It isn’t how much you spend, it’s how much thought you put into the gift.
If you’re looking for one of those ‘Wow’ gifts to give someone this year you’d be wise to check out the latest in technology and electronics. There are 8k TVs, virtual reality gaming systems and numerous smart home devices but two of the most interesting tech inventions I’ve seen this year are pure magic.
If you’re a chess player or know someone who plays the ancient game, you know a big drawback is needing someone to play against. There are many computerized versions of chess available online and for smartphones but I haven’t seen anything like the Square Off chess set.
First, it’s a beautifully hand-crafted chess set that’s nice enough to leave out on display. Pieces are made from Boxwood while the finish of the set is Rosewood. Once you’ve set it up, connect the board to the Square Off app on a smartphone. Mine paired quickly. To start a new game you select a player or a computer. You can also challenge other Square Off users from around the world. Square Off says there are currently over 30 million people using the game or app and over 20 million actual chess sets have been sold.
When my opponent moved their piece from their set or phone, their piece on my set magically moved across the board. It was like something out of a Hollywood movie. Every time I moved a chess piece, my opponent would react. When they captured a rook, my piece slid across and off the playing surface. It was if a ghost was sitting across from me.
Real chess players will appreciate how intuitive the gameplay is and new chess players will likely find it easier to learn the game as opposed to playing with an app.
There are several versions of the Square Off chess set. The Kingdom Set is available for $389, although the company is offering it for $100 off plus free shipping through the holidays.
Find it here www.squareoffnow.com
A robot litter box takes the odors away
The other invention that caught my eye is a possible solution to the nastiest trouble with owning a cat, the litter box. The Litter-Robot is a self-cleaning litter box that takes the worry and ickiness out of caring for a cat.
The Litter-Robot takes the place of their current litter box. You simply fill the robot with a clumping litter and wait until the cat enters to do its business. The Litter-Robot senses when the cat leaves the housing and after a few minutes will automatically start a self-cleaning cycle. The globe of the robot rotates so that all the litter sifts through a filter screen inside. The clean litter goes through the screen while any clumps remain behind. It then cycles back so that the clumps are dumped into a wastebasket in the base of the robot. The clean litter is then poured back inside the robot and is smoothed out again.
The company says this saves money because you won’t need to replace the clean litter very often and it saves time because you won’t have to scoop out the clumps. Most people who have cat will only need to clean out the waste bin once a week.
The waste bin is also lined with a carbon filter so since the box is cycled clean immediately, there is little to no odor. The latest version, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect, is WiFi-enabled and the owner can monitor the level of the waste bin along with checking on how their cat is using it.
Will your cat step inside the Litter-Robot? The company, and most reviewers, say yes. The company suggests placing the Litter-Robot where you currently keep the litter box and fill it with the same brand of clumping litter. Cats are naturally curious and will often step inside just to check it out.
The Litter-Robot has a blue-light so you won’t stumble over it in the dark. It also comes with a few plastic bags to use in the waste bin. Litter-Robot sent me a unit to try out and I’ve just introduced it to our cat Skinny. So far, she hasn’t seemed to interested in it but I’m hoping that will change soon. I’ll keep posting updates on the Litter-Robot here if you want to follow her progress.
The Litter-Robot 3 Connect is $499 while the Litter-Robot 3 is $449
Litter-Robot website https://www.litter-robot.com/