Support entrepreneurs who’ve built innovative technology that changes everything from fashion tech to how you shop for jalapeño cheddar pretzels.
By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)
Yep. It’s December. No turning back now. If you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, it’s time to get a move on it!
But even when you have the best intentions, you might procrastinate your holiday shopping (or even deciding who you’re buying gifts for) because you’re totally out of ideas. Could someone just do your shopping for you?
We can’t go that far, but we can give you some unique ideas of cool tech products and services that would make for good gifts. And -- you guessed it -- almost every item on this list has a female founder!
1. Lumo Lift & Lumo Back
Monisha Perkash, Co-founder & CEO Perfect for: Someone who spends all day hunched behind a computer screen.
Lumo Lift is kind of like your mom screeching at you to stand up straight -- but it’s way nicer and does so much more subtly than mom used to do. It’s a posture coach that uses smart sensors to let you know when you’re slouching with gentle vibrations. The small magnet discretely claps to your shirt like a pin or button (or you can even wear it under your shirt so no one even notices.)
Sync your Lift up with the app to keep track of how your posture is improving. You can do “coaching sessions” to focus on your posture during specific periods of time or simply wear your Lift to track your posture throughout the day.
The ingenious little posture coach was developed by Monisha Perkash and her co-founders when one of them overcame back pain with the help of a human posture coach. When they found out back pain is the second most common reason people go to the doctor, they decided to create something that would help more people stand taller and banish back pain forever.
2. Misfit Shine + Misfit Flash
Christy Trang Le, CFO Perfect for: A fitness buff who wants to keep tabs on their health or someone who's targeting 2015 as the year to get in shape.
A fitness tracker probably seems like a good gift, but how do you pick the right one? Everyone seems to be hopping into the health tech market, with new activity bands launching left and right. There’s an overwhelming number to chose from.
We find the Misfit Shine + Sleep Monitor to be one of the most fashionable. And unlike some of the others that only track movements from your wrist, you can clip your Shine to almost any piece of clothing to track virtually any movement -- biking, running, walking, swimming (it’s waterproof) and more. Another pro of the Misfit Shine is that it doesn’t need recharging like many other fitness trackers. The battery lasts up to six months.
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the company launched a more affordable version called Misfit Flash, which offers the same features but is made from different materials.
Jing Zhou, Co-Founder & CEO Perfect for: Someone who loves to geek out over tech gadgets, but who’s got a sense of style.
Can’t find your phone? Have a hard time finding accessories that match all your favorite outfits? Don’t want to miss an important call or text message? Elemoon is a new tech-meets-fashion bracelet that solves all these problems at once.
Elemoon brings together a touch interface, activity sensor, notifications and colorful lights into one elegant accessory. The Elemoon’s LED light designs and colors can be customized to match different outfits.
Co-founder and CEO Jing Zhou and her team of mostly women saw that the wearable technology market lacked fashionable options. “Everyone on our team is obsessed with color and Native American jewelry,” she wrote in a blog post for Women 2.0. “We have an eclectic taste in fashion and love wearing accessories, but all we were seeing in the market were these bland rubber wristbands.” So they created Elemoon to make smart tech more fashionable.
4. Ringly Smart Jewelry
Christina Mercando, Founder & CEO Perfect for: Anyone who needs to keep her phone nearby to check in on work, but wishes she could just leave it in her bag sometimes.
With Ringly, she’ll be able to leave her phone tucked away, but will still be in the loop when she receives important texts, notifications or reminders.
As the name implies, it’s a ring -- crafted with a rhodium plated setting and a tourmalated quartz semi-precious stone and available in black onyx, pink sapphire, rainbow moonstone and emerald. The smart tech inside syncs with your phone and will buzz or light up when something important happens on your phone. But if it’s not important (as determined by you using the Ringly app), then Ringly stays silent -- letting you enjoy the moment instead of being chained to your phone.
Named on of Time Magazine’s Top 25 Inventions of 2014, Ringly might just be the next power suit for women.
