Hot Tech Stocking Stuffers

November 9, 2015 12:18 PM
Hot Tech Stocking Stuffers

Farmer wish lists include drones, new smartphones and more

Christmastime is coming, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a little nervous about some of the toys Santa might deliver.


“The talking point is there will be a million drones under people’s Christmas trees this year,” says Rich Swayze, FAA assistant administrator. “We’re trying to get out and educate people about potential dangers.”

It’s good FAA and others have safety top-of-mind, but the fact remains—drones will likely be this holiday’s top high-tech ticket item. Farmers in particular will take a close look because they won’t just be flying them for fun—they’ll also be using them to collect and analyze valuable on-farm data and quickly diagnose problems from the sky.

California dairy producer Dino Giacomazzi is not among the farmers who own drones, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been doing his homework.

“I’m going to wait a few years because my oldest son is 8 years old,” he says. “By the time he is 10 and ready to mess with drones, they will be ten times better than they are now.”

The two models Giacomazzi likes right now are the 3D Robotics Solo and the DJI Phantom Pro, both popular models in the agriculture industry.

Drones aren’t the only high-tech stocking stuffers farmers want. With the smartphone market finally nearing saturation for the farming community, more farmers have hopped on the smartphone carousel of upgrading every year or two. Results from a Farm Journal Media survey say by 2016, 87% of farmers will own a smartphone and 59% will own a tablet.

According to the Phone Arena blog, a major source for smartphone news and reviews, fall is a good time to acquire or upgrade a smartphone. Most companies release new devices and heavily discount older devices at that time.

“There is no one-size-fits-all device,” cautions the blog, but adds the iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy 6 and Nexus 5x are three newer, loaded models that are good places to start.

Tablet computers represent another popular tech gift item. The Tech Radar website says this category offers a wide price range, better battery life, faster processors and lighter designs compared with prior offerings. According to Tech Radar, the top three tablets for 2015 are the iPad mini 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab S and iPad Air 2. Prices range between $250 and $350.

For farmers who already own smartphones and tablet computers, other enticing gadgetry still awaits. That includes smart watches and other so-called “wearable” devices. The market has soared by 173% since 2014, according to the International Data Corporation.

“I’ve been watching the smart watch battle pretty closely and haven’t pulled the trigger yet,” Giacomazzi says. “I’m waiting for the right device to hit the market. I think the Huawai might be it—it’s come out of nowhere and is owning the smart device category in terms of specs and build quality.”

Giacomazzi is also interested in learning more about how other smart devices can improve his daily life. For example, he purchased the Nest smart thermostat, which programs itself after a week or so of use.

Also of interest is a Wi-Fi router from Google called OnHub. This technology can act as your home’s central nervous system to connect technologies such as Nest, Wi-Fi door locks, hue lights and more.

“You can control your home automation by voice,” Giacomazzi says. “You’ll say, ‘Hey house, set the temperature to 75°, set the living room lights to movie mode, play “Star Wars” and make me some popcorn.’ We are months away from this capability.”

As the holiday tune goes, “Please Christmas, don’t be late.”

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