It may be too soon to say with certainty, what all new technologies will touch us during 2016. But some pointers are already out there — and anticipating them will help us future-proof our purchases of personal and lifestyle gadgets in the next few months. Here are some pointers based on recently launched products — almost every one of them, crafted by Indian brains.
If you haven’t made your New Year resolution yet, I have a suggestion: “I shall charge my phone wirelessly this year.” Charging pads on which you can place your mobile phone to charge it, have become mainstream — and affordable. Do a search on online selling sites and you can find many models from Rs 500 up. Pepperfry, the furniture site has just launched a bedside table — Nexo Knight — with a built-in charging surface. Place your phone or phones on the table, when you go to bed — and they are charged by morning. Of course, you have to connect the table to a power socket — and your phones must be Qi-enabled (the standard for wireless charging). Most new phones will be Qi-ready this year; but you can still use wireless charging pads with your current handset by buying a Qi chip and slipping it under the cover of the phone. Nexo Knight tables cost Rs 19,299 or Rs 21,399, depending on the model.
While smartwatches and pure play health trackers have remained too pricey in 2015 to become mass products, it is expected the change soon: the most aggressively priced health tracker so far has just come from Pune-based Swipe Technologies. The Rs 1,299 Swipe F-Band tracks steps taken and calories burned; monitors how long and well you sleep and syncs with phone or tablet to via Bluetooth to view fitness and sleep records.
In the smartwatch space is the Indian-born, gesture control-enabled Hug, a world-first integrated Virtual Reality with Microsoft’s Oculus Rift headset. In addition to traditional features, Hug offers a gesture-based security feature which interprets a hand gesture as sign of distress. You can also play music or dim room lights with a hand gesture. Weighing just 46 grams, the Hug smartwatch comes with 2GB storage and 128MB RAM.
Yoohu Station and Yoohu Mini
On-demand video streaming
As of December 31, all TV sets in India have, perforce, gone digital in their sourcing content. In 2016, we can expect pay-by-use on-demand movie streaming services to ride this wave. Netflix, the US-based leader in this niche is expected to enter the Indian market this year. Also to launch soon, from Svomeka Technologies, is the first content-agnostic video and audio streaming device and platform — Yoohu — which promises India-relevant design, content catalogue and compelling pricing. Yoohu comes in the form of a compact stick which plugs into the HDMI port of your TV. The larger YooHu Station works with home theatre systems.
Angel Candy GPS tracker
Filling parents’ need for safe computing and calling tools for their children, the Intel-fuelled Eddy Tablet is a popular learning tool. A recent 7-inch kids tablet launched by Delhi-based Ambrane, the AK-7000, complete with Wi-Fi, 2G calling, 2MP camera and 4GB of space costs just Rs 2,799 on some online sites.
Bengaluru-based SafeInTheCity also launched Angel Candy, “the world’s smallest phone-plus-GPS tracker” for use by kids. In addition to 2-way calling, it allows parents to hear their kids and track their location without disturbing them even when they are in school (Rs 3,500). There is also a smaller card sized GPS device — Angel ID — which slips into the child’s ID card holder (Rs 5,000). Two weeks ago Hyderabad startup Bulbulapps announced its free to download app for smartphones and tablets (Android, iOS and Windows). They include some 55 folk tales, mythology and rhyme stories in English, Hindi and Telugu. It is the top iOS app for children in India.
Brainwavz Audio also recently launched Kidwavz KV-100 Bluetooth wireless headphones for children between 4-14 years in age. Nicely cushioned with an adjustable headband, it costs Rs 2,499.
Finally, 4G is a reality in India, with major service providers rolling out 4G mobile services. While fancier phones have been 4G for some time, the asking price is becoming lower by the day — typically below Rs 8,000. New players, mostly from the TV industry, have entered the phone arena with budget 4G models: the Videocon Z55 Krypton at Rs 7,999 and the Onida i4g1 at Rs 6777. Both are 5-inch dual-SIM, dual-camera devices with 1 GB RAM and 8 GB onboard storage and will allow you to enjoy superior speeds at minimal costs.
But 4G opens the door to many services hitherto available only on PCs and I have a suspicion you will soon need a minimum of 3GB or 4GB RAM to harness the full potential of 4G and boast, “Mere pass 4G hai ji!”
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