The holidays are just around the corner, so for those who subscribe to a little late-December consumerism, here are a few ideas for your gift list.


In the steady march of machines that will one day replace us mere humans, the robot vacuum cleaner is becoming increasingly commonplace, and the Cocorobo RX-V60 from Sharp is the latest neat freak to join the ranks. With a diameter of just 29.9 cm, it can circle under chair legs and other tight spaces, offering very thorough cleaning. Its bristle system is specifically designed to get into the tiny spaces typical of Japanese flooring, and is also efficient at picking up hair, and large particles. It can be controlled using on-board buttons, remote control, or by voice, and avoids bumping into things using echolocation, which, as opposed to infrared sensors, is effective at sensing transparent and reflective surfaces. Cocorobo also has five cleaning modes, and a HEPA filter that cleans the room air as it goes. But while the RX-V60 is great at getting into tighter spaces, for a real sense of our future robot masters, you’ll need to splurge on the larger 34.6-cm RX-V100, which is equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera, LED light, LAN connectivity and links to an application available for Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app allows users to monitor their home remotely as Cocorobo takes a series of four photos, covering a full 360-degree span of a room, or through a live video-stream as the user controls the Cocorobo, allowing you to monitor your home or your pets while you’re out of the house. No pets? Cocorobo can fill that need too by coming when it’s called and responding to simple greetings. All Cocorobo models come with a “cocoro engine” which apparently lets it express its character through movement and sound based on the state of its battery charge. Sharp intends to create many more appliances with such “emotional intelligence.” The RX-V60 will be released Dec. 13, selling for ¥75,000, while the RX-V100 goes for upwards of ¥100,000.


Space Ball

This year, the new Space Ball by Kyosho is the gift that will keep kids occupied after all the other presents have been opened. Designed to be flown inside the house and out, the Space Ball is a remote-controlled helicopter with a sphere-shaped cage that protects it from banging into walls, furniture and the odd person who may cross its path. This model comes with a three-channel infrared handheld remote control, has a gyroscopic propeller action and is capable of doing full 360-degree-loops in all directions. It is available in either black or orange and, somewhat unusually, also has an aromatherapy feature, which lets you to release aromatic essences anywhere the Space Ball flies. The Kyosho Space Ball has five minutes of flight time per charge and is going for ¥6,279.


USB-rechargeable LED flashlight

The new mini USB-rechargeable LED flashlight by Ohm Electric is one of those simple, practical ideas that takes advantage of the power-transfer ability of USB connectors. The lithium-ion battery can be charged by either plugging it into your computer or a cellphone charger, and stays lit for a full four hours on a single charge. At a mere 52 mm long and 21 grams in weight, the mini USB LED flashlight can easily be attached to a keychain or bag by the carabiner attached to the cap, and is available in five bright colors (pink, yellow-green, blue, orange, and red-purple). And while it may be tiny, the LED and light-magnifying lens produce a mighty bright light, totaling about seven lumens. It has a 300-recharge lifecycle and is retailing for ¥780. The mini USB-rechargeable LED flashlight is available at the Ohm online store.

www.ohm-direct.com/shopbrand/005/010/X. Follow Jess Mantell’s tweets about design and technology on Twitter @jessmantell.

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