Tech that and party!

Make sure you cater for festive merrymakers with some disco lighting effects, a wireless charging pad for those power-sapping iPhones, and 4K TVs and Dolby Atmos sound systems for next-generation gamers, says Exertis Unlimited head of marketing and PR Clare Newsome

As I write this, the sky is apocalyptically orange, as storm Ophelia wreaks havoc across the UK. Wild weather, daily news of war-mongering, disasters and death… We all need to escape this depressing deluge! How? It’s time to batten down the hatches and plan to have a damn good time.

Let’s not start in a pub, where you apparently gain the power of invisibility in the eyes of bar staff – other than when they’re emptying your wallet for a round – but at home, with a host of new tech to help get the party going.

Apps with cleverly blended smart lighting and sound menus are a simple way to kick things off – and excellent for in-store demos, too. Philips Hue developers are past masters at this: for example, the latest iteration of iMakeStuff’s Hue Disco is a lot of fun, with Hue Fireworks a lovely tech alternative or companion to the real sparkly deal. (If you missed Hue Halloween, bookmark that excellent app for next year.)

A new leaf

Another option is Nanoleaf’s Aurora Rhythm – a new smart, modular lighting accessory that makes it possible to “see” sound, visually remastering your music into animated displays of colour and light. Start with a Nanoleaf Aurora lighting set – triangular LED modules you can connect in a shape of your choice, redesigning that any time you fancy. Then add the new Rhythm sound module, which syncs music and lights in real time.

Aurora Rhythm can be controlled using your voice – using Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant – or with the customisable app. There’s even an on-unit button for direct control – handy if your smart assistant can’t hear you over the party.

Nanoleaf's Aurora Rhythm
Nanoleaf’s Aurora Rhythm

More musical fun comes in the shape of Dropmix, a new hi-tech mixing game jointly developed by board-game masters Hasbro and Rock Band game developers Harmonix.

Dropmix lets players create unique mixes of hit songs by placing NFC-chip-enabled cards on a game board connected to a mobile app. The cards feature original music, vocals and beats from huge hits across a range of genres. Things get increasingly competitive as players battle to either create the next big mash-up hit or the most incongruous combination (Dolly Parton’s Jolene meeting Bangarang by Skrillex is something special.) You can save and share mixes, which could either kick-start your DJ career and/or serve as a warning of your musical creativity after a few drinks.

All this app activity equals a rapidly depleted smartphone battery. Apple’s latest iPhones – including the flagship iPhone X, on sale November 3 – support Qi-based wireless charging. If you’re not stocking wireless charging solutions now, you should be. Having a wireless charging pad or two in-store for customer use could also be a nice touch in your demo areas.

Talking of X-rated fun… The next-generation Xbox One X gaming console was also released this month (November 7), boasting a hugely powerful spec, including 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos support. It’s sure to be a big family or personal treat purchase this season and could drive a range of related buys – from 4K TVs and Atmos-enabled audio kit to simple stuff like cable or headphone upgrades. Check out the RIG range of Atmos-enabled headphones from Plantronics.

Another new accessory to attach to your TV and audio system is the electric jukebox Roxi. This simple box and intuitive remote control, which doubles up as a microphone, is designed as a plug-and-play alternative to music-streaming systems, with an upfront fee (and annual renewal) replacing monthly subscriptions.

Roxi music

Very much TV-based, rather than app or computer, Roxi offers music streaming, global radio stations and curated playlists, plus a Sing With The Stars karaoke option. You can even play Name That Tune – featuring millions of songs from every genre and decade – described as the world’s favourite music quiz. They obviously haven’t been to the ERT Awards.

So, let’s hear it for a fantastic seasonal selling season, full of fun. Just don’t turn on the TV news and spoil the mood.