If you thought 2014 felt like another year of information overload, with more mobile apps and consumer products than you could possibly keep track of, you're not alone.
From drones to tablets to the Internet of Things, the number of toys and gadgets that hit the market every year seems to be steadily increasing. Fortunately, we've handpicked 10 truly innovative items that deserve special praise for the way they captured our attention last year.
Here are the products that made a big splash with consumers and business owners in 2014.
Entrepreneur Charles Michael Yim made history on ABC's Shark Tank in 2013 by striking a $1 million deal with all five sharks for his smartphone breathalyzer company, Breathometer. In 2014, Breathometer introduced Breeze, a small, wireless device customers breathe into to measure their blood-alcohol content (BAC), which displays on the Breathometer app. In addition to analyzing BAC, the app also helps users find taxis or hotels to help prevent drunk driving. Price: $99.99.
The Eyelock Myris is a personal security device that replaces usernames and passwords by using eye-scanning technology to verify your identity. Small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, the Myris uses a USB camera that scans irises to unlock computers, email accounts, and internet VPNs. By using video rather than still images, the chance of a false match is less than one in 1.5 million, according to the company. Price: $279.99.
Sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have given Apple its most successful product launch ever, according to the company. New features include a larger screen (4.7 inches on the iPhone 6 and 5.5 inches on the 6 Plus), faster wireless speeds, better camera autofocus, a higher storage capacity at the top end (128GB), and of course, Apple Pay, the new payment system allowing customers to make purchases by holding their phone up to a terminal and touching a fingerprint reader. Price: $199 with a two-year contract.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The latest tablet-laptop hybrid from Microsoft has a 12-inch HD display--1.5 inches more than the previous Surface Pro--and an integrated kickstand featuring multiple positions. Microsoft markets the 1.8-pound device as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." In addition to its responsive touchscreen and digital pen, the Surface Pro 3 comes with two 1080p cameras and a battery lasting up to nine hours. Price: $799.99 ($129.99 keyboard sold separately).
Little Bits Smart Home Kit
The Smart Home Kit from Little Bits is designed to turn any household object into an internet-connected device. Using tiny modules that snap together, Little Bits can do things like automate curtains to open in the morning and let you control your air conditioner from your smartphone. The kit includes 14 modules and 11 accessories, with no wiring or programming required. Price: $249.
LG Curved OLED TV
LG's 55-inch, curved screen OLED TV boasts the best picture quality "of any LCD or plasma TV, with perfect black levels and exceedingly bright whites," according to CNET. Its concave shape allows for better "off-angle" viewing while its razor-thin panel makes it slimmer than even the slimmest LCD monitors. "If you're looking to buy a set today, go with the LG," Gizmodo wrote last month. "At 1080p resolution, its image quality can't be beat." Price: $3,500.
Parrot Bebop Drone
The latest drone from Parrot has an onboard computer that's eight times as powerful as the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, according to the company. The Bebop's 14 megapixel camera shoots HD video and still images and uses digital image stabilization technology to create stable and clear footage regardless of the drone's movements. A free piloting application allows customers to control the angle of the camera directly from the app, while the GPS system's "Return Home" function automatically brings it back to its take-off point. Price: $499.99.
Polaroid Socialmatic Camera
Designed to look like a 3D version of the Instagram icon, the Socialmatic marries Polaroid's trademark instant photo printing technology with the preview function of digital cameras. The Socialmatic's 4.5-inch touchscreen lets you edit your photos and upload them to social media, while the built-in printer produces 2-by-3-inch prints backed with adhesive. Price: $299.
The Sphere Workstation from Focal Upright Furniture is a desk that uses a "perching" body position as opposed to sitting or standing. The design relies on an adjustable-height desk and a specially designed stool that doesn't allow you to fully sit. "This was one of the most dynamic and comfortable seating solutions I've ever used," Pepin Gelardi, a partner at New York-based product design company Tomorrow Lab, told Inc. "I felt relaxed, elevated, but also engaged. The execution and engineering of the ergonomics was aces." Price: $1,899.
The Square Stand is a stationary checkout device that turns iPads into Point of Sale machines. Customers can swipe their credit cards and then use the free Square Register app to sign and tip directly on the iPad. The app also sends receipts via text or email, keeps payment inventory, and connects to receipt printers, barcode scanners, and cash drawers. Price: $99.