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Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Tennis ball bots, eco-straws, smart swear jars

By Drew Prindle

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At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhonecases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even those with the best intentions — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

August 5th

Spyra One — high-tech water gun

Here’s Dyllan Furness with the scoop: “Socks, sliced bread, Pez dispensers, water guns. There are some things that seem destined to never change. But fed up with an apparent lack of evolution in the water gun department, a team of German innovators quit their day jobs and set out to redesign the nostalgic, summertime toy for the 21st century. Three years later, they’ve taken to Kickstarter to fund the Spyra One, a next-generation water gun that will get you soaking wet.

“Spyra One turns your water fights into more than just soaking,” Sebastian Walter, company co-founder, told Digital Trends. “It shoots individual water bullets that clearly hit your opponents up to 30 feet away. With the integrated pump, the tank display, and 100 percent pressure from the first to the last shot, you will have epic water battles like never before — just with water and completely safe.”

In order to fire such precise, single rounds over a relatively long distance, the Spyra One takes advantage of a physical phenomenon called laminar flow (the same one behind “jumping jet” water fountains). “A specially engineered nozzle-valve combination reduces turbulence in the water and enables clearly visible — and clearly felt — hits,” Walter said.

Infinite Cooler — high-tech cooler

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from our full post: “Now available on Indiegogo (where it raised more than $60,000 within a few hours), the Infinite Cooler hopes to be your next party’s one-stop shop for a good time. First and foremost, it offers some serious refrigeration capacity, with a 61-quart volume and the ability to cool stored items for up to 17 days (allegedly) thanks to its nano-powder insulation.

Aside from actual cooling capabilities, the Infinite Cooler boasts a full-size blender attachment. Sure, it looks a little odd (it literally sits on top of the lid, but seeing as it works as both a blender and a coffee grinder, we’re not ones to pass judgment purely based on aesthetics. Once the blender is fully charged (it’ll take about two hours), you should have the horsepower to make 100 drinks. Moreover, the cooler boasts a built-in Bluetooth speaker, as well as a USB device charger so you can keep other smart devices going for as long as you need.

‘We wanted to bring together all the 21st century amenities we’ve come to rely on day-to-day into one smart outdoors device,” said Infinite Cooler CEO Alvin Gao. “Infinite Cooler will also include some unexpected features, like a 360-degree rotatable LED lamp and an insect repellent lamp.’”

Laowa — 24mm probe lens

Once again, we covered this one earlier in the week. Here’s a taste of the full article: “First teased a couple of years back, Venus Optics’ Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe lens for Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras has a design unlike any other, its long slim barrel resembling more of a shooting device than a photographic one.

But there’s a reason for that foot-long barrel. Think about it macro lenses are made for close-up photography and the best results are obtained when the glass is physically close to the subject. But the bulky shape of the lens and camera can sometimes make it hard to get in super-close.

As the “Macro Probe” name suggests, Venus Optics’ lens enables you to get right up to the subject, regardless of the tightness of the space in which you’re working.

While most macro lenses have a long focal length, the maker here went for a wide-angle 24mm design that helps to bring in more details from the area surrounding the subject. Venus Optics calls it a “bug’s eye” view.”

Brickspower — mobile wireless charger

Wireless chargers are awesome — they free you from fiddling with a mess of cables every time you want to charge up your phone. Portable batteries are also awesome — they free you from being tethered to a wall while you juice up your phone. So why the hell hasn’t anybody combined these two ideas into a single device? Your guess is as good as ours — but if the good folks behind Brickspower have their way, we might not have to wait much longer for such a device to hit store shelves.

The Brickspower device is essentially a Qi wireless charger affixed to a rechargeable battery, all rolled into one sleek little device that fits on the back of your phone. Thanks to a special “nano suction” pad, the pack can be affixed to your phone and removed with relative ease — without losing its ability to re-stick. To use it, just slap it on the back of your Qi-compatible phone and head out — no fussing with cables that might come loose, and no more worrying that your phone might crap out before you can call that late-night Uber to get home.

Oko — smartphone photography enhancer

Here’s DT’s photography correspondent, Hillary Grigonis, with the lowdown: “Shooting a photo with a screen that’s as large as a smartphone is great until glare prevents you from actually seeing anything on the screen. Entrepreneur Shai Goitein, however, has come up with a rather unusual solution to the problem. OKO is a two-eye viewfinder for smartphones — the device looks like wearing a virtual reality headset, only instead of viewing virtual reality, you’re framing up reality inside the smartphone camera.

The designer behind OKO says the device eliminates the glare from the screen and offers a better grip. The device also works with optional smartphone lenses and leaves enough room to still use the touchscreen controls while wearing the OKO. Made of silicone, the OKO folds down to be not quite so large and uses a neck strap — but we have to wonder, have we reached the point where smartphone accessories have made the most portable cameras no less portable than an actual camera with a real viewfinder?

June 29th

Oddball throwable drum machine

If there’s one thing that platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo are good for, it’s ridiculous, avant-garde, high-tech musical instruments. Over the years, tons of them have been brought to life through crowdfunding — everything from pressure-sensitive keyboards to guitars without bodies. Now, we have yet another one to add to the list: the Oddball.

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, Oddball is a ball that pulls double duty as an instrument — more specifically, a digital drum machine. Beneath the ball’s squishy, durable exterior, there’s a slew of pressure sensors and accelerometers that allow it to sense not only when it hits a surface, but also how hard it hits. It can also tell the difference between surfaces — so it can distinguish a floor bounce from a wall bounce, and a clap from a catch. All of these different actions can be programmed to produce different sounds, which are beamed almost instantaneously to your headphones or speakers. With the help of the accompanying mobile app, this allows you to create beats and loops by simply bouncing a ball around. Pretty nifty, no?

