Great bits of tech for the WFH set
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Mirror, mirror. . .
Those of us who struggle with our fitness would ideally love a dedicated personal trainer to steer us back to vigour and vitality, someone who monitors us carefully and motivates us with an enthusiastic fist-bump. But busy schedules and conflicting priorities can get in the way, and even the friendliest gym environment can feel intimidating from time to time. Bedroom mirrors, by contrast, don’t usually put the fear of God into us. One equipped with an AI-powered personal trainer can turn out to be rather alluring.
Some fitness mirrors come with bulky stands that make them the focal point of a room, but this one, by a brand called Magic, presents as a rather modest wall-hanger. When you’re about five feet away, an almost invisibly embedded camera identifies the frame of your body and starts to track the movement of your limbs and torso. Then it’s time to start your routine, guided by a trainer who, despite being AI-powered and pre-recorded, has vivid awareness of how well you’re doing, because the sensors capture the critical information: how high you’re lifting dumbbells, how far apart your feet are and so on. Your reps are counted, the quality of your technique recorded, your burned calories registered. If you’re toting an Apple Watch or Fitbit, that data can be factored in.
Your choice of trainers includes former England cricket captain Sir Alastair Cook, Strictly Come Dancing’s Katya Jones and Team GB’s Asha Philip, Celia Quansah and Desirèe Henry. There are currently about 120 AI-tracked exercises, dozens of one-off classes of 15, 30 or 45 minutes, and new content gets added over-the-air every week. And there are no ongoing subscription fees. (The Pro version also comes with a dumbbell set and a folding incline bench.)
Magic has been described as “Black Mirror meets Peloton”, but that does it a disservice; it has none of the sinister qualities of Black Mirror, and is more nuanced and personal than Peloton could ever be. And unlike an exercise bike, rower or treadmill, it’s guaranteed never to become an expensive clothes hanger. Magic Pro, £1,999
Type in heavenly peace
The sound made by keyboards has become almost fetishised. Enthusiasts avidly pursue the perfect “clack” or “thock” (yes, that’s a thing) and they’re catered for by countless companies who sell a jaw-dropping selection of key switches, keycaps, O-rings and lubricants. The Trezo, however, recognises that the din can be maddening for people sitting nearby, and is an attempt at producing as quiet a keyboard and mouse as possible. The mouse has a near-silent click that you feel but barely hear, while the 110-key keyboard is pleasingly demure, comfortable under the wrists and fingers, compatible with Mac and PC and (as they don’t say on the box but really should) library-quiet. Trezo keyboard and mouse, £34.99, trust.com
Juice without tears
Juicers are bought with the best of intentions, but the tedium of prepping and cleaning can often see them shoved into dusty cupboards. Initially, there’s nothing to suggest that the REVO830 will be any different, with a load of parts that scream “maintenance”. Once assembled, however, it’s a joy to use and a cinch to clean. You can lob whole fruit and veg into the feeding tubes, with juice emerging from one chute and pulp from another. Most parts can be rinsed clean, and the one that needs proper scrubbing – the strainer – comes with a rotating brush that removes stubborn pith in seconds. Minimal faff, maximum juice. Kuvings REVO830 cold press juicer, £549, ukjuicers.com
Language bot, je t’aime
Given the rapid advances in natural language processing, it makes perfect sense that AI should be used to help us learn the languages that computers have been quietly mastering by themselves. The language-learning app Memrise now has a feature called Membot that can hold up one end of a realistic conversation. You can either type out or speak your replies (your words are transcribed on screen), and Membot will remain patient while you try to remember the imperfect subjunctive. It’s also very helpful, discreetly correcting spelling and word order. Pick from a multitude of role-play scenarios (including “say I love you without saying ‘I love you’” – and you’re off. Memrise, £6.99 a month, £24.99 a year
A notebook you’ll never fill up
It was a wrench when I stopped using pens and notebooks a few years back and went “full keyboard”, but had Rocketbook been around then I may not have bothered. The Pro version is vegan-leather bound and comes with 20 double-sided sheets of synthetic paper and a Pilot FriXion pen. Sketch or write to your heart’s delight, then use the free Rocketbook app on your phone to scan the pages (just tap and point) and beam them to cloud-based services or email. Written notes can be auto-transcribed, and it dealt well with my idiosyncratic writing style. The synthetic paper could hardly be described as tactile, but crucially, when you’re done, you just wipe with a damp cloth and start over. Rocketbook Pro, from £60