From robotics to self-watering plant tools, we take a look at some of the best products from the electronics and home appliances fair
IFA 2017 in Berlin: Five of our favourite ideas and products
The annual electronics and home appliances fair, Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA), is on until Wednesday and features more than 1,800 exhibitors. We pick our top five.
Virtual assistants are all the rage at this year’s IFA, but RoBoHon, the sharp-dressed bot from Sharp Corporation, gets our vote, and not only because he can detect your face and tell you that he likes you. The 20-centimetre-tall robo-phone hybrid is voice-controlled and can make calls, read messages and emails out loud, auto-type dictated replies, click selfies and group photographs, double as a talking alarm clock, as well as display images, videos and maps onto walls and other surfaces. The robot’s back is a small touchscreen for more complicated functions. While the device has been available in Japan since last year, its latest iteration (with English-language abilities) will make its way to other markets, starting with Europe, from this year.
An easel for your TV
In among all the futuristic, headline-hogging, virtual-reality-enabled smart technology on show at IFA 2017, an extraordinarily simple product made its way straight onto our most-wanted lists. Dutch company Vogel specialises in the simple business of propping up your television – but its brackets are far from run-of-the-mill. NEXT OP1, a collaboration with Danish designer Malte Kidd, is a simple three-legged wooden stand that looks like an easel, effectively turning your TV into a work of art. With its minimalist Scandinavian lines, this product has practicality at its heart, and allows you to place your TV in any part of the room, since it no longer has to be confined to the wall or paired with a bulky cabinet. Cables can be hidden within the stand’s back leg, which can carry a weight of up to 40 kilograms and, because of its tripod-like design, is sturdy but also light.
Get your skates on
If you thought that skateboards were strictly the playthings of teenagers, think again. The so-called “e-mobility” market is growing steadily, as urban dwellers develop a taste for hoverboards, electric skateboards, scooters and suchlike. SoFlow has just unveiled LOU, the lightest and fastest electric skateboard in its class. The skateboard’s narrow, sleek silhouette masterfully disguises the technology hidden within, while a carbon-fibre deck provides enhanced stability. The skateboard is powered by either one or two motors located in its wheel, and can reach a top speed of 35 kilometres per hour. A single battery charge will hold a rider in good stead for up to 25km.
Turn back time
Panasonic has revived a Technics classic, albeit with a luxurious touch. The SP-10 was the first-ever direct-drive turntable when it launched in 1970, and it redefined the music playing and listening industry. The latest SP-10R version is being touted as the most premium turntable ever, with a low wow and flutter rate. The solid brass platter weighs 7kg and comes with a low-noise external power supply deck that minimises hum and vibration, and a cordless direct-drive motor that eliminates rotation irregularities, resulting in “a beautifully clear and crisp audio experience”. While the piece at IFA was a prototype, the turntable is predicted to command a premium price once it’s released next year; the brand’s 2017 SL-1200GR model retails for US$1,700 (Dh6,250).
Grow your garden
“Bring the outdoors in” is a piece of advice commonly dispensed by architects and interior designers. Several studies claim that we spend as much as 90 per cent of our time indoors, and having plants around is proven to boost both mental and physical health. Nurturing said plants may not be everyone’s cup of tea, which is why we are excited about Click & Grow’s Smart Garden 9. The self-watering container can hold nine plants, and comes with three mini-tomato, three basil and three lettuce plant capsules. The patented Smart Soil makes the plants grow up to 30 per cent faster, while using 95 per cent less water. Meanwhile, built-in sensors make sure the plants receive the optimal amount of light, oxygen and nutrients.