There’s no denying it, 2016 has been weird. In many respects, it could be seen as a new part of Back to the Future; people started chasing after Pokémon again like they did 15-20 years ago, and Apple decided to move back to a pre-1878 time where jack plugs didn’t exist. If, for most, the year was tumultuous, here at Techmog, we’ve been lucky enough to witness interesting and fun tech innovation.
Beasts of Balance
Formerly known as Fabulous Beasts, Beasts of Balance had already made our short list last year, and they haven’t been resting on their laurels; they have launched with new features they play-tested on Thursdays, and a brand new name! You can read more about their year on the Beasts of Balance blog.
Tech Will Save Us – Mover Kit
This wouldn’t be an end-of-year round up without at least one awesome project from Tech Will Save Us. This year the team tried (and it looks like they succeeded) to tackle wearables by getting kids to code and — as you might have guessed — move, not unlike Hackaball. The kit surpassed by far its target on Kickstarter and the rewards have started shipping. We can’t wait to see what TWSU have in store for 2017.
Our friends at Bleep Bleeps came up with their second product, Suzy Snooze. After monitoring your possessions with Sammy Screamer, the team is aiming to help the whole family sleep better by accompanying your little ones in the arms of Morpheus and teaching them when they can get out of bed. Suzy Snooze doubles as a night light and baby monitor, with its companion app.
The return of Robot Wars on BBC 2 has awaken a new generation of makers and renewed the interest in robotics of the lay public. 2016 saw its fair share of crowdfunded DIY or companion robots. Among them, QuadBot, the Arduino-compatible, 4-legged robot that helps you make your first steps into robotics or explore coding further. With 9 days left on their Kickstarter campaign, QuadBot have almost trebled their target, so we’ll definitely see more of them in 2017.
Quarterly – Maker subscription
Subscription boxes have been booming in 2016; this past year, Quarterly have worked to redefine their offering and have curated boxes around 4 main themes: BioHacking, Literature, Cooking, and Making. At Techmog, we received one of their Maker boxes, packed with some of our favourite kits.
If 2016 was the year for making, it also seems that it was the year for accessible scientific research. With their offering, Bento Lab are giving anyone the opportunity to re-enact labs scenes straight out of CSI by providing an affordable solution to extract DNA. The kit can be useful to DNA enthusiasts, science teachers, molecular gastronomists or even artists. The Kickstarter rewards are due to ship at the end of January.
The Smell of Data
Last year we kept an eye on SensorWake, the revolutionary alarm clock that uses smell rather than sounds to wake you up. This year, we continued our olfactory discoveries by talking to Leanne Wijnsma about her project, the Smell of Data. Leanne’s aim was to create an identifiable smell for data leaks (in the same way gas has a warning, recognisable scent) to raise awareness around digital security. While still at a prototype/concept stage, we found her project really interesting and wish her the best in her explorations.
Last but not least, 2016 has been a big year for VR, where headsets weren’t reserved for developers anymore, but given to consumers when buying a new smartphone. Techmog was at the launch of OPTO in March, a new and (extra) light headset for consuming 360º videos. The campaign was successful, but OPTO are experiencing a delay in manufacturing, having had to rethink their strap. They hope to be shipping in January.