The looking glass holographic display

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full articlewe published earlier in the week: “Looking Glass Factory is a Brooklyn-based company founded in 2013 that has been tinkering with hologram technology for the past five years. It has produced and sold several products since, including L3D cubes, the Looking Glass Volume, and the HoloPlayer One, but it’s clear everything has been leading up to the new Looking Glass.

The Looking Glass is a heavy, glass box that’s available in 8-inch and 15-inch sizes. It can display 3D holographic content which looks like it’s floating in air and you don’t need any kind of headset for it to work. We had a chance to check it out, and we can easily confirm the Looking Glass produces the most lifelike 3D content we’ve ever seen. Animations ported into the Looking Glass which is easy to do since the platform supports Unity are fluid, and they look sharp from various angles. You can also interact with the holographic interface, as the Looking Glass supports a variety of peripherals such as the Leap Motion Controller, and even the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers.”

GoSun Fusion solar/electric oven

Here’s Lulu Chang with the scoop: “We’re no strangers to GoSun’s lineupof solar-powered ovens. The company has been creating and crowdfunding its unique outdoor cookware since 2013. Five years later, it’s back again with its latest project. It’s called the GoSun Fusion, and it goes a bit beyond solar power. Rather than relying exclusively on our favorite star to provide power, the Fusion integrates an electric heating element, which is to say, it fuses solar power with more traditional cooking power.

Like all GoSun ovens, the Fusion features its trademark cylindrical cooking chamber that derives its heat from two parabolic reflectors, responsible for capturing heat from the sun and transferring it into the cooking chamber. While this is particularly effective on a sunny day with plenty of direct exposure to the natural power source, it’s not quite as useful when the forecast is cloudy or in the evening. But that is where the Fusion comes in. GoSun introduced a 150-watt electric heater to its latest product, which can be powered either using a car’s cigarette port or a lithium ion power bank (though that costs extra). If you want to get fancier and more expensive still, you can elect to receive a solar panel charger for the battery pack, though this seems to be a bit redundant given that the entire contraption is meant to provide an alternative to solar power.”

BrewCube automated cold brew machine

We also covered this gizmo earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from the full post: “The challenge of brewing great coffee at home has long been conquered, with the veritable plethora of smart coffee makers and espresso machines on the market. But when it comes to its cold counterpart, we’re still mostly relying on our local coffeeshops or premixed bottles in order to get our icy kicks for the summer. But no longer. The future of at-home cold brewinghas arrived or at least, that is what the makers behind the BrewCube would have us believe. Meet the Cold Brew Automation Company, a startup looking to perfect at-home cold brew coffee technology, and the folks behind the BrewCube.

The BrewCube boasts a built-in timer and automatic filter to brew your coffee for the correct amount of time, and subsequently strain the beverage so that you’re required to do as little coffee-related work as possible. As Cold Brew founder Alex Sussman explains, “‘The BrewCube allows any potential brewer to add grounds, water, maybe even some additional spice, press go and walk away. The home user can return at their leisure any time after their desired brewing time has elapsed to find their cold brew coffee brewed, filtered, and ready to drink.’”

Expandals growing shoes for growing kids

A few years back, we came across a really cool project called The Shoe That Grows. The idea was to create long-lasting shoes for kids in impoverished countries. Because these kids don’t have access to new shoes whenever they outgrow their existing pair, they’re often forced to modify them or simply go barefoot. To remedy this, inventor Kenton Lee designed an ingenious sandal that could expand to accommodate growing feet. The project was a resounding success, and has since shipped shoes to thousands of kids in countries all over the world. The only problem? If you live in a developed country, you can’t really get them for your kid — until now.

Expandals are a newer version of The Shoe That Grows, redesigned with less of a focus on low cost and more on durability and style. Using a system of adjustable velcro straps, the sandals can be incrementally widened/lengthened on demand, so you won’t have to buy your kid a new pair of shoes every year. And don’t worry about the soles — they’re apparently made of ultra-durable rubber that can endure years of abuse without wearing down too much. Pretty brilliant, right?

July 22

Heari adaptive headphones

Whenever you buy a new set of headphones, you probably take a few days to break them in and tweak the fit to get the best listening experience. Usually, this is done by simply fiddling with headband or swapping out the earbud tips to make sure you’ve got a snug fit. But even after all that tweaking, the sound quality of the headphones themselves is pretty much one-size-fits all, and isn’t tailored to the acoustics of your individual ear canals.

Heari aims to change that. The company’s eponymous new headphones are designed to calculate the perfect sound profile for you based on an eight-band listening test. The company’s app provides a two minute hearing profile setup that’s like an eyeglass test for your ears, eventually adjusting the sounds of your favorite tunes to sound the best for you.

InstaDreamer lucid dreaming wearable

Lucid dreaming is awesome. If you’re not familiar, a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware of the fact that they’re asleep, and can often control the content of the dream itself. It’s a really fun, but also really difficult to induce on purpose — let alone doing it on a regular basis. Achieving regular lucid dreams takes dedication and practice. One of the most commonly used methods, for example, is to get in the habit of checking if you’re actually awake every time you walk through a door. The idea is that if you do this for long enough, you’ll eventually walk through a door in your dream, realize you’re dreaming, and go lucid.

Unfortunately, this method doesn’t produce consistent results because dreams are random, and aren’t necessarily guaranteed to include doors. Thankfully, there’s a new gizmo on Kickstarter that mitigates the issue. The InstaDreamer wristband, as it’s called, relies on the same trick as the door method, but it achieves it with a more reliable trigger: a programmable vibration. The device will vibrate at random times throughout the day, prompting you to check if you’re truly awake. When night comes and you crawl into bed, the device will vibrate when you’re in your deepest sleep cycle. Presumably, you’ll feel the vibration in your dream, realize you’re dreaming, and go lucid. Pretty nifty, no?

