Based on a year of research by PSFK Labs, we curated a list of near future-proof holiday gifts
This holiday season, gift wrap the future. This year’s PSFK Holiday Gift Guide taps into PSFK Labs‘ year-long research—soon to be available as a Debrief Report—curating a selection of future-facing ideas that take on tangible form for 2016.
Smart or dumb, online or offline: this guide covers a range of innovation, from a virtual assistant to a tech-connected nursery to a streetwear brain zapper (FDA-cleared, of course) to a retro-futuristic podcast mic to a book-turned-furniture. Don’t just consume—consume smart.
These are gifts with staying power—and they’re pretty darn cool.
The PSFK Holiday Gift Guide 2015
You can’t give a crystal ball that projects the future, but you can give the next best thing: Researched insights into the next few years, including expert voices from the hottest industries. In the past year, we’ve looked at experiences in architecture, retail, travel, digital safety and more, offering readers vital guides to help navigate their way into the year ahead. Take 50% off select reports using promo code HALFOFF at checkout.
For: Knowledge-hungry innovators
Give the perpetual host in your life perhaps the world’s most beautiful water pitcher. In addition to its elegant design, Soma’s filters promote sustainability using plant-based resources instead of the typical petroleum-based plastic. The sturdy wood handle and coconut-based filters evoke an elemental connection to nature. Each purchase includes the 10-cup pitcher, a filter and a $15 donation to charity: water. Recipients can also sign on to receive replacement filters every two months for $12.99 per piece with free shipping.
For: Hosts with the mosts
Know someone swept up in matcha madness? Sharp’s new Tea-Ceré brings the traditional Japanese beverage into the homes of tea lovers everywhere. Developed in conjunction with tea experts from Japan, the four-cup reservoir can serve a piping hot cup of perfectly frothed matcha from the comfort of home. As opposed to coffee, matcha is lauded for its health benefits, from anti-aging antioxidants to amino acids, which prevent a caffeine crash.
For: Caffeine addicts with a flair for good taste
Instead of giving your kid technology this holiday season, why not let them create technology? Tech Will Save Us provides kits that let kids create fun, colorful projects while learning basic concepts in physics like circuitry, capacitance, conductivity and the properties of sound. Kids can test the limits of the physical world by playing with DIY kits ranging from Electronic Dough to Speaker, Gamer, Synth or Thirsty Plants. After all, these interactive building blocks are a perfect introduction for any future makers.
For: Tech-addicted tykes curious about how things work
Price: Kits range in price from $25 to $98
Inspire your friends and family to build out their fantasy home. The ARCKIT lets aspiring architects bring their design ideas to life through its modular components that snap together. This capability allows endless creative possibilities and eliminates the need for glue. The ARCKITexture library lets designers print elements like wood flooring, terracotta tiles, stone walls and more onto adhesive sheets to add some finishing touches to their designs. Perhaps this kit will invite amateur architects to invoke some of the design principles from our recent Building Tomorrow report in their miniature builds?
For: Amateur architects ready to realize their ideas
Price: Kits range from $70 to $400
If you know someone fond of taking the road less travelled, whether that is camping in Yosemite or traversing the Sahara, give them the gift of light. Luci is an inflatable solar light that is waterproof, shatterproof and collapsible to just one inch. Its solar panels absorb sunlight and store it in a lithium battery until it is ready for use. Eight hours of charge can last up to 12 hours. Its LED lights can fill an area of 150 square feet (14 square meters) with light. While Luci will light up the tent, perhaps the journey away from the connected life will help elucidate some of the other mysteries of life.
For: Outdoor and adventurous types
If you have a friend or relative who keeps a stockpile of canned food in the basement or a bug-out bag near the door, consider gifting them this portable radio this season to keep them informed in the face of disaster. Created by design studio Kikkerland, this hand-crank-powered radio also has a solar panel for an alternative source of energy. It lasts for 30 minutes from 1 minute of cranking or 5 hours off sunlight.
For: The survivalist with a penchant for good design
No matter what you’re smoking (we won’t judge), the Pax 2 limited edition gold vaporizer sets an industry standard for elegant and efficient accessory design. This loose-leaf vaporizer’s intelligent heating and cooling systems deliver a potent inhale on a power efficient battery, while its brushed gold aluminum exterior keeps your vice consumption in vogue.
