Every summer, when the sun is hot and everyone is drowning in sweat, barbecue invitations go out. While these get-togethers create the perfect setting to catch up with old friends, befriend your neighbors, and meet new people, they also highlight how important it is to have all the best gear. That way you can impress everyone with how you’ve married 21st century technology with the time-honored tradition of cooking hot dogs and hamburgers in 95-degree weather.
Whether you get stuck with grill duty this year, have to mix drinks, or keep running people’s phones inside to charge them, a large dollop of technology can make summer party life a little bit easier — or at least more exciting. (Plus, if you aren’t feeling talkative you can always retreat from conversation to fix whatever gadget has stopped working.)
We’ve rounded up the best tech for throwing a barbecue. These gadgets can get the party started with music and food, and keep the party going with a little bit of extra phone battery for everyone.
These cute speakers are capable of filling an average-sized room with sound, and they can work up to 100 feet away from a Bluetooth source. They come in customizable colors and deliver great sound, considering their size.
Snapchat Spectacles may seem like old news, but this is their first summer on the market. No longer will you have to force your shy friends to pose for awkward photos, just low-key capture them candid while they’re chewing.
AI becomes your sous chef with the exorbitantly priced SmartGrill by Lynx. It connects to an app that tells those who aren’t the best grillers how to cook food, and gives notifications when the food is ready. There are also other features, including voice recognition and remote access. (Having a grill that tells you how to cook may not sit well with cooks who already know what they’re doing. Just as a word of warning.)
Perfect Drink 2.0 Smart Scale
Similar to the SmartGrill, but at a way more affordable price point, the Bluetooth-enabled Perfect Drink 2.0 Smart Scale by Perfect Company has a library of over 400 drink recipes. It helps you measure how much of each ingredient to add so you can make the perfect cocktails at home. If you’re like me and your kitchen is horribly understocked, you can also ask the scale to give you recipes based off your own scant ingredients.
Anker Astro E1
The smallest of Anker’s power banks, the Anker Astro E1, which bears a distinct resemblance to a candy bar, holds two charges for an iPhone 6 or 6S and one charge for bigger phones. That is good enough for a day out, but probably not the best for a long camping trip.
This is a mini fan that attaches easily onto a phone. Brilliant! They come in a five-pack, so there’s one for you and four of your friends to stay cool. This fan is tiny and rather fragile, but it’s the most popular one on Amazon right now.
Brought to you by the rugged phone case makers OtterBox, the material of this hardy and water-resistant cooler will protect your drinks like it has protected iPhones before. (But don’t drop your fragile glass bottles anyway.) You can also attach accessories like a cutting board on top, and the cooler doubles up as a table.
BaseLantern by BioLite
Since your barbecue will obviously be a huge success with all of these spiffy gadgets, your guests will presumably still be partying at your house hours after the sun goes down. This tiny lantern, not much bigger than the Wonderboom, gives off light to set the mood and serves as a charging station for phones.
In the evening, when everyone is feeling bloated, wind down with Sony’s portable laser projector. The projector’s glowy light will give any Miyazaki or Star Wars movie a filtered look to really play on everyone’s nostalgia, while reminding you of old Sony. Be sure to use it only in complete darkness, otherwise the projection will be very hard to see.