Future Gadgets: Hottest concept tech of 2012
22nd Jun 2012 | 14:35
Autonomo autonomous vehicle
A sci-fi movie staple, the pilot-less car of tomorrow could one day look a bit like this sexy piece of automative futurism. The Autonomo would use a drive-by-wire system to direct it while pootling about, and is wrapped in a photovoltaic skin that turns the car into one big solar panel.
Designer: Charles Rattray
Citroen Taranis off-road racer
Like the offspring of an drunken fumble between a Citroen Saxo and Christopher Nolan's Batmobile, the Taranis rolls around on double-jointed wheel arms and is accessed through gullwing doors. Also, it's named after the Celtic god of thunder, which can only ever make things more awesome.
Designer: Peter Norris
Fresh honey with none of the bulky beekeeping suits? Phillips reckons it's all in our futures, with this concept Urban Beehive which lets you keep your very own bee colony in your living room. Bees come and go through an entrance hidden under the flower on the front panel, and then toil away making honey in the pre-constructed hive. Getting at the honey requires pacifying the bees first, which is done by pulling on the dangling cord, which releases a puff of smoke into the hive that makes the bees sleepy.
Eclipse cordless phone
It's sad that with the explosion in popularity of mobile phones we'll never really have a use for this uber-cool landline design. A sleek metal oval, the bottom portion serves as a charging dock for the cordless phone.
Designer: Sebastien Sauvage
mChip portable HIV testing card
A portable HIV testing kit that gives a positive or negative result in minutes, and costs about a dollar per unit. This isn't just wishful thinking, either; the mChip is already in the prototype stage, and uses a $100 card reader to identify diseases including HIV and Syphillis. Trials have shown the tech to be just as accurate as expensive and time-consuming lab tests, and patents have already been filed, so expect it to start saving serious lives in the near future.
Designer: University of Columbia
If driver-less car pods sound a little too detached from you your sci-fi future, try this Honda chopper on for size. Designed by Peter Norris, the chopper is fully electric and takes design pointers from Star Wars and Japanese manga.
Designer: Peter Norris
iFood remote control kitchen
The iFood is a remote-controlled kitchen, kitted out with Tron-like appliances that take orders from a touch-display on the fridge. From here, you (or your robot butler) can control the temperature of the hobs, monitor the kitchen's power usage and predict potential glitches or meltdowns, while the iFood's LED displays blink through important information like food temperature, weight and readiness timers.
Designer: Chiara Daniele
The Stratoliner is monstrous bird, designed to fly higher and further than any plane in history. It's trick is to switch off it's engines for the last 20% of its inter-continental flights, using its onboard computers to glide it back to Earth, thereby saving on fuel.
Designer: William Brown
Airborne Avalanche Rescue System drone
An unmanned aerial drone that would hunt down victims caught in avalanches, the AARS (quiet at the back) launches from its solar power dock and sprays the locations of any buried people it finds with bright paint, making it easier for search and rescue to dig them out.
Designer: Tatjana Rolle
These spider robots have been designed to perform repairs and sort problems in places human beings can't go. At least, that's what the scientists who designed them say. As far as we're concerned, the arrival of running, jumping mechanical spiders our cue to start bulk buying tinned food and pulse grenades.
Scan Board portable scanner
A portable scanner that allows you to take it to the book, rather than the other way round. The concept is simple: just pop the clear display over the page, snap a scan of the text and then upload it to the computer via USB. The actual business of scanning uses a moving laser pane inside the clear panel, just like in a regular desktop scanner - although how well this would work without darkness could be a sticking point.
Designers: Jo Jae-Hwan and Shin Se-Hwah
SeaSTOL Very Light Jet
Flying cars have always had a Jetsons crapness about them, as far as we're concerned. This SEASTOL Very Light Jet is a whole other beast, however. An acronym for Sea Short Take Off and Landing, the VLJ is a personal aircraft that's as happy landing on short runways as it is landing on water. Norwegian aircraft designer Tomas Brødreskift now runs a personal aircraft manufacturing company, and describes the VLJ as being "still on our design table". We'd like to register our interest in a review copy now, please, Tomas.
