Need to know: 11 top techie Christmas gifts originating from the South West
So, you’ve exhausted the 7-day reindeer-themed socks, your loved ones have so many festive mugs they’ve had to buy a second home to store them and Christmas day is looming on the horizon.
We know it can be a stressful time of year, especially if you haven’t found that so-called ‘perfect gift’ for your other half, tech-obsessed teenager or the best friend who already seems to own everything.
No fear, to help get back into the spirit of things, we’ve not only compiled a list of amazing techie gifts that certainly won’t end up in the back of the cupboard, but they’re all from tech and digital companies and startups based in the wonderful South West! What could be better?
Using a clever mobile app as the controller, players can battle both against other robots as well as in single-player mode using the MekaMon’s powerful AI technology – which turns living rooms into virtual battlegrounds.
Available via the Apple website and in select Apple stores (including those in Bath and Bristol), the Mekamon is a strong contender for what the future of gaming will look like.
- Find out more: Mekamon fighting robots now on sale in Apple stores
Following a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign Bristol-based startup VRGO has launched the world’s first VR remote controller that allows for locomotion movement in virtual worlds.
The weeble-inspired interactive chair works by allowing its users to tilt in the direction they want to travel, making movements in VR more intuitive and reducing motion sickness. As well as being a great addition to your VR kit, it’s practical too, weighing just 4kg and having its own internal slot to house your headset and headphones.
If you’re quick, you could get your hands on its latest limited edition black chair that was created for Black Friday.
Cost: from £299 for the basic controller, up to £500 for the VRGO carbon fibre model
Perfect for the musical techie types out there, this monophonic synthesiser kit – designed by Bristol-based Modal Electronics – allows you to build your own synth in less than 10 minutes.
For a small format synth kit, the Modal CRAFT includes some advanced features usually only found in much higher priced synths including 2 oscillators per voice, Sine, Tri, Saw, PWM, Noise and FM and an LFO with six destinations, including VCA amplitude, filter cutoff and PWM.
For the less technical reader its worth noting that, although this synth is little, its sound and technical capabilities will be sure to have its recipient bashing out quality 80s classics in no time at all.
Cost: CRAFTsynth is available from £79.99 from www.gear4music.com. Make sure you also add a USB mini cable or a battery pack to your cart too – you’ll need one to go with it.
Colourful artwork can brighten any space and it makes a great Christmas gift too. This clever little print was developed by Pervasive Media Studio resident Jono Sandilands and supported by Bristol-based science-education tech startup Interactive Scientific.
This is playable artwork at its most delightful, combining the visuals of a lovely retro ‘Connect 4’ print that you can interact with and play in real life too. The perfect gift for retro game enthusiasts or techies with a penchant for quirky prints.
Cost: prints are made bespoke to order and cost £195 each, put your order in via Jono’s Etsy page in the next couple weeks to get it in time for Christmas
Their first product on sale, a quick-release carbon bike rack, has used ingenious engineering design to massively simplify the traditional pannier rack, making it smaller and lighter than ever before at just 350g (that is less than a can of coke) and easy to fit with minimal adjustment required.
Cost: you can buy the pannier rack on its own for £229.99 or with compatible pannier bags for £299.99
Based at the Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio, Mayfly has created a beautifully illustrated journal that perfectly combines digital media with the creative’s lust for capturing precious moments.
The journals work by connecting with a specially created Mayfly app, allowing users to record sound and truly capture the warmth of special moments on travels, adventures and at special events.
Each sound can be attached to individual illustrations in the journal and played back by scanning them with the app.
Cost: £16 for a journal, £8 for a jotter and £6 for additional sound stickers/illustrations
Let’s face it, maths has a bit of a bad rep. But it needn’t be that way. DoodleMaths is an award-winning app for children that makes maths fun whilst simultaneously raising numeracy ability and confidence.
Founded by teachers Nicola Chilman and Tom Minor, and incubated by the University of Bath Innovation Centre, the app was also recognised by the Queen at startup pitching competition [email protected].
So, if that doesn’t convince you that it’ll have your child at the top of the class, we don’t know what will!
Cost: The app is free to download but has more functionality on the premium version for £4.99 per child per month or £44.99 per year.
Beast of Balance is a wild stacking game, also developed at Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio, that’s perfect for grown-ups and children alike.
Connected with an interactive app, the game involves physically stacking animals in a tower in such a way that it evolves them in a wonderful digital world. Different stacks and combinations do different things, so each game offers new and exciting surprises for players to discover.
Much like the beasts in the game, Beasts of Balance has evolved to be a huge success. See how far they’ve come in the last year by checking out our profile of the original prototype game, Fabulous Beasts.
Cost: £69, available both online and instore at John Lewis and Harrods.
These house-shaped workspace ‘dens’ provide a compact, easily movable working environment with plenty of techie additions from mood-lighting and soundproofed upholstery to essential mains and USB power outlets – they now even have wireless charging.
They’ve proven extremely popular in the coolest offices across the South West and beyond, but, they also come in a neat family version – the Nook Home. These combine home office working/ quiet homework space with the addition of a cosy soundproofing curtain and the option of extending benches outwards for extra seating or family dining space. Plus, it even converts into a sofa/ spare single bed!
Each Nook is lovingly made to order so be sure to get yours in at least a couple of weeks before Christmas.
Cost: £4550 for Nook Home, to order email the Nook team and quote ‘TechSPARK’ for 10% off.
For those of you that know someone lucky (or geeky) enough to own a 3D printer, this will be right up their street. Created by Bristol-based startup OmniDynamics, the Strooder turns any recyclable plastic into the material needed to create the 3D-printed objects of your desire.
For the creators, eco-warriors, hashers, re-hashers and those who love to combine tech with art – the Strooder means that old (and dodgy) creations can be broken down and re-used again and again.
Cost: £959.99 for the 3D filament maker/recycler, with additional accessories available from £5.99
- Learn more: Plastic fantastic: crowd-funding campaign launched for device which creates recycled 3D printer ink
“I See Ooo” is a children’s BAFTA award nominated game that encompasses both the original Adventure Time story and three immersive virtual reality games in a collaboration with Bristol-based Opposable Games and Cartoon Network.
Perfect for kids and compatible with inexpensive Google Cardboard headsets, it allows players to explore the Adventure Time tree fort and 14 characters, as well as shoot penguins and take a glider for a spin!
Cost: £2.49, available on Google Play (Android)