Unless you're a billionaire, here are some of the most outrageous, over-the-top and expensive gifrts you probably won't get this holiday
By Gizmag Team
There's only 14 sleeps 'til Christmas, but unless you're planning on discovering a large oil deposit or a long lost Spanish Galleon in the very near future, you may struggle to scrape together the funds required to tackle this little wish list. Each year we take a look back at the most over-the-top examples of emerging technology to have graced our pages in the past 12 months. So without further ado, here's our pick of what you can't have for Christmas in 2009.
1. The Emperor Workstation
Talk about over the top! This US$40,000 contraption acts like a sedentary gamer's life-support system. Three synchronized 19" monitors adjustable to the perfect height, inbuilt 5.1 surround sound with a woofer right under your leather-coddled hiney—which is gently warmed or cooled by the seat depending on temperature, electronic posture-controlled reclining, subtle lighting, HEPA air filtration, and it gently and automatically rotates to avoid external glare. The Emperor Workstation uncoils like a scorpion to let you in, then closes in around you once you sit down to lock you into workstation world. Stick a hole in the seat with some plumbing, and sit it next to the fridge, and you wouldn't have to pause your game for ANYTHING. All hail the Emperor. [Full article]
2. The pedal-powered submarine for two
For most of us, the world deep below the ocean's surface remains a place we have only had the pleasure to experience vicariously, primarily through watching nature documentaries. It's not as if we can just hop in a submarine and go take a look. Well, perhaps we can, if a Russian company's plan to market a two-seater submarine driven by pedal power to the tourist industry is successful. The new underwater vehicle (UV) from Marine Innovation Technologies (MIT) will not only be cheaper to buy and run than existing submersibles, it will be simpler to operate, requiring no special training or expertise [Full article]
3. The world's fastest open top car
Like every other automobile to ever bear the revered name, the new Bugatti is so over-the-top you can't help but admire the audacious spirit which permeates all aspects of its engineering. The limited edition open-top Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport will be the world's fastest open top car, capable of traveling at 360kmh with the roof off, and 407kmh with it closed. Just 150 will be made of the €1.4 million Grand Sport with the first 40 reserved for existing Bugatti customers. The usual cut-no-corners approach has seen the original Veyron virtually re-engineered to accommodate the lack of the roof as a structural component. [Full article]
4. The three million dollar mobile phone
Goldstriker International, a company which specializes in dipping mobile phones in gold and platinum, snatched the title of world's most expensive mobile phone from the iPhone 3G King's Button last month with the creation of the iPhone 3GS Supreme. Priced at £1.92 million (approx. US$3.14 million at time of publication) this is one phone you definitely wouldn't want to leave on a bus. [Full article]
5. Cabasse La Sphere speaker system
French company Cabasse has redefined the notion of high-end loudspeakers with the creation of a speaker system that costs almost as much as a base model 2009 Ferrari F430. But for your UK£108,000 (US$176,000), you're buying a monumental engineering achievement—the world's only four-way, point source speaker system (more about that after the jump). This audio perfectionist's dream required a spherical enclosure—which means you also have to accept the fact that two giant, ugly eyeballs on sticks will be watching you enjoy some of the best audio reproduction, sound staging and stereo imaging the world has ever experience. [Full article]
6. The Audi e-tron electric Concept with 4,500 Nm of torque
One of the highlights of IAA 2009 was undoubtedly Audi's e-tron. The concept car has four motors producing in total a 230kW (313hp) and a stunning 4,500Nm (3,319.03 lb-ft) of torque, enabling it to accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh (0 – 62.14 mph) in 4.8 seconds, and from 60 to 120 kmh (37.28 – 74.56 mph) in 4.1 seconds. The car's lithium-ion battery is stored directly behind the passenger cabin for an optimal center of gravity, and holds 42.4 kilowatt hours, enabling a range of 250km. [Full article].
7. Holograms you can feel
While vastly improved 3D systems are set for an assault on the market over the next two years, some of us just wont be happy until we get our Holodeck. While we may be waiting a while for this one to appear under the tree, there is progress being made in the field. Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a technique that allows 3D holograms to be "touched". By blending a holographic display, a couple of Nintendo Wiimotes and an ultrasound phenomenon called acoustic radiation pressure, the researchers were able to create the Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display—a system that can give the feeling of holographic raindrops hitting an outstretched hand or a virtual creature running across a palm. [Full article].
8. Entecho's Hoverpod: Your very own flying saucer
Entecho has come up with an operating prototype of a sort of cylindrical fan-forced flying saucer, steered by directing the downward airflow through a flexible skirt that allows easy directional control. The blades are not exposed and move reasonably slowly, it's stable in flight and the system is remarkably simple from a mechanical point of view. It's also quite simple to fly using a joystick controller. Totally VTOL and with a small footprint, perhaps the Entecho Hoverpod might deliver as a practical and affordable personal flight solution. Yep, pretty much your classic flying saucer. [Full article]
9. Scarpar's 60kmh all-terrain twin-tracked Powerboard
It's rare that you see a whole new segment open up in personal mobility—and this one looks like an absolute cracker. The Scarpar Powerboard is an off-road powered skateboard capable of taking on pretty much any terrain other than water. An electric or 4-stroke petrol engine powers two articulated tank-style tracks up to a terrifying 60kmh, using a hand control for acceleration and braking. Mud, grass, sand, snow—the Scarpar is capable of driving over just about anything, including rock piles and even fallen logs. Although the projected $2000 price range is within reach (and certainly not in the same league as most of the other goodies on this list), unfortunately it hasn't yet made it to market. So no, you can't have one... not this year anyway. [Full article]
10. A trip to the edge of space
Put this one on your list for about 2012... and start saving your pennies for the US$200K ticket. Virgin Galactic has unveiled the actual spaceship that will take private astronauts into space—SpaceshipTwo (SS2). The unveiling at Mojave Air and Spaceport today marks the first time the craft has been revealed to the public since construction began in 2007 and brings Virgin Galactic another step closer to realizing its goal of becoming the world's first commercial space line providing private sector access to space. [Read the latest news or see our feature on the future of space travel
As usual there was much contention in the Gizmag camp about what should and shouldn't have made the shortlist—what do you think? Did we miss something? Let us know your pick for the most outrageous, expensive or just plain impossible to come-by product of 2009 in the comments section below.