Where are we going? What will the next generation of knives, lights, and everyday gadgets bring us? I think there are three things that will both definitely happen and signal the beginning of a new age of gadgets and tools.
Here is my current minimalist EDC:
Less is More
our phones become more sophisticated it is not too hard to imagine a
time when your phone replaces your wallet. There are all sorts of
efforts underway right now that presage this. Starbucks has an app that lets you buy coffee from your phone without the need for a credit card. Card Case
is another app that allows for credit card free purchases. It is
coming sooner, thankfully, rather than later. Your phone will put your
plastic credit cards out of business.
Then there are the apps that let you do things to your car. Chevy has an app, OnStarMobile,
that lets you remote start your car, among other things. I can see a
future, oh about a year or two from now, when this is a standard feature
for cars. So your phone will eat your keys too. And who among us
likes carrying keys around? As much as we like the tiny toolbox on our
keychain it is really just a way of dressing up a necessary evil--the
lump of pokey metal in your pocket that is used once a day for thirty
seconds. Keys are always the "well I guess I have to" part of your EDC
set up, but soon at least one set of keys (and usually the bulkiest)
will be gone. It is not hard to imagine Schlage or one of the other
lock makers creating a lock that works via your phone, too.
leaves your watch and your ID. I think it will be a lot longer until
your phone eats your ID, but it is not technically impossible right
now. Slow moving governments, state and local, will be the hang up
here, not the tech. And if you still wear a watch (like I do) then your
phone will never eat that. But it could have done that years ago.
of your keys and cards in your phone, which is already your camera,
your camcorder, your game console, your web browser, and your email. I
can't wait, so long as they all have a remote wipe feature like the iPhone does.
if you still carry a wallet, you might be able to save some weight with
newer materials. Carbon fiber is an excellent material for knife
handles and smartphone cases. I'd like to see it in other places too
like a carbon fiber/polymer bodied flashlight. There are even really
thin, nice wallets made of carbon fiber,
with a space saving design (even if the weight in an item this small is
not an issue). Some of the new sail material is also an excellent
choice for bags and wallets, substantially cutting down on bulk in bags
as a replacement for stiff nylon.
I have owned and used my Muyshondt Aeon
for about 18 months now and thus far I have used two CR2 batteries
(still working on the second one). So while they are more expensive on a
per cell basis, the CR2s last so much longer in this little jewel of a
light that the price difference doesn't really matter. The ZDP-189
blade on my Dragonfly II is similarly long lasting. I have brutalized this thing:
cut up a cardboard box that thick that was the size of a refrigerator)
and it has needed only one touch up on the Sharpmaker, after 7 months of
use. It's edge retention is insane.
These two little
items demonstrate something that people in the know have understood for
a while--endurance and reliability are the most important thing when it
comes to gear. A 600 lumen count for an EDC light is nice, but
entirely unnecessary. I'd like something that runs at a decent level
FOREVER. And all of the gee whiz flippers and assisted openers and
rotoblocks are nice, but more than anything a knife that holds an edge
for a long, long time is the key. I want my stuff to come out and be
ready without having to think about all of the maintenance and upkeep.
I'll do that because I care about my gear, but it is nice not having to
do it if I forget.
As emitters get better and steel
gets more sophisticated we are getting close to ZERO maintenance gear.
Imagine a steel that holds an edge like ZDP-189 and is rust proof like
H1. I'd take that. Imagine an emitter that can run for days at 100
lumens and a knife blade that needs sharpening once a year. It is
coming...and so is the super long life smartphone
are still only about 5 or 6 years removed from the advent of the
multi-output flashlight. And UIs are all over the place. Twist and
click, double click, click and hold. We still don't have a standardized
UI, but it is coming, too. There seems to be a convergence.
Eagletac's UI on their D25 series is very similar to 4seven's UI on the MiNi Quark series, which itself, is a direct borrowing from the UI on the BiTz and Ti BiTz
custom lights. It may be that we are witnessing the formation of a
standard UI in twisty-style flashlights. I'd prefer the simplicity of
the two or three stage twisty like on the Aeon, but I think that is more
complex to implement and thus more expensive.
Similarly we are seeing UIs in clicky lights. Nothing compares to the ease of use of the McGizmo clicky, and we see this UI implemented in other places. The really great Leatherman Serac S3 light had it (why they went out of production I will never understand). The Lumapower Incendio
has it. The combination of easy switching and mode memory seen on the
McGizmo gives you all of the customization I think a reasonable user
needs with none of the fuss or insanity of some of the more complex UIs.
Another area where standardization seems to be taking
hold is in pocket clip design. Flashlights like the Nitecore D10 and
EX10 had a proprietary pocket clip that was beyond frustrating to
install and did not hold well. The next gen from Nitecore, by contrast,
has switched over to the elegant and simple McGizmo clip. Take a peak:
And now the McGizmo version:
BTW, isn't that light just droolicious? Note that the clips are identical in shape and design (though one has been treated). Sunwayman
is also using the McGizmo clip on its Ti version (even though they are
not part of the Nitecore/JetBeam company). Even the Eagletac link above
shows a clip VERY similar to the McGizmo design.
like to see pocket knives converge on a standard clip but that doesn't
seem likely. I'd love the Spyderco wireclip or the Kershaw/Strider
simple clip become standard but for whatever reason knife designers have
a fetish with weird and less than ideal pocket clips. I'd also like to
see a spine riding clip on a production knife. They look beautiful on Joe Caswell's custom blades.
flashlight UIs and pocket clips are only the beginning. I can see many
different items becoming standardized. I can see the features of a
"tactical" v. "utility" flashlight coalescing into two very uniform
groups (this may have happened already, in fact). The Fisher pen insert
has already become something like the standard in "tactical pens" and
for good reason. I wouldn't mind more standardization in flashlight
batteries, especially in very small batteries (where 10180 would be my
choice) and large rechargeables (I like the 18650 used in Dark Suck's light).
I'd also like some standard features on a smartphone, such as the
ability to use physical buttons to quickstart the phone for pictures
(the only feature, I think, that is worthwhile on a Windows 7 phone).
is where I think things are going. The faster we get there and the
less stuff I have to carry and maintain, the better. I am not a
shambling tool box kind of guy and a slim smartphone, tiny knife, and
awesome jewel of light sound very, very good to me.