Tech ahead of the curve: 12 great recent innovations

Tech ahead of the curve

In case you haven't heard the news, the World Health Organization classifies smartphones as potentially cancer-causing due to radiation levels. There is no hard proof for this claim, but if you think it's better to be safe than possibly carcinogenic, the Pong Research Classic Soft Touch Case for iPhone 5 is one cutting edge answer.

The £47.99/US$59.99/AU$59.99 case redirects radiation away from the phone and, at the same time, improves signal strength by 20 per cent. An iPhone 4/4S version is also available, along with radiation-reflecting and signal boosting cases for some Samsung, HTC, Motorola and BlackBerry phones.

7. Etón BoostTurbine 2000

Main innovation: Hand-cranked power

Tech ahead of the curve

If you need a back-up battery for your smartphone, go by the weight of the battery pack. This 198g/7oz 2000mAh lithium pack feels rugged and heavy enough for all conditions. Once fully charged using the micro USB port, the US$59.99 (around £39/AU$58) pack can recharge your smartphone from zero to full.

In a pinch, you can turn the crank for one minute to generate another 30 seconds of usage. Push a button to see the power level.

8. JBL SoundFly BT

Produces 20 Watts of sound from a tiny speaker

Tech ahead of the curve

This 7.5-inch Bluetooth speaker might not seem too innovative at first, but it packs a lot of powerful high-tech features into a small form factor. For starters, you can connect the £149.99/US$179.95 (around AU$222) JBL SoundFly BT easily over Bluetooth without the hassle of using a bridge or installing software on a computer.

The speaker can adjust itself automatically for the stream you are sending, improving equalisation on the fly and cutting out high notes that can cause distortion. The bass is better than you'd expect from such a small device. But the killer feature is that it plugs into an outlet and has no extra buttons. You just sync up and play. An AirPlay version is also available for iOS devices, priced at £159.99/US$199.95/AU$249.

9. Philips Hue

First lightbulb you control with your phone

Tech ahead of the curve

Your home is probably already outfitted with LED lightbulbs, given the mandates over the use of fluorescent bulbs. But the Philips Hue goes a step further. Using your iOS or Android phone or tablet, you can tap into each bulb and change the colour and intensity (and turn them on and off).

A bridge connects into your router, and once you make the connection, you can even control the lights remotely. In the future, more and more gadgets will skip complex setup procedures and just work out of the box. We just hope they won't all be this expensive, priced at these are at £179.99/US$199.95 (around AU$267) for a three bulb starter pack, or £49.95/US$59.95 (around AU$74) for a single bulb.

Read our Philips Hue review

10. Memoto Lifelogging Camera

Auto-snap photos every 30 seconds

Tech ahead of the curve

Lifelogging will become a mainstay of the tech mainstream in the next few years. The Memoto is a small, buttonless camera with GPS that clips to your clothes or onto a totebag. It's discrete, measuring 36 x 36 x 9mm (1.42 x 1.42 x 0.35 inches). As you go about your daily routine, the camera automatically snaps two photos per minute and stores them on the device, storing up to 4,000 5-megapixel images on there.

Ingeniously, the service uses GPS tagging to stamp the photo location and make corrections for orientation. Once you upload the images, the service groups them and shows the best images of the day. It costs US$279 (around £183/AU$271) and comes with one year's free cloud storage.

11. DirecTV Genie

Record shows you like automatically

Tech ahead of the curve

Having to schedule and record shows is so 2012. The future is in having your DVR know your preferences and record shows automatically. The DirecTV Genie does just that, watching what you tend to record and watch over a period of time, and then auto-recording shows based on these preferences.

For example, if you like Top Gear, Genie will record other car-related shows. Amazingly, it actually works. The set-top box can also record five shows at once, and supports three remote clients in your home. DirecTV is only available in the US at the moment.

12. GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

60-frames-per-second HD video

Tech ahead of the curve

The greatest innovations in tech are often those that improve an existing product. The original GoPro was already innovative - a wide-angle durable camera you can clip to a motorcycle, ski hat or a yacht to record all of the action.

The GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition - priced at £359.99/US$399.99/AU$399.99 - is a major upgrade. You can record 1440p video at 48fps, 1080p video at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. And you can snap 12-megapixel images at a rate of 30 per minute. The picture quality is astoundingly good and captures a wider perspective.

Read our GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition review

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.