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10 Christmas gift ideas for the technically-minded junior geeks

Tech gift ideas provide an alternative to the latest smartphone or tablet for the young consumer who has everything

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 2016, 9:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 12:38pm

Christmas gift buying decisions are taken out of parents’ hands on the day children learn to write their first letter to Santa.

Within a few years, there seems nothing left to buy for the indulged young consumer who has everything and, by teenage years, the latest version of their smartphone or tablet becomes almost the go-to gift.

It’s a safe bet that such a present would be welcomed, but it’s not very original – and anyway, wouldn’t it be nice to restore some element of surprise?

In that spirit, we’ve made a list – and checked it twice – of tech gift ideas for the junior geek. Maybe, among them, is something even they haven’t thought of.

1. Virtual Reality. Let your tween be the first in your building to get his hands on Oculus Touch, a newly released hand controller for the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset launched in March. This much-anticipated VR companion makes gaming far more powerful and interesting – and gives serious street credibility to its owner.

2. Speaker Cube. For hi-tech DIY-ers aged 8 and over, Bose has designed a build-it-yourself Bluetooth speaker. The Speaker Cube is the first product from the company’s BOSEbuild range. It comes as a kit that lets children explore the science of sound by making a speaker, and use their creativity to personalise it with different colours and covers.

3. Modern day Meccano. The model construction system of yore moves into the 21st century with the Meccanoid series, an advanced robotics building platform enabling children to build themselves their very own AI friend. True to the brand’s heritage, each robot is bolted together using metal parts, but has built-in voice recognition technology to converse with its maker, and can be controlled by voice commands or companion app.

4. Challenging Lego. Not to be outdone in the innovation department, LEGO Technic challenges experienced LEGO builders with elements such as working suspensions, pneumatic power and functional gearboxes. The companion app has digital building instructions, but also lets you zoom, pan and spin the image 360 degrees to see each LEGO Technic element animated from any angle you want.

5. Baby love. Cabbage Patch Kids is another favourite childhood brand given a hi-tech makeover. The CPK Baby So Real is the most realistic doll yet, coming to life with a child’s touch with animated LCD eyes and open, close and look around.

6. Connected toys. Sphero SPRK is one of the new-age educational toys from Sphero. This cute robot ball helps teach children how to computer program, from the basics to complex text-based coding.

7. Fun activity. LeapBand is a children’s activity tracker that encourages active play with a customisable pet pal. The 50 fun challenges will keep them moving – and entertained – for hours.

8. Action camera. Every household needs an action camera to capture physical feats from amazing angles. GoPro is your go-to brand – wrap one up for anyone in the family for a holiday slide show as you’ve never seen before.

9. Robotic pet. So your child wants a pet and (a) you can’t be bothered; or (b) it isn’t practical. Enter Chip, the smart and lovable, Bluetooth-connected, highly responsive robot dog that just might keep everyone happy.

10. Coding gift voucher. A Christmas tech camp at BSD Code and Design Academy Hong Kong will have your young geek building web sites, creating robots or making movies in no time. Children’s coding courses are designed for ages seven to 17, from beginners to intermediates and advanced skill levels. Like the choose-your-own-adventure books of old, there are six different camps to pick from this Christmas.