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Future tech: A gift guide for 2017!

  • Best innovations of 2012 will be must-have items in 5 years
  • 3D printers can create a miniature you -- as well as vaccines
  • Tablet that doubles as your car's dashboard? Line forms here
Future tech: A gift guide for 2017!

Wii U?

Your own personal smartphone-controlled drone?

You think that's cutting edge? OK, it kinda is -- however: Those hot items for the 2012 holidays will look like caveman drawings when 2017 rolls around and the items below are available and begging for your retail attention.

All year, we've been delivering some really fascinating glimpses into emerging technology and trends in Karyn Lu's "5 Things From the Future!" column. Some of these Jetsons-esque -- and even potentially lifesaving -- innovations are already available, while others are not. Yet all of them will likely someday soon make for eye-popping holiday gifts.

So, here are some of our favorite "Things From the Future" from 2012, a list which also doubles as your first-look at the perfect gift guide for 2017.

A custom LED t-shirt

What we said: "Meet tshirtOS, the world’s first wearable/shareable/programmable LED t-shirt. How about letting your t-shirt take photos (there's a built-in camera) of whatever you're facing and posting straight to Instagram? Or connecting your t-shirt to Twitter to display tweets in real time?"

Today's take: Does that define the perfect gift, or what? One and done. Instead of agonizing over which shirt to buy someone, just get this one and it can become almost anything they want.

Glasses that translate speech and display it as text

What we said: "UK technologist Will Powell has hacked a pair of glasses to translate foreign languages into subtitles in real time. Powell’s concept video demonstrates a conversation between himself (speaking in English), and his sister (speaking in Spanish) where remarkably, the Vuzix 1200 Star glasses are translating the conversation in real time. And it can do that between 37 different languages."

Today's take: Pretty ideal for anyone who travels a lot. The tech is a bit choppy right now, but that's why this is a list of stuff for 2017. Guys, you have five years to make this work.

Vaccines you can download, print and inject

What we said: "This week, we learned about the possibility of biological 3D printers: In the future, we may be able to download digitized vaccines from our home computers, print them out on a "3D printer for DNA, a 3D printer for life" and administer those medicines at home. I know, I can hardly believe the words I just wrote."

Today's take: Vaccines. Not a traditional gift idea in any sense -- except this is different. Imagine never having to leave home or schedule an appointment for a critical vaccine? Crazy.

WiFi-blocking wallpaper

What we said: "Wallpaper can help protect your health, equipment and data? Not only can this special wallpaper selectively filter, reduce or reflect electromagnetic waves, it can also help to ensure that signals inside your home are more secure."

Today's take: It's not like wireless technology is going anywhere. Five years from now this is probably going to sound like a real good idea.


What we said: "IllumiShare is one of those ideas that is so simple, it’s utterly brilliant. Using a simple combination of a projector and a camera, two people [in different locations] can sketch together, play games or cards and share any kind of physical or digital objects. Much more fun than Skype."

Today's take: Great for parents. Imagine, all the fun of a playdate and you still only have to make one lunch.

Removable ink means never wearing the same shirt twice

What we said: "What if our existing, favorite clothing items can sport new designs over and over again? Refinity, a Netherlands-based fashion research agency, has designed a removable fabric ink that works exactly that way. Is this the future of fashion? I’d dig out a few T-shirts and dresses and give it a go."

Today's take: OK, scratch what we said about the LED t-shirt. This is truly the one clothing item you'd ever need to buy someone.

3D printer to create a miniature you

What we said: "Photo booths just got 100% more awesome! The world’s first 3D printing photo booth has opened in Tokyo, and, yes, instead of taking home a picture of yourself, you can now take home a full-color 3D-printed miniature replica of yourself -- albeit with a minimum $3,300 price tag."

Today's take: Adjusted for inflation, that price is only going to go up in 2017. But can you really put a price tag on one-upping everybody for "best gift ever" for the rest of your life?

Cancer-detecting bra

What we said: "Talk about a miracle bra -- here’s a bra that actually works wonders, in a very real way. First Warning Systems, Inc. has developed a bra that can potentially detect cancer. A high-tech device inside the bra collects data (e.g., by detecting changes in breast tissue) that is analyzed by computers to determine if abnormal and potentially cancerous cells are forming into a tumor."

Today's take: Don't wait until 2017. This product may be available next year in Europe and in the United States by 2014.

A tablet for your dashboard

What we said: "In the near future, it's not unlikely that we'll all carry around tablets with us, so why not a smart tablet that hooks into your car's systems and provides your entertainment while on the road? For that matter, why not a tablet that is so smart it is context-aware, so that it knows where you are and serves up different functions depending on whether you're at work, in your car or at home? I'm loving that idea."

Today's take: This will be useless in 2017 because there will be no cars. We'll all have personal jetpacks by then.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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This hand was made by a printer. For only $150
Things From The Future | See all 76 items This hand was made by a printer. For only $150