There’s a growing consensus among the technological cognoscenti that we’re in a “boring” period for gadgets. Some have long argued that “software is eating the world,” a.k.a. there’s no interesting hardware because iteration has trumped innovation.
But, nah, not so much. Yes, our smartphones are replacing lots of standalone gadgets we used to carry around. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of interesting new hardware out there. Granted, that depends on expanding your definition of gadget to include, say, a reusable rocket or a robotic bicycle wheel. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting of 2017 so far compiled by TIME’s technology reporters and editors.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Much like Snapchat itself, you either get it or you don’t. Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. demonstrated its mastery of artificial scarcity when it debuted its Spectacles video-recording glasses late last year. An easy setup process, good-enough video quality and stylish look made Spectacles a hit. But the company’s distribution process—vending machines with limited stock that randomly appeared across the country—made them a phenomenon. From a hardware perspective, Spectacles could use improvement—they’re not great when it’s dark out and they’re troublesome for prescription eyeglass wearers. But Snap’s first foray into hardware shows promise at a time when camera companies like GoPro are struggling.
The next time you’re sitting on a plane with a wailing baby, imagine being able to simply turn down the poor kid’s volume. Or you’re hanging out in a crowded bar, struggling to hear your friends, and you boost just their voices. That’s the promise behind Doppler Labs’ Here One earbuds, which let users manipulate sounds in the world around them thanks to onboard microphones and sound processors. In practice, the Here Ones are often better are quieting general background noise rather than specific sounds. But Doppler’s innovation reveals how the headphone tech of tomorrow could make us masters of the audio universe around us.
Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel
Superpedestrian’s robotic bike wheel augments cyclists’ oomph by powering their ride up to 20 miles per hour for over 30 miles. Though it looks like a simple bike wheel, the Copenhagen packs impressive technology inside. An integrated motor powered by a battery provides the giddyup, a wireless sensor connects to smartphones for data crunching, smart-locking hardware makes sure no one makes off with this $1,499 wheel, and regenerative brakes add to the efficiency. Cycling purists might shun the device, but it’s really geared for the increasing number of bike commuters out there. Turns out reinventing the wheel was worth it.
LG Signature W-Series “Wallpaper” TV
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Raspberry Pi Zero W
This post was originally published on: Time.