Hardware / app
Oculus Rift is unarguably cool. But not everybody will necessarily have the $300 it is rumoured it will cost on release. For those who fancy a little taste of virtual reality for a smaller outlay, Google has come up with a charming – albeit significantly more lo-fi – alternative. Using free plans and some scrap cardboard, Android users can turn their phones into makeshift VR headsets. The associated Cardboard app then allows users to explore locations, navigate YouTube videos or engage with interactive stories in immersive 3D. Certainly the most futuristic use of a pizza box we’ve ever found – the good old Starship Dominos just looks childish by comparison.
The impact that affordable 3D printers are having on artisan-style startups has received a lot of attention over the last couple of years but it’s not the only technology that is coming into the home. Darkly Labs’ LazerBlade brings affordable laser-engraving and -cutting into the hands of aspiring makers, allowing artists and creatives to precision cut or engrave various materials. If they’re looking for a way to cut out creations en-masse or emblazon leather and wooden goods with their own distinctive detailing, the LazerBlade offers an affordable way for the amateur to mass-produce crafts.
Vessyl is one of those innovations that you can’t help but love purely for the mindblowing ingenuity behind it. This smart cup knows precisely what you’re drinking. Carrying out some absurdly clever molecular analysis on the fly, Vessyl can track the sugar, caffeine, protein, calories and fat inside drinks, tracking how much of each you’ve consumed sip by sip. Proving quite how insanely clever it is, Vessyl can even track what kinds of beverages you’ve consumed, deftly identifying everything from a Starbucks Frappuccino to a splash of Sprite. All in all, Vessyl shows the quantified self movement is getting some pretty serious firepower.
The OnePlus One is an impressive enough phone: a 5.5in 401ppi screen, a massively customiseable operating system in the Android-based CyanogenMod and a quad-core 2.5GHz processor that comes with an impressive 3GB RAM. But it is its price that makes it truly stand out: all the above comes at a wallet-friendly £229. Sadly, getting your hands on one is extremely difficult: after an exceedingly painful invite-based system, OnePlus has confirmed it is switching to a pre-order system for a renewed release date of Q3. Whether the One remains such a standout deal until then remains to be seen.
Metrics are awesome but they lack the physicality you’d get from electronic tickers, making it hard to shout about your successes. La Metric is an appealing and practical way to keep track of your metrics: its dinky dot matrix display can be programmed to track potentially any data you set your mind to, whether it’s your number of mentions on Twitter or the number of reps recorded by your fitness tracker. The beauty of this self-ascribed ‘smart ticker’ is its huge hackability: its customisable nature and broad number of applications seems set only to increase as startups get their hands on its API.