Technology is changing at a rapid rate and affecting people’s lives to their very core. Have you ever thought about how such rapid changes have altered the way you purchase, use, and dispose of modern gadgets? Not so long ago, if you were thinking about buying smart devices, it would require extensive research. Such a purchase was considered a long-term investment.
Nowadays, most tech is quite affordable. However, its life cycle is very short-lived. In 2017, Americans replaced their smartphones every 21 months. The same year, mobile phone producers sold 1.5 billion devices worldwide.
With the era of the Internet of Things fast approaching, an increasing amount of technology is going to be connected. New cool gadgets hit the markets accompanied by intense advertising campaigns. Still, any new device is out of date very quickly. Updated models are launched within months, sometimes weeks of previous versions. What is more, the operating system or the graphical user interface is outdated and incompatible with newer software. You then have no choice but to get your hands on the next-generation device.
What Happens to Gadgets You No Longer Need?
You might sell them on eBay, give them to friends and relatives, or donate them to a cause. On the other hand, you might leave it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. The UK Royal Society of Chemistry claims there might be as many as forty million electronic devices stashed away in British homes alone.
One smartphone contains 30 different elements, only found in nature. The prediction is that industry will exhaust six of them in the next 100 years. Luckily, many tech components are recyclable and are valuable resources for the tech industry. However, more consumers need to recycle their gadgets. Convincing them to do it is the challenge. It is, after all, impossible to recover the useful components if the gadget is lying unused in a drawer.
Is There A Way Out?
One of the visions for the planet’s future sees technology providing the solution to global environmental problems. Others believe that the constant demand for new cool gadgets is part of the problem. Regardless of your point of view, you’ll find yourself shopping for tech devices in the future. If you’re looking for a responsible approach, here are a few questions to consider before purchasing the latest gadgets.
What Is The Reason For Acquiring The Device?
Do you need it, or is the hype forcing you to buy it?
If your phone is working well, why change it? Keep in mind that sticking with your old device, even for a year longer, reduces your carbon footprint considerably. There is, after all, no real need for mining these rare materials.
Do you really need the latest vacuum cleaner? Perhaps the one you’ve got functions more than adequately, and you don’t need a dozen or more extra functions.
Think about the features you’re looking for and set yourself a budget. Building a budget and sticking with it means you’re less likely to be tempted to buy something just because it’s fresh, and everyone has it.
Is Buying The Only Option?
Before hitting the store, check if there are other options for getting your hands on the coveted smart gadget. If you need it for a specific task, maybe you can rent it or borrow it from a friend who already has one.
What is more, the sharing economy makes it possible for you to share devices with people you’ve never met. For example, shared vehicle systems operate in most American cities. Why buy an electric scooter or car when you can just rent one?
Finally, if you are not bothered about acquiring the latest gadgets, check out second-hand options.
Can Modern Technology Be Sustainable?
The next important question to explore is the production process. Of course, you don’t need to be a detective to find out all you need to know. Visit the manufacturer’s website. Look for companies that produce their products with consideration for the planet but also local communities. Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics rates IT companies in three areas: energy, resource consumption, and hazardous chemicals. The ability to repair or upgrade a device goes that all-important extra mile with regards to sustainability. IFixit rates smartphones, laptops, and tablets according to their repairability.
The Afterlife of Tech Gadgets
After years of responsible use, the time eventually comes when you don’t need the device anymore. What will you do with it? Leaving it to gather dust is probably the worst thing you can do. Throwing it away means it could end up incinerated or in a landfill. Both options contribute to hazardous metal pollution. The Global E-waste Statistics Partnership reports that the USA manages to collect only 24% of the electronic waste according to the regulations.
Some companies specialize in disposing of electronic items responsibly, by repairing or recycling them. Once the gadgets are no longer of use to their owners, these firms make sure they don’t end up in the general garbage. They swipe memories clean, repair, upgrade, and re-sell the tech. However, this only happens in countries where there is proper e-waste collection.
Now you know a thing or two about how to buy your technology responsibly, let’s look at some of the latest tech available.
Appealing Gadgets With a Touch of Modern
Some very attractive tech items might be precisely the solution you are looking for. They fit into a diverse range of categories, according to their use or target market. There are gadgets for men, women, kids, and families. Some devices are digital; others lack a touch screen or camera but are energy efficient. There are gadgets to help you save money, while others can be purchased very affordably.
Smart Home Products
Smart home gadgets fall into a category that’s probably the most diverse. There’s a variety of technology available. For example, a robotic vacuum cleaner, learning thermostat (smart thermostat), and smart lighting. Since it’s impossible to cover every piece of cool new tech, let’s introduce some of the more unusual ones.
