We get it — being with your family is stressful. This year, use technology to your advantage and distract them with shiny new gear. While they’re all ooh-ing over the gadgets, you can sneak out back to the beer you’ve been hiding in the garage. Go ahead. You deserve it.
Daydream Labs lets developers animate and build virtual reality not on a flat computer screen, but for the first time inside VR itself. They can interact, socialize, offer feedback, and use hand controllers as their virtual creations rise up around them.
Draw. Scan. Microwave. Erase. Repeat ad nauseum. The special pen that comes with the Rocketbook Wave lets you draw on what looks like normal paper and then upload the pages instantly to the cloud. You can even send it to particular services — iCloud, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. — by filling in certain dots at the bottom of each page. Sure, your cloud accounts will be filled with your uncle’s hilarious attempts at political cartoons, but think of all the hours he won’t spend talking. Just make sure you can spare the microwave for a while.
$27 on Amazon.
You know how when Siri came out, everyone found endless amusement in asking her questions? Imagine that, but hooked up to the power of Google’s search engine. It can tell you actual information — “Ok Google, how many calories are in mashed potatoes?” — that you can explore endlessly. Better yet, have your family go hunting for Easter Eggs. A few to try: “Ok Google, beam me up, Scotty!” “How old are you?” and “What am I thinking right now?” BONUS: Get an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot and enjoy a 20-minute lecture from your tech-savvy cousin about which one he thinks is better.
$99 on Amazon.
All drones are cool, but some drones are cooler than others. Drones that look like
Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise fall into the second category. Your whole family will want to glide this quadcopter around the house, and its smooth-flying design will (hopefully) minimize the number of crashes into the pumpkin pie. Plus, it can only fly for seven minutes at a time after a one-hour charge, so it’ll take all day for everyone to have their turn. $129.99 on Think Geek.
BB-8 is no R2-D2, but he’s darn cute. And your little cousins will be even cuter as they try to use the Force Band to control where this lil’ BB-8 rolls off to. You can even turn on its autonomous mode and let it guide the kids (or, let’s be honest, your parents) through the Star Wars universe. Just don’t tell anyone about the holographic videos it can send, or you’ll be getting fart noise messages all day.
$199.99 on Think Geek
Gone are the days of crayons. There’s a new doodler in town, and it’s a 3Doodler. Draw a little plastic turkey — alive or cooked — or maybe The Donald’s hairdo. As long as you buy lots of the plastic strands that feed it, this little 3D pen will distract you and yours from one another for hours and hours.
$99.99 on Amazon.