Designer: Tomas Brødreskift
The next logical step on from current devices like the Lenovo Ideapad and the Motorola Atrix, the Split is a modular laptop that lets you pick which of the components you'd like to use. So, you can use the display on its own like a tablet, or from a distance with the wireless keyboard, or chuck everything in together and be left with a laptop.
Designers: Dae Hoon Jung
An environmentally friendly solution to the world's printing needs (and perhaps finally putting an end to all that "think before you print" bumf at the bottom of e-mails), the tanning printer uses a magnifying eye to concentrate natural light into a beam that burns black and white text or images onto the page. We can see some problems cropping up during the winter months, but with enough light to absorb the tanning printer would do away with black printer ink altogether.
Designer: Hosung Jung, Junsang Kim, Seungin Lee and Yonggu Do
Tropical Island Paradise Yacht
What to give the oligarch who has everything? If they've already splashed the cash on a couple of megayachts and a private island, why not offer the convenience of both in the same, monstrous entity? That was the thinking by the folks at Yacht Island Design, who cooked up this floating middle finger to poverty, starvation and economic recession. There's even a little volcano on the top, which we can only pray erupts and buries the whole thing in magma.
Designers: Yacht Island Design
The perfect stocking filler for the tech-savvy oenophile, this futuristic wine stopper assesses the drinkability of the stoppered wine, reporting the temperature and even suggesting a time at which the wine will be at its most quaffable. Being from the future, it would also beam updates on your wine to your phone or tablet via WiFi. Madness.
Designers: Kwang-wi Park and Eun-ji Lim
British designer Jeremy Innes-Hopkins thinks he has painted the future of Nokia with the handset that is all about movement. The sizeable posterior contains an electro-magnet and holds a camera The magnet moves, shifting the weight distribution and allowing the phone to effectively 'stand up' on its own. This allows for a rather novel way to interact with the phone, to reject a call, you simply tap the phone and it will retreat back to its original position.
Designer: Jeremy Innes-Hopkins
PlayStation 4 concept
No doubt likely to be the first of many, this mooted design concept for the next generation PlayStation suggests it will include a 1.5TB HDD and Full 3D 4K2K compatibility amongst other high end features. Crafted from 60 per cent recyclable materials, there's further green points gained by using 0 watts of power in standby mode with an ECO Restart feature meaning gamers can resume games at the point they turned the console off at without requiring large amounts of power. Throw in a 3D Blu-ray player, HDMI connection ports and USB 3.0 connections, Qriocity integration, Sony Ericsson sync PlayStation widgets and we'd be quite happy with that.
Designer: Joseph Dumary
Ford Evos Concept
We may never be able to drive it, but this could well be the blueprint for cars in the near future. Connecting driver and vehicle through a 'personal cloud' Ford explores the idea of making your driving experience unique to the individual by choosing the same music you stream in your house in your car and selecting the ideal interior temperature before you get in. When will we see it in action for real? We hope it's not too long...
Video: Ford Evos Concept
BeFresh fruit storage
Remember those episodes of Dr. Who where everyone wears jump suits and sustains themselves by eating nothing but nutrient pills? Well, we prefer this vision of the future, in which fruit is not only still on the menu, but kept ripe and fresh for longer in a BeFresh fruit storage unit. Using a process called photocatalysis (one for Wikipedia), the BeFresh fridge would remove the gas ethylene that causes fruit to go mouldy, keeping our future fruit crisper for longer.
Designer: Davide Pietrasanta
Named 2011 Innovation of the Year at this year's T3 Gadget Awards, we still hold out hope that this portable gaming console will still come to life. Developed with Intel, this is about the size of a CD case, making it the most portable gaming laptop ever. There’s no need for a mouse, as the keys adjust their configuration depending on what you’re playing, so all your weapons are to hand in a first person shooter. The screen is also multitouch, adding another dimension to this pocket-sized gaming demon.
Samsung Galaxy Skin
Many a manufacturer has flirted with the concept of a bendy screen, so it might not be too outrageous to think that the Galaxy S2-makers could be the ones to make it a reality. The Galaxy Skin concept is acutally the work of a design student who suggests the use of a flexible Super AMOLED touchscreen housed in a slimline body with minimal physical features.