Kozmophone gramophone-style record player

Want a record player that has a vintage look, but modern features? Look no further than the Kozmophone — a phonography-style music player that recently launched on Kickstarter. “This year marks the 141st anniversary of the phonograph, the brainchild of prolific inventor and original scratch master, Thomas Edison,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Paying tribute to the original, we wanted to bring back the iconic shape, so we kept Edison’s horn-style speaker design, but we updated it for our times, adding modern day touches, and also a touch of the future.”

“We designed Kozmophone for everyone from the first-time record listener to the experienced vinyl enthusiast. This had to be a great record player, one that could offer a flawless listening experience and would protect vinyl discs no matter how many times you played them. We made sure it had all the features a high quality turntable needs. You don’t need t set up your cartridge or purchase additional gear such as phono pre-amps, amplifiers, and speakers. All of these are included in Kozmophone’s integrated design”

Total Glue UV curable adhesive

Glue is incredibly useful, but it’s not exactly the most user-friendly stuff in the world. It’s messy, unwieldy, and difficult to apply with any degree of precision. Total Glue aims to fix this. Instead of haphazardly squeezing some adhesive out of a tube, the Total Glue system allows you to join two materials together with liquid plastic that hardens under UV light. You know those little UV glue guns that dentists use to fill minor cavities before they get too serious? Total Glue employs the exact same adhesive technology, just tweaked a little and redesigned for a different purpose.

To use Total Glue, you simply apply the desired amount of liquid plastic to whatever you’re hoping to repair. The goop can bond practically anything (plastic, metal, fiberglass, wood, fabric, etc.), and the squeeze tip allows you to apply exactly as much adhesive as you need. This adhesive will remain in liquid form until you hit it with a blast of UV light, so you’re free to fiddle with it and make adjustments before you commit to hardening. After about four seconds of direct UV exposure, the plastic becomes hard as a rock — but not so hard that it resists sanding and finishing. You can file it down and smooth it out when you’re done or add extra layers for additional strength. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first UV adhesive system we’ve ever seen. If you don’t feel like waiting around for a Kickstarter to finish, check out Bondic.

Solar Scroll roll-up solar charger

Portable solar chargers have a bit of a dilemma right now. They’re either too small to generate a useful amount of power, or too big to be truly portable. There’s not really a happy medium, and you can’t really get the best of both worlds but the Soul Solar Scroll might change that. It’s basically a sheet of ultra-thin, ultra-flexible solar cells, designed to roll up neatly inside a tube, like a scroll of paper. Better yet, it’s also got a battery inside, so you don’t need to have it plugged into a device in order to store the power it collects. You can just unroll it whenever you find yourself in a patch of sunlight, collect some solar energy, and roll it up when you’re done.

In terms of specs, the Soul Solar Scroll boasts a 5,200mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a 5-Watt CIGS solar panel that’s just a couple micrometers thick. The panels are also encapsulated by two layers of waterproof plastic, so while the device as a whole isn’t waterproof, you definitely won’t have to worry about unexpected raindrops or spilled beers ruining your charger. As long as you don’t take it scuba diving or run it through the washing machine, it should last.

July 15th

Supa Huka tankless diving system

If you’ve always wanted to try scuba diving but been scared off by the high cost of gear and the prolonged certification process, this new Kickstarter gizmo just might be your dream come true. The Supa Huka promises to deliver a full diving experience that offers the ease and simplicity of snorkeling. It’s a diving apparatus that doesn’t require you to wear a tank on your back, thereby making it easier and more accessible for beginners and pros alike.

Rather than forcing you to swim around with a monstrous can of compressed air attached to your body, Supa Huka floats on the surface above you, pumping fresh air to you through a flexible tube that’s connected to a mouthpiece regulator.The device can reportedly run for up to 45 minutes on a rechargeable battery, allowing the diver to descend as far as 40 feet below the surface without being encumbered by heavy equipment in any way.

Nano cure tent self healing tent

Here’s DT’s Will Nicol with the scoop: “Tents are an essential part of camping, but they can also be a huge investment, and so it can be a real pain if they end up getting damaged, whether by catching on a particularly sharp branch or getting ripped open by a curious bear. The creators of the Nano Cure tent have a solution, however: A seemingly magical tent, made of fabric that heals after being punctured.

NCT (Nano Cure Technology), as Imperial Motion puts it, is a nylon “ripstop” fabric composed of durable fibers. When something pierces the NCT, it pushes the fibers apart, but they don’t break. By applying friction (even just the rub of a finger), users can massage the fibers back into their original state, closing the wound, so to speak. It might sound too wild to be true, but self-healing fabrics are a topic of much research now, with universities like Penn State working with such materials. The Nano Cure tent comes in four colors (Rust, Asphalt, Olive, and Soft Blue), and it’s water-resistant and can hold roughly four people, according to the campaign.”

Drizzo automatic ironing system

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that ironing sucks. We live in a world where virtual assistants can make calls and schedule haircuts for us, and where you can order a pizza just by pressing a single button — so why the hell do we still have to haul out an ironing board and manually press a hot hunk of metal onto our clothes just to get rid of a few wrinkles? It seems silly, but if the creators of Drizzo have their way, getting the wrinkles out of your shirt might not be such a hassle in the future.

Drizzo is essentially an adjustable drying rack that’s designed to fit inside your shirts. By applying light tension to the fabric (which you dampen beforehand), the frame pulls your clothing taut and prevents wrinkles from forming. Sure, it might not be that much more convenient than whipping out your ironing board and doing it the old fashioned way, but at least somebody’s finally tackling the problem and pushing humanity toward a utopian future where irons are obsolete and everyone drapes themselves in perfect, wrinkle-free garments.

