Matt Webb, CEO and co-founder of the London design studio Berg, once asked, “What happens when stuff is conceived of as participants in our own creative, social, connected lives?” After years of strenuous prototyping, Webb seems to have arrived at an answer with a plug-in printer that turns your social media and favourite sites into something you can touch, hold, even feel emotional about. Launched last year, Little Printer is indeed compact. With a frame less than 13 centimetres long, it sits on two orange elbows and is ready to print off “mini-newspapers” via your smart phone. On a receipt-sized strip of thermal paper, you can print top news headlines, a list of books, or daily crosswords, though the most alluring aspect of Little Printer might be its anthropomorphic cuteness. A faceplate holds the paper roll in place, and an image of a happy face (or one of your choosing) appears at the beginning of each wee printout, and smiles back at you when not in use. $262; next shipment begins in July. bergcloud.com/littleprinter
Crammed with sensors that monitor humidity, air quality, light, temperature and noise levels, CubeSensors relay that data to your mobile device and send recommendations on how to improve your indoor conditions. Too bad they don’t go the next step, though, and communicate directly with your thermostat, air filters and sound systems to perfectly calibrate your environmental preferences. First shipment begins this summer. Starting at $249 for two. cubesensors.com
by Paul Cocksedge
Kickstarter is a natural breeding ground for newfangled micro-technology, and it’s where London, U.K., designer Paul Cocksedge launched the Vamp, a magnetized cube that adheres to any hi‑fi speaker and channels your digital device’s music library via Bluetooth or cable. Simply wire it to a speaker for stereophonic sound that is richer and more textured than what most handheld devices can produce. The Vamp is expected to launch this month, starting at $70. paulcocksedgestudio.com
Already controversial before its anticipated public release later this year, Google Glass will either be the next big thing or a niche product for the technologically addicted. The new eyewear features a front-mounted camera for recording videos and snapping pictures, triggered by a simple voice command; and a virtual retina display that enables layers of information, such as weather reports, Twitter feeds and text messages, to float before your eyes. Pricing to be announced later this year. google.com/glass
by Square Inc.
Developed by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, Square Register makes credit card payments fluid and mobile. Slightly smaller than your average ice cube, the reader plugs in to the audio jack of any iPhone, Android or iPad. Customers swipe their cards, and the app processes the payments. Signatures are scribbled on the touch screen with a finger, and vendors can take a picture of the item sold for their records. The gadget is free, but Square takes 2.75 per cent of every sale. squareup.com