From a larger-than-life smartphone-controllable robot to an immersive hot tub you can both soak in and steer around, high-tech toys are very capable, very ingenious, and very desirable as the unique gift of the season.
Seasonal shoppers and holiday gift-givers get the chance to see some of the top tech toys in action this week, ahead of any decision they may have to make about buying a cool new gadget or gizmo.
Some of the most innovative – if not a little whimsical – technology-enabled toys will be put through their paces with daily demonstrations on TV, beginning tonight.
It’s the return of a special week of digital demos on Daily Planet, the nightly science and technology show on Discovery Channel.
Anchored by co-hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin, and supplemented by additional material on the Planet’s social media platforms, each show offers detailed looks at some of the most-cutting-edge toys on the market this gift-giving season.
Like the world’s biggest ride-able robot!
The Kuratas Robot is four meters tall, and it weighs more than a tonne. Yet this giant is easily controlled via an iPhone app or gaming interface. Its legs and arms are fully articulated, so the robot can walk and manipulate other objects.
Now, some owners will want to jump right in: the operator pilot can sit in the robot cockpit, and use an internal dashboard to steer and control the robot.
Japanese engineer Kogoro Kurata created the giant robot a few years ago, and while there are kits on the market, no one wants a ‘knock-off’ product these days. So be prepared for a $1.3 million credit card hit if this gift is on your list.
Especially in the big city, and particularly during shopping season, battling traffic and other shoppers can be a real impediment.
The giant robot might help you get around quicker, but so too, a personal helicopter.
Another Japanese inventor and entrepreneur, Gennai Yanigisawa has a transit alternative – the world’s smallest co-axial helicopter, first introduced in 2006 and now for sale. As the Daily Planet duo discover, the Gen H-4 Personal Helicopter is part jet pack, part chopper. The pilot operator kind of hangs there, suspended from the bottom of the co-axial dual bladed device.
The lightweight personal aircraft can fly at up to 88 kilometres an hour with just an eight horsepower engine, but be warned: if there are any mechanical issues, the nearest service station is in Japan.
A little more relaxing mode of travel will also be highlighted during the week’s Daily Planet programming: the HotTug.
Not sure where they intend to demonstrate this device, but it’s an ingenious combination of a wood-fired hot tub and a functional tug boat. You and your friends can actual travel while soaking in a bubbly bath – heck, your friends (not your navigator, please!) can even sip some bubbly while soaking in the bubbles.
The unique craft was created in Amsterdam, and it chugs along its waterways with a charming chimney puffing at the back. The HotTug can be enjoyed as much when stationary as when moving, but the inventors and marketers better move fast: there’s already some competition: manufacturers of the similarly-named Hot Tub Boat boast a partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, bringing official approval for navigating the waterways.
The craft are available for purchase or rent, and each accommodates several friends or family members.
One high tech toy enabled activity you can enjoy without friends or family nearby is a little surprising, but technology makes it possible.
It’s the Solo, a self operated water ski device that simplifies the recreational pastime by acting as boat, as driver, and as spotter for skiers who want to spend a day on the water.
Safety is an issue, of course, and every skier knows the sport can be quite the production. So the Daily Planet duo learns about the Solo, and the Seattle-based company that developed it.
The personal water ski machine has several embedded sensors, it seems, that give a skier his or her own control over speed and direction.
The Solo is featured on Velocity, a new U.S. channel by Discovery, as well as Daily Planet, and some of the gadgets featured on TV are also featured online, at Tech Toys 360.
Many of the tech toys featured this week are really for the ‘grown-up kids’ out there, but there are several sources of tech toys for ‘real kids’.
For example, youngsters who have a desire to make their own TV show can do so with KidiArt Studio.
It’s a desk-like plug-in device that can connect to a PC or a TV, and with its built-in software and digital camera, kids can make and save media creations like stop action animation.
With the PC, creations can be saved and further manipulated. And when it’s connected to a TV, kids (It’s recommended for those aged 4 to 7) can show off their creations on screen.
Discovery launched in Canada in 1995, with some of the best non-fiction programming from Canada and the rest of the world. The channel’s website has a whack of interactive features as well.
Daily Planet’s “High-Tech Toys Week” airs Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. ET and continues through Friday, Dec. 14 on Discovery.