Airwirl Personal AC

Here’s a quick excerpt from our full post: “In Florida, summertime means spending most of the day inside to avoid sweltering temperatures and sweat-inducing humidity. Hell, if it wasn’t for air-conditioning, Florida would probably still be a balmy, pristine, practically uninhabitable tract of land jutting out from the United States. So it makes sense that a couple Floridians recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for what may be the next evolution in air conditioning the Airwirl.

Taking the form of a fortified 7-Eleven Big Gulp, the Airwirl is actually a personal cooling (or heating) device that is small enough to fit in a cup holder and big enough to pack a punch of cool (or hot) air into your face, providing much-needed (albeit temporary) relief when temperatures reach certain extremes. The device features a cup and a lid, and works using thermal convection. Load the cup up with ice or activated heat warmers depending on your needs. Within the lid is a motorized turbine fan system and elongated air post that pulls air out of the chamber and sends it through a nozzle in the lid. An attachable hose allows for more flexible control, while an insulated foam insert helps keep the cup’s contents at a steady temperature.”

Duo — Laptop screen extender

If you’ve ever worked on a laptop before, you know exactly how limiting it can be. It’s certainly not impossible, but without as much screen real estate to work with, you’re forced to hide stuff in tabs and flip between way too many windows. Obviously, this isn’t nearly as comfortable and conducive to productivity as working on a full-size desktop with a big ol’ monitor — but what if there was a way to enjoy the best of both worlds, and get some extra screen space on your portable workstation?

That’s precisely the idea behind the Duo — a device that its creators describe as a “completely portable dual-screen laptop accessory that promises to boost your productivity by up to 50% and allows for efficient multitasking. Attach DUO to the back of any laptop, and you’re ready to work wherever you are!” It’s outfitted with a 12.5-inch 1080p screen, a hinge system that allows the screen to swivel, and a magnetic mount assembly that’s easy to install/remove on your laptop. Pretty nifty, no?

July 8

GoSun Fusion

Solar energy is increasingly popular, and it’s no surprise why. Aside from the fact that it’s cleaner than traditional forms, the sun has been providing energy since long before humans existed, and will probably keep going for a few billion years more. GoSun has been making solar-powered ovensfor a few years now, and the Fusion is the company’s latest, most efficient model, with enough volume to make five meals, whether you want to steam, bake, or even roast.

The Fusion is vacuum-insulated, so you never need to worry about burning yourself on it, and despite the large size, it’s easy to take with you anywhere. Of course, your plan to use solar energy falls apart if you end up cooking on a rainy day, but the Fusion can hook up to a lithium-ion power bank for cooking with or without sunlight (the power bank can charge via solar power, so you never need to worry about your environmental footprint).

Mix AR glasses

Virtual reality gets so much attention that it’s easy to forget the technology’s hard-working sibling: Augmented reality, in which virtual constructs are projected onto the real world. Yes, while AR won’t immerse you in an illusory world, it has a lot of potential for a variety of fields, including gaming, engineering, even medicine. There have been a few high-profile attempts at making AR glasses (such as Google Glass), but for the most part, the field remains in its infancy.

The Mix AR glasses are one of the most exciting entrants into the AR space, offering a grand field of view in a svelte package. Although the glasses are relatively small (compared to VR headsets and the like), they offer an impressive 96-degree field of view, far larger than that of the Google Glass, for example. Even better, they’re compatible with SteamVR, so if you just want a lightweight headset for playing VR games, Mix has you covered.

FixIts moldable plastic

Some inventions are so complicated, you can only wonder how they work. Others are beautifully simple, like FixIts, which are small, plastic sticks that users can heat and mold into whatever shape they want. FixIt’s creators claim that if users immerse the sticks in hot water (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit), they become soft, pliable putty. You can mold the warmed-up FixIts into whatever shape you want, and when they cool down, they become hard and unyielding once again.

So what exactly are FixIts good for? As the name suggests, they’re intended to be a handy tool for fixing household problems. The Kickstarter page offers a few examples, such as wrapping a FixIt around a fraying cable, or fastening on to the bottom of a wobbly chair leg. As with the best tools, FixIt’s design is simple, its uses limitless. The creators also claim that FixIts are biodegradable (in accordance with European Bioplastics’ standards), so you needn’t worry about contributing to one of those garbage islands drifting in the world’s oceans.

Jellyfish lamps

Ah, the elegant jellyfish. Its beautiful appearance belies its cruel nature, its flowing tendrils lined with venomous, stinging cells. If you want to adorn your house with jellyfish, you could build a specialized tank for them, but if the upkeep (or chance of getting stung) don’t appeal, designer Max Jrgensen has a solution: Lamps that mimic the appearance and even movement of jellyfish.

From the outside, the lamp looks like a jellyfish. Housed within the lamp is a motor that tugs on strings, quietly moving the body. Jrgensen’s jellyfish lamps may not be revolutionary, but they feature a lovely design, one that would probably catch the eye of any visitors to your home.

July 1

Giiro — Posture robot

Here’s DT’s own Luke Dormehl with the details: “Imagine telling someone half a century ago that, here in 2018, our watches would order us to get up out of our chairs, we would have always-listening smart speakers in our homes, and a data-collecting tech giant would probably know more about you than your immediate family. Nineteen Eighty-Four-style dystopia? Jetsons-style utopia? Whatever it is, it’s happening! The latest example of this is a new Alexa-connected gadget recently launched on Kickstarter, taking the form of a miniature robot and connected smart mat that will nag you to stand up straight even in the comfort of your own home. Called Giiro Bot (the associated mat’s referred to as the Giiro Mat), it looks a bit like a cute Minion from Despicable Me, but is, in fact, a pretty nifty posture coach that will warn you whenever you begin standing in a way it deems to be less than optimal.

