The holidays are upon us, and that means we’re starting to see gift guides galore. At OpenSignal we didn’t want to publish the same list of hot new digital gizmos you can read about on any other blog. Instead we conducted a poll, asking OpenSignalers to name the objects and devices they gained the most pleasure from using in their daily lives.
The resulting list contains many traditional tech gadgets but it also holds some not-so-obvious items. Some of them hark back to a pre-digital mechanical age. Some of them are old standbys appliances that continue to prove their utility. One of them may well be purely imaginary. Enjoy, and let us know what you think of our list in the comments below.
Antoine Auberger, Full Stack Web Developer
Scooter-maker Micro has built a rolling suitcase that doubles as personal self-propelled vehicle. “Not really a gadget, but the best investment ever,” says Antoine. “I flew 40+ times this year and this invention was a lifesaver. I could go from the Gatwick Airport train platform to the boarding gates in less than 15 minutes!”
Brendan Gill, CEO and co-founder
How do you make a busy startup CEO to exercise? By quantifying that activity as data, of course. “I never originally thought I would care that much about my step count or heart rate, but being able to put a number to these things has kicked my competitive nature into gear,” Brendan says of his FitBit Surge. “Now I’m always trying to beat my record and get my heart rate down.”
Johanna Basnak, Research Analyst
Jo’s choice is definitely one of the most common gadgets owned by people the world over, but there’s a reason why it’s so popular. The Kindle kicked off the e-book revolution “What can I say? I’m not a very techie person,” Jo says. “I do love having a Kindle though. I can carry a whole library with me wherever I go.”
James Robinson, CTO and co-founder
Narrative Clip 2
Our CTO is fond of a discreet but powerful camera called the Narrative Clip that you can attach to you shirt pocket or collar. James explains that he uses it as subtle digital journaling tool. He even used it to snap photos of guests arriving at his wedding. “It’s also perfect for occasions when you want to have photographs to aid your memory — concerts, galleries — but don’t want to spoil the moment by whipping out a phone,” James says. Below is a time-lapse video James shot of the sun rising over London.
Tristan Guigue, Software Engineer
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Who needs a countertop water filter tied to your kitchen when you can carry one at your side? “This is not very technological but it’s a really handy gadget for hikers, and a good way to save water,” Tristan says “You can drink from any water stream as long as it’s not too polluted to start with.” He doesn’t recommend, however, filling the LifeStraw from the Thames.
Sam Westwood, COO and co-founder
Mechanical Apple Peeler
Our third co-founder likes a perfectly peeled apple, but more importantly he likes the idea of a contraption that can produce a perfectly peeled Apple. “It’s completely mechanical, not very practical, but 100% beautiful,” says Sam.
Jaleh Afrooze, Operations Manager
London is a noisy place, but Jaleh manages to block out most of those distractions during her daily commute on the Underground with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a good audio book. “I love books but I’m often too tired to read or too active to sit down,” Jaleh says. “But I can listen to a book. These headphones are the best thing that I’ve bought to help me battle London’s busy streets.”
Jasmin Schawalder, Marketing Director
When you head up marketing at a startup it helps to have clean teeth. Jasmin says she wasn’t convinced that upgrading from her old Sonicare toothbrush to the new DiamondClean would produce any noticeable difference, but she was wrong. “The results a DiamondClean produces are a world apart of those of a traditional electric toothbrush.” Jasmin says. “It was like upgrading from an iPhone 4 to a 6S.”
Kevin Fitchard, Analyst
I cook a lot so I own half a dozen different digital thermometers I can poke into roasts, stews and casseroles. Supermechanical’s Range thermometers do the same basic things that those other probes do, but it plugs directly into my iPhone where I can view my meal’s cooking progress from a beautifully and intuitively designed app. It’s not that the Range is any more useful than those other thermometers, but the experience is a lot more enjoyable.
Ellie Ereira, Biz Dev Manager
Ellie won’t tell us where she got these glasses from or how they work, but we often see her sneaking around the office using these X-ray specs to spy on closed door meetings and read her co-workers’ unopened mail. “I find these particularly helpful when I’m trying to find something in the bottom of my handbag — I can find my keys, oyster card or phone almost instantly now, whereas usually it takes me a lot of fumbling around,” Ellie says. “They’re quite fun for pretending to be Superman every now and then, checking out what’s going on inside the buildings I’m walking along next to, though lead doors and frames obviously present some problems.”
FitBit Surge image courtesy of FitBit; LifeStraw image courtesy of eartheasy; Apple Peeler image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. All other photos by OpenSignal staff.