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The Rise of the Swiss Army Gadget

From mirrors with speakers to picture-frame wireless chargers, we're deep into the age of multifunction devices.

A router that’s also a speaker. A mirror that’s also a lamp. A picture frame that charges your smartphone. Welcome to the hybrid gadget revolution! It’s a little bit Swiss Army knife, a little bit Island of Doctor Moreau.

Convergences have long been a staple of progress, from multitools to kitchen implements to every other As Seen on TV striver. Surely some medieval archer fashioned a backscratcher out of a bow. But over the past year or two, the combinations have come more quickly and grown both increasingly outlandish and outrageously useful. For that you can thank—or curse, depending on your tolerance for novelty—a confluence of factors.

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