‘The Giiro Mat uses more than 600 sensors that can detect 256 levels of pressure to draw a hyper-accurate map of how you stand,’ GazeLab CEO Juyoun Lee told Digital Trends. ‘It tracks your posture over time, provides alerts, shows weight distribution in real time, and makes recommendations on ways to improve your posture. The Giiro Bot is a personal posture robot, paired with Giiro Mat. It sits on a desk and mimics your posture, while you work. It provides feedback with nine different facial expressions, by moving its legs, and leaning in the same direction as you do.’

Beeline Moto

GPS is great. It allows us all to get from A to B with effortless efficiency and speed. But all that simplicity does come at a cost: The more we use GPS, the more reliant on it we become. Think about the last destination you went to with the help of GPS. Could you find your way back to that spot without Google Maps? These days, the answer is probably “no” for most of us. We’re so used to using computers to navigate that we’ve lost our ability to do it ourselves. But what if it didn’t have to be like that? What if there was a way to get navigational assistance, but in a way that’s easier to wean yourself off of?

That’s exactly the idea behind Beeline — a “smart compass” of sorts that helps you get to your destination without providing a rigid set of turn-by-turn directions. When locked in place on bicycle or motorcycle handlebars, the compass provides navigational cues in the form of an arrow that points toward the destination. The Beeline offers two different modes of navigation, either providing turn-by-turn directions for the fastest route, or a more free-flowing option that points the rider in the general direction, but allows him or her to choose the path for themselves. The company’s original product was designed for cyclists, but is now back on Kickstarter with a motorcycle version.

NILS — Wearable charging cable

Until wireless charging becomes ubiquitous, keeping charging cables handy everywhere you go is an unfortunate fact of modern life. If you’re anything like me, you probably keep a bunch at your house, at your workplace, and a couple in your backpack or purse just in case. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to fiddle with all those cords, and could just keep one with you for every occasion? Well, that’s exactly what the NILS cable is designed for. It’s a wearable charging cord that pulls double duty as a fashion-forward bracelet.

It’s pretty straightforward: just a short, flexible, and durable USB charging cable that’s outfitted with a clever locking system that allows the two ends to fit together securely. To use it, all you’ve got to do is wrap it around your wrist, snap the ends together, and head out. Then, when it’s time to charge, you can just bust off the bracelet and start juicing up. To be fair, NILS definitely isn’t the first company to make something like this. You can snag one on Amazon right now if you don’t feel like waiting. But as far as we can tell NILS is far cheaper and far better looking — so it’s probably worth the wait.

Speaksee — Auto-transcriber for deaf users

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full article we published earlier this week: “In case you hadn’t noticed, we love gadgets here at Digital Trends. But, as much as we like them, gadgets can often fall under the “nice to have” banner, as opposed to being things which fundamentally transform our lives on a regular basis. The same isn’t true when it comes to accessibility devices, aimed at helping people with disabilities carry out the kind of day-to-day tasks many of us take for granted. That is why we’re excited about a new crowdfunding campaign created by a team of Netherlands-based entrepreneurs. Called SpeakSee, it’s a multi-mic system which will accurately transcribe conversations for deaf users, rendering everyday chat between groups of people as a multi-person script.

‘Both of my parents have severe hearing loss since birth,’ Jari Hazelebach, co-founder and CEO, told Digital Trends. ‘Throughout my life, I’ve seen the communication barriers that they had to face. My father has difficulties following meetings at work, and misses out on a lot of relevant information he needs to do his job. Enabling him and millions of others around the world to be a full part of conversations again is what inspired my co-founder Marcel van der Ven, Joshua Flowers and I to create SpeakSee.’”

Kick Asteroid — Planetary defense campaign

Bill Nye and his companions at the Planetary Society are worried about asteroids. Every few thousand years, Earth gets hit with an asteroid the size of a bus, and it causes a lot of damage. But every few million years, Earth gets hit with a much bigger rock — one that’s roughly the size of a football stadium. When that happens, it’s catastrophic. The last one that size wiped out the dinosaurs — and the Planetary society is on a mission to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to humans.

So how exactly are they going to stop a giant space rock from smashing into us? Well, the first step is getting people to care about it, and that’s exactly what this Kickstarter campaign is designed to do. The idea here is to raise awareness by getting people behind the “Kick Asteroid” campaign by wearing t-shirts and slapping stickers on stuff. The hope is that by starting the conversation, eventually our lawmakers will recognize that asteroid defense is something we should probably be thinking about, and that we should allocate some funding for satellites to keep an eye on the void. So in other words, by buying one of Bill Nye’s t-shirts, you’ll be helping to save the planet from Armageddon. You’re basically Bruce Willis if you pledge support to this campaign!

June 24

Infento — ride kit for kids

Kits that teach kids STEM skills are a dime a dozen these days. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find them in just about every shape/size/configuration you can imagine. Butof all the skill-building toys we’ve ever seen, Infento is one of the most intriguing. In addition to teaching kids how to build stuff in a very hands-on and interactive way (without a screen), this kit also transforms into a bunch of different rideable gizmos your kid can zip around on.

“Our modular Kits empower your family to become makers,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “You create something tangible together and spend quality time: building while bonding. At the same time, you give your child an important skill set for the future.With one Infento Kit and one hex key, parents and kids can build a wide variety of rides together. One box packs fun for the entire childhood; from toddler to teenager.”

AM1 — low-key electric bike

Electric bikes are all well and good, but regardless of how advanced or long-range they are, they all still suffer from teh same big drawback: theylook like electric bikes. Do you really want to be that guy or gal riding an aluminum ox to work? Do you want to grunt and groan every time you have to hoist your behemoth of a bicycle onto the wall rack at work? Of course you don’t — and that’s precisely why this new ebike on Kickstarter is so enticing.

