Top Gadgets of the Year

January 12, 2011

Brit Trogen

The Consumer Electronics Show of 2011 has drawn to a close, leaving us salivating once again over the year in tech. Here's some of the nifty gadgets to emerge over the last year.

If you're into extreme sports, or just feel like recording your life and don't mind wearing massive goggles all day, Liquid Image has just the thing for you. Waterproof, HD-recording snow goggles, capable of capturing up to 300 minutes from right between your eyes, along with a microphone with wind-reducing foam. Now, for just $400, you can re-live every wipe-out... over and over and over. Also in cool camera things: Mattel's Hot Wheels cars equipped with tiny cameras to record their stunts!

I've swooned in the past on the superiority of cockroaches, and this robotic hand is just one more reason to love them. Researchers at Harvard and Yale have developed a robot hand inspired by the flexibility of cockroach legs, solving a problem that has plagued roboticists for 30 years. In the past, robots attempting tasks of dexterity - like picking up a wine glass - would have to move frustratingly slow, or risk knocking the object over with their clunky, inflexible fingers. But with springy, elastic joints that adjust to uneven surfaces, these new-and-improved robots will be able to enjoy a nice glass of chianti with the best of us. Or bring us one step closer to the inevitable robot apocalpyse. Moving on...

Also in the world of robotics, the palm-sized WheeMe is the world's first massage robot, described as the "Roomba for your back." In a variety of shapes ranging from seals and baby dinosaurs to miniature cars, these mechanical bots have small "fingerlettes" that are designed to give a gentle skin massage, using sensors to move across the flat surface of a person's back and never fall off. The machines also vibrate, providing a "nice tickling feeling." Can't help but be reminded of another robot to emerge at CES not so long ago.

Plenty of wireless electricity making the rounds, with toy cubes that respond to each other's motion, and cereal boxes that light up, powered by the shelves they sit on. But overall, it was Sphero that caught the most attention: the robotic ball controlled by your very own iPhone or Android. Okay, maybe it was a kind of weak year. But look at the ball! It glows!

Did we miss your favorite tech? Send us a link in the comments. 



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