Liz Salcedo, Founder & CEO Perfect for: Anyone who’s just as addicted to new purses as she is to checking her phone.
Ever notice your phone dies JUST when you need it the most? Unless you want to carry your charger with you everywhere (been there), a low battery can threaten to spoil the evening. No more with Everpurse. Everpurse is a clutch that charges your iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c or Samsung Galaxy S4.
Leave the purse on the wireless charging mat overnight. The next morning, tuck your phone into the charging pocket in your Everpurse. Violà. You now have a purse with superpowers: the ability to charge your phone for up to 48 hours.
6. VIDDY DIY Camera
Kelly Angood, Founder Perfect for: Amateur photographers, artsy DIYers, creative tinkerers, blossoming technologists and curious kids.
Taking pictures is now as easy as the tap of a button on your phone’s screen, but there’s something to be said for the old-timey feel of photos taken with analog cameras. The VIDDY Camera is more than an analog camera. It’s a do-it-yourself pinhole camera you can build yourself. All you need is 30 minutes, a bit of craft glue and you can build a fully functional camera completely from scratch.
Don’t want to gift your niece or nephew something digital? This one’s good for kids, too. Helping them build their own VIDDY Camera is a seriously fun way to help them learn about the basics of science, math, history, art or engineering. Just make sure to pick up either medium format and 35mm film so you can snap a few photos together once you’ve built it.
7. Toymail Wi-Fi Mailmen
Gauri Nanda & Audry Hill, Co-founders Perfect for: Kids who already have enough screens. Parents, grandparents, aunts and anyone who wants to stay in touch with their favorite kids who live far away.
The Internet of Things is not just for grown-ups. Toys can play, too! Instead of sending little ones you love who live far away emails or voicemails, try a new kid-friendly messaging technology that’s kind of like a walkie talkie 2.0: toymails.
Using the Toymail app, you record your message, then send it wirelessly to a small critter-shaped mailbox -- like Snort, a snaggle-toothed pig or Rochester the Raccoon. The toy will snort, wheeze or whinny to let the kids know they have a new message. They can then speak right back to their toymail to repond, and you’ll receive their response back through your phone.
Deepa Sood, Founder Perfect for: Anyone who loves accessorizing -- and who carries Mace everywhere she goes.
Smart technology is getting more wearable and more fashionable, but Cuff takes it one step further by offering a safety feature as well. In the event of an emergency, just press your Cuff bracelet or necklace and it’ll send a notification to your friends and family with your GPS location. This also activates audio on your Cuff so whoever gets notified can listen to what’s happening. Cuff isn’t just a safety device; it also has several other features like activity tracking and notifications for incoming texts and calls.
There are several ways to wear Cuff as well. The device itself is a small rechargeable square that you slip into different Cuff-customized accessories such as a bracelet, a pendant necklace or a keychain.
Kegan Schouwenburg, Co-founder & CEO Perfect for: Anyone who’s been to a foot doctor lately or wears custom orthotics for better arch support.
Kegan Schouwenburg and her team at SOLS recognized a niche market for innovation: orthotics. Using 3D technology and an app that analyzes data after scanning a patient’s foot, they developed a new way to built custom insoles that completely removes room for human error. Each 3D insole is developed based on a scan of your foot. The result is custom orthotics that are not only fitted to the shape of your foot, but also take into account your weight and activity level.
While this is an unconventional gift that you can’t exactly shop for, you can still help someone find a SOLS provider near them and chip in towards the $300-500 price tag. Keep an eye out for more from SOLS in 2015 -- they’re rumored to be working on a way to sell SOLS directly to consumers for around $100.
Carly Strife, Co-founder Perfect for: Any dog parent who loves to spoil their pup with treats, toys and stuff you didn’t even know existed for dogs.
Got someone on your list who treats their dog like a human member of their family? They’ll love a Bark Box subscription.