Designer: Haeyon You
This all touchscreen keyboard can be customized to work with any language and can change colour if the glossy black finish isn't really your colour. The ABC keyboard also caters for left handed typers and would have built-in memory to keep your docs, pictures and video easily accessible.
Designer: Iaroslav Neliubov
This is the plane of the future, according to Airbus. The structure of the concept cabin mimics the efficiency of bird bone and features an ‘intelligent’ membrane that can be made see-through for unrivalled panoramic views as you fly. The walls change colour according to lighting conditions, and it features holographic pop-up gaming displays to keep yourself occupied while you fly.
Digimo Camera Concept
Capturing expertly shot scenic shots from all angles should be a breeze with this concept that combines multiple cameras which can be positioned anywhere to allow photographers to take snaps wirelessly from a distance.
Designer: Sangik Lee
Easy Set Easy Control Alarm Clock
Not a morning person? The Easy Set Alarm clock hosts a LED panel and dimmer lights to alert you as to how much time you have before you should be heading for the shower. It certainly beats unsuccessfully reaching for the snooze button.
Designer: Chang-ho Lee & Ki-hoon Han
We know that the Cupertino company likes to refresh its MacBook line pretty much every year, but we may have to wait some time for one to turn up looking like this. This vision of the Mac future suggests a paper thin build, tactile feedback, 3D scanning and absolutely no wires.
Designer: Tommaso Gecchelin
My Pace Goggle
Upping your game in the pool these tracking goggles host a LCD panel that can project real-time performance and stats which the swimmer can view just as they perfect the front crawl. It runs on soiar power so it should stay juiced up for some time as well.
Designer: Joh Minhoo
We are sure there is many an amateur snapper still frantically jumping from different modes to capture a great picture, but with the Svelte cam it shouldn't really be a problem. The 12.1 meg shooter would feature an iAuto mode to adjust settings to whatever environment you are in to ensure stellar snaps. Its compact and slender build should also make it a pocket-friendly piece of kit.
Designer: Vladimir Nikolic
Tea-time tea steeper
Making a cuppa with a difference, the tea-time tea steeper uses a timer/filter to prevent tea leaves from ending in your cup as your brew trickles down into the bottom beaker. It's a simple and sleek tea-making solution that doesn't look too shabby doing it either.
Designer: Pengtao Yu
If Tweeting and Facebooking from your laptop, tablet, smartphone, car is simply not enough, the Tomodachi blocks could be next on the social networking agenda. Wirelessly connecting to the web, each block is dedicated to a friend whom you'll be able to interact (stream video and audio) while blocks can be piled high for some group chat action.
Designer: Aya Shimada
Sketcher Digital Sketchpad concept
The HB pencil is dead, long live the tablet. Well, it's not quite true, but with the likes of Wacom perfecting the art of allowing you to sketch your digital designs as you would do on paper, this concept could be the next step. Using a 12-inch AMOLED multitouch screen with LED backlighting, illustrators and designers uses a jog dial to zoom into areas of the canvas and a 5-megapixel camera to snap hand-drawn sketches and turn them into digitized pieces of art.
Designer : Massimo Battaglia
Xbox Prestige concept
Will it show up at CES 2012? Is the new Xbox primed for an E3 2012 announcement? The speculation on the 360 successor is set to ramble on for some time and this concept should keep people talking. Visualizing an Xbox with motion sensor technology at the very heart, it would feature two built-in cameras, an 8-core processor, support for 3D and the ability to purchase games by scanning a chip that let's you play the game in the cloud.
Designer: Joseph Dumary
Samsung HD3 console concept
One plucky designer has spilt his conceptual guts out on this rather Vita-looking machine. According to the designer, the Samsung HD3 would run Android, sport the Galaxy UI and blow anything Sony can do out of the water. Sound too weird? Well, remember that people laughed at both Sony and Microsoft when they got into gaming.