“The AM1 is a lightweight motorised bike,” the creators explain on their campaign page. “It looks like a bike, handles like a bike, weighs the same as a bike but rides like you’re freewheeling downhill with a tailwind. It brings together the lightweight handling and simplicity of a single speed bike, with the effortlessness of an electric bike. It has a lightweight 20-mile battery that easily covers an average commute of 8.5 miles each way with plenty of range spare to meet your friends after work. A lean battery meant we could create a compact motor that gets rid of gears altogether. We’ve merged the best of a classic single speed bike with the effortlessness of an electric one, into a sleek, minimal design.”

Limbo — high tech top

Here’s a quick cut to our full article, which ran earlier this week: “Remember how, in Christopher Nolan’sInception, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Dom Cobb uses a spinning top to work out whether he’s awake or dreaming? If the top spins a few times and then topples over, Cobb knows he’s awake. If it keeps spinning in perpetuity, he understands that he’s asleep. Well, the team behind a new Kickstarter campaign just blurred the lines between reality and the dreamworld in a big way, courtesy of a metal top that’s capable of spinning for hours on end.

Called Limbo, the metal spinning top achieves this by way of a hidden silent mechanism which functions as a gyro, and keeps the top running as long as the battery still has some juice left. Inside the top, there’s a rechargeable battery, a special asymmetric flywheel motor, a high-end motion sensor, and an advanced system-on-a-chip which constantly monitors Limbo’s stability and applies dozens of motion corrections every second.”

Domio Pro — helmet speaker

Here’s DT’s Amanda Ellis with the scoop: “Traditional helmet sound systems require cumbersome wires or inserts, leaving you less aware of your surroundings. Portable carry speakers can be loud and distracting to people around you and you don’t really want to end up being “that guy” on the slopes. But listening to music while performing your favorite activity can be inspiring and enriching. This is why Elevety Sports is back on Kickstarter with a new-and-improved version of itsDomio Helmet Audio Device, which effectively transforms your helmet into a sound system.

The device easily mounts to any helmet — on the side or the top — and comes with an extra support strap for added security. The system is powered by vibro-audio technology, which utilizes micro-vibrations and transforms the inside of your helmet into your own personal sound system. As opposed to transmitting sound through air, as a traditional speaker does, vibro-audio technology takes micro vibration pulses and transmits them through a solid, i.e. your helmet. This results in audio that only you can hear while allowing you to remain alert to your exterior surroundings.”

Chiiz — sonic tooth cleaner

Ever since the first toothbrush was invented, designers have been trying to re-invent it. And ever since the dawn of crowdfunding, this effort has ramped up considerably. Whether it’scrazy new bristle designs,sensor-studded brushes, orsubscription-based oral care packs; we’ve seen a veritable boatload of new toothbrushes come out of Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the past few years — and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Case in point? This clever new toothbrush from Chiiz.

“CHIIZ is invented to help your brush your teeth correctly,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “With360-degree coverageof every one of your teeth, the automatic toothbrush appliessonic technologyto help brush your teeth in asmartandhands-freeway.To brush with CHIIZ, all you need is to pop it into your mouth and bite down slightly with your front teeth. Applying afixed strength, CHIIZ will then start brushingautomatically for 30 seconds. Its brushing strength is gentle but effective enough to remove plaques on your teeth. Thus, these harm-free methods prevent your gum tissues from hurting or receding, ultimately preventing your teeth from becoming sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.”

June 17

Titan — underwater drone

We’ll let Digital Trends’ Luke Dormhel give you the scoop on this one: “Underwater drones are everywhere these days — especially on crowdfunding sites. The latest of these is an underwater drone named Titan, which recently splashed down on Kickstarter with the goal of raising funds to go into production.

‘Titan can dive up to 150 meters (490 feet), which provides users more space to explore and more choices,’ Alan Wang, chief technical officer for manufacturer Geneinno, told Digital Trends. ‘Other drones can only take people down to 50m or 100m. Some people will say 100m is enough, but we believe exploring the unknown is human nature and [something a lot of people want to do]. The only reason they haven’t done it yet is because they don’t have the right tools to achieve it.’

As Wang makes clear, Titan’s big selling point is the fact that it can go where few drones dare. It can then document this undersea world with a high-end 4K camera, which is capable of capturing both video and still images. Moving around is accomplished with six thrusters that give Titan a high degree of movement and impressive maneuverability at a speed of up to two meters per second. There are even a couple of LED spotlights that throw out a combined 3,000 lumens of illumination so you can see where you’re going.”

Scribit — write and erase robot

Robotic drawing machines are nothing new at this point. Neither are web-connected gizmos that let you display digital artwork on your walls. But what is new is the idea of combining both of these ideas with a single device. How neat would it be to have a little robot that can not only draw stuff on your walls, but also erase and draw something new whenever you feel like switching up your decor? That’s precisely the idea behind Scribit, the latest robot to hit Kickstarter.

“Scribit is a small ‘writing robot’ that can draw images and text on any vertical surface,” the creators explain on their campaign page. “What if you could instantly turn your office or living room wall into a canvas for digital content, and update it in real time? A restaurant can post the day’s menu on its wall, professionals can support their focus by writing new motivational sentences every day, or someone who loves art can draw on a Van Gogh — or their own drawings — onto their bedroom wall.”

Runvi — smart insoles

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full article we published earlier in the week: “We’ve seen a lot of smart exercise tools designed to help runners become faster and more efficient, including a host of fitness trackers, smart shoes, and apps. Now you can add smart insoles to the list as well, as a new product called Runvi promises to be an artificial intelligence-driven running coach to help you achieve your running goals. Runvi, which launched on Kickstarter on June 12, consists of smart insoles and an iOS app complete with Apple Watch support which work in tandem with one another to offer insights into a runner’s performance.

