Embr Wave Bracelet | Embr labs
Most wrist wearables are passive, gathering biometric data (FitBit) or displaying notifications (smart watch), but the Ember Wave Bracelet, developed at MIT, takes an active approach to regulating your body temperature. Using thermoelectrics and algorithms, the device pulses warm or cool sensations to achieve optimal comfort. For workers sweating near hot equipment or facing winter weather head on, it can be quite the handy ergonomic gadget.
A EYP study found that using the Embr Wave increased comfort in 72% of employees. "Embr Wave potentially represents a very interesting and innovative way for employers and building owners to lower their energy costs," says Leila Kamal, EYP Vice President of Design & Expertise.
Safety Earplugs + Earphones | Etymotic
The background noise of life is always cranked up to 11. These safety earphones, which plug into a 3.5 mm jack, do just that with amazing high-definition clarity while blocking outside sounds — up to 108 dB with the foam eartips and 102 dB for the 3-flange rubbery ones. There are five different tips to swap out for comfort and environment. Whether the user is listening to music to boost productivity or needs to hear verbal instructions from repair video next to booming equipment, these could be the most appreciated gift for your workers (or self) this year.
They also reduce strain on your own eardrums, with a noise reduction rating of 27 dB for the foam and 22 dB for the flange type. As long as you use them less than 10½ hours a day, they fall within OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits. Etymotic sent me a pair to try out for a few months and I have a few takeaways. First, as the company says, the thicker foam ones do block out more sound, while I observed the 3-flange provide better sound quality by a large margin. Secondly, I always manage to lose those cheap $10 earbuds, but these are so good I somehow still have every little piece.
AIRFRAME / Levitate Technologies
Tested at manufacturers such as John Deere and BMW, this exoskeleton, worn like a backpack, braces the wearers' biceps and a system of pulleys encased in "cassettes" progressively support the arm as they are raised, propping them up like a spotter at a bench press.
Though not something consumers will find under the tree due to the price, the AIRFRAME would be the best gift for assembly workers who must repetitively lift drills or other tools over their heads hundreds to thousands of times a day. Testing has shown they do improve productivity while reducing muscle strain, lowering exertion levels by up to 80%, so it’s the gift that keeps on giving for years to come.
FATMAX 25’ Tape Measure | Stanley
The rotund FATMAX works best for those big jobs where you may not always have the helper you need to hold the other end. The company claims a 13-ft. standout, and I can personally say the sturdy 1¼.-wide tape extends out to nearly 12 feet laterally with no support before buckling. It can also withstand a 50-ft. drop, though the baseball-inspired shaped ensures you will always have a firm, comfortable grip.
You may have the best tool box in the world, but hauling that heavy rectangular behemoth around the jobsite or home isn't practical—and probably exhausting. The lightweight Bucket Boss, which slides into most 5-gallon buckets, is the perfect portable companion to caddy your most used tools, or just the ones you need for a specific task. It has 30 pockets for various small tools, bits and screws, with three interior loops for bigger tools such as hammers or drills. For extra points, you can even fill it up with new tools. A way better place for them than the stocking on the mantle.
Air Tool Conditioner | B'laster Corp.
Who doesn’t love preventative maintenance? OK, so probably not many people, but we all can appreciate how well-cared-for equipment performs. So the PM itself can be annoying, as you are not directly being productive, but the result is a longer-lasting, better operating machine that more than makes up for the time spent. That's why this Air Tool Conditioner is so indispensable. You can rejuvenate that worn-out pneumatic tool to nearly double its efficiency. One test showed a 20-minute maintenance session improved an impact wrench's RPM from 15,690 to 27,120.
Emergency LED Lightbulbs 4-Pack | CTKcom
It's always a good idea to have spare flashlights around the house in case of a blackout, but how many times have you reached for one when you need it and find out the batteries are dead or you left it out in the garage or some other dark, cluttered space? These 7W emergency lightbulbs are the automated solution to that. They usually work like normal bulbs, all the while storing energy in an embedded battery. When the power goes out, they stay on for up to six hours. They last up to 50,000 hours total.
Smart Coach Radar (Model SR1100) | Pocket Radar
Data analytics and the IIoT have taken over manufacturing, providing leaders the insights they need to make better business decisions. It's a fairly recent development for this industry, though one that seems like ancient history to baseball fanatics obsessed with sabermetrics. With the introduction of the Smart Coach radar, the modern world of Industry 4.0 is colliding with baseball, which is great news if you envision your kid playing in the Big leagues. Call it the Internet of Swings. The radar sensor measures speeds from 25 to 130 mph with a +/- 1 mph accuracy, and provides metrics on ball exit velocity and serve speed. The data is stored in the cloud and can be accessed via an iPhone app (Android coming soon) to provide feedback and suggestions to improve the player's mechanics. It might not turn your kid into the next Mike Trout, but it could give them a better appreciation for data analytics, leading to a career in manufacturing.
Who would have guessed the arcade stand-ups from the '80s, including Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Galaga, would someday become pocket-sized key chains that really work? Maybe Wayne Szalinski from Honey I Shrunk the Kids… In any event, these retro stocking stuffers, about 3.5 x 1.75 in., require only a AAA battery to work, so if you get the high score in Frogger, you don’t have to worry about unplugging the machine and losing your top spot.
Parliament Wallet + Tracker | Ekster
$119 (Cyber Monday code CM-40 for 40% off)
The wallet of the future with a classy, timeless look, this card and bill holder hides a few tech secrets. One is the RFID protective material to prevent someone from skimming your card data and depleting your bank account. The other is a solar-powered tracker (one charge lasts three months) using Crowd-GPS tech to help you locate your missing wallet with your smartphone. Also, if your wallet gets too far from your phone, you'll get a notification. Ekster says if this is due to a pick-pocket, let the police handle it and do NOT chase after them. Though in this unlikely occurrence, you kind of would be like Batman if you did. Just saying...
Slim Card Wallet | Pingree Detroit
For a wallet with a bit more history, check out the 3 x 4-in. Slim Card Wallet, made in Detroit from repurposed leather scrap from the auto industry. The worker-owned company hand selects, crafts and inspects handbags and shoes as well in the Detroit facility. They also make it a point to employ military veterans. This wallet, in fact, was designed by a 24-year-old Army vet.