Gadgets: 5 gadgets for your summer wishlist

Over the weekend, Fred Wilson posted an awesome video of the unboxing and flight of a Parrot AR drone along with a note that he was planning to grab one and develop some custom node.js code for it. After seeing the video, and with spring finally here I started brainstorming about what gadgets I’d want to play with over the summer.

Parrot AR Drone

Shown in the video linked above, the Parrot AR Drone is a remote controlled 4 rotor helicopter that is controlled via an iOS or Android device. What sets the Parrot apart from other similar devices is that it there is an node.js library for simplifying development of custom functionality on the Parrot platform.

Not exactly sure what we’d be looking to build with an AR drone but the Red Bull Air Race comes to mind.

Sphero Robotic Ball

Built by Boulder, CO based Orbotix the Sphero robotic ball is a gyroscopically stabilized ball that can be controlled using an iOS or Android device. The Sphero has a software development SDK and there’s also an active app store to download pre-built apps that work with your Sphereo.

Just brainstorming, but something awesome to build with a Sphero would be an app to draw out large drawings using the Sphero to actually draw the lines. Imagine drawing a 50’x50′ line art graphic by uploading some art and then letting the Sphero roll around the canvas.

Pebble watch

Born on Kickstarter, the Pebble watch is an indie entrant into the “smartwatch” space. Sporting iOS and Android integration via Bluetooth along with a scriptable watch face, the Pebble is shaping up to be an interesting player in a developing market.

As far as development, writing custom faces to visualize information differently or pull data off a smartphone seems to be pretty exciting. It still seems a bit early to get a sense of how the Pebble will fare long term as a platform though.

Jawbone UP

Although primarily known for their speaker systems and Bluetooth headsets, the Jawbowne UP is a personal activity monitor that helps users track their physical activity, sleep cycles, and eating habits. The UP fits into the trending theme of the quantified self, where users track KPIs about their daily life in an effort to iterate and improve. Pulling data off the UP is relatively easy and it also plugins in to RunKeeper.

The “quantified self” concept sounds like it would be interesting to experiment with and using the UP to try it out seems like an obvious choice. Leveraging the UP would also make it easy to “compete” with anyone else looking to jump into activity tracking.

Raspberry Pi

Released last year after intense anticipation, the Raspberry Pi is basically a six square inch board with a fully featured computer including video output and USB ports. Coming in at $25 or $35, the Raspberry Pi is cheap enough to experiment with, hack it, and if it happens break it. With full Linux support, the Raspberry Pi is also robust enough to handle “serious business”.

Looking at the list of Rasberry Pi Hacks, theres definetely some awesome inspiration to build something cool. Using a Pi to power a TV screen with real time interactive content seems like it might be an early winner though – we’ll see where that goes.

Anyway, that’s my list, unfortunately I’m not sure what I’ll actually get around to hacking on this summer. Would love to hear about any other cool gadgets or hacks.