Designer: Dumary Joseph
Sensics Smart Goggles
Films like Tron are both evidence of our fascination with virtual reality and inspiration for companies like Sensics to keep chasing the VR pipe dream. Sensics' 3D Smart Goggles look rather Tron-inspired, though they are very much in a prototype stage at the moment. The holes on the front are all cameras, capable of tracking head movements inside the goggles and hand gestures outside the the goggles giving you full control in your new world.
Link: Sensics Smart Goggles
Chaotic Moon Board of Awesomeness
It looks like an electric skateboard with a kinect sensor and a Windows 8 tablet stuck to the front of it... because that's exactly what it is. At least, on the top that's what it is. Underneath is an 800-watt motor, two power supplies and an interface module. And the result? A gesture controlled, all-terrain electric skateboard that is capable of speeds up to 32MPH.
Designers: Chaotic Moon Labs
Link: Chaotic Moon
Nikiski Concept Laptop
Intel executive Mooley Eden took great pride in showing off some ideas surrounding this years generation of ultrabooks. The most interesting of these was that displayed by the Nikiski concept laptop, which prominently featured a transparent, elongated touchpad. Both sides of this window function as touchpads, meaning that even when you close the clamshell, you can still use a letterbox-sized portion of the screen from outside the laptop. The demonstration featured a funky, tiled, Windows 8-esque interface that looked like it had a lot of potential.
People People Wi-Fi Invisible speaker
Whilst T3 demands high-end audiophile sound as standard, we’re also gluttons for peer-impressing interior design – particularly if it’s devoid of wires and opacity. Doing away with the monotony of black plastic and brushed aluminium, People People’s see-through body gives a unique take on the home speaker and, when fixed to the wall and paired with a small wireless adaptor, removes the need for unsightly and obtrusive cables as well. It gives a new meaning to the term “transparent” sound – you can have that joke on us; tell it to an audiophile and they’ll fall about laughing, guaranteed.
Designer: Per Brickstad - People People
Link: People People
Minority Report was a great film right? But it's legacy will always be one thing and one thing only: it inspired a blind fascination with gesture controls. This time it's Mercedes' turn to try and make it work, with their 'Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience' (DICE). The idea is great - you can use gestures to control all your normal dashboard functions, including music, GPS and climate control. For the moment though, the system is in a very early development stage so it isn't really up to scratch... yet.
Husqvarna Concept Baja
Husqvarna's latest concept bike is a beauty. Whilst clearly flaunting some 70s retro-chic, it's not afraid to show off some modern touches such as the LED headlights and instrument display built into the crossbar. The Concept Baja is no slow-coach, and is powered by a 650cc single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with an electronic fuel injection and a five-speed wide-ratio transmission. Husqvarna has a good record of putting their concept bikes into production if they're well received, so we could be seeing this in shop-windows sooner rather than later.
Nokia 1 Tablet
This Lumia-inspired Nokia tablet comes courtesy of Jonas Daehnert. This design opts to go with the controversial stylus, but there's no denying that Windows 8 looks tailor-made for tablets and partnered with typically chic Nokia styling, this concept shows just how mouth-watering the prospect of a Nokia tablet is.
Designer: Jonas Daehnert
Tokyoflash Kisai Stencil LCD Watch
On first look, the Tokyoflash Kisai Stencil LCD Watch looks like an unfathomable mess of dots and lines. Look closer. It's not the lines and dots that tell you the time, but the space around them. Get it?
Once you get used to how the watch works, it's remarkably simply to read, and very nice looking to boot.
Designer: Heather Sable for Tokyoflash
Trax Mark II
The Trax Mark II concept watch tells you the time using a caterpillar track-inspired belt system, slowly rotating its way through the day. The correct time will always be that shown between the red brackets in the middle of the watch-face.
This is currently only a concept, but if you jump over to the Tokyoflash website you can register your vote and help this watch find its way onto your wrist.
Designer Jean-Michel Bonnemoy believes that modern camera designs are out-dated. Traditionally, camera form factors were dictated by the need to include a roll of film in the back. Nowadays that is obviously not the case, so why do cameras still retain a traditional form factor?
The D-Can is cylindrical, designed for ergonomics and ease of use over everything else, and it is far more compact as a result.
