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Gift Ideas for the Techie on Your List

Insights & Ideas Team •  December 1, 2014 | Home and Family

By Karl Gouverneur, chief technology officer at Northwestern Mutual.

Are you looking for that hard-to-find gift for the techie on your list? I’ve found that often the most difficult people to buy gifts for are the gadget-hungry tech types. If there is someone like that on your list, you know what I am talking about.

With so many new products coming out, seemingly every week, how could you possibly get something that’s both meaningful and enjoyable for that hard-to-buy-for lover of technology? Well, as you’ll see from the suggestions below, there seems to be a gadget for just about all of the techies in the family—no matter what their other hobbies may be.


For the biker in your family, the new Skylock is worth considering. Skylock is a bike lock that connects to your mobile device. Not only will Skylock sense your approach to automatically unlock itself for you, but if your bike is being disturbed when it shouldn’t be, Skylock will also alert you on your phone. The smart lock can even sense when you are in an accident and alert friends and family. And Skylock is completely solar powered, so you won’t have to worry about charging it on long bike treks.

FiLIP Smartwatch—$199

The child’s FiLIP watch is designed to give parents peace of mind without constantly hovering over their children. An app on the parent’s smart phone uses GPS tracking to let them know exactly where their child is. From their phone, parents can also talk to their child or send a text message through the wristwatch. Parents can also set “Safe Zones” to alert them when their child enters or leaves a certain area.

Parrot AR.Drone—$369

It’s been my experience that techies love owning gadgets that everyone wants to play with but no one else has. Drones definitely fit into that category. The new Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 quadricopter uses the intuitive control of your iPhone or iPad and the FreeFlight app. During each flight, you can record an HD video that’s sent directly to your iOS device and upload your video to YouTube with just one click from a user-friendly interface or share your pictures online with friends. Be the first person you know with your own drone.


If your teenagers are like mine, they are in constant interaction with their devices. If you are a parent of even younger children, you know how hard it can be to get them off the iPad. Well, Osmo is aiming to change the way children play games with the iPad. Osmo provides a new gaming and learning experience for your child by combining the iPad with puzzle tiles and other interactive pieces. Using a sensor that sits on top of the iPad, kids can play games while interacting with actual objects such as letters, puzzle pieces, and even your child’s own drawings.

Omsignal’s Biometeric Smartwear—$79 to $199

The number of fitness and health trackers on the market has exploded over the past year. For both general-purpose and fitness-focused trackers alike, you generally need to strap something onto your wrist or snap a heart rate monitor around your chest for detailed biological stats. I’ve found these devices can easily be forgotten, lost or even impede your workout. Perhaps a better solution is Omsignal’s biometric smartwear, which has fitness sensors embedded in the clothing material. These clothes will track your fitness and health stats without the need to wear something on your wrist.

Spark Activity Tracker—$59

Spark is another option in activity trackers because it accurately tracks your activity by determining which workout you’re doing. So it knows—and tracks—whether you’re cycling on your stationary bike, pushing through a tough run, or strolling to your car. It is very small—the size of a quarter—and completely waterproof. Connect socially with your friends and compete with others in the Spark community to keep you motivated. And with the amazing battery life of 6-12 months, you’ll rarely miss tracking your activity because of the need to charge your device.

Golf and Tennis Sensor—$149 to $175

For the sports and technology lover, here are two great suggestions:

Mounted on your golf glove, the Zepp golf training system is a motion sensor that helps you analyze and improve your swing. Install the mobile app on your iOS device, and you can see your swing in 3D from any angle. The lucky golfer on your gift list will be correcting his or her slice in no time!

If you have a tennis enthusiast on your list, Shot Stats Challenger provides instant swing analysis metrics, including head speed (MPH and KPH), ball spin, ball impact location and shot count/type. Data is displayed on the device’s own screen or mobile device. This data will integrate with video captured on a device, providing players and coaches with the ultimate tool to improve their game.

SIGMO Language Translator—$50

Do you have travelers in the family, but they don’t speak the native language of the country they’d like to visit? SIGMO is the perfect gift for them. SIGMO allows real-time translation of 25 languages. You simply set your native language and the language to be translated. By pressing a button and speaking into the device, SIGMO will instantly translate the recorded phrase into the language you have selected. Similarly, it will translate speech from the foreign language into in your native language … all at the press of a button!

Samsung 65” LED Smart TV—$4299

Looking for a special gift for the whole family? Check out the new LED Smart TV from Samsung. Although Smart TVs have been around for a while now, the latest technology in TV is delivering an ultra-clear picture using 4K HD. You might be wondering how much better the resolution could be. Well, 4K is four times as good as your standard HD TV! In addition to a crystal-clear picture, what truly makes this TV a techie’s best friend are the other functions. For example, the Smart Remote uses a built-in microphone to let you control TV functions with your voice. You can also use the touchpad to navigate quickly, or use the remote like a mouse and simply point and click. This smart TV lets you view dual screens side-by-side and even lets you stream whatever you are viewing on the TV to your other devices, such as an iPad. Pretty smart.

So whether the techie on your gift list is looking to improve his health or her golf swing, you are bound to find something new and fun for your holiday giving.

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