Bark Box sends a box of 4+ dog products and presents each month. Boxes include anything from toys, bones and all-natural treats to hygiene products and new gadgets. The contents of each box depends on the size of the pet. Bark Box also donated 10 percent of their profits to organizations that help dogs in need, so you can feel extra-good about this gift.
11. Tickets to iLuminate in NYC
Miral Kotb, Creator & CEO Perfect for: Your New York friends and family who are so very cultured and thus very hard to shop for.
New Yorkers can check out what looks to be an amazing Tron-like dance performance. iLuminate dancers perform completely in the dark. They wear costumes that light up in sync with the choreography.
You may have seen Team iLuminate on the sixth season of America’s Got Talent, where they placed third. When judge Sharon Osbourne told the creator of the show, “You don’t look like the technical type,” Miral Kotb politely explained that she’s both a dancer and a software developer. In fact, she’s been writing software since she was nine and has been dancing since she could walk. She was previously a senior software engineer at Bloomberg, and was planning to leave to pursue a professional dance career. With iLuminate, she’s able to bring her two passions together and share them with an audience almost every night of the week.
12. IAmelemental Action Figures
Julie Kerwin and Dawn Nadeau, Co-founders Perfect for: Girls over the age of three that you know will kick some serious butt one day -- or already are.
For girls who love to play with action figures, there’s a new toy on the market that will help them harness their inner super powers. Named on of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Toys of 2014 and Top 25 Inventions of 2014, each IAmelemental Action Figure is inspired by an element of courage: Bravery, Energy, Honesty, Industry, Enthusiasm, Persistence and Fear. Co-founders Julie Kerwin and Dawn Nadeau say their mission is to create toys that allow girls to envision themselves as strong, powerful and connected beings at the center of the stories they create when they play.
IAmelemental isn’t meant to be an anti-princess or anti-doll toy. Instead, they were created to be a positive and fierce re-interpretation of traditional female action figures, which are more designed for dude collectors than they are for actual girls. It turns out that their vision caught on like wildfire; IAmelemental was fully funded in two days and ultimately raised $162,906 on Kickstarter this summer -- 465 percent over their funding goal.
13. Piece & Co.
Kathleen Wright, Founder Perfect for: Anyone who wants to help other female entrepreneurs -- even if they're a world away -- grow their small businesses.
Piece & Co. connects artisans in the developing world with fashion designers to create stylish products that do good. Some non-profits in the developing world provide micro-loans or money management education to women. Piece & Co. focuses on giving them jobs so they can have a steady income to support their families. For example, their collaboration with Tom’s Shoes provided work for female artisans in Guatemala who otherwise would likely not have had jobs.
Piece & Co. works with artisan co-ops in developing countries that have little access to internet and technology. The market for their work is usually limited to their own villages and communities. Thanks to collaborations with brands such as MadeWell, Nordstrom, LOFT and Rachel Roy, there’s a much larger market for these artisan textiles both online and in retail stores.
Kathleen Meil, Founder & COO and Emily Baum, Founder & CEO Perfect for: Celebrating a special occasion like an anniversary, a proposal, a birthday or another holiday.
Keyrious is a new player in the luxury fashion space. They’re technology-enabled jewelry made from 18 karat gold and diamonds. It’s the first step in creating a unique one-of-a-kind experience with someone special, then having a memento to remember it by. Each Keyrious piece unlocks a box with a surprise inside.
Lisa Q. Fetterman, Founder & CEO Perfect for: Foodies and any budding chefs who wish they could cook like a pro at home.
What’s the secret to a perfect medium-rare steak? Sous-vide.
Restaurant chefs rely on this scientific process and high-tech equipment to prepare certain dishes just right every time with constant, even temperature. It’s just not so simple or affordable for the rest of us to master. That is, until Lisa Q. Fetterman brought Nomiku to Kickstarter this past summer. It’s a new handheld sous vide for home cooks that’s super simple to use -- as easy as turning on a faucet.