For instance, each of the insoles is equipped with 30 advanced pressure sensors and two accelerometers to collect an accurate representation of an athlete’s form while running. The device can tell whether or not the user pronates his or her foot, has too slow of a cadence, or is a heel striker, all of which can impact running efficiency. That data is then compiled and examined by A.I. to offer real-time feedback to the runner on how to improve their form. That feedback can even come in the midst of a run, with a voice in their headphones making suggestions on how to correct inefficiencies while on the go. The goal is to eliminate excess fatigue, avoid injuries, and improve speed.”

Car Hammock — in-vehicle hammock

Sleeping in your car is a pain in the ass, both literally and figuratively. It combines all the things that suck about sleeping in a tent with all the things that suck about riding in your car all day. No matter how much you adjust things, your sleeping platform always seems to end up being uneven and uncomfortable. But what if there was a better way? What if you could fit a hammock inside your car and enjoy the unparalleled comfort of a suspended sleep system? Well, if the creators of the Car Hammock have their way, that dream might soon become a reality.

Car Hammock is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hammock that goes in your car. How does this work? It’s pretty straightforward, actually. The hammock is basically a big reinforced sheet equipped with a series of adjustable straps on its edges. These straps wrap around your car’s frame and collectively provide enough support to hold the hammock aloft. Not only does this give you a comfortable spot to sleep, but it also frees up the area beneath you for gear and other miscellaneous crap you keep in your car.

GoCube — connected Rubik’s Cube

As DT’s Luke Dormehl explains, GoCube is “a smart, connected cube that promises to open up exciting new play experiences and features for all players. It works in a couple of key ways. One is as a more accessible entry point into the world of Rubik’s Cubes, a puzzle that can often be daunting to (and therefore quickly discarded by) new players.

GoCube keeps track of your cube solving through a virtual re-creation on your mobile device, allowing you to examine your moves, progress, statistics, and even gain access to step-by-step tutorials. It also turns the experience into a multiplayer game by opening up features like online battles, shared leaderboards, live competitions (in which players all start from exactly the same cube positions), and more. In other words, whether you’re a fresh-faced newbie or a grizzled veteran with the Rubik’s Cube scars on your digits to prove it, this could be the cube for you.

‘Rubik’s is a great game,’ GoCube creator Udi Dor told Digital Trends. ‘However, so many people don’t cross the barrier of learning how to solve it just because it seems so complicated. For cubers [who have completed the puzzle], there’s no real feedback or a way to properly measure their performances and to improve. GoCube doesn’t change the basic game; it improves and modernizes the overall experience, making it modern, accessible, intuitive, measurable, and most importantly, globally connected and socialized.’”

June 10

Onyx — lightweight, protective camera gimbal

Gimbals have become a staple of professional and amateur filmmakers alike, and for good reason. Unlike the bulky, cumbersome SteadiCam rigs of yesteryear, gimbals stabilize your camera by measuring external shakes and bumps, and uses a series of motors to instantaneously cancel them out. This process produces incredibly smooth video footage but unfortunately, the majority of multi-axis gimbals on the market right now are cumbersome and difficult to hold for extended periods of time. To make matters worse, they also don’t provide much in the way of protection, so if you drop your rig, you’re screwed.

Onyx — a new gimbal from New Zealand-based startup Arculus — is an attempt to solve these problems. “ONYX is the first additively manufactured and protective three-axis camera gimbal” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Its revolutionary new design, advanced materials, and manufacturing techniques allow it to be incredibly lightweight, intuitive to use and helps protect your camera. The skeleton is laser sintered aerospace grade titanium alloy which is surrounded by a carbon fibre skin. Every gram of weight has been calculated to provide maximum strength and structural integrity. So it can be operated for longer, go further and capture shots nobody else is willing to get.”

Muwi — ultra-compact camera dolly

Much like stabilizers, dollies are another video production staple. By using wheels to move the camera around (instead of your jerky legs/arms), dollies provide a stable, reliable, and precise way to actuate camera motion. Thing is, they’re generally not particularly compact or portable — but thanks to the magic of modern technology, that’s starting to change. Case in point? The Muwi: an ultra-compact, ultra-portable, and extremely versatile robotic camera dolly.

When folded up, Muwi isn’t much bigger than your smartphone, and vaguely resembles a slim bar of soap. To use it, you simply unfold the legs, attach your camera (it can handle a smartphones, GoPros, and even your DSLR), and give it a push. The wheels are designed to stay on track, so you get tight, consistent movement every time. It’s also equipped with a hinge in the middle, which allows not only linear motion, but also rotational motion. There’s even an estension kit that lets you move it remotely, using motors instead of your hands. All that, and it only weighs 100 grams (0.22 pounds).

Geyser — outdoor shower system

Here’s the rundown from Digital Trends’ outdoor gear guru Amanda Ellis: “Playing in the outdoors means getting dirty. Whether you’re on a weekend camping trip, living out of your van, or traveling in a foreign land where running water is limited, staying clean can be a difficult task. When you don’t have access to a hot shower, you resort to rubbing down your body with baby wipes, wet rags, or pouring gallons of water over your head resulting in the waste of a valuable resource. Geyser System is the innovative solution to these backcountry woes, serving as an advanced and portable shower system that you can take with you anywhere.

Geyser System addresses the three most common issues with outdoor shower systems: Minimal amounts of water, lack of storage space, and lack of electricity. This unique product offers a full range of flow rates that you can tailor to your needs. One gallon of water lasts for seven minutes which is plenty of time to get clean, whether you’re covered in mud, sunscreen, or debris. The shower system is compact and weighs just 11 pounds, making it ideal to carry in a car trunk or a backpack. No power? No problem! The Geyser System runs off the 12-volt DC power supply found in all vehicles and is also compatible with one deep cycle battery.”