Interactive Touch Screen Projector
Sony Xperia Touch costs almost as much as a used car. However, the technology is brand new and still developing, which means the price is likely to go down. The projector turns any surface into a touch screen. Imagine you’re cooking a new recipe and want to check the next step. There is no need to wash your hands and check your phone. You can have the information displayed on your counter. What is more, you can control your cd player, the light in the room, and check your social media newsfeed at the same time. It has two-way speakers and gesture control, making a TV unnecessary.
Water Purifier for Tap Water
Water purifiers have been around longer than smart home gadgets. However, Rocean One caught our attention because of its functions, design, and the company’s mission. It filters tap water and removes microplastics. Additionally, you can flavor or carbonate the water according to your taste. This tech reminds you when it’s time to change the filter – approximately once a year. Rocean strives to reduce the use of water in plastic bottles. The brand has sold out of the first 1,000 pieces but has promised to release limited batches. You can join the waiting list.
Kitchen Gadgets in One
A countertop appliance, the KitchenAid Cook Processor Connect, is not yet available on the market. It offers an impressive list of cooking actions for a single gadget. Some of the device’s capabilities include chopping, mixing, whipping, boiling, stewing, steaming, frying, mincing, pureeing, and stirring. What is even better is that the processor can do some of the functions simultaneously. There is also a built-in balance to weigh ingredients. With the app, you can download several pre-defined recipes directly to the Cook Processor Connect. You can also wash the parts in the dishwasher and have a choice of two colors – red and black.
Ambient light controlling gadgets deliver comfort and peace at home. Philips’ HUE allows you to manage the lights in your home through an app on your phone. With the help of smart accessories like a wireless switch and motion sensor, you can set schedules for the light bulbs to go on and off. There is voice control, as well. Philips offers a wide choice of light bulbs and switches. If you are overwhelmed by the options, go with the starter kit. Another plus is that the light bulbs are energy efficient.
Environmentally Friendly Gadgets
Besides shopping responsibly, you should also explore devices that do not harm nature. Their purpose is also to reduce your impact on the environment. Check out what’s new in green technology.
The Sustainable Smartphone
The Fairphone is the first mobile phone that claims to be a sustainable gadget. What’s unique about this phone is that it’s easy to repair and upgrade its modular components. If you break your display or camera, for example, you can order it as a spare part from the manufacturer’s website. These features make the phone last longer and help reduce e-waste. The founder’s goal is to use fair trade resources and provide excellent working conditions for employees and partners. The producer is an Amsterdam-based company that ships only in Europe for now. The price is less than $500.
Not really a gadget, the Wonder Bag is a South African product wholly designed to save energy, and it is simple. You bring your food to boil on top of a conventional cooker, and then you put the closed pot in the Wonder Bag. Using a drawstring, you close the Wonder Bag tightly and let nature do its stuff. Due to a thick layer of insulation, the food continues to cook, keeping heat inside for up to 12 hours. The bag is made of recycled materials – fabric and repurposed foam chips.
The company aims to lessen the burden of cooking for African women. The Wonder Bag empowers women because it saves them time, allowing them to do other things. For Western parts of the world, this slow-cook gadget is suitable for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of energy they use.
Renewable Energy Cooker
Another gadget that is designed to save energy is the Solar Cooker. Solsource One Earth Designs didn’t invent the solar cooker, but it did commercialize it. With 54 prototypes developed, the company currently offers two models, Classic and Sport. The Sport model is a lighter version. The Solar Cooker looks like a satellite dish that captures sunlight and heats the dish. The cookware in the center is adjustable and allows for food to be boiled, fried, grilled, or slow-cooked. The producer is working with researchers from MIT and Harvard so you can expect many new products in the future.
Solar Charged Outdoor Lights
Suitable for a garden party or a camping trip, solar lights are a convenient gadget. The mini solar panels collect the sunlight during the day and transform it into light at night. If you choose a line of light bulbs, it serves as excellent decoration. You don’t have to worry if it rains because the lights are waterproof. The only downside is that models you find for purchase online come only with plastic bulbs. A beautiful alternative is solar lanterns. Generally, their lid contains a small solar panel, which during the day charges the batteries. There’s a good selection from which to choose. These solar lanterns are perfect for a quiet night in a remote cabin.
Security and Privacy
Technology might continuously be changing, but the need to feel safe and secure to a certain level is constant. It is valid for both your online and offline presence. Let’s introduce two gadgets that can guarantee your peace of mind.
