Here are 10 innovative, scientific, and exploration-based ideas that are sure to bring joy to you and yours this holiday season.
It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which is another way of saying that it’s two days before Black Friday.
Yes, we’re already on the cusp of another Shopmas.
How the time flies.
Hopes are high at the National Retail Federation, which on October 4 forecast a 3.6% increase in sales for November and December (excluding automobiles, gas, and restaurants), to $655.8 billion.
That’s a lot higher than the 10-year average annual growth of 2.5%, and it beats the seven-year, post-Great Recession-recovery average of 3.4% too. Online sales, meanwhile, are expected to increase by 7–10%.
In the spirit of the season, we present the Wall Street Daily Gift Guide.
This list is based on the innovative, engineered, scientific, or just plain interesting quality of the items presented. And you can track down all of it online.
The Best Ladle in the World
As Andrew Liszewski of Gizmodo notes: “It’s certainly not the worst thing that could go wrong at a dinner party, but having a ladle sink to the bottom of a punch bowl or pot is no longer a potential embarrassment thanks to a clever swan-shaped alternative that’s engineered to float so that it’s always within easy reach.”
It’s the Swanky. If you pledge $32 at Kickstarter, you’ll get two Swanky ladles – “one for you and one for your friend!”
And while delivery is scheduled for January 2017, this is the perfect innovative gift for the host with the most. It’s not only a great way to save money, but it could save the punch, as well.
It’s an Interstellar Mystery-Adventure
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Who doesn’t love Star Wars?
Exactly: Clue: Star Wars Edition is for literally everyone.
Gizmodo’s Liszewski is on the case: “The biggest twist you’ll find in this version of the game is that no one actually dies. Instead of solving a murder by figuring out who the killer was, what weapon they used, and where they committed the crime, Clue: Star Wars Edition ($25) has players trying to escape the moon-sized space station with a copy of the Death Star’s plans.”
Print and Play
Oliver Roeder, writing about the ongoing World Championship of Chess for FiveThirtyEight, wonders whether computers are “draining the beauty out of” the royal game.
It is, indeed, a fascinating debate over the impact of IBM’s Deep Blue on the aesthetics at the highest levels of the game.
At the same time, as depicted in a picture accompanying this story, computers can actually make chess now. There’s no question that additive manufacturing — or 3-D printing — has come a long way over the last five years.
As Mark Frauenfelder notes for Boing Boing, his newest 3-D printer — New Matter’s MOD-t — is easier to set up, sleeker, and quieter than one he picked up half a decade ago.
“The MOD-t also sells for $400 and also uses PLA filament, and I was curious to see how two similarly-priced printers from then and now compare. After using the MOD-t almost daily, I can say with confidence that it is much, much better in every way than my five-year-old 3-D printer.”
Find Your Wave
Any surfers in your life?
They’ll thank you for this, a “US$150 waterproof puck that communicates with a cloud network” and functions as a Waze for surfers.
As IEEE Spectrum’s Tekla Perry details, the Internet of Things device incorporates “a GPS, nine-axis inertial measurement unit, barometer, thermometer, and a battery that lasts two to four hours… It reports ocean conditions and logs waves caught in real-time, so a user’s friends can check in on not only water conditions, but how the surfer is doing, helping them decide whether or not to head to that spot themselves.”
Flo Labs, the startup for which West Askew engineered the device, has secured $275,000 in venture funding so far. It’s in the beta-testing stage. The company plans to take orders starting in July 2017 and ship to surfers beginning in the fourth quarter next year.
The Agony of Da Feet
This one’s personal.
During the late stages of my preparation for the Marine Corps 10K, I began experiencing serious pain in my right foot. There was no way I was not going to race.
But I’m on my way to my orthopedist next Monday for what I hope is just a case of plantar fasciitis, but what I fear could be a stress fracture. I also ran myself into some left-knee pain, the result of favoring my right foot.
So yeah, I could definitely use RecoverX’s portable thermoelectric app-driven hot/cold wrap for “general athletic recovery.”
For Kids of All Ages
Who wouldn’t be excited to receive a “zippy, carbon-fiber” electric scooter that “weighs only 15 pounds, is easily carried, and has a small form factor when collapsed”?
Michael Borys, writing for Boing Boing, notes that he uses the Swagger “to blow off steam after long meetings.”
And $399 seems like a small price to pay for what looks like a cool tool for meeting potential mating partners.
The Future Martian in Your Life
One of our kids or grandkids is going to be the first human to set foot on Mars.
As the Kickstarter for Epic Space Adventure: Mars Rover Rescue explains, “Your favorite giraffestronaut and robot are back, and this time they’re forming a rescue party to search for a missing Mars rover.”
The 56-page book, including illustrations by Galen Frazer, presents “space science in a way that’s easy to understand, combined with an exciting story line and character interaction.”
A pledge of as little as $13 will get you a hardcover copy of the book plus an e-copy and “super secret bonuses.” Kicking in $22 gets you two hardcover copies plus the extras.
There’s much more on offer, including a companion memory matching game suitable for even very young children, a sticker pack, a coloring book, and, of course, “a few super secret bonuses.”
“The Perfect Collectible for Insane People”
“It sounds preposterous, but to be fair, if you head on over to your local office supply store, a generic box of copy paper — 5,000 sheets of paper — will run you about $50. Quill will sell you the exact same thing for just $40, and its paper comes wrapped in fantastic Star Wars designs and retro artwork from A New Hope. So this is actually sort of a deal.”
As J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats’ The Food Lab notes: “The ‘sous vide’ part of sous vide cooking refers to the vacuum-sealed bags that are often called for when you’re using the technique. However, these days, when someone says ‘sous vide cooking,’ they’re generally referring to any kind of cooking that takes place in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath, whether you’re actually using a vacuum-sealed bag or not.”
And here’s precisely the tool to make that “fantastic technique” everyday-accessible and to establish “a very high level of control over the texture of the finished dish, while eliminating any chance of over- or undercooking it.”
“I’ve been cooking with it for months now,” he writes, “and I’m in love.”
We first came across Vremi’s olive oil dispenser via Kinja, which was sponsoring a deal for the “ingenious” product that enables you to measure before you pour.
Empiricism is everywhere good. But in the kitchen, it’s particularly welcome.
Yesterday, we shared J. Kenji López-Alt’s advice on how to navigate the minefield that can be preparations for a Thanksgiving feast.
You can bring his knowledge, gained through years of observation and experimentation, home for yourself and your loved ones via his first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.
Editorial Director, Wall Street Daily
Wall Street Daily
Wall Street Daily