Stuff We Love: Top Tech Gadgets for Summer
Summer is here! While the goal of the summer season for most is to spend as much time outdoors as possible…and often away from technology…certain gadgets, gizmos, and applications actually make our summer more enjoyable. We asked a sampling of SI employees their thoughts on the following question:
What piece of technology or application will have the greatest impact on your summer?
Anna Ho, Strategist | Some people save up for a summer trip to the Bahamas. Me? I’m saving up for an AI robot assistant.
Alexa is pretty clever, but frankly, she’s not very cute. My ideal robot assistant needs more personality. I want something that not only helps me with everyday tasks, but also brings a smile to my face. I’ve seen a number of robotic companions with potential like Jibo and Moti, but I’ve got my sights set on TAPIA, an AI robot companion designed by MJI, a robotics firm in Japan. Equipped with activity recognition and an adaptive communication system, TAPIA offers protection, care, and assistance in the most adorable form. TAPIA looks like the love child of Wall-E and Eve. Need I say more?
Amanda Behrens, Senior Producer | Useful for summer, and every season of the year, Wunderlist has become an app staple in my life. Big shocker…It’s exactly what you think it is – a list making app. It might not sound super sexy, but having my life organized keeps me sane and affords me more time to get menial tasks done and over with faster. But it doesn’t always have to be about task managing. I have a personal list for those karaoke gems I feel like belting out at Rockbox for some poor soul’s birthday or happy hour. There’s even a shared list for me, the husband, and friends for new restaurants we all want to try and movies we want to see on date nights. With shared lists, others can contribute and assign tasks to one another so the responsibility isn’t left to one person. I recommend giving it a test run. Even if just for grocery shopping. Saving a little time here and there means more sunshine and less stress during those coveted summer days.
Chris Hannon, Associate Creative Director | Good question- I would say that without doubt the piece of equipment that will have the biggest impact on my summer will be the Anova Immersion Cooker. This type of cooking is called “Sous Vide” and has really been seeing a boom lately.
When I’m not researching technology or trying to create a seamless connected digital experience, I can often be found in the kitchen trying to make restaurant quality food. The challenge lately has been to take ordinary and sub-par cuts of meat and cook them in such a way that they are delicious and consistently textured. The immersion cooker has been around for a while, but out of reach of the every day chef until the last few years when affordable versions started showing up on the market. I’m not usually an early adopter of technology, but after learning some of the best meals I have had in restaurants involved an immersion cooker, I had to get my hands on one and figure it out. Not only can it help cook delicious tasting food, but it can do it at scale. This means it’s just as easy to cook for 2 people as it is for 12, and unlike traditional cooking methods it virtually ensures the ability to not overcook something, which is great when I am trying to juggle a complicated new dish. Many of these devices are showing up on the market as a connected device experience which allows you to start/stop cooking with the touch of a button on your phone. As cook times for immersion cookers can run a bit long, this remote control feature is a great example of technology adding ease to my life, while the cooker itself adds tremendous precision to the process itself (cooking temperatures can be controlled down to the half degree). So my summer will continue to be a tasty adventure thanks to this new gadget hitting the market.
Janel Fink, Associate Engagement Manager | With a baby due soon my summer is focused on preparing for the new addition. High on my preparation list has been to find a app that keeps me informed about my baby’s developmental progress after birth. Recently, a friend told me about the Wonder Weeks app and soon after my sister, who also just had a new baby, told me about it and gave it rave reviews. This app helps parents document and track their baby’s developmental changes over a 20-month period. There is a book that accompanies the app that explains what is happening during each developmental stage – you can purchase book chapters at a reduced rate through the app so once the baby is born I’ll have everything I need to explain my baby’s development right at my fingertips, anytime I want. I look forward to using this tool this summer and beyond!
Guy Borgford, Director of Business Development | This doesn’t exist to my knowledge, but I want the ultimate gardening app that combines the following:
- Google Earth/Maps – creates the footprint of my property with existing surrounding trees and orientation of the sun.
- Weather – precipitation, sun exposure, temperature, humidity.
- Plant Dictionary – allows me to overlay existing species onto my property profile, allowing the creation of a specific map of species on my property.
- Recommendation engine – ties in all the info above to recommend, what to plant where and when to water, prune, cut and fertilize based on the above.
- eCom/Gift Registry – Buy me some plant stuff.
Jasmine Fears, Senior Designer | My Fitbit Charge HR is the piece of tech I am most excited about this summer. Their website and app are shining examples of great user experience, and their metric tracking is addictive. I’ve taken to walking everywhere: the three miles to work, downtown for dinner or a show, or extra-long walks with the dog.
My second summer addiction is thredUp, not a gadget per se, but an online consignment and thrift store. They offer thrift store prices, with all the modern convenience of online shopping – filtering by size, color, and brand…with free shipping and returns.