Designer: Jean-Michel Bonnemoy
Magic Macbook Pro
Take a Macbook Pro and... hide a iRemote in it? Works for us.
The iRemote is stored behind the trackpad, which slides out when needed. The remote is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled, meaning you can deal with your music, files and other bits and pieces from afar.
Designer: Enrico Penello
Assuming a beautiful quad-core phone would ever make it into the real world considering the latest news from RIM, we'd like to think that if BlackBerry changes its mind further down the line, the Blade could compete against the iPhones and Android phones of this world. A quad-core processor running at 1.5GHz, 4.5-inch AMOLED display and 12-megapixel camera are touted for a smartphone we are most certainly never likely to see.
Ahead of the Italian car manufacturer’s 50th anniversary next year, transportation student Mark Hostler has designed this concept which draws from Lamborghini’s long and luxurious design history. The car will most likely feature a small 5.0 liter V12 engine, powered by two turbochargers and feature direct injection technology. It also looks a little bit like the Batmobile which makes us want to drive it even more.
Designer: Mark Hostler
Fancy a bit of social photography action? This concept snapper enables a group of friends who are also need to be in possession of an Apollon camera to take photos of the same event and then combine them wirelessly to deliver the action from different angles. You can then also transfer digital copies of all the images back to your camera, leaving you to choose which ones are keepers.
Designer: Gordon Tiemstra
Those Cupertino chaps continue to work on merging iOS and OSX worlds closer together, but what would it look like if you mix and matched the hardware? Maybe it would look a little something like this. Taking the Bluetooth Magic Mouse and keyboard from a Mac and combining it with the Retina display-toting new iPad, it could just be the ultimate laptop/tablet hybrid...
Designer: Zeki Osek
Maybe you would never consider hanging up your iPad on the wall, but this 145x235 mm tablet is geared towards adding slate action to your living room or wherever there is a free space to give it pride of place. Toting a multi-touch AMOLED screen, the slick-looking tablet which doubles as a digital painting, will deliver weather forecasts that can be quickly accessed before you head out, deliver travel planning facilities and create a natural ambience to put you in a good mood for the day ahead.
Designer: Marko Vuckovic
With rumours of Apple releasing a smaller version of the iPad swirling around the net, it’s no surprise that a few people have gone to the effort to illustrate just what it might look like. These pictures give a good idea of the size difference we can expect if speculation is anything to go by, which still isn’t a huge difference when compared to the iPhone sitting alongside it. And if you want an even better idea, Ciccarese Design have made a printable paper version of the 7.85 iPad for you to hold in your eager hands.
Designer: Ciccarese Design
We particularly like Halo. Not just because the concept product is incredibly stylish, but because we can also see it being extremely useful. Halo is a small electronic business card, built like a very tiny tablet. The diminutive device stores and displays a copy of your business card just like the physical version, then all users have to do is touch their Halo with someone else’s and their cards will be exchanged. Saves sifting through those piles of tattered cards on your desk.
Designer: Fitorio Leksono
It's still early days for Microsoft's mosaic-style mobile OS, but this Windows Phone fan is already looking to the next instalment with a handset he is calling the Nokia Lumia 920 and runs on Windows Phone 8. Adopting much of the same design elements seen on Windows 8 tablets such as grouping live tiles and also features the logo. Renders they may well be, but its a stunning vision of what could be when the next Windows Phone OS lands.
Designer: Jonas Dahnert
When’s a yacht not a yacht? When it’s pretty much a floating home. The Rieul-Useful comprises of two floors: the top consists of two bedrooms, a lounge and kitchen; the bottom is a private dock with space for a single hull yacht up to 15m long. The whole thing has a very art deco look to it, and perfect for those who want the life at sea without skimping on the luxury amenities.
Designer: Hyun-Seok Kim
Here's one we can see as particularly handy for architects and engineers. The Softsheet concept takes the flexi screen concept to the next step, projecting a drawing onto a touch sensitive transparent sheet, which you can zoom in and out of using your fingers. It’s also foldable, so when you’re finished you can roll it up as if it were ordinary paper. And because it doesn’t require the destruction of any trees, it’s eco-friendly – which can only be a good thing.
