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Gadget Ogling: Smarter Slumber and Pod-Free Coffee

By Kris Holt TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 1, 2016 2:09 PM PT
eight-smart-mattress

Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that occasionally checks in from eating Thanksgiving leftovers to peruse the latest gadget announcements.

On the side of our turkey sandwich this time around are a smart mattress, a tiny Game Boy, and a coffee machine that shockingly doesn't use pods in 2016.

As always, these are not reviews. The ratings reflect only how much I'd like to use each -- but probably only if they appear in a killer extended Cyber Monday deal.

Connected Sleep

In the previous edition of this column, I revealed how terrible a sleeper I am. My mattress is old, and there's a sizable dent on my side of the bed. It's probably time to find a new mattress, so perhaps it's time to consider one that connects with the rest of my home.

Eight's smart mattress (pictured above) gives you a little more incentive to get out of bed, as you can set up a string of IFTTT recipes to improve your morning routine. The mattress's IFTTT channel offers recipes, for instance, that can start brewing coffee when you hit the snooze button, or turn down your connected lights when the night mode is on.

Enticingly, you can ask your personal assistant to start warming the bed for you. Better still, each partner's side can be warmed to different temperatures.

Through the brilliance of IFTTT, you can set up custom actions. Sending a tweet out to let the world know you're lazy as heck after hitting the snooze button might not be on the level of walking through the streets nude while a nun tolls a bell and chants "Shame," but if it can help develop stronger habits, it can hardly be a negative.

Of course, the connected functions don't stop there, as Eight's mattress will measure the quality of your sleep through your breathing rate and body movements. The accompanying app offers a sleep report with tips for getting a better rest, and it can act as a white noise machine to help soothe you to slumber.

During the night, your mattress will detect your sleep cycle to determine when you're moving into a lighter sleep, so it can determine the best time to wake you through an alarm or turning on your lights.

All it seems to be missing is a massage option and a way to stop me from sounding like a foghorn cutting through the night for it to be a must-buy, but I'm still interested. It starts at US$950, which is a decent deal even for a regular mattress, and there's a 100-day return policy just in case.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Internets of Springs

Chain Game

Occasionally in these parts, we'll examine an item that probably is unlikely to hit the market, as long as it's intriguing enough. This Game Boy the size of a keychain charm absolutely fits the bill.

A hacker put together the miniature game console for the 2016 Hackaday Conference after getting frustrated when he found a keychain version of the Game Boy that could function only as a clock.

The resolution is a little off -- the original Game Boy has a 160x144 display, while this offers a 96x64 color OLED screen. Still, the tiny thing impressively has WiFi built into the ESP32 chip for transferring game files, and it even has enough space for a speaker.

It might not quite have the build of a Game Boy or a 3DS, but it seems to work OK. Given many of the keychain-sized, single-purpose gaming machines I saw in my youth, this is remarkable. It beats the tar out of a Tamagotchi any day.

Key Chain Game Boy

I am a little concerned that the screen might be a little too small, and I expect that I'd fall into many a pit in Super Mario Bros. by mistake, but that's a tiny sacrifice I'd be willing to make. Sorry, Mario.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Tetris Turnarounds

Non-Pod People

My partner just celebrated her birthday and one of her gifts was a coffee machine that uses pods. It's a lovely gift that she truly appreciated, and I'm sure it will be of great use. However, we both are concerned that pods are wasteful and expensive compared to some of the alternative options for machines.

Spinn's take on the single-serve coffee machine is a one-stop shop for brewing (except for roasting, that is). You can feed it whole beans, which it can grind, heat and brew. There's a companion app that lets you schedule a time for a cup to be ready and specify exactly how you'd like your brew.

You also can control a spin using the machine itself or through Alexa -- and perhaps it might work in harmony with the smart mattress mentioned earlier.

Some variants of Spinn come with milk steamers to make a terrific morning latte, and you can use the app to order beans directly from local roasting companies.

These coffee makers are a little pricier than my trusty Aeropress, with preorders starting at $299, but that seems like a price worth paying if it means I don't have to press coffee manually into a cup. Exerting such energy first thing in the morning is a ridiculous prospect, especially since I won't have had any coffee yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Jars of Joe


Kris Holt is a writer and editor based in Montreal. He has written for the Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He's Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word "soccer" in his company. You can connect with Kris on Google+.


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