With the Saturnalian period upon us, everybody starts thinking about wonderful toys, books and gadgets that they would like to see under the Christmas tree. During this period, there is also a deluge of lists and posts covering things you could buy for those close to you.
In this spirit, I thought we could spend a bit of time looking at a number of items that are well within the futurist paradigm. Now, I’m not suggesting these necessarily as presents to put under the tree (although if anybody wants to send me the first one, I’ll pay shipping) – but rather as a fun exercise in discovering some of the futurist type items available at retail at the end of 2010.
1. Microsoft Surface
Beyond all of the technical wizardry, currently one of the best applications for this piece of technology is in the playing of old-fashioned boardgames. Which is just sublimely ironic, in a good way.
2. iRobot Roomba
3. Shapeways.com and Makerbot
At first I was just going to put in a 3D printer, but then I thought that I couldn’t really put in something even more expensive than the Microsoft Surface. During my research into trying to discover just how much a professional 3D printer would cost these days (turns out it’s in the region of US$40,000), I came across this wonderful company called Shapeways – and wouldn’t you know it, they do gift-cards! Perfect.
For the more adventurous, and tech-savvy, there’s also the fantastic Makerbot: an open-source and affordable 3D printer for your home.
Having tested one out briefly, it truly is a revolutionary change in the way we might interact with our technology. Now, it’s not perfect by any means (and it’s a little bit creepy when the camera follows you around even when not specifically using it) but it’s definitely a step in the right direction! Although not one for most of us who live in urban apartments and don’t have the luxury of large living rooms…
6. 3D TV (without glasses)
3D is making a comeback in a big way, but still many lament the fact that it requires us to wear often cumbersome glasses (although plenty of effort is being made in making them as stylish as possible). But we hopefully won’t have to worry about such things for too long, as the first 3D televisions that don’t require one to wear glasses are now coming onto the market.
Granted, they are still quite small compared to their peers; but that’s a small price to pay for comfort and the all-important lack of geeky looking headwear. Related directly to this technology, there are also 3D mobile phones that are utilising these techniques – and the much touted Nintendo 3DS that will be released at some point in 2011 will truly be a fantastic futurist gift for those of you already thinking ahead to next year.
7. 3D Camcorder
Now, a 3D TV (with or without glasses) just wouldn’t be complete for those of a futurist mindset without the ability to put your own creations on the screen. Lucky, then, that Panasonic has come to the rescue with the HDC-SDT750. Essentially, this isn’t really a new camcorder but is instead a 3D lens converter that does the job needed. For the actually very reasonable price of £1496.99, all of your 3D directing desires can be met with this quite impressive piece of consumer kit.
I can just see it now: within the next year or two we are going to be inundated with 3D videos of people’s pets; pretentious film school projects; and amateur…homemovies. Now we just need a streaming site that focuses on such video and away we go.
8. Big Brother App (because we’re screwed anyway…)
Given how pessimistic I am sometimes, it would be remiss of me to just include happy-go-lucky futurist gifts and not highlight some of the more insidious and scary ones. The PatriotApp is just one of those things. Designed as a method for concerned and loyal citizens to quickly pass on intelligence to various local and federal departments, PatriotApp is already courting a lot of controversy for its obvious privacy implications.
As another step towards a totalitarian dystopia where we all spy on each other, it’s certainly not something that I would recommend you go out and buy. If you see anything of true concern, you should just phone the appropriate emergency numbers that are already in place – I really don’t see the need for an item that helps us become jaded to the idea that we should be suspicious of everybody around us and every vigilant in the name of government control.
9. LZR Swimsuit
So there you have some wonderful items that any futurist worth their salt would love to see under the tree in a few days (minus the PatriotApp, please nobody actually purchase that insidious thing!). Obviously, I couldn’t cover everything; so I’d love to hear from anybody reading this of other futurist present ideas that you can come up with. The only rule is that they have to be available at retail, and I look forward to hearing the weird and wonderful things that you find.