The time to save on gifts is approaching, even if Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales now begin weeks before the official days.
Technology runs through every facet of our lives, from intelligent assistants at home to personal devices used at work to the analytics determining the route mailmen take to deliver mail to your front door. Keeping up with the latest trends is hard, but for the data savvy tech enthusiast and the wary AI pessimist, there are tech-related gifts that everyone can enjoy this season.
From practical, everyday tools to futuristic fun, here's the definitive gift guide for the tech savvy IT executive in your life:
1. "The Four"
Take a break from your screens with the New York Times bestseller, "The Four," about the four most influential companies in the world: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and founder and chairman of L2, takes a look at how these companies became so embedded in daily life and the implications of their power.
2. Browse from a different country with a year's subscription to a VPN service
Many people download a VPN before traveling abroad to countries such as China, where internet restrictions limit accessibility, but the tool offers key security protections for everyday internet usage. Private Internet Access VPN Service encrypts your connection, protects your privacy and identity with an anonymous IP address and changed location.
3. Anti-spying, signal-blocking device cases
Endpoint security is only getting worse, and even if you separate your work from your home life with different devices, a signal blocking bag can help protect your personal data from intrusion. Wisdompro's case offers RFID, car key FOB and cellular GPS signal blocking. And the best part? It's under $10.
4. Blackout device covers to ward off nosy neighbors
Personal devices allow us to access our data and accounts anywhere, anytime. Bank information, social media accounts, usernames and passwords are all susceptible to discrete glances by malicious actors. Privacy screen protectors, like these offered by 3M, offer blackout technology for laptops, cell phones, monitors and tablets so only you, looking directly at the screen, can see the information.
5. Encrypted USB device
Far too often, companies and individuals are compromised by lost devices. Losing track of a cell phone or tablet is easy, and losing a small USB even easier. Apricorn's Aegis Secure Key USB flash drive offers a 7-15 digit pin activation, 256-bit hardware encryption and Windows, Mac, Linux and embedded system compatibility.
6. Timer safes to lock up your devices
Sometimes, unplugging is hard — and getting your entire family to unplug is even harder. The kSafe container offers users a sealed, locked and timed container for mobile devices, such as phones and tablets. Once the timer is set, the only way to get your device back out is when the clock hits zero.
7. Smart rings for the person who can't give up their analog watch
For the data savvy, connected individual, smart rings offer a smaller, lighter alternative to smart watches.
Depending on the model, these rings can serve as a fitness and health tracker, smartphone notification extension, SOS alert or information holder — including email addresses, payment information and smart door locks, according to Wareable's review of several models.
8. An AI class subscription — and a resume boost?
Did you know that AI specialists can make six-figure salaries? Whether you want to add to your resume or show off to your friends, anyone can now get started in AI with online courses — even if you can’t code. Here is a list of some popular online AI courses, some of which are even free, courtesy of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute.
9. A break from reality with a virtual reality headset
Handheld games are out, and virtual reality is in. With Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset, users can escape from reality and immerse themselves in robot or zombie wars, space exploration and wizardry. The $400 headset will set you back a bit, but its an experience the whole family can enjoy — even the dog.
10. Sometimes the best gift is giving
For the person who has it all, a meaningful deed on their behalf can mean the world. There are dozens of charitable organizations that work to foster technology at home and around the world. Education programs such as Girls Who Code and All Star Code are working to promote diversity in tech by starting with the younger generations, and these organizations are always in need of financial and other support.