Last-minute kids’ Christmas gadgets

Is Santa still looking for a few treats for the children/teens in your family?

Here are a few neat ideas that should put you in the favourite uncle/auntie category well into the New Year (which means you get first dibs on their Christmas sweet stash!)

ruckjack

If you’re buying for children aged around five to seven, and they have access to a computer, it’s very likely they will be Moshi Monster fans. In which case, this Ruckjack could be right up their street. Is it a rucksack, is it a jacket? It’s both – and they can even go online and create their own design, choosing colours and finishes. You don’t have to have the Moshi Monster lining of course, but what little Monster fan would deny themselves?  And if you have a child who hates wearing a coat, they can slip it off, turn it into a rucksack, and pop it onto their back while they scoot/cycle home.

The Ruckjack comes in sizes 3-12, costs £29.99 and can be ordered from www.miioon.com

Blue-Bird-Mini

Angry Birds fans can bring their favourite furious feathered friends from the screen to real life with one of these Angry Birds Speakers from Gear4.

The ever-raging Red Bird Space, Blue Bird, Black Bomber Bird, Red Bird and explosive Lazer Bird all work with any smartphone, music player, or tablet and have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The speakers feature expandable bass twist function for stronger audio quality and are able to link with multiple speakers, so you could have a string of your favourite birds blasting out your top tunes.

The lithium battery can be charged for two hours to give eight hours of playback.

Priced between £29.99 and £34.99 from www.gear4.com

Penguin-Speaker

More avian-themed speakers are available from Kitsound – this time in the shape of a less angry-looking penguin or cute owl speaker. These speakers will plug into a smartphone, MP3 player or tablet and come in a bundle of three products – headphone, phone sock and speaker for £14.95 from www.phones4u.co.uk

Need to make that homework more appealing? How about treating them to a fun coloured wireless mouse – just for them? Might be just the incentive they need to get down to work. The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 comes in red, pink or blue as well as glossy black or white and the makers claim it will work on any surface – so the bedroom carpet should be fine! It is designed to be used by left- and right-handers and has rubber side grips for better handling. The mouse costs £29.99, for more details log on to www.microsoft.com/hardware.

Finally, we all know dogs are not just for Christmas, but here’s one pet that won’t need walking, feeding or taking to the vets.

Tech-Pet-Kids

Just put your iPhone or iPod touch into the TechPet body and watch it transform into a friendly pet dog robot! It will move just by hearing your voice or seeing your hand waving, you can play games and music on it and it will even play with other TechPets.

In sitting mode, the TechPet can be used as a music player; put it in trick mode to teach it new tricks, and you can even customize its face – use your own pictures as TechPet’s face via ‘Face Morph’ if you want!

The TechPet is £59.99 from Toys R Us, John Lewis, Argos, Amazon, and The Entertainer. For more details head to www.facebook.com/BandaiUK

Move over World leaders: The Copenhagen Wheel

Whilst little may have been resolved at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last month, the unveiling of a bicycle, which moves by using the kinetic energy from its own wheels, could be described as the summit’s savior, marking a radical achievement in the global quest to slow down man’s self-inflicted destruction on the planet.

Humbly named The Copenhagen Wheel, this bicycle is like no other. Having the ability to recuperate kinetic energy by an electric motor which then stores the surplus power by batteries inside the wheel, the bike is an emblem of new urban mobility. Whilst the process of converting the kinetic energy of wheels into power may not be an entirely new phenomenon, as this technology has transformed Formula One racing during the last two years, the fact that The Copenhagen Wheel is also equipped with a Bluetooth connection and has the facility to connect an iPhone to the handlebars, turns the machine into a hybrid e-bike, and revolutionizes contemporary cycling.

It is perhaps the bike’s cybernetic qualities, which has led to some disagreement surrounding its name. As multiple information is available through an app, including personal fitness, travel data, speed, distances, pollution warnings and weather conditions, an iPhone can even be used to unlock the bike and change gear, some have chosen to call the creation, “Bike 2.0”, symbolizing a renaissance in biking and the design being the first prototype “e-bike”.

But its creators, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab, chose to christen the bike The Copenhagen Wheel, and shrewdly introduced their mechanism when all eyes where looking, albeit at the world leaders in Copenhagen, who were desperately grappling for global harmonization to combat climate change.

The world’s leaders of course failed, but it hard to imagine that a design like The Copenhagen Wheel, using basic electronics and converting them into on-demand systems, and in doing so becoming a vanguard in tackling the perils of high-consumption lifestyles, could also fail.

Ritt Bjerrengaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, has announced that it is his aim is to have 50 percent of the city traveling to work on The Copenhagen Wheel, and with its lightweight frame, elegant but simple appearance, masking a medley of technologies at their most sophisticated, it is easy to envisage that The Copenhagen Wheel really will be the wheels of the future.