Another recent innovation I’m gonna point to is the Rockwell BladeRunner. It’s a jigsaw turned upside-down in a little table. Heinously loud because of cheap construction, lacking in adjustment for blade straightness, hobbled by a lot of misfeatures, but still shockingly useful. I use it in a lot of the same ways I’d use a bandsaw, but without the throat dimension as a constraint. If someone made a pro-grade version of this tool, I’d probably buy one.
To @WillAdams’ question about sensor technology, I think we’ll see some thermal AR glasses soon. I tried to build some with an early Google Glass and Lepton module but lacked the software chops to make it go. But just owning a thermal camera and being able to see everything in heat, totally changes the way you work. You see the blade heating up, you see the wood before it starts to burn, you see the epoxy curing in the cup, you see the drywall mud evaporating. You see the battery actively charging, and the other one on the charger next to it that’s gone idle. Some of these things you smell, but only after it’s too late. Seeing them early is transformative. A handyman with Predator-vision will work much smarter.
I hope the in-wall radar products move from toy status to really-useful soon. I got a Walabot and was totally disappointed, but it shows promise. A studfinder-and-then-some would save a lot of strife. (Everyone who’s drilled into a wire, raise your hand!)
Torque sensing is coming to low-end brushless drivers soon. Because of the way brushless motors work, the controller has intimate knowledge of the energy (torque) required to move every step of the rotation. Adding a torque limit or even a time-torque profile curve is just a matter of software and UI. (i.e. “go to 75 foot-lbs and then a quarter-turn more” could literally be a button.)
There are some jobsite security products that really show promise, but their prices and features aren’t worthwhile for most of us yet. I mean, one of these giant 18v 6AH batteries can run a hell of a telemetry package for quite a long time, why don’t we all have motion-sensing video-transmitting bluetooth-proximity-tracking GPS-logging jobsite-minders strapped to our gangboxes? Because nobody’s developed one that doesn’t suck yet. Get on it!
I want a fan that uses a little camera to point the air where I am, so a smaller battery can keep me cooler for longer. Don’t oscillate. Designate!
Someday, someone will make a multimeter that charges from USB or Qi instead of eating 9v batteries. I will give them my firstborn.
Speaking of multimeters, I think there’s a market need for a decent portable oscilloscope that doesn’t suck. The DSO Nano was such a cool idea, but totally flubs every spec that matters. The solution here might be to lash an 18v battery nest onto the back of a DS1102E, but is that the best we can do? I think not! Gimme a netbook-sized MSOX3k, Keysight! With wifi!
Cameras suck. The SeeSnake is enormous, too big and too stiff for most of my needs. I can get 5mm-diameter USB UVC “endoscope” cameras on eBay for five bucks, but the cellphone software side sucks. A sold-together kit with good connectors and software that Just Works™ would be worth a good chunk of a paycheck…
The ES120 screwdriver needs to spawn a family. I don’t need screw-snapping torque, I need fine control and speed. Gyro control like the DeWalt DCF680 would be nice, but I refuse to buy a special-snowflake tool whose battery is good for literally nothing else. Hey Milwaukee, where’s the M12 version of that, eh?
USB power-banks are long overdue. My first DIY Ryobi 18v-to-USB charger is over a decade old now, and they’re just starting to hit the market en masse. The Milwaukee 48-59-1201 just came out last year, and it doesn’t even do USB-C. Hello, hello? Is anybody in there? Also it doesn’t do passthrough charging. C’mon, guys. The aftermarket is eating your lunch on this.
I’ve begged and pleaded Brady to come out with a labelmaker that takes power tool batteries, sick to death of feeding rechargeable AA’s to my BMP21, whose idle current draw makes me think the power circuit was designed by a first-year EE who’d never heard of FETs. It makes the best printed labels on the market, but the tool itself is an abomination against every form of ergonomics. Isn’t it made for electricians? Hello, Milwaukee? You. Brady. Milwaukee. Kiss! Also, Bluetooth and ZPL emulation. It’s not 2002 anymore. C’mon.
Speaking of running silly things on power tool batteries, did you know with nothing more than passive adapters, a Ryobi 18v battery can run and charge a modern Thinkpad? Boy, I’d love if that was an official product.
Also, power tool batteries are starting to have enough grunt to run serious tools; the DeWalt DCB1800B is a portable inverter that runs from 4x batteries, and can drive a laser printer if you so feel like. (Laser toner doesn’t run when it gets wet, so I think it’s more appropriate on a jobsite than inkjet.) This needs to be a lot more common; some of us aren’t willing to invest (heavily! yikes!) in a new battery system for one cool tool.
Speaking of inverters. Where the [expletive] are the hybrid work trucks? We got our hopes up back in 2006, hopes that were then dashed: https://www.autoblog.com/2007/04/23/gm-discontinues-the-parallel-hybrid-silverado-and-sierra-trucks/ – seriously? I threw an aftermarket inverter in my hybrid because nobody’s supporting power-export as a native feature. It does yeoman service but it could be so much better if it talked to the rest of the powertrain. There’s roughly 30kW sitting in a Prius waiting to be tapped…