I call these the gadgets of 2017 that makes people say “Coooool”. You know, like what your kids say when they open a gift they really like but have never seen before?

That type of gift is getting easier to find.


The Merge VR is one of the best and most affordable virtual reality headset I’ve seen. It’s made of a spongy type material that makes it comfortable to wear no matter the size of your head. It also makes them unbreakable when one gets dropped or tossed across the room. The quality is as good as I’ve seen in other mid-priced VR headsets and it works with most any phone large or small. What sets the Merge VR apart is that it shines most when trying out ‘mixed-reality’. Mixed is a combination of the virtual and real worlds. Rather than playing a video game where it’s all in animation, mixed reality allows users to see the action play out in the real world. Imagine playing a game of golf on the floor in front of you rather than in just the video game.


The Merge VR has an additional VR block that looks as though it’s covered in QR or barcode. This allows the apps you’re viewing inside the headset to see images displayed through the squiggly lines. When I tested out the Merge VR at CES I held the block in front of me and watched a cool kaleidoscope on the block and played a Pac-Man type game by turning the block from one side to another. For me, the Merge VR was as enjoyable as some of the headsets and systems that cost hundreds of dollars.  


There are dozens of home security cameras on the market and most do a fine job. My favorite is the Canary security camera. I like this camera because my wife doesn’t mind putting on the mantel. It’s a classy looking device that doesn’t seem to be out of place next to picture frames. The HD camera of course has great video quality that you can watch on a smartphone through the Canary app. It will also record video when it detects movement that you can share with police if necessary.


Two gadgets I use absolutely every day are Philips Hue Lights. These smart lightbulbs go into the light socket of a lamp or overhead fixture and can be controlled by an app or by your voice and an Amazon Alexa or Google Home Device. A Hue Light Starter pack is around $70 and is perhaps the best start at turning a home into a smart home. Philips also has a lightstrip starter kit for $156. It’s also controlled through the app and will change colors just by asking Alexa or Google Home.


The Amazon Dash Wand sits on the door of a refrigerator and can be used to add items to a shopping list. Notice you need more milk? Just tell Alexa built into the wand. The neatest feature though is the wand’s ability to read barcodes. Point the scanner at an empty milk carton and it will be added to a grocery list that shows up on an app. Or, you can set it up to order the items immediately through Amazon.

The coolest tech gadget I’ve seen this year is hard to narrow down but the GeniCan is at or near the top of the list. It’s a device that attaches to an existing garbage can and as you throw things away it reads the barcode and adds a replacement to your shopping list. It’s amazing to see it in action. If there is no barcode you can just tell the GeniCan what to add to your list. The startup launched GeniCan earlier this year and has already partnered with Amazon to offer one-step ordering. Just set it up to place an order for any item through Amazon.

Any of these gadgets are guaranteed to make someone on your list say “Cooool!”

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