Our Favorite Steampunk Gadgets: iPhone Cases, Xbox Controllers + More

In IBM’s latest sentiment analysis, Birth of a Trend: Steampunk, the sub-genre, is turning into a cultural meme and is expected that interest in this topic will continue to boom this year.

According to IBM’s findings, 33 percent of online chatter can be found on gaming sites, while Twitter remains the number one social network for steampunk chatter.

“Smart retailers are using social analytics to better understand, predict and shape consumer demand for “must-have” products before a particular trend gets saturated in the marketplace,” said Trevor Davis, Consumer Products Expert with IBM’s Global Business Services. “By staying ahead of a trend as it develops, a retailer can more effectively control critical merchandizing, inventory and planning decisions. Technology can provide tremendous foresight to help businesses differentiate what is a fleeting fad, versus what is an enduring trend.”

But what is steampunk?

Steampunk, according to Wikipedia, is a sub-culture of science fiction that deals with an alternative history of “19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West,” in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.”

Interest in steampunk was heightened in 2010 when chatter over the topic increased by 296 percent, attributed to the steampunk-themed NYC ComicCon in 2010.

The interest in steampunk has also inspired designers to make gadgets look like they came from that era.  Laptops, USBs and other computer accessories have been made to look like mechanical gadgets that are both useful and an eye candy.

Steampunk has obviously become a booming business opportunity, and with the right insight you can take full advantage of the trend.  While IBM has spend years of R&D on the big data tools to predict retail uptake for steampunk, Wikibon analyst Jeff Kelly thinks more companies in the future will have similar capabilities, empowering more businesses with such insight.  See his full analysis below:

If you’re interested in steampunk and want to join revolution, here are some gadgets to get you started:

Steampunk basics: PC, laptop, keyboard and mouse

Datamancer has steampunk inspired desktop PC, laptop, keyboard and even mouse.  There’s the Clacker Full PC Suite, which features a keyboard, mouse, mouse pad, PC, LCD, speakers, table, and even a chair, which I’m sure die-hard steampunk fans will really enjoy.

For laptop users, there’s the Datamancer Victorian Laptop, which is a gaming laptop in a beautifully crafted wood casing that shows what I presume is the map of the old world.  It is a revision of the Datamancer Laptop, which has a glass and wood casing that gave it the appearance of a manually operated machine, and has a lock and key so only you can use it.  The laptop is priced at $6,500 but is currently sold out, so you’ll have to wait for the next batch to hit stores.

Datamancer also offer a Marquis Trackpad, and various steampunk keyboards.  Other manufacturers to offer steampunk accessories include a USB or Mechanical Memory Key, and a mouse that looks like a skull with a mechanical jaw.

For the Victorian gamer

If you’re getting bored with playing video games on your game console, then this steampunk-inspired Xbox and controller may just be the thing you need to ignite your gaming desire.

The Xbox looks sleek but what’s intriguing is the controller, because of the big keyhole and key that comes with it.  If you think they’re just there for aesthetic purposes, then I hate to burst that bubble.  Insert the key and turn it to enable the controller and start up the intro menu.  This way, only you can use your Xbox.  Nifty for those who have little brothers. ;) Be careful not to lose the key though, it will be hard finding a locksmith for your steampunk controller.

Steampunk smartphones & apps

If you’re a steampunk fan, I’m quite certain that you want to incorporate it to every facet of your life, from fashion to your mobile gadgets.  And you’ll be glad to know that there are already a lot of steampunk-inspired smartphone casings available.

There’s the iRetrofone Steampunk Base, which is a “fully-functional, stationary iPhone dock with working handset and complete compatibility with USB cable.”  There’s also steampunk skins for your gadgets, 3D-printer cases, or go full-on steampunk with Kadisbel’s casings.

You can also look cool by donning a A Mechanical Aural Communication Device,
or what you may know as a Bluetooth earpiece.  You could also be a hipster and steampunker at the same time with a smartphone steampunk!

And because there’s an app for almost anything, of course there’s an app for steampunk.  You can enhance your Victorian vocabulary with Victorian Slang $0.99 on iTunes, or pass time like a gentleman with Steampunk Solitaire $0.99 on iTunes.  If you think Instagram doesn’t give you enough of a retro look then download Vintage Scene $1.99 on iTunes to make your photos appear like they are from the Victorian era, and transform your iPhone to a rotary phone with Steampunk Rotary Dial for an inclusive steampunk experience.

Steampunk gone social

Yes, steampunk has even crossed into the social media scene, making quite a mark on Twitter.  The Twittertape Machine lets you receive tweets and mentions like a telegram of the olden days.  Twittertape Machine is based on the ticker tape machine, which revolutionized communication in the 1900’s.  All it needs is a ticker tape, power and Ethernet, and it automatically checks for updates every 30 seconds so you can always stay on top of your Twitter feed.