Amazing and Chic Wood Accessories for your High Tech Gadgets

There’s a new trend I’ve noticed in accessories for your high tech devices; they are going much more rugged and raw.  Wood is all the rage right now when it comes to cases, covers and gadgets.  Read all about it below, or watch the segment on CTV News by clicking here. (You’ll be redirected to the CTV site)

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Lumberjack plug
Ilovehandles.com

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The lumberjack plug is a great example of where adding small touches of wood can really make a difference. Yes, it’s your standard USB plug, but instead of plastic or metal, it uses a nice soft wood; just enough to warm it up. It’s not only a nice touch if you prefer more natural materials, but it looks less sterile, and it’s something that’s just a bit different from a regular charger. iLovehandles also makes my new favourite organization accessory (as seen in the video) Paperback notes that stick to the back of your phone for reminders, grocery lists, etc. Yes, it’s not technically wood, but it is paper, and we all know where that comes from, right?

Wood headphones
Mezeheadphones.com

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Wood headphones sounds like a contradiction in terms, but these headphones from Meze are a great example of adding natural materials to technology. The company says the wood in these headphones makes for a richer sound when listening to music or other audio. While I don’t think I’m enough of an audiophile to fully appreciate the resonance wood headphones would provide, I love their soft feel, and warm richness, just as a fashion statement alone.
Wood iPad sleeves:
Grovemade.com

grovemade
When I first got my iPad, I searched high and low for a really great case. I wish I had known about these sooner. Grovemade makes these very flexible wood skins, with a soft fabric lining that will hold your iPad securely in place, and keep it protected.
Coffee Maker
Canadiano.co

Canadiano coffee maker in Walnut
Canadiano coffee maker in Walnut

Just one more example of the way many of us are looking to nature, instead of to technology to enrich our lives. This coffeemaker from Canadian company Canadiano, is very similar to the old-fashioned pour over filter set ups that many of our parents grew up with, but instead of ceramic or plastic, this one is a natural wood. The company says that over time, the wood will delicately infuse your coffee, and as such they offer this coffeemaker in a variety of woods, like walnut, cherry and birch.  It brews a cup of coffee that reminds me of the French press style. You need to let it settle because there will be a wee bit of grit in the coffee, but it gives you that bold richness that you expect from coffee that’s been made by soaking in the grounds.
Wood iPhone dock:
Valliswood.com

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I first found Valliswood on Etsy. Mario, who makes these beautiful solid wood iPhone docks in a variety of configurations is a one-man operation. The docks he handcrafts are great because they can be configured to any phone or tablet style, the cords run through the middle and out and nicely carved niche in the bottom, so the wood dock sits flat.  Docks like this are a really great way to bring more wood into your office workspace; a little bit of the outdoors indoors.

Bamboo Lap desk
iskelter.com

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One of my pet peeves working with a laptop has been it gets really hot. Whether it’s on a table surface, or on your lap, it heats up constantly. The bamboo lap desk from iskelter is loaded with lots of giant holes, which allows airflow to keep both your lap and your laptop cool.
Wood Cell phone covers

keywaydesigns.com

keyway 6_-_Jatoba_Black_1024x1024
Keyway Cell phone case

 

Many people go looking for a shiny slick case for their new phone.  Others wish for a simpler time, and for them, there’s wood cases by Canadian company Keyway. They make wood and wood hybrid cases for all varieties of cell phone, which lets you keep a rustic and raw look for your tech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a wood tech accessory you love?  tell me about it in comments below.

Review: LIFX Smart Light Bulbs

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.51.24 AMOur homes are getting smarter; whether it’s a dishwasher that can self-diagnose problems, or small appliances that turn themselves off, or washing machines that can sense how full the machine is or how dirty the clothes are, or thermostats that learn our habits and adjust themselves accordingly, every year we’re gaining the ability to do more.  Once a novelty, smart light bulbs are popping up everywhere.