Designer: Gautham R Varma
Google caused a stir with the unveiling of its Augmented Reality glasses, but it’s no surprise to see potential competition already brewing. Sunglass designer Oakley claims it is developing a similar technology capable of projecting information onto lenses, specifically targeted at athletes. Oakley’s CEO said that the headgear would also utilise voice commands, much like Apple’s Siri. We think they look more stylish than Google’s proposal...
One day maybe Acer will make a smartphone that will be universally loved and maybe it will look something like this gorgeous-looking concept. The Android 4.0 smartphone with two ‘chins’ uses the lower one to display icons and apps and the other dedicated to the camera. Available in a variety of colours, Hsus suggests the phone would feature the latest quad-core chip processor technology. Let’s hope Acer are keeping an eye on these slick designs…
Designer: Dan Hsus
We’re not so sure whether another Samsung tablet is really necessary at the moment, but if it looked anything like this, we'd definitely have some time for it. Sporting Galaxy Beam-like projector functionality, the One tablet would swap Android for Windows 8 and enable users to display movies and data onto the nearest wall. Measuring in at 14mm thick and sporting an aluminium body, it would be the perfect kind of kit to show off in a meeting.
Designer: Laura Hong and Charles de Belizal
Reports of Zuck’s attempts to break into the smartphone-making business has once again surfaced and it’s not taken long for someone to second guess what the Facebook founder could have planned if the latest stories prove true. This mock-ups suggests that the social networking wonder will be deeply integrated into the operating system and largely inspired by design of the existing smartphone app. All we ask is that it’s not called ChaCha if it does land.
Designer: Jay Moon
For those not satisfied with Apple’s third generation tablet mainly because of the lack of a keyboard, you might just be wishing that Apple makes this a reality. As well as a built-in keyboard, designer Luis Pedro Fonseca suggests the iPad 4 will feature Bang and Olufsen speaker technology and a new 12-Megapixel 1080p HD camera. He also suggests the fourth generation tablet should have an aluminium frame which should enable the device to take a knock or two.
Designer: Luis Pedro Fonseca
The words 'printer' and 'sexy' don't generally go hand in hand, but if they looked a bit more like this “courteous printer” we’d happily invest more time and money in one instead of waiting to do our printing at work instead. Swirling the paper around a vertical drum the finished print out arrives at the bottom of the bucket design and with minimalist looks shouldn't take up too much of the computer area in your house.
Designer: Yang Jae Wook
First and foremost, the Gigaset is a phone, but it's designed to clip onto your clothes, making the phone itself hands-free and removing the need for headphones or a Bluetooth headset. Unclip the phone and put it into the docking station, and it'll automatically turn into a clock. Turn it on it's side, and it becomes a loud speaker for a phone call or for music. The Gigaset is a multi-talented handset, albeit a conceptual one.
Designer: Patrick Loh
Induction hobs are already busy making kitchens look like Star Trek cabins, but Future Cook is a different beast altogether. This is an interactive kitchen counter, with built in induction hobs, food processor and washing area. The Future Cook will even give you nutritional information on the food you're cooking, and even recipes for you to follow.
Designer: Aslıhan Tokat
The U Transfer lets you transfer files between USB sticks without the need of a PC. The USB drives slot together to transfer information, and the small touch screen on the device itself would presumably be used to select files and folders to trade between the memory sticks.
Designer: Yiyan Cao
The Navigation Glasses help blind users to visualize their surroundings, both in front and peripherally. Sensors in the glasses pick up the layout of the surrounding area, and deliver this information to the user via auditory feedback through the accompanying earpieces. In addition, a microphone allows the user to communicate with the device and get accurate real-time feedback.
Designer: Xu Guang-suo
The Blue Experience is a dedicated Facebook Phone, designed for the social media-savvy modern day gent or lady. It has instant buttons for easier access to different applications such as Instagram and Spotify, and a dedicated ‘Like’ button. The wedge design means the display is easily viewable even when the phone is flat on a table.
Designer: Tolga Tuncer