Tech 10: Gadgets and Gizmos for Entrepreneurs
Running a start-up is no walk in the park…even if some of your meetings take place in one.
As most new business owners will understand, you’ll hardly be spending the first few years residing in some swanky, marble entranced office building, fully decked out with the Super-Projector 5.000 and all the technological trimmings.
Working from home, on the move and on a budget is a perilous obstacle course.
Here we’ve compiled a list of ten affordable (for the most part) gadgets that are sure to make your day a little easier, a little more efficient and definitely more fun.
For suspicious minds. No one is doubting the brilliance of cloud storage. It’s made many a life easier. However, those of an entrepreneurial disposition often suffer from a certain paranoia about the security of their closely guarded secrets. Instead of panicking about idea-thievery every time you release something to the cloud, how about investing in one of these little devices?
The File Transporter, by Connected Data, available for £179, is a private cloud solution just for you! No monthly fees, all the same data storage properties and no security worries. So you can relieve your digital guard dogs and rest easy that your nuggets of genius are yours and yours alone.
When working from home, leaving your makeshift deskspace is a dangerous undertaking. The fridge is right there, the dog wants playing with and you’ve just remembered how long it’s been since the bath had a good bleaching. Anything that can help you to avoid these booby traps is a real bonus. Say hello to ivee!
ivee is a wi-fi-centric voice activated assistant for your home. She listens to you, answers questions and can control any internet-connected device in your surroundings. So if you need to set an alarm, turn on some motivational music, understand a fluctuation in Japan’s stock market or even if you just want a friendly voice to keep you company, ivee’s your gal. She’s just met her Kickstarter target, so she should be available to buy pretty soon.
Because human beings are visual creatures. With the advent of image-based social networking, photo printing has gone a little bit out of the window. But, we all love a story board, right?
Forget the faff of connecting your camera to your laptop and the laptop to the printer – too many wires involved already – and the frustratingly inevitable task of hunting around for the right sort of photo-paper and wondering when you last cleaned the cartridge heads. The LG Pocket Photosmart , available for £107, is a portable printer that connects wirelessly to your smartphone and pops out your recent images at the tap of a button.
With the smart editing function, this might just make for a brilliantly gimmicky business card idea. Snap a picture of you and a prospective client, type out your details, print off and hey presto, they won’t be forgetting you in a hurry.
We weren’t kidding about the parks. When you don’t have a meeting room and haven’t the cash to hire one, you’ve got to get a bit inventive about where your liaisons take place. And when the weather has been as nice as it has this summer, sometimes a park feels like an appropriate place to conduct business. But when you’re sitting cross-legged on a picnic mat, the chances that things aren’t going to tumble out of your pocket (and into the grass and camembert) are pretty slim.
Enter stage left the hippih hipKey (£69.95). It is a device that you can attach to any of your valuables – be that keys, iPad, dogs or offspring – allowing you to keep track of their whereabouts. It’s got a distance triggered alarm function, with a reach of up to 50metres, that will alert you when you become too far separated from whatever it is you don’t want to lose, as well as a tracking device that will locate it.
For anyone who is even remotely interested in technology, the arrival of 3D printing has been more than a little exciting. Even if you’ve just been poring over the hilarious and melted-looking 3D print blooper reel that has been going around, you’ve still been showing an interest.
Obviously, getting the full benefit of a Makerbot Digitiser requires actually owning a 3D printer, which many of you won’t, BUT there is still a lot of fun to be had if 3D printing is beyond your budget. The Makerbot is essentially a 3D scanner – it will create a clean, watertight digital model of the object you place in it. From this you can either clone endlessly, or add one 3D model to another to create your own design.
Granted, it’s not exactly essential to start-up business warfare, but it doesn’t have to be totally irrelevant. What about using the Makerbot Digitiser to clone a 3D model of your company’s logo? Or to make customised key chains and paperweights?
Now this little gadget is absolutely useful, as well as having the added benefit of making you feel like you’re in Minority Report.
The mobile version of the Air Mouse from Gyration, available for £53, has laser and motion sensors which allow you to control your cursor from almost any surface, including the air. This means you no longer have to worry about finding appropriate work surfaces and, what’s more, it means you can conduct browsing sessions and presentations from up to 100 feet away.
Totally unnecessary, absolutely guaranteed to agitate your obsessive compulsive disorder, but completely addictive.
The Fliike by Smiirl is a real-time Facebook like counter. So, if you’re wanting to boast of your success or just keen to stare at it and worry about the frequency of the dial turning, the Fliike has an annoying level of appeal.
You are trying to work at your desk (otherwise known as the living room table), but the whirr of the washing machine, which is surprisingly aggressive, is becoming seriously distracting.
The QuietComfort 20s herald the next generation of noise-cancelling headphones from base-loving Bose. Designed to eliminate outside noise – Bose tested them on aeroplanes, subways and a busy train station, so your washing machine shouldn’t be too much of a challenge – these headphones are about to be your new best friend. They even have an “aware mode” which allows you briefly to let in outside noise, should your girlfriend suddenly appear in front of you with an urgent request.
Yes, it is actually a pen. But good grief, it’s so much more. The Wifi SmartPen from Livescribe, available for £168.28, is able to record everything you hear, say or write, be that words, diagrams or sketches. It can then transfer this data to your tablet, phone or laptop, for easy access wherever you are.
You can even tap anywhere on your notes to play recordings collected at that same moment.
Because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And this Jack really likes to snatch the odd five minutes (read: half an hour) to play games on his iPhone.
Bladepad is a detachable, slide-out, console-style controller for your iPhone, turning your mobile gaming experience into something much more hi-tech.
Loads of great games are compatible with Bladepad, so you won’t be limited to some measly car-racing or snowboarding app. They are currently making a few hardware changes in order to be compliant with Apple’s upcoming game controller standard for IOS 7, but should be back on the market this year.