Erika Shumate & Christine Luby, Co-founders Perfect for: Anyone on the hunt for a new perfume or looking for a new everyday fragrance to wear.
How do you find “your” fragrance? From magazine samples? From spritzing yourself with a zillion bottles at the makeup counter? From the random selection of perfumes your aunt has given you each year for your birthday over the last 10 years? None of these methods really seem to work, and you might end up wearing a fragrance you don’t particularly even like.
Called “The Warby Parker of Perfumes” by Refinery 29, Pinrose makes it easier to find the scent you really love. Take the scent finder quiz -- which’ll throw you random questions about not just smells you like but also color, music and shapes. Pinrose will help you narrow down which scents might be a good fit for you. Then they’ll send you free samples to try out before you commit to buying.
Jamie Wong, Co-Founder & CEO Perfect for: Gifting someone a memorable experience, not a thing.
When you travel to a new place, knowing a local who knows the city well can make or break your trip. To help travelers get that insider experience, Vayable connects them with local guides who offer off-the-beaten path experiences. You could call them tour guides, but the “tours” are not even close to a hop-on-hop-off tour bus.
Take a Paris night photography tour. Or go on a midnight street crawl in New York. Visiting our very own San Francisco? Learn how to forage for your own seafood! Pick up a Vayable gift certificate and gift someone an experience instead of a thing.
Vanessa Torrivilla, Co-founder
Perfect for: Anyone who loves food. So, anyone. Also, anyone who wishes they could go back to X so they could have just one more bite of Y.
Never even think about giving an Edible Arrangement again. Instead, opt for a yummier gift that might come from the other side of the country.
At Goldbely, you can find the best gourmet food and gifts and ship them almost anywhere in the United States. Cookies, coffee, cupcakes, coconut macaroons, you name it. And if you’re willing to pay a little extra in shipping costs and dry ice, even ice cream and pizza! Goldbely was named one of Time Magazine’s “50 Best Websites 2013.” Too bad you can’t eat it.
Elise Polezel, Founder & COO Perfect for: Anyone in San Francisco who’s trying to eat more veggies, but can’t seem to find the time.
You’ve got the juicer. You’ve got the smoothie recipe book. You’ve got the best intentions about getting your green juice each day. But making time to shop for fresh ingredients, then actually making the juice? Not gonna happen.
LivBlends to the rescue. Currently only in San Francisco (but they say they’re expanding!), LivBlends is a smoothie subscription service delivering nutrient and veggie-packed smoothies like matcha green tea wake-up or caffé mocha energize. The smoothies are blended from natural fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts and are gluten and dairy free. Yummy AND healthy! Who wouldn’t love a subscription as a gift?
20. Blaze Laserlight
Emily Brooke, Founder & CEO of Blaze Perfect for: The hardcore urban road biker. Or any biker really. (The bicycle kind, not the motorcycle kind.)There’s a humongous engineering error with most bike lights -- by the time a car sees them, it’s likely too late. Bike lights only project in front of your bike, which makes it tough for a car on the side to see you. In fact, 79 percent of cycling incidents happen when a driver maneuvers into a biker’s path.
Physicist turned designer turned bicyclist turned entrepreneur Emily Brooke tackled this problem and invented a completely new bike light that’s much safer because it makes the biker much more visible. She added a green laser to the light that projects an image of a bike in front of you as you ride, letting everyone -- vehicles, pedestrians, other bikers -- know you’re coming.
21. Tickets to the Women 2.0 Awards
Shaherose Charania, Co-founder & CEO Perfect for: Tech innovators and game-changers. Founders. Investors.
Of course we couldn't wrap up this list without including tickets to the Women 2.0 Awards on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015! We invite you to be part of our gala salute to the influencers who are changing the game and elevating what’s possible in tech.
Whew! That was an epic list. Who’d we miss? Know of any other gift-worthy tech products created by women? Let us know!
About the author: Betsy Mikel is the managing editor of Women 2.0 and runs the content consultancy Aveck. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she's not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.