December 20, 2013

Some tech gifts ring the wackiness bell

Like, oh, zombie apocalypse supplies, a pet monitor and a $2 million personal submarine.

By Bree Fowler
The Associated Press

NEW YORK – It’s tough to shop for techies. They already own everything with a plug or rechargeable battery. But fear not, a slew of unique technology gifts have hit the market just in time for Christmas.

click image to enlarge

Here’s a view displayed by Motorola’s Scout1 Wi-Fi Pet Monitor, a gadget that lets pet lovers keep an eye on their pets while they’re away.

The Associated Press/Motorola

click image to enlarge

The Egg Minder’s LED lights show you which eggs in the tray are the oldest.

The Associated Press

Here’s a roundup of some of the season’s most offbeat offerings. While these items may seem a bit wacky and bizarre, it’s doubtful that the tech enthusiasts in your life own anything similar.

• Call Me Gloves, Hammacher Schlemmer, $80:

These winter gloves let you wirelessly connect to your smartphone by making the universal “call me” sign. That is, by holding your thumb to your ear, pointing your pinkie finger toward your mouth and folding the rest of your fingers in to make the shape of a phone.

The left glove has a speaker in the thumb and a microphone in the pinkie. Buttons on the glove’s cuff let you answer and end calls. There also are conductive fibers woven into the tips of both thumbs and index fingers so you can text and Web surf on a smartphone or tablet without taking the gloves off.

You’ll get 12 hours of talk time out of the battery, but you’ll need more time than that to convince onlookers you’re not crazy.

• Egg Minder, Quirky.com, $70:

Nobody likes a bad egg. This gadget wirelessly connects to your smartphone to make sure you don’t eat one. LED lights show you which eggs in the tray are the oldest and the app’s push notifications let you know when you’re running low, preventing a last-minute scramble at breakfast time.

• Plush Toast Wireless Speaker, ThinkGeek, $40:

Speaking of breakfast, does the person you’re shopping for like toast? I mean, really like toast? If so, then this tablet holder and speaker might be right for them.

Most tablets fit and plug into this rechargeable device. You can listen to music that way, or connect it to your smartphone or iPod via Bluetooth. Its plush exterior makes it as cuddly as a teddy bear. It’s sure to please both day-old bread enthusiasts and small children.

• Scout1 Wi-Fi Pet Monitor, Motorola Mobility, $300:

This product, sold exclusively through PetSmart, you keep an eye on Felix or Snoopy while you’re away. In addition to viewing furry friends remotely, users can pan, tilt and zoom cameras through their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

There’s also two-way audio to allow remote conversations between you and your pet, infrared night vision, temperature monitoring and the ability to take snapshots and record video, just in case Fido does something especially cute.

Does Rover like to roam? If so, you can connect and view up to four cameras in multiple rooms.

• Personal Submarine, Hammacher Schlemmer, $2 million:

If Santa has some extra cash he can buy this two-person submersible that can reach depths of 1,000 feet. The sub’s transparent acrylic dome keeps adventurers safe and dry as they channel Jacques Cousteau and Jules Verne.

The sub is powered by battery packs that can supply up to six hours of travel and a maximum speed of three knots. It’s also equipped with four external 150-watt quart-halogen lamps to light up the underwater landscape, along with a xenon strobe light and RF beacon alerts to let others know your location.

There’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to piloting these vehicles, so training is included.

• Pop Dongle by Pop Secret, eBay auction, price to be determined:

Does the person you’re shopping for find smartphone games a little dry? Well the folks at Pop Secret think the key to jazzing things up lies in adding butter, or in this case, a buttery smell.

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