Five sensational gift ideas for the innovator in your life

Justin Daab Innovation

Innovators: maybe the toughest people to buy for

Innovators are notoriously tough people to buy gifts for. They’re early adopters, so the stuff they likely want isn’t on sale yet, or worse, they couldn’t wait and already bought whatever it is for themselves. They get bored easily, so to be worth our effort and hard-earned dollars, the things you buy for them really need to offer thoughtful and engaging enough experiences to bring them back, time and time again. So, how can you find something truly sensational to give them? We thought it might make sense to talk about some of the most innovative items available, one sense at a time! 


Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

Despite what Apple tells you in every iPhone launch, perhaps the most dramatic innovation in mobile imaging technology isn’t in the mobile handset itself. If you’ve ever wondered why some of your favorite YouTube influencers can shoot great footage while walking and why your walking-around footage looks something like you’ve stepped into an earthquake measuring something greater than magnitude 4.0, it’s time to get your hands on a gimbal. Gimbals combine the same accelerometer chips that have become ubiquitous in smartphones. This is a technology that has followed a price-to-performance trajectory, not unlike Moore’s law. Even two years ago, technology like that in the Zhiyun was between five and 10 times more expensive, with lesser performance and functionality.


The Aviary Cocktail Book

With incredible design and gorgeous photography, this book of cocktail recipes (formulas?) from Chicago’s Aviary could have easily been included in the “sight” section of this post. And, given that most of us won’t have the full set of lab equipment to truly craft many of the cocktails, maybe it should have. But if you are looking for innovation, look no further. More than simple cocktails, these are designed experiences. Granted, they may be experiences that require non-standard barware, but that’s what innovation is all about, right?


LuminAID Solar Lanterns

There are good products, and then there are the rare products that find innovative ways to do good. LuminAID unquestionably falls into the latter category. Formed by two architecture students following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, LuminAID makes solar-rechargeable lanterns and cell chargers that help the victims of natural disasters in two ways: first, by donating lanterns/chargers that deliver much-needed illumination and keep the cellphones going when the normal electrical grid is either disabled or destroyed, and second, through the Give Light Get Light Program. By sponsoring a light for a family in need, supporters earmark a solar lantern or solar phone charger to go directly to the organization of their choice. More than 50,000 solar lights have been sent to families through the Give Light Get Light Program. 


The Olorama Scent Technology Virtual Reality Pack

If you thought that for the smell section we would trot out something akin to a tired old aromatherapy candle, you underestimated the scent technology industry! Olorama creates commercial-scale scent replication and delivery products. And, not to leave the home VR crowd out of the fun, they now offer the Virtual Reality Pack, a $2,014.88 scent-synchronizing accessory for your $199 Oculus Go. From the Olorama website, it seems the only VR experience you can actually purchase is something they call “Make your own breakfast.” Obviously, Moore’s law has not accelerated scent delivery tech quite yet, but it’s a start! Admittedly, no one here at Magnani has been willing to shell out the premium funds to smell this tech in action. But we thought you might earn a few points toward your street cred in the eyes of your favorite innovator just for knowing this tech exists! In any case, you can be sure we’ll keep watching (smelling?) to see if this technology improves in its price-to-performance ratio.


The Devialet Phantom Reactor

The original Devialet Phantom was (and still is) an amazing feat of engineering. In a speaker system looking much like a predatory rugby ball swallowed a soccer ball, whole, they managed to stuff in some 2,000 watts of amplification power and output more than 100dB of distortion-free music. Unsurprisingly, they did that, starting at a cost of over $2,000. The new Phantom Reactor series cuts the specs and price in half—a tiny 8.5” x 6.5” x 6.5” case, 600 Watts and 95dB, at a cost of $1,090. Still not cheap. But still massive sound for a tiny speaker. And, unlike its larger sibling, the Phantom Reactor comes in matte black. Astute audiophiles will notice there’s only a single high-frequency driver, meaning it plays your stereo music in mono. So, if true stereo playback is your goal, you’ll need to buy that innovator in your life a matching set.

Bonus #6—Thinking (Because it’s the thought that counts, right?):

Innovate. Activate. Accelerate. A 30-day boot camp for your business brain.

Okay, the brain isn’t a sensory organ, per se, but this is a bonus gift idea anyway, so why not? And, in full disclosure, unlike the rest of the items mentioned on this list, we do make a very small bit of income on every book sold. But if you have an innovator in your life, they’re sure to find something useful and/or entertaining in this book. We created this book for those who see every day as an opportunity to be smarter about how they approach their business, their customers and their competition. It’s a series of bite-sized strategic ideas, exercises, frameworks and thought starters to keep innovators focused on the big picture.

Or, support your favorite local charity

If you’re really looking to please the one person in your life who has everything, we think giving a donation in their name to folks who have a lot less is always a joyful option. Happy holidays.


Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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