Innovation is the one thing that keeps us moving forward while simultaneously utilizing the strengths of our past into a new, improved future. With all the hair recovery shampoos and smartphone apps floating about, we thought it was high time we gave you something a little closer to home -- technological products that will truly make your life better.
Nest Thermostat ($249)
Some folks would rather freeze to death than get up in the middle of the night and screw with the dial on their thermostat. Nest, however, offers a new sleek and smart style to living, a thermostat that inherently adapts to your lifestyle. A simple-use circular cylinder that fits right where your old, ghostly dial used to be, the Nest learns from your patterns when it needs to warm up, cool down, keep you cozy at night and save energy while you're away for the workday. It's like having a maid specifically for adjusting your breeze, and she knows just how you like it without you ever uttering a word.
The Beats Pill by Dre ($199)
Say "hello" to the latest battery-free boom box that can drown out all the neighborhood speakers all from one convenient little package. Since this year has seen a trend of music lovers getting into high-quality portable speakers, it makes perfect sense that the makers of the best quality headphones would make a speaker too, right? Beats by Dre's first generation of wireless portable speakers, the Beats Pill, is a smooth cylinder no larger than your forearm with some of the best sound quality your tiny ears could ever imagine.
NTS Works 2'x4' Cargo Bike (prices starting at $4,800)
In a world full of innovative energy savers, the best of eloquent, reliable and green bike rides has finally been created. Almost like a two-wheel drive car, forklift and bicycle rolled into one, the NTS Cargo Bike combines the cargo bike style bicycle and basket with the electric-assist and two-wheel drive motor of operating machinery. The bike itself is an innovation in its ability to bring together the high-powered efficiency and energy smart side of bicycles, to carry to up 100 pounds and to maneuver in a balanced fashion in urban settings. With multiple speeds of motorized assistance to keep you moving when you've got a heavy load, this bike can make your day and carry the weight.
Leap Motion ($88)
Anybody who ever watched Tom Cruise playing with motion graphics using his bare hands in "Minority Report" and thought "I wanna do that!" obviously never heard of the genius of Leap Motion. A little console, about the size of an Apple TV, controls its user's hand movements, whether a wave, grab or flick of the finger, within the realm of its computer screen. The box essentially lets you live inside the digital realm of your computer screen, however you choose. For the artist, architect, gamer and graphic designer in us all, Leap Motion is quite literally a leap into the future for ordinary people.
Handrail Grill ($80)
Any guy who's stuck in a city studio with nothing more than a Juliet balcony can finally get the grill he deserves with a Handrail Grill. Setting snuggly along the ledge on your outdoor handrail, the stainless steel box allows you to grill up everything for a personal-sized lunch or evening one-man feast. Since nobody outside of a full-fledge barbecutionist needs a full-size grill, why not simplify your space and get something that feeds you and a friend? No more nights in the drive-thru line or two-minute terrors from the microwave; you're an innovative man now. Don't you forget it!
Solar Powered Work Station ($2200)
How many times have you needed to charge something while working and can't find or reach the plug? Instead of draining yourself and sucking the energy out of your home or office, get outside and soak up the power of the sun with a Sun Table, a natural way of working. The simple workstation traps energy in its tabletop, which then powers the outlets on its sides where you can plug in and power on. You're like Superman without the frustration of wearing a big red cape.
Chip-It Rite ($30)
Choking on your way to the green is no longer an option when it comes to Chip It Rite, a golf instructor that won't talk your ear off in your backswing or swear when you land in the sand trap. A simple contraption, Chip It Rite is the adjustable clip that fits to any club and eliminates common chipping errors, at least 95 percent of the biggest ones. Within a matter of a few swings, there's a noticeable different in chipping results, allowing you to wager on birdies again without the fear of an empty wallet on the way to the clubhouse.
Pet Sweep ($20)
Tired of your dog reaping all the benefits of a finely cleaned home without ever pulling its weight? With the Pet Sweep, your dog will finally do its chores and clean up after itself for once without even knowing it. The four little paw pads having a certain mop-like scrub system that gets the dirt from sticking around, and better yet, it keeps that pup from making any further messes. It might seem a little ridiculous, but it won't be so ridiculous when they're cleaning the house while you enjoy the game.
Drywall Axe (price TBD)
Being a handyman just got a lot safer and less frustrating. Instead of reaching for pencils and trying to make accurate cuts whilst holding the measure tape, you can have it all in one clever Drywall Axe. The ingenious gadget, created by a man who learned the hard way, combines the common handyman tools of utility knife, measuring tape, pencil all in one. So instead of needing a hand or losing one, you've got everything you need right there in front of your eyes. Now you can measure, mark and cut in one streamlined movement.
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Now for some truly enhancing innovations, like this year's winner for "Best in Show" and "Audience Choice" at the Wearable Technologies Conference, Cynaps, a hands-free, ears-free bluetooth hat produced by MaxVirtual that aids people with hearing loss. The traditional hearing aid-free hat has a built in crystal clear microphone above the ear in its lining for lightly hearing impaired people. With its control panel on the brim, a quick squeeze can take phone calls, adjust volume and do just about any activity with both hands. With companies MaxVirtual paving new roads and giants like Apple looking into eyewear innovations, the future is looking bright and sounding clearer for those of us with an armful and slowly fading senses.