The past year will likely not be remembered for totally new gadgets so much as the dramatic maturation of the smartwatch, voice-activated home electronics hub and gaming device technology introduced over the past few years.
The Apple Watch—which arrived in April 2015 to a collective “meh”—seems to have hit its stride with the almostuniversallywell-reviewedSeries 3 released in September this year. That same month saw the arrival of Apple TV 4K, the latest edition of a digital media player and microconsole the company has been pushing for the past decade. Although far from perfect, this time around Apple TV sports some significant improvements—including support for 4K-resolution video, with a pixel count four times that of normal high-definition TV.
In 2017 Amazon updated its voice-activated smart speaker Echo, which arrived in mid-2015 to mostly good reviews and more than a few concerns about in-home privacy. Amazon added a few new spin-off Echo products this year, including the voice-controlled selfie camera Echo Look, Echo Show smart speaker and Echo Plus smart-home hub that can wirelessly control internet-connected lights, locks and plugs.
Nintendo made a big splash with its release of the Switch miniature video game console. The company is hoping the hybrid Switch—whose touchscreen monitor lets it either connect to a television or offer mobile gaming as a wireless handheld device—can restore some of the luster lost through years of bruising competition against the latest releases of Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
Outside this year’s major mainstream releases a number of noteworthy gadgets debuted in 2017. Although not a comprehensive list, Scientific American has compiled is a short slide show highlighting some of the more interesting wireless devices, educational maker kits and novelty gadgets released this year.