Six of the best gadgets and gizmos on a theme. This week: Six of the best techology trends for 2014.
By Peter Jenkinson
Mother - £166, see sen.se
They say mother knows best and this ingenious device will leave you in no doubt this is true. Place one of the supplied "cookies" on an item you want to monitor - Child's toothbrush, front door, your bed, almost anything - and the mother unit will monitor behaviour and usage from that spot. It'll then report the results back to your tablet in an infographic fashion, letting you congratulate of berate as necessary.
Bosch Parking assistant - £TBC, see boschautoparts.com/ParkAssist
Fed up of driving around streets and multi-storey carparks, helplessly seeking out that 'suitable' space? By sticking a dozen sensors to the outside of your car and adding an app to your smartphone, you can quite literally sit back and enjoy the trials of wedging your car in a tight spot. This ingenious piece of kit lets you simply press the "park me" icon on your mobile and watch as it inches you into the smallest of spaces.
Gumstick stand - £14.99, see breffo.com
Paying homage to some low tech, this is a simple stand for your smartphone that could well be the most helpful gadget we've seen in a while. There are phone stands aplenty to choose from, but most fall far short of operational success when we actually try and use them. This super-strong and flexible one from Breffo can be manipulated into almost any shape and does exactly what it says on the tin.
Screen with envy
LG EC9800 - £TBC, see lg.com
There can be little doubt that this year's most desirable device will be the 4K or ultra-high definition TV. We've watched one, and it'll make your eyeballs ache for more. This version from LG features OLED self-illuminating pixels, a curved screen and pretty much all the next generation of technology you could want. Never has staying in for a night in front of the telly been so acceptable.
Keecker - around £2,500, see keecker.com
Get set for a robotic revolution. Yes, finally, after decades of threatening to take over our homes, they're actually becoming almost useful. This do-everything-robot has a projector built-in, together with 360-degree sound from six speakers and a whopping 1TB of data storage. Controlled with your iOS or Android it can stream Netflix and YouTube videos and project it onto your wall. You can also monitor the temperature, humidity, sound level, light level and CO2 level in your home, or use the camera for snooping on your home when you're out.
Samsung Shape M5 and M7 speakers - from around £300, see Samsung.co.uk
The market for multi-room speaker sets has expanded rapidly over the past year, with Sonos and Pure as the established players in the space. The tech boffins at Samsung have wised up, and are set to unleash this highly impressive range of players amongst us. The "Shape" series will likely see additions to the range over the course of 2014, and these app controlled music systems are set to become more mainstream these coming months.
App of the week
PLYT - free on iTunes and Google Play
Making maths fun may well be a lofty claim, but this app comes very close to doing just that. Improve your multiplication skills by solving the on screen equations, start with a couple of dice and then steadily increase to the full house of a dozen cubes.
Top 10 paid for apps for Android phones
1. Candy Crush Saga
2. BBC iPlayer
3. BBC Media Player
4. Jelly Splash
5. Angry Birds Go!
6. Can You Escape 2
9. Despicable Me: Minion Rush
10. Greedy Spiders Smash
Top 10 free apps for Android phones
1. The Chase
2. Minecraft - Pocket Edition
3. Cryptic Kingdoms
4. Cut the Rope
6. Survival Games
7. Catch Phrase
8. Bike Race
9. Plants vs Zombies
10. Birds of Britain
(Both charts courtesy of Appstore on amazon.co.uk)