Setting up a home security system on your own would have been very ambitious just a few years ago. Nowadays, however, the possibilities are endless. A security camera with motion sensor operated through an app on your phone is the basic form of a home surveillance system. The Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor is one of the best options in the marketplace. It records videos 24/7, and you can browse through history. Two-way speakers make it possible for the tech to scare off any burglars by sounding an alarm. At the same time, you can hear what any intruders are saying.
The application sends notifications if there is suspicious movement. The camera detects the faces of friends and informs you of their presence. The video quality is 4K. Google offers the same model with an outdoor version. If you’re looking for a smart bell or a smart lock, you need to look at competitors’ websites, since Google doesn’t offer such a thing.
Keep Your Privacy
Is your data vulnerable to attacks? InvizBox offers great protection. You plug in the device, connect it to your phone, and that’s it. Your WiFi is protected, and you can safely transmit any sensitive information. The company offers two models. One covers your needs at home, while the other one is for travelers. There is another cool feature that blocks domains of ad providers, guaranteeing fewer annoying advertisements.
For Your Kids
Children nowadays are accustomed to touchscreens. They learn how to navigate through diverse application interfaces quickly and even expect their alarm clock to talk. Studies show that using electronic devices from an early age has some negative impact on children’s development. However, technology is not all bad, and some cool gadgets help children to acquire new skills. Here is one example.
Da Vinci 3D Pen Cool encourages kids to be creative and better understand the limits of the physical world. The gadget is light and equipped with a micro USB cable. You can attach it to an external battery, and your child can enjoy drawing in 3D anywhere. The creators include a coloring book for beginners. By following the instructions in the guide, kids learn the basics and practice their skills.
Initially designed for business purposes, many devices later become indispensable in everyday life. You might find the following gadget quite useful, not only for business but also in education.
Samsung Flip has features that can change how team meetings function. The 4K digital flipchart provides users with the ability to display notes and visuals while playing a video or scrolling through a presentation. Up to 4 people can work at the same time on the Flip. File sharing is rapid and goes both ways, from the Flip to personal devices and vice versa. When the meeting finishes, you share the notes. You can upgrade the flip by purchasing a portable stand that allows it to be moved around in the room. Another option is to put it on the wall with an option to switch between landscape and portrait.
For Outdoor Lovers
If you are a sporty person, you’ve probably heard about fitness trackers. These devices monitor your heart rate, count your steps, and encourage you to continue with your exercise regime. A true outdoor lover doesn’t need the perfect weather to go for a hike. However, they still must take rain and snow into consideration and prepare accordingly. Following is how technology is changing the textile industry.
The North Face Future Light material sets a new standard for fabrics that are waterproof and breathable at the same time. It stands out from other similar products because of its softness. The North Face team created and laminated an ultra-thin nano-membrane. The idea was to improve the breathability of the fabric without reducing its waterproof qualities. The manufacturer claims that 90% of the materials used are recycled. What speaks volumes about the product’s advantages are the testimonies of global athletes that have tested new North Face products.
Specially designed for cyclists, the Lumos Helmet is the next-level in protective gear. It has white LED lights on the front and red ones on the back. There is additional wireless remote control placed on the handle-bar. By pressing a button, you can signal to cars that you are turning. A yellow light starts flickering on the corresponding side of the helmet. The battery life is up to 6 hours, depending on the flash mode. There is a Lumos App for improving your helmet experience.
Gadgets For Travelers
Some amazing gadgets make the life of a traveler easier than ever before. Let’s introduce two that are extremely practical.
Lost in Translation
Have you ever traveled to a foreign destination and struggled with the local language? The Waverly Ambassador Translator claims to have created the tech that allows people to communicate without experiencing any language barrier. Still, in the testing stage, the Ambassador is close to launching. The set consists of two over-the-ear pieces and dual Micro-USB charging cables. The Ambassador works through an app. You speak your language, and the other person hears a recording of what you said in their language. Pretty, smart, right?
Connected to the Power Grid
Did you know there are several standards for electricity plugs in the world? Luckily, some adapters allow us to charge our phones and laptops and stay connected. However, it’s still confusing to know what adapter to use for each country. QDAPTOR 360 is a gadget to help solve the issue. It offers seven different plugs which cover over 200 countries. There is a safety mechanism that prevents you from plugging in two plugs at the same time. Moreover, it is compact, which is what counts when you’re packing your luggage.
Share Your Thoughts
How useful are these gadgets, in your opinion? Let us know what you think in the comments below.