Best Buy’s Life & Tech Expo in Toronto
This week Best Buy transformed Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square into a massive showcase featuring some of the world’s most innovative tech. The third annual Life & Tech Expo gave Canadians an exciting look at new tech helping to improve our lives. I was there and got to see amazing tech from more than 60 top exhibitors from around the globe.
For this year’s event, Best Buy focused on three main categories: smart homes, connected health, and connected toys and gaming. Each area had unique set-ups to help showcase how you’d use the tech in real-life settings. For example, a custom-built home was constructed featuring exciting new smart home products for the bedroom, living room and more. It was exciting to physically walk around these spaces to see all the advanced tech that is shaping our lives!
While touring the Best Buy Life & Tech Expo I got to try so many amazing gadgets. From the latest wearable tech, to VR headsets, to app-enabled tech toys—it was all there an more. Here’s a look at what I tried!
Considering the fun I had at the National Home Show, I had to check out Best Buy’s smart home first. If there’s one place I enjoy the latest and greatest when it comes to smart tech, it’s in my home.
As mentioned, Best Buy custom-built a home to display the tech, but even before entering there were gadgets to see. Outside the home were Google reps showing off their hi-tech assistant, Google Home. I’ve seen Google Home in promotional videos before, but seeing it work first-hand was exciting. You can literally ask Google Home anything, just like you would using the Google browser. Moreover, Google Home will remember previous questions you’ve asked to determine the context. In one example, I asked Google Home “what’s the temperature in Calgary?” Then I asked “what’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?” and it knew I meant in Calgary. So cool!
Once inside the Best Buy smart home I was instantly attracted to the Meural 27″ Digital Canvas Frame. This digital frame can switch between over 30,000 works of art any time you desire. In the mood for classic art? It has it. Want more contemporary pieces? It has that too. I switched between photos using hand gestures (it has a built-in sensor) and it was so impressive. You can even swipe upwards to get a full description of the art piece. If black’s not your colour, the Meural Digital Canvas Frame also comes in lightbox and white.
Laptops and tablets
Microsoft was at the Life & Tech Expo in a big way, showcasing their latest Surface devices. They brought in a Lamborghini and told me the faux suede on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 13.5″ is the same used for the car seats. Now that’s impressive! They also showed me the new Microsoft Surface Pro 12.3″ and I got to create notes using the Surface Pen (sold separately). I’ve been using my second gen Microsoft Surface device for years and I’m always impressed with each iteration. They’re sleek, powerful, and my go-to device whenever I’m doing work at home or on-the-go.
Over at the connected health area, they had everything from fitness wearables (like the Fitbit shown above) to heart health BP monitors. I first paid a visit to the folks at iHealth. They had smart health devices on display, including a Blood Pressure Monitor, Pulse Oximeter, and a Body Composition Scale. All these devices can record your health data and store it within an app. Using the app you can view your stats by individual measurements, daily, weekly, and more. I even learned you can share your health data with family or your doctor if you so choose.
Next I went to see Nokia’s new line of health products (formerly Withings). They had a really impressive Nokia Thermo Smart Thermometer that can measure your temperature in seconds. All I had to do was scan across my forehead and within seconds I could get an accurate reading. I’m so used to putting a regular thermometer in my mouth, but this was much more convenient. The Nokia rep gave me a great suggestion too: you can measure a baby’s temperature with a simple swipe. Easy!
Lastly, in the health zone I got a demo of Zepp’s Golf 2 3D Swing Analyzer. Using a small and unobtrusive sensor attached to your golf club you can get detailed insights into your golf swing. It measures data like your club speed, tempo, backswing length, and hand speed, sending all data to your smartphone. In the app you’ll be able to see a digital recreation of your swing, and it’ll show you areas of improvement. They also recorded the data of pro golfers so you can compare your swing to the very best in the sport! Zepp has sensors for other sports too, including Baseball, Soccer, and Tennis.
Connected Toys and Gaming
I love toys, so I wanted to save my personal favourite for last—connected toys! As a big Star Wars fan I was naturally drawn to check out Propel’s Star Wars X-Wing Battling Quadcopter Drone. This highly maneuverable quadcopter was demoed inside a caged area with the operator doing some amazing loop-to-loops. If the dark side of the force is more your thing, there’s also the TIE Fighter and Speeder Bike models. What’s awesome is you can actually battle other drones with real-time feedback using a companion app. The app will tell you if you’re scored a hit, or your remote will vibrate if you got hit yourself. It was so cool!
I also checked out littleBits’ Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit. If you have a creative child in your home, this kit will let them build their own R2-D2 droid. Once you’ve build R2, he can do things like dance, deliver gifts, or snap selfies. I saw him these actions and it was so fascinating to see.
Last but certainly not least I visit Sphero to see their new BB-9E App-Enabled Droid. BB-9E is a new First Order droid featured in the upcoming Star Wars Episode 8, but the toy is available now! BB-9E can roll around, make authentic gestures, and can even interact with other app-enabled droids. Later, I tried the Sphero R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid and he’s just as fun. R2 can move around, make his iconic beeping noises, and can switch between tripod and bipod stances. I had so much fun and wanted to take the whole collection home!
All in all, I had a total blast at Best Buy’s Life & Tech Expo. A big thanks to Best Buy for putting on an amazing show with so many interesting tech products to try out first-hand!