A 3D printer, a microscope for your phone, gloves that double as handsets...innovation is what gets gadgets going. Here is a list of gizmos that topped our list of innovations in 2012. Read on to find out if your choice matches ours. By Sharad Raghavan
1. Makerbot Replicator 2
Our list begins with one of the most versatile 3D printers in the world. At a time when customisation is everything and everyone wants something unique, the prospects of 3D printing seem limitless. Imagine a world where you enter a design for a mug, figurine, building model, chess figurine or a toy, and the printer renders it perfectly in a variety of materials and in any colour you want. It works by printing layer upon layer of the material in a finely-calibrated design as laid out by you on your computer. And it can all be done sitting in the comfort of your home! Most analysts believe 3D printing, on a sustainable basis, will be the end of manufacturing as we know it; people will simply create what they need at home. However, the real futuristic concept is when 3D printers start printing other 3D printers. Remember the Terminator movies?
Estimated street price: $2,200
2. Luggage Finder
Remember that suitcase you bought thinking it was perfect for you? It was the right shape, size, colour and functionality. But no sooner than reaching the airport, you realised there was nothing unique about it. The search for that suitcase, then, on the luggage carousel became extremely frustrating, with you trying to spot yours among a sea of similar-looking ones—all the while praying that somebody doesn’t walk off with yours!
With Luggage Finder, you don’t have to live that ordeal any more. Simply place the Luggage Finder wireless transmitter in your suitcase, and the accompanying keychain will flash and blink as soon as your suitcase comes within 20 metres of you. Of course, nothing can help you if there are three identical suitcases within that distance; but that’s just bad luck.
Estimated street price: $50
3. Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter
As far as hobbies go, building and flying your own helicopter has few comparisons. The Quadricopter’s—not your conventional single-rotor or dual-rotor copter—stability and manoeuvrability is unmatched. But that being said, the sheer technology crammed into this four-rotor copter is astounding—automatic stabilisation (a boon for an amateur flyer), Bluetooth control via your smartphone and video streaming from on-board HD cameras. While