For: The stylish smoker looking for a tool that would sit pretty next to a gold iDevice
A Tech-Connected Nursery
What can you buy for someone who’s already given the gift of life? Try peace of mind. Connected nursery gadgets monitor infants and give parents real-time updates, letting them know when to take action and when to take a break. The Withings Home security camera tracks noise and air quality without distracting from nursery decor, while, inside the crib, the Mimo Movement cribsheet monitors baby’s sleep and movement patterns. Owlet baby socks make sure that babies’ breathing and heart rate remain stable throughout the night.
For: New parents balancing “peace and quiet” with “peace of mind”
Price: Products range from $180-$249
What’s better than a black card? How about a black card that stores all your credit cards—enter the Coin 2.0, a secure, connected device that consolidates your credit and debit card information and toggles between accounts with the tap of a button. Like Coin 1.0, Coin 2.0 swipes at checkout like a regular credit card; version 2.0 also integrates NFC and EMV technologies, adding tap-to-pay capabilities and enhancing security.
For: The techie who likes to travel light
Withings’ line of activity trackers masters the art of quantifying your health without sacrificing style. At face value, the Withings devices are so darn gorgeous, you could be easily fooled into thinking them dumb. The latest designs—a coral Activite Pop and sleek Activite Steel—track steps, runs, swimming and sleep, showing your daily activity progress at a glance of the subdial, allowing you to dig deeper into your health data through the app.
For: Those looking for a smarter wrist but without the screen
Price: $169.95 & $149.95, respectively
Grocery shopping can be as painless as telling your fridge magnet what you need. The Hiku is a scanning and voice-enabled shopping button, and, in its 2nd generation, is now integrated with major online grocery services. Simply put, you can press a single button on the magnet to scan barcodes or talk to it, adding items you need to the accompanying mobile shopping list app, which updates in real-time so roommates or family members can see what’s already been purchased and what they still need. With Walmart and Peapod integration, users can order the groceries they want directly through the app.
For: A household that shares groceries and craves convenience
Your new roommate Alexa comes in the form of a lightweight cylinder with an illuminating blue ring on top to let you know she’s listening. Unassuming in appearance, Amazon Echo is powerful in execution. The virtual assistant is your hands-free smart home hub. Ask Alexa to set an alarm, add something to your grocery list, turn off the lights, play a radio station, or ask her what’s on your calendar, what the traffic and weather report for the day are, and so on. Alexa smartens up as it learns your habits, and Amazon updates Echo with new features consistently.
For: Connected homes looking to get their daily debrief at their beck and call
The Neat Widget series of USB microphones affords aspiring and seasoned podcasters alike with an inexpensive piece of equipment equipped with the necessary specs to execute their craft with prowess: 96kHz/24 bit audio, shock mounting, adjustable height and integrated internal pop filter at under 2 pounds. With capabilities for Skype, conferencing, video, blogs, voiceovers, music and more, these Widget microphones are also a surefire way to quirk up even the dullest of conference rooms.
For: Homebrew podcasters with an affinity for the retro-futuristic
For travelers perpetually searching through their weekend getaway tote in search of their phones and passports, the Voyager bag offers the perfect packing companion. The side bag can hold up to five days worth of gear and keep the owner connected from any remote destination. A dedicated tech pod neatly houses a phone, battery pack, chord, pen and notebook for the connected life. As it turns out, the Future of Travel is quite stylish and comes with a $725 price tag. Optional Wi-Fi provided by partner Karma, a pocket-sized device that rests in the 100 percent leather sleeve, runs at an additional $175.
For: The modern nomad
Price: $725, plus $175 for optional Wi-Fi
The Tree Bag is the next-gen of designer accessories: a fully biodegradable bag made entirely of natural materials including coconut fibers, natural rubber and walnut wood. The production of the laptop carrier is inspired by the cradle-to-cradle principle, which means they’re 100 percent compostable, as well as water-resistant and lightweight. While your smartphone-tablet-laptop trifecta may be headed to the landfill, their eco-conscious carrier can go straight to the ground.
For: The mindful consumer
Price: € 245 (medium bag) – € 275 (large bag)
Warby Parker’s Winter 2015 Optics Collection brings good things in little circular boxes, with a variety of new shapes and colors (as well as a selection of returning knockouts). Since selecting the perfect frame for a face is an intimate experience, the eyewear designers Home Try-On option makes it easy to test up to five glasses before purchasing. Surprise your giftee with a curated box of seasonally-sensible frames to admire in the comforts of their own home before they commit to the perfect pair.
For: The friend who doesn’t have vision insurance anymore
Price: Starting at $95
The holidays are hard. The other 11 months of the year are hard, too. The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is FDA-cleared for treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia at home, using a mild electrical pulse to stimulate the brain’s serotonin and other mood-improving chemicals. In collaboration with streetwear fashion brand Mishka, Fisher Wallace aims for the millennial minds—one in five of whom experience depression symptoms—with a brain stimulator touched with 90’s punk aesthetic.
