5 Innovative Products That Are Making Our Lives Better

As of 2013, only 36% of the world’s population had access to the internet. It is anticipated that by 2015, 50% of the population will have access to the internet, and as a result, we will have officially entered the Innovation Age. The impact that a more connected world could have on our society is immeasurable. Although they may seem like concepts taken from an episode of  The Jetsons, the following are five examples of innovative products that are either currently available or will be in the near future that can dramatically improve the ease and comfort of one’s life.

jetsons

Nest:

Nest is a smart thermostat. This means that it has the ability to learn user habits and can adapt to them automatically over time, so you won’t have to fidget with it in the summer and winter. It also has the ability to connect to many other devices (car, phone, washing machine, etc). Half of one’s energy bill is wasted via the thermostat, so Nest is helpful in the sake of efficiency. In addition to learning your preferences, it knows when you are out of the house, so it turns off the heat/AC automatically in order to save you money. And due to the connectivity of the devices, it knows when your are returning so that your home is comfortable by the time you arrive.

Apple Healthbook:

Apple Healthbook is a new feature of iOS 8 (and a key feature of the highly anticipated iWatch) that measures essentially all of a user’s vitals (heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, respiratory rate, etc). It will also have a feature that measures the quality of sleep that a user received. This new app really seems like it could empower a lot of people to monitor their health more carefully and effectively, and as such, is a prime example of technology improving our lives.
http://youtu.be/0QzdoeMSEcM
Google Self Driving Car:

Though there is a functioning prototype of the Google car, it still isn’t ready to be mass produced for a large market. However, these autonomous vehicles, if mass produced, could greatly reduce the risk of vehicular accidents in the future. Also, they restore a great deal of independence to people who might have disabilities that have prevented them from driving previously.

CrowdFunding sites:

Crowdfunding sites are a relatively new thing on the internet that are essentially fundraising platforms for various causes. Strangers will pool their money together to rally around a certain cause, whether it’s a creative venture (à la Kickstarter) or raising money for someone who’s sick in the hospital. These sites have given the ability to drastically change one’s circumstance all due to the kindness and generosity of strangers.

Mint:

Mint is a personal finance website (and app) that is owned by Intuit. It puts all of your accounts, transactions, budgeting, investments and savings in one easy-to-read location. It will send you alerts about possible fraudulent activity, remind you of bills that are due, and give you a warning when you’ve gone over your budget. It is super helpful for those who often struggle with keeping a close eye on their financial situation.

Oculus Rift: From Kickstarter Darling to Facebook Acquisition

With the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Oculus Rift, Facebook has had a busy year and it’s only half over. The WhatsApp purchase made sense, but shocked some because CEO Jan Koum was adamant about not selling the company earlier in the year.

The Oculus Rift purchase, on the other hand, shocked many more in the technology world. Palmer Luckey, a college dropout, began working on this virtual reality headset when he was only 15, and he created the first prototype in his parent’s garage in 2009. Oculus Rift started as a completely independent company getting its initial start from a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $2.5 million dollars. (The initial goal for the VR project was just $250,000.)

A lot of their Kickstarter backers felt betrayed when the acquisition was announced, and they took to Oculus Rift’s Kickstarter page to voice their opinions.

facebook_62996

“This is not what I backed this project for. Seriously not. I hope Kickstarter will learn from this and find ways to prevent such abuse of their platform in the future. You lost a lot of credibility due to this. And Oculus? Oh well … RIP,” writes Jashan Chittesh on the Kickstarter site.

But Oculus Rift CEO Brendan Iribe had this to say: “Do we want to be Game Boy, or iPhone or Android?” Iribe realized the mobile platform is where to be these days.

If Oculus were to stick to a handheld platform (i.e. Gameboy), their potential reach would be far less. With the help of Facebook’s users, Oculus Rift’s plan is to put one billion people into an immense virtual world. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate,” said Mark Zuckerberg. But creator Palmer Lucky has also assured people that they won’t need to sign into Facebook to use an Oculus Rift. It will operate independently of Facebook. That remains to be seen.

This isn’t the first time a startup with a devoted fan base has been bought up by a bigger company — and it won’t be the last time either. The future of this acquisition remains to be seen, but I will be surprised if these two companies don’t make an excellent product, utilized for much more than just gaming.

What are your thoughts on Facebook purchasing Oculus Rift? Were you one of the spurned Kickstarter backers? I would love to connect with you on Twitter or in the comments below.