Google Glass was on the horizon, and it looked as though we'd all soon be living in a hybrid of reality and the internet.
Well, we can't really call that initial wave of interest a bust - AR did catch on in some industrial fields, for example - but it didn't exactly catch fire, either. But now, with virtual reality the current techie darling, Microsoft may have found a new angle for AR. Their HoloLens headset looks a little like an Oculus Rift, but with one key difference: you can still see out. Using technology originally designed for the Kinect, the HoloLens merges stereoscopic 3D graphics with the world you see in front of you, resulting in some truly impressive experiences that merge the immersive nature of VR with the context-awareness of AR.
HoloLens kits won't be out in the wild until at least this Spring, but if we had to pick one headset right now, the HoloLens looks like an exciting example of convergence in the wearable world.
Image via Wired