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Just like Iron Man © META

Gadgets to get excited about in 2014

Published: 18th September, 2013 at 14:00
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Yes, the new iPhone 5 will be out later this week, and yes, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will hit the shelves before Christmas. But that’s old news. Here’s our rundown of the most exciting gadgets arriving in 2014.


Meta SpaceGlasses

How would you like a mediated reality? One where objects both real and virtual interact seamlessly? That’s precisely what new start-up company Meta wants to offer.


Just like Tony Stark in Iron Man, the Meta SpaceGlasses present virtual objects in the real world and let you interact with them, helping you sculpt a virtual vase with your hands, for example. From there you can 'carry' it over to your 3D printer where it’ll be printed, giving you a physical version of your digital model.

It sounds like science fiction but, as Meta has already demonstrated, all the vital ingredients to make these specs already exist. A Kinect sensor and processor mounted on top of the frame detects objects in the real world, like your hands or sheets of paper, and then tracks their location and distance from you. Meanwhile, tiny projectors mounted on the arms of the SpaceGlasses throw virtual images onto the lens. Watch their video here for a demonstration of how it works.

It may sound like a pipe dream but Meta hopes to have people wearing their unusual spectacles by 2014. Watch out Google Glass.

Find out more: Meta SpaceGlasses

2 headset

If you like the idea of augmenting your reality, then how about improving your mental faculties too? That’s the premise of this headset that hopes to hasten gamers’ reaction times.

A massage for your brain ©
A massage for your brain ©

It uses an existing technology known as ‘transcranial direct current stimulation’, which passes a low-level electrical current (don’t worry, you won’t feel it) through your brain. Think of it as your brain cells getting a massage. In the lab this treatment does improve performance on very simple tests – like picking out a circle in a group of squares, but there are doubts as to whether this effect would extend to a highly complex video game.

That said, if the headset does work, it would be one of the first gadgets on sale to actually augment human ability.

Find out more: fo.cus


Scanadu Scout

There are plenty of gadgets that monitor your fitness. Whether they track your heart rate, blood pressure or the number of steps you’ve taken, they all give you a pretty basic view of your activity. But what about your general health?

Designed by a collective of engineers, doctors and designers, the Scanadu Scout wants to be your personal electronic GP. By pressing it to your temple, the Scout will give you an accurate reading of pulse transit time, heart rate, electrical heart activity, temperature and blood oxygenation. This info in itself isn’t particularly useful, unless you’ve been nose-deep in some medical text books for the last year, so the Scout then analyses the data and tells you if you ought to head to the nearest hospital, or not.

Scouting your health has never been easier © Scanadu
Scouting your health has never been easier © Scanadu

There’ll be an add-on too, which will check your saliva for nasty bugs like streptococcus A, influenza B and adenovirus. They’re even working on an add-on to spot pregnancy complications.

All of the above is technically possible, and the collective data gathered from everyone using a Scanadu could reveal interesting trends in the state of the public’s health. But as with any mode of self-diagnosis, you should apply common sense. Either way, doctors might have to get used to hearing patients say: “I need an appointment. Scanadu says it’s serious”.

Find out more: Scanadu


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Daniel BennettEditor, BBC Science Focus

Daniel Bennett is the Editor of BBC Science Focus. He is an award-winning journalist who’s been reporting on science and technology for over a decade, writing about the science of serials killers, sandwiches, supernovae and almost everything in between.


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