For: Your seasonally-depressed BFF
With their collections of cards proclaiming “You’re dope,” “Never too old to funk,” “This shit is bananas,” and more cheeky phrases and facial expressions, Punkpost brings back the glee of getting a card in the mail (remember mail that isn’t a bill?). Choose a card, and they’ll hand-write your message in a language of your choice, including emoji, and handle that tricky process of remembering your friends’ birthdays, finding a stamp, and putting it into a mailbox for you.
For: Far-flung friends and fans of quirky humor
Price: $6 per post
The black-and-white cookie gets a sweet splash of color with Oreo’s Colorfilled custom packages. Using their web app, shift the doodle-canvases of artists Timothy Goodman and Jeremyville around on a virtual package to find the right outline, and fill in colors for segments between the lines. Personalize it with your own message and Oreo ships it for you. (Milk for dunking not included.)
For: A cookie-fiend coworker or sweet-toothed relatives
If you need your busy agenda on your wrist but miss your Game Boy Color, the Pebble Time transports pixelated charm to your wrist. Read full texts and emails, and get social media notifications before deciding to pull out your phone. The Time integrates with health apps and activity tracking, plus Uber, news and calendar alerts. Water-resistant design lets you take it on that Polar Bear Plunge, and the e-paper display keeps it easy on the eyes.
For: Lover of the latest gadgets but with retro taste
In a future where everything’s chromed-out and connected, there’s something soothing about a more natural timepiece that serves just one function: tell the time. Short for Spring Break, these watches are made from nubuck leather and 100 percent recycled maple wood for a low carbon footprint.
For: Lumbersexual luddites and spring breakers, of course
Price: $69.99 – $79.99
For those of us packed in urban centers like sardines, space is at an all-time premium. Multifunctional products like the Bookniture, then, are all-time value deals, functioning as a display item, stool, standing desk, workable bench…you get the picture. Take this ‘book’ off the shelf and open it for on-demand furniture that can carry up to a ton.
For: Urbanites low on space, high on friends
Price: $86 (free shipping worldwide)
The heartfelt slogan “liberty, equality, fraternity” plays into the fabric of this sustainable shoe brand so much so that it stands to become “Oliberté, equality, fraternity” instead. Since launching in sub-Saharan Africa, the footwear company measures the quality of its premium kicks against its impact on the people and planet that help supply it. Set foot in a new fashion mind-frame.
For: Sure-footed Social Justice Advocates looking to ‘walk the walk’
Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal Home Manager to help tip the Work-Life balance in your favor? Surely, your loved ones could do with spending a little more time with you and less with a leaky faucet, laundry runs, or grocery demands which can instead be handled by a vetted right-hand manager? Through the app, members can chat with the Hello Alfred team for special holiday requests like helping set up a dinner party or finding the right mixologist for an event. Members can also snap a photo of a recipe and their Alfred will make sure all the ingredients are bought and in the fridge by the time the member comes home. This is the gift of time.
For: The busiest bees
Price: $140 (for 1 Month, NYC + Boston)
Billed as the most comfortable smartphone-powered VR Googles, Merge is just what a budding industry needs to gain an entertainment foothold. The purple Merge VR headset is made from soft, rugged foam and offers users its own curation of content to browse through. What better way to entertain your quick-to-bore teen than by shunning them to their own content-supplied virtual space?
For: Virtual reality enthusiasts aged 14 years and up
Getting a surprise flower delivery is a special kind of delight. Getting a jade plant in a copper mug with s’mores supplies? You’re winning Best Gift Giver. With a new holiday selection including classics like mistletoe and poinsettia, as well as new twists like red tulips, pine and peppermint, sending even last-minute flowers gets a thoughtful treatment.
For: A couple of budding friends or more
Price: $30 – $88
Give the gift of the future! By analyzing thousands of ideas shared on PSFK.com and beyond, PSFK Labs researchers identified 15 nascent trends that will continue to grow and mature in 2016 and into 2017. Get it here.
For: Forward-thinkers and fast-movers
Our selection was based on PSFK Labs‘ upcoming 2017 Debrief – a special report highlighting the most important trends of the coming year and beyond. The Debrief aims to shed light on the big ideas, products or companies to look out for in the year that will be, covering a range of innovation including tech, contextual computing, design, commerce, and even shifts in the way people are organizing and living their lives.