The days of leaning back to watch TV have ended. Eighty-eight percent of tablet owners say they use the device in front of the tube; they find tweets, news, video and other information related to the program they're watching. Afraid of losing eyeballs, networks have released dozens of one-off apps with additional programming content. But that means that viewers must hop from app to app, distracting themselves even further from the TV-viewing experience.
The day I entered public school, I was classified as visually impaired. I have a rare genetic syndrome known as achromatopsia. I'm color blind and light sensitive, and my distance vision is flat-out awful. Even corrected, it's closer to 20/100 than 20/20. I can't see street signs until I'm a yard away from them and I don't even bother trying to read most posters, plaques or museum cards.
I'm not alone: About 21.5 million Americans have low vision, and analysts expect that number to double over the next 30 years as baby boomers age. But new uses for near field communication (NFC), a short-range device-to-device transmission protocol, could help break down the frustrating barrier between the visually impaired and the text around them.
There are lots of way to learn first-hand the principles of flight, but most of them require years of studying or a pilot's license. There is, however, an exception: folding paper airplanes. Da Vinci did it, as did the Wright Brothers and Jack Northrop, and if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us.
Last year, we declared the Jambox by Jawbone the "best, tiniest wireless speaker" with good reason. The six-inch brick produces an unreal amount of high-quality sound for its size, went anywhere, and paired simply with any Bluetooth-ready device. It's great! So Imagine our glee at the first sight of the Big Jambox, which, as its extremely literal name states, is a bigger version of the Jambox.
Despite the landslide of smart devices in recent years, headphones have remained decidedly dumb, lacking the multitude of sensors found in everything from phones to watches. The ZIK Parrot--which was one of our favorite gadgets at this year's CES--is the first pair of headphones with the intelligence of a smartphone.
Every month we search far and wide to bring you a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. These gadgets are the first, the best and the latest. Check out the gallery below to get the first look at what consumer technology has brought us this month.
To win our Innovation of the Year award, the Lytro had to captivate us enough for us to pass over significant medical diagnostic breakthroughs and a complete reinvention of the internal combustion engine--and it did. So we're naturally excited about the opportunity to spend a little QT with the Light-Field camera. The Lytro, which is culmination of over a decade of work by CEO Ren Ng in the world of light-field photography, is the first camera that allows its user to refocus an image after it's taken. It sounds unbelievable, but after taking our own pics with the Lytro (below), we're happy to report that it's reality.
Click to launch a gallery of Lytro-taken shots, as well as a tour of the camera's hardware.
Thousands of votes were cast in our first robot dance-off, but the winner was clear early on. Tosy's DiscoRobo earned a dominating 78 percent of the tally. Mattel's Fijit friend earned 13 percent of the electorate for personality, and MyKeepon took home the remaining 9 percent -- likely based on cuteness alone, since as basically two-thirds of a rubber yellow snowman, MyKeepon is not the most agile of dancers. Check out the full results breakdown and re-watch the video after the break.
We may still be a long way from fully-functioning robot maids or dog-walkers, but there's one thing consumer robot-makers have figured out: how to make 'em dance. This year, three music-responsive 'bots will be on sale, leaving us to wonder: who's got the best moves? So we gathered up the three contestants and blasted some "Robot Rock." We'll leave it to you to decide who rocks out the best.
As one commenter for last year's annual Toy Fair wrap-up pointed out, there was once a time when Lincoln Logs were considered a cutting-edge toy. It was never so clear as it is now, though, that the heyday of the analog toy has long-since passed. 2012 shall be the year of the app-enabled toy.