Hottest Gadgets: Pokédrone, Smart AC Controller and Scandinavian Timepieces
From an energy saving air-con controller to Pokédrone, we round up the city's latest in tech.
Things Two Watch
Two super-cool Hong Kong watches with a heavy Scandinavian influence have floated across my radar this month and you’re going to want them both. Well, you will if you’re anything like me, and into a more minimalist style that jettisons the silly dials for something a little sleeker.
First off is a Kickstarter project from Linjer, co-founded by Hongkonger Jennifer Chong. The Scando brand is all about fine workmanship at great prices, and after the successful launch of a series of beautiful, affordable leather bags, they’re back with a couple of gorgeous looking watches. Two subtly different designs both feature quick-release straps if you’re looking to change things around, and a pared-back look available in three different diameters: 34, 38 or 41mm. Retail price is US$329 ($2,552), but the Kickstarter price is just US$159 ($1,233), with estimated delivery in November. As of writing the Kickstarter has raised US$378,000 and the project closes on Aug 13—so you’d better get in quick.
Alternatively, Hong Kong hipster god Alexis Holm of Squarestreet has just launched his newest line of watches—the SQ38 Plano. These 38mm watches have a super-skinny bezel that puts all the attention on the watch face itself, with intricate and subtle texturing that you can only see up close. A super-skinny case means it fits nice and flush with the wrist, making the gold finish a lovely dress watch—but the black case makes for a great casual look too. They’re on sale now at the shop and online for a very agreeable $1,850.
15 Square St., Sheung Wan, squarestreet.se
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Summer in Hong Kong means junk trips, barbecues… and soaring air-con bills. That’s why for the last month or so I’ve been checking out the Ambi Climate, a smart air-con controller from Hong Kong-based startup Ambi Labs. This unassuming little box plugs straight into the wall and your internet connection; an iOS or Android app enables you to control your AC straight from your phone. But it’s not just limited to ensuring that you can walk into an ice planet when you get home from a sweaty commute. Instead, the Ambi Climate is all about keeping it smart. Sensors read both the temperature and humidity in the room, adjusting the air-con to deliver your preferred temperature—which saves you money by avoiding pointless cooling or heating. It takes about a week of regular feedback through the app for the device to learn what you like—and since then I haven’t touched the remote. The app is eerily detailed, with complex histograms of preferred temperature and humidity vs. real temperature and so on. The main thing I’ve learned? I like my flat cooler than I thought I did. $1,399 sounds like a fair amount of cash for a fancy air-con remote—but with the energy saving I’m pretty sure you’ll make it back in a couple of months.
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I Choose You, Drone
Struggling to catch ‘em all in worldwide megahit accident-causer Pokémon Go? Is that Pokéstop just a little too far from your bed, or can you never seem to quite reach that elusive Dragonite? Dutch drone makers TRNDlabs might have the answer. Enter the Pokédrone: a tiny drone decked out in Pikachu colors that hooks straight up to your phone. It tells the Pokémon Go app to make use of the drone’s GPS and camera—allowing you to fly the little copter out over the ocean or to the building next door in search of beasties. Isn’t technology all about making our lives easier? The Pokédrone isn’t available yet, so keep an eye on the website if for some reason you really, really need one in your life.
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Newly launched in Hong Kong are the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. These wireless cans combine hands-free operation with Bose’s active noise-cancelling technology. How do they work? Well, microphones in the ear cup record what’s happening around you and then essentially broadcast the opposite of that sound straight to your ears. It sounds like magic, and it probably is: the result is that when you slip them on, there’s a curious absence of background hum. While higher-pitched notes still come through—which is useful when you’re crossing the road, for example—the low, bassy rumble of our lives fades to almost nothing. They’re an absolute godsend if you spend much time on planes, trains or automobiles.The sound is as good as you’d expect from Bose, and the wireless works well, with an advertised 20 hours of runtime. The only niggles are that hands-free phone calls don’t work all that well—the mics often failing to pick up your voice—and the Bose Connect app is pretty useless. At $ 2,888 they’re not the cheapest cans on the market, but if you’re a commuter annoyed by the world then the Quietcomfort 35s are well worth it.