The Best New Travel Tech of 2018
By its very definition, technology is always trying to outdo itself. And at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this truth is on full display. Each January, everyone from Google to anonymous upstarts unveil everything from a handful of true eureka products to more than a few absurd extensions of our tech-gilded age (I mean, just how big can a TV get?) But for smart travelers, the coming year holds promise. Advances in a new, faster, and more robust 5G data network will make it easier to use your devices while traveling, and now suitcases can trail behind you like a well-disciplined puppy. Here, a forecast of the coolest stuff coming in 2018 including clothes, packs, augmented reality, and (yes) automated luggage.
Hydro Flask Unbound Cooler Backpack
Out this February, the Unbound series marks Hydro Flask’s first foray into making things other than drinking vessels. The new Unbound Series Soft Cooler Backpack ($275) offers 25 liters of soft-walled insulation, with 20mm of insulation at the top and bottom to block temperature leak from the rising of hot air, along with 10mm on its sides to cut down on bulk. Expect to be able to keep your iced contents cold for up to 48 hours, ideal for road trips, backcountry picnics, and pretty much anywhere else you want to have some cool food and beverages on-hand.
Magic Leap One
As forecasted in our 2018 Travel Trends article, augmented reality will continue to make strides in the coming year, and Magic Leap One—which was made to seamlessly layer digital images on the “real” world—might become the go-to pair of AR glasses. They’ve already earned $1.9 billion in start-up funds, and the platform has been built with creators in mind, so the possibilities are pretty infinite, and could include augmented reality museum tours, enhanced shopping experiences, and a whole new level of staying in touch with folks while on the road. As of now, the glasses are slated to ship in “early 2018.”
Winner of the CES 2018 Innovation Award for headphones, the Nuraphone uses “sonic moulding,” measuring how you perceive low, mid, and high tones and then adjusting to deliver your optimal experience—all within 60 seconds. It also modifies the output based on the system you’re using (your smartphone, say, or a fancy hi-fi system). They look like a cross between over-the-ear headphones and ear buds, and also boast noise cancelling capabilities. At $399 they’re on the pricier side for headphones, but most lower-cost options lack Nuraphone's bespoke audio.
Light L16 Camera
Another CES stand-out, the compact L16 captures more than ten images when you point and shoot, and applies a sophisticated algorithm to combine those different images into one high-res, high-quality image. Its resolution is a whopping 52 megapixels, includes a five-time optical zoom, and lets you execute precise depth-of-field control to let you edit the focus of the image on the fly. The in-camera software also continuously learns about how you like to shoot images and adjusts accordingly. Out now for $1,950.
Lenovo Mirage Camera
Virtual reality as a travel experience is still figuring itself out, but the impulse to capture immersive 180-degree images while traveling is only growing. The Mirage utilizes Daydream, Google’s VR standard, to capture 180-degree panoramic images that can be re-played (and shared) in virtual reality. Naturally, Lenovo also unveiled their new Mirage Solo with Daydream VR headset, but given the camera uses a Google platform, you won’t have to be wed to that device.
Lumos Sleep Mask
Supported by funding from Stanford and NASA, the Lumos is focused on delivering the best possible sleep, and could be the much-needed panacea for long-haul jet lag hangovers. It uses light flashes to adjust your circadian rhythms so that you’re synced up with the local time zone when you land. You can reserve your mask now at a pre-released price of $175.
Forward CX-1 Suitcase
The first “hands-free autonomous carry-on suitcase,” the Forward CX-1 follows you anywhere, utilizing self-driving technology, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence to follow you around (at a max speed of 7 MPH)—a small wrist band helps to track you down if you suddenly disappear, or if someone tries to steal your robot bag. The company only had a few prototypes at CES this year, but the consumer model is anticipated to launch in 2018.
Columbia OutDry Extreme Rogue Interchange
Two-in-one jackets—with a mid-layer puffy coat that zips out of a waterproof shell—aren't anything new. And though Columbia dropped its award-winning Outdry Extreme technology few seasons back, in fall 2018, they'll out-do themselves by dropping one of the most travel-friendly jackets on the market. Rather than adding OutDry Extreme all over the outer shell, panels of the tech fabric rest in high-impact areas—with a fabric touch that's evolved from the rubberized look to a fashion-forward heathered texture, along with waterproof soft shell panels. Better still, the thin inner puffy layer has been designed as an attractive stand-alone garment, with athletic lines and a plush liner as soft as your favorite cotton t-shirt. It’s a one-quiver jacket for everything from downhill skiing and hiking in the rain, to coffee jaunts and lazy cobblestone wanders. The jacket will be available for both men and women for $280 this fall.
Fugoo Go Portable Speaker
The new Go delivers everything you want in a travel-friendly Bluetooth speaker: easy pairing, really clear controls, primo sound, and complete protection against water (it even has mounts for wind surfing). On top of that, it also features something you didn’t realize you wanted until you knew it was possible: the ability to pair with another Go speaker to the same audio source, so you can create a network of sound, blasting tunes for up to 10 hours on a single charge. Best of all, they’re on sale now for $50 (regularly $70).
HP Envy X2 Laptop
Along with the Asus NovaGo, the Envy X2 laptop/tablet hybrid runs on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 chip (the same found in Samsung and LG smartphones) to give you up to 22 hours of use on a single charge—ideal for seriously long flights or outings with little access to charging stations. The keyboard detaches, and the screen/tablet includes a tray table-friendly kickstand, both anchored on magnetic hinges. It also comes with a stylus and includes a 5MP front camera and a 13MP rear camera. Pricing and release dates are still to come.
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