I tested a pair by LIFX, a US company that got its start on Kickstarter.   LIFX is a wifi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you can control with your smartphone. But why would you need to use your smartphone for a light bulb?  Well, wifi connectivity allow you to use your phone as a remote control, dimming or brightening light from where you sit, or even adjusting colour and hue.Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.20.42 AM
The bulbs arrive with just a tiny basic instruction booklet in a nice heavyweight box. All you need to do is download their free app and click on it to begin the set up process.   While they required minimal set up (just screw them in and turn them on) I did have some difficulty initially getting them started out of the box, since neither would connect to the app.  I hit google and the company’s website for solutions and found each bulb has a tiny reset button on it. I simply flipped the switch, and the bulbs connected almost instantly.  Once they were installed, the fun began.
Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.20.33 AMThe lights have a wide array of colors and brightnesses. For the basic ‘white’ light most of us use every day, there’s a host of variations;  on your smart phone there’s a dial which allows you to control whether you want a cool bluish light, or a warmer pinkish yellow light. In the house, in rooms like the bedroom and living room, I prefer a warm soft glow. Cold light to me, i.e. blue reminds me too much of the harsh fluorescent lights of the workplace, so I avoid it wherever possible. On each of the variations of the white setting, you also have the ability to brighten or dim the bulb from your smart phone. It’s very easy to control, and the color wheel setup in the app makes it easy to see what you’re getting or what else is available to change it to.
Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.20.21 AMI wasn’t certain I’d be using the colored bulbs settings, after all, who needs a red light bulb in their lamp? As it turns out, I did find several great uses for the various colors. On Halloween night, I dialed up a bright orange light in one of our lamps and set it in the front window. It was an instant signal to trick or treating children to come to our house for a candy bounty. Similarly, at Christmas time, I could definitely see using red or green settings in a lamp to create a festive atmosphere.

A sample of colours I used during my in-home tests.
A sample of colours I used during my in-home tests.

Now that Halloween is over, I find myself setting up a lavender color or warm orange or yellow, just to warm up the house as winter weather sets in. In the summer, I could see a cool blue or green giving off a nice refreshing vibe, on a hot summer night. I also really like the fact that there’s not just your standard red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple range of colours; there is every shade and tone in between so you can find a colour that perfectly suits you and your moods.  So as far as colours go, I actually did find I used them frequently, which is not what I was expecting.

 

LIFX bulbs also work with a product I love and recently reviewed, the Nest thermostat. As soon as your Nest switches itself into Away mode, LIFX can make it look as if someone’s home by automatically turning on and off your lights throughout the house.  A feature LIFX says it’s adding with an app update is the ability to set timers for the bulb that will allow you to dim yourself to sleep, or wake up to a gently brightening light in the morning.

While these are likely not bulbs that will replace each and every light bulb in your home, in a few key fixtures such as lamps, or dining room lighting, they are perfect to give you variety and atmosphere. In the bedroom, or children’s rooms, they will also provide a nice ambiance, or a little more fun for kids.

LIFX says their bulbs are designed to last 40,000 hours, which if used at 4 hours per day is 27 years.  That’s a good thing, because the bulbs are not cheap.  Whereas traditional bulbs, or even compact fluorescents can be had  for  a dollar apiece or less, the LIFX cost $99 from the company’s web store.

I’ll be demonstrating these on an upcoming Tech Talk TV segment on CTV.  Watch for updates!

Pure Camping Genius; Camp Caddy kitchen on wheels

campcaddy 6 As a camper who’s also a cook, I refuse to make hotdogs when we’re out in the woods.  We have 2 large bins of kitchen gear, plus a stove, and we use it all.  It’s definitely a pain in the neck to carry all that stuff back and forth.  But now, a pair of Albertans have come up with what I think is a genius way to run your camp kitchen; the Camp Caddy.

The couple has invented a kitchen on wheels; it comes with cupboard space, tabletop, racks for hanging towels, a slot for your campstove, and even pop up legs so you’re not scratching around at dirt level.

campcaddy 4

The genius of this isn’t just in what it holds, it’s that it’s pop up and pop down, and it fits in your trunk.  I’d love to try it to see how much gear it will truly store, but even if I still had to lug one other bin along, being able to pull up the telescoping handle and pulling this one into place makes so much sense.  It’s one of those ideas that makes you wonder “why didn’t I think of that?”

camp kitchen1

Check out the Camp Caddy Kickstarter Campaign, and check out their video below. They’re about $200, and there’s a price break if you pledge to buy 2!  Camp Caddy says it will ship in May 2015 if their campaign is funded.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Jewelry & Technology Meet in Ringly

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.23.19 PMI found a great new gadget that’s as pretty as the jewelry I love, because it IS jewelry!  It’s a ring, that doubles as a messenger, vibrating and lighting up when a phone call, text or other alert comes into your phone.

 

These  rings from Ringly  are gold-plated brass, with different semi-precious stones such as moonstone, onyx and quartz in 19×14 mm size..

 

Used with the free app, you can set different vibration patterns and different light colours to tell you about different types of alerts when they come into your phone.  Ringly is water-resistant, but the company doesn’t recommend getting it soaking wet: you can wash your hands, but don’t take it swimming, diving or aqua cycling!Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.23.52 PM

 

Only a few sizes are available, and because it’s plated, the ring can’t be resized.

 

Ringly is pre-ordering right now, with stock set to ship in 2015.

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