Who thought that vinyl records would stage a comeback, or that we would once again see teenagers using film cameras? Welcome to the 2020s, where such things are making a comeback, often combined with modern technology. Leica, a German brand founded in 1869, still makes film cameras, albeit very smart ones. It claims that being limited to 24 or 36 exposures creates awareness.
The newest camera in its arsenal, however, is a so-called hybrid instant. allows you to store up to 45 images digitally and select the best images to print out, Polaroid style, via a slot on the camera. Or you can go old school and point, shoot, print… and prepare to be amazed.
“In the 70s and 80s,” says Leica, “the instant printed photo symbolized acceleration, whereas in today’s fast-paced world it represents a moment of caution and relief. It’s no wonder that the fascination with instant photography is flourishing again. “
Available in black, red or white; $649.
Just add color
The idea of clothing that changes color has long excited designers, who have used chemicals, nanotechnology, LED lighting and other tricks to achieve it—at least on the catwalks (such couture has never been very good at surviving in the real world world, or washing machine). In Paris in September, the Japanese brand Anrealage presented clothes using hyperspectral technology that not only changed the shade of the clothes, but also the pattern under different lights. It is still in the experimental stage; watch this space.
Drinking the atmosphere
Machines that suck moisture from the air to produce clean drinking water have been in local stores for the past few years. These expensive wonders are ideal for bush hideaways or any place with dodgy tap water. The portable mobile box will be on sale here from around May next year.
It is capable of running on a car battery and generates 25 liters per day, making it perfect for off-road camping. The same company, Watergen, makes Genny, a “magic” fountain for the home or office, and industrial-scale variants that produce thousands of liters per day while remineralizing the water. Its trailer-mounted Gen-M model has been used to keep our firefighters hydrated deep in the bush.
There’s an EV revolution underway, and not just in cars. More electric motorcycles are now on the way, or coming soon. The newly arrived S has a feature not available on any four-wheel drive on our roads: a removable battery that can be instantly replaced with a charged one.
Equally important, there is room to add an extra battery if you want to extend the driving range from 75 to 140 kilometers. CPx, from China, is student-approved and a great way to beat the traffic, if not the weather; its single electric hub motor provides the same performance as a 125cc petrol engine scooter, but with the benefits of quietness, quick acceleration, fewer moving parts and less maintenance. The top speed is 90 km/h, the price around 6000 dollars.
Jewelry doesn’t have to be just decoration; the fancy ring could be the next big little thing. The latest version of the Oura ring, for example, uses tiny sensors to track footsteps, sleep patterns and heart rate. It also monitors body temperature so accurately that it is claimed it can detect early symptoms of flu or COVID-19 and help women more accurately predict their menstrual cycle. Such products have had mixed reviews, but expect big advances in the next few years, with Samsung, among other big players, expected to join the smart-ring fray.
Canadian start-up Glüxkind noted that the stroller has not been greatly influenced by modern technology. So it evolved with electric motors, sensors, automatic braking and other features found on self-driving cars. It drives itself up a hill, slows to your chosen pace on the other side and self-parks. There is also facial recognition; no pram-jacking possible here.
The stroller’s coolest feature? The autonomous rocker, of course: Rosa will repeatedly move back and forth a few centimeters while emitting white noise to lull baby to sleep. It’s still in the prototype stage, but you can pre-order from North America at a price of around $3800.
They may look like any other earphones, but these are inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For those unfamiliar with the Douglas Adams novel and radio series, the small, yellow, leech-like Babel fish was considered the strangest creature in the universe because if you shoved one into your ear you could “instantly understand everything, was said to you in every kind of language”.
The designer of Tian Li is a Hitchhiker’s fan that claims they can make two-way simultaneous translations a reality in 40 languages and 93 accents. We haven’t been able to test them, but no matter how good they already are, it’s a fair bet that AI will make such devices more efficient with each passing year. They cost from $299, but budget for two pairs; your interlocutor must also use a set.
E-readers and e-writers
The e-book was supposed to destroy the p-book, that is, the printed one, but it never happened: the bookworms among us tend to be very pro or very agin when it comes to reading on a screen. In Australia, print books still outsell e-books by a huge margin, although of course people use their e-readers for many things other than books. And e-readers have recently gained another advantage: you can scribble in the margins without destroying your precious first edition.
While several new brands have appeared to take advantage of what has become a much more versatile product – the first product from the company with a screen the size of a typical hardback book – has received a series of updates that mean these handwritten notes (taken via a “pen” that never needs charging) can be converted to typed text, viewed on your phone app, organized into notebooks and to-do lists, and shared.
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