Check out five trends to help you start the year right.
1. Everpurse: A handbag that charges your phone
Nothing kills a productive day like a dead cell phone battery. Lucky for us, that's what inspired frustrated social worker Liz Salcedo to create Everpurse. The inventive solution allows you to charge your mobile device simply by placing it inside your handbag.
Salcedo and her husband/business partner designed a bag with a built-in pocket that automatically connects to the charger via gravity. Using the same wireless technology as some Nokia products, each bag is equipped with a receiver and battery inside its lining, pulling off a crafty nontechnical look.
The couple took their prototype to the crowd funding website Kickstarter.com, where they found more than 900 backers and raised over $150,000 in support of their project. The future of wireless charging not only looks promising, but stylish as well!
2. Facedeals: Reading your face to give you better deals
When you hear the words "facial recognition technology," do they creep you out? A Tennessee-based ad agency called Redpepperland thinks that using the technology to give shoppers customized in-store deals may get them past their apprehension.
The concept, called "Facedeals," is an automated check-in system that uses passive facial recognition to send customized in-store deals right to your smart phone. Here's how it works: A Facedeals camera installed at a store entrance scans and recognizes your face as you walk in the door. Don't worry if you don't like the idea -- you have to opt in to participate by creating an account through their Facebook profile.
Once you're checked in, the types of deals you are offered depends on your history of Facebook likes. Although the project is not yet directly affiliated with Facebook, the idea is to get businesses to realize that Facebook check-ins are a powerful tool to provide discounts to loyal customers.
Another inventive use of facial recognition comes from a new service called Plum Perfect, which offers makeup palette suggestions based on a photo of your face.
3. Smart Carpet: Carpet sensors that can tell when you fall
It looks like we finally have a real-life magic carpet -- only it won't fly you to your favorite vacation destination.
Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have designed a "smart carpet" that can tell when a person has fallen. Sensors embedded in the carpet allow it to detect and map walking patterns in real time by acting as a pressure map. Once the signals are recorded by computer, the carpet can also sense any deterioration in walking behavior. If this occurs, it analyzes the force of a fall against a footstep and can be rigged to call for help.
Right now, the goal is to implement smart carpets in care homes and hospitals as a safety measure to decrease the number of emergency admissions due to falls for the 65+ age group.
4. Lockitron: Lock your house with your smartphone
We've all done it before: You're running late, grab everything you can remember and run out the door trying to beat the clock. It's not until you've almost reached your destination that the nagging "Did-I-lock-the-door?" question rears its head.
Lockitron is offering a solution to this common worry by turning your smartphone into a house key. What makes Lockitron different from other "digital house key" apps like Unikey is that it is installed onto existing deadbolts and connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, which allows you to access it from anywhere.
The device is powered by AA batteries and runs Bluetooth or NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, depending on which device you use. "Knock sensors" can even be installed to send you a notification when someone is at the door.
5. Wallbrights: Customizable wall décor
If you're looking to add a little pizzazz to your household with some wall décor, this one is definitely an eye catcher.
Wallbrights combines simple wall decals with LED lights that are remotely controlled by -- what else? -- a mobile app. The decals, which come in both hexagons and lines, are equipped with an adhesive backing so you can change the pattern and stick them just about anywhere in your home.
Using a smartphone app, you can not only turn the lights off and on, but also control the color scheme. So whether you are looking for colors that suit your mood or just add style to your walls, this lighting innovation is sure to spark conversation.