Sensorwake — scent-based alarm clock

Here’s DT’s Luke Dormehl with the scoop: “Like a lot of people, we’re usually woken up in the morning by the insistent beeping of our smartphone alarm. That is a method that is certainly effective at rousing us from slumber, although it’s not exactly enjoyable. Could there be a better way? That is the question that the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign clearly asked themselves. To answer it, the Google-accelerated French startup Bescent has created an alarm clock capable of combining sight, smell, and sound for an altogether more pleasant wake-up experience.

The so-called Sensorwake olfactory alarm clock offers a mix of blue halo light, five preloaded melodies and most excitingly scent capsules. There are 16 different scents in total, ranging from the smell of ground coffee or orange juice to the evocative aroma of the seaside, a pine forest, or a freshly cut grass meadow. These scents have been created in collaboration with Swiss fragrance manufacturer Givaudan and use dry diffusion without any ‘liquids, heating elements, mist, or mess.’ A single capsule promises to last up to 30 wake-ups, after which you simply slot in a new one to repeat the process.”

Unihertz Atom — tough and tiny 4G phone

We covered this sucker earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from our full article: “Unihertz Atom is a rugged 4G smartphone and the follow-up to last year’s Unihertz Jelly phone. With a tiny 96 x 45 x 18 mm body and a 2.4-inch display, the Atom aims to become the second phone of choice when heading out into the wilderness, or a capable alternative to a smartphone industry that’s getting larger and larger. It’s sturdily built with chunky bezels and plenty of textured surfaces for grip, and it looks like it could survive falling down a mountain.

But it’s not just the small footprint that’s caused excitement Unihertz has packed a whole lot of specifications into that tiny body. The Atom comes with an octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, as well as an impressive 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage as standard. That’s an awful lot of numbers for such a small phone. The fun doesn’t stop there the Atom comes with a full suite of utility tools, including NFC, USB on-the-go (so you can connect accessories with an adapter), and an IP68 waterproof rating. It’s not short on biometrics either, thanks to a front-facing fingerprint scanner, and face unlock. There’s a 2,000mAh battery which should last a good time, considering the tiny screen it’s powering. Best of all, boot it up and you’re greeted with the latest version of Android Android 8.1 Oreo.”

June 3

Earth — Interactive AR globe

Spherical scale models of our planet have existed for centuries. Ever since we discovered the Earth is a sphere (which it most definitely is) back in the 3rd century B.C., humans have been building globes and using them to make sense of this pale blue dot we call home. But despite the fact that globes have existed for so long, they haven’t received a significant design update for quite a long time. This Kickstarter project aims to change that.

Earth, as it’s called, is essentially a high-detail physical globe with augmented reality superpowers. Fire up the accompanying smartphone app and you can access information about the planet — in real time — as you hold it in your hands.

“Beyond the physical globe of EARTH, the AstroReality App contains a wealth of scientific knowledge selected to show our planet as a dynamic and interconnected system,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “This knowledge was developed by researchers from around the world and made public for us to share with you. AstroReality’s developers are working with our science advisor, J.R. Skok, PhD, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, to put the stories of EARTH into your hands.”

RaceYa — STEM-teaching RC cars

Robots that teach kids STEM skills are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but RaceYa is special. Of all the coding/STEM skillbuilding toys we’ve ever seen, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being a fully functional RC car, RaceYa is also designed to teach kids STEM principles in a very hands-on and interactive way — a function that doesn’t require them to gaze unblinkingly into a screen for hours on end.

“Tons of studies have shown kids get excited about STEM when they get to do science, not just look at science,” creator Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson explains on her Kickstarter campaign page. “RaceYa is all about hands-on learning through play. Our activities were designed with Next-Gen Science Standards in mind and have been tested by incredible teachers at science camps, schools and hack days.”

Zen Float — inflatable float tank

Sensory deprivation float tanks are awesome. If you’ve never used one before, or haven’t heard some new-age hippie talking about them, here’s a quick rundown. Essentially, the idea is that you lie down in reservoir of very salty water inside a small pod that’s sealed shut so that no light or sound can enter. As you float there in complete darkness, suspended in the salty water, you’re essentially weightless — which means that your muscles don’t need to stabilize you, and suddenly your body has all these extra resources it can direct back to your brain. With all that extra energy, and no external stimuli to analyze and process from your eyes and ears, your brain gets a chance to relax.

After about 40 minutes into a float, your brain stops producing its normal Alpha waves, and begins to pump out Theta waves — lower-frequency waves that generally only occur during deep meditation or just before you fall asleep. This state is where your mind’s most deep-seated programs are — the state where people often experience vivid visualizations, great inspiration, and profound creativity.

The only problem? Float tanks are notoriously expensive, and generally take a ton of effort to set up and maintain. Zen Float aims to change that. It’s a fully-capable float tank that also happens to be inflatable, making it a breeze to set up.

“Since this is for the home, we wanted to make sure it looks great in any room.” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Our new inflatable design is a breeze to set up and looks fantastic right out of the box. We’ve used the same tried and true inflatable technology that can be found in popular stand up paddle boards. When inflated, the tent is completely rigid like solid walls. The barrier of air in the walls also acts as a natural insulator, making the tent extremely efficient.”

Beambox — desktop laser cutter

Laser cutters/engravers are arguably one of the most versatile tools you can have in your workshop. With the right laser diode, they can do everything from etching patterns into leather to cutting super-precise shapes in wood. They can handle a massive range of materials and can be used in a wide variety of different ways. Unfortunately, there aren’t many on the market that are designed for the casual tinkerers and novice DIY types among us. If you want to fiddle with laser cutters, you typically need to know your way around all kinds of complex software and calibration procedures.

Not so with the Beambox. This beast has been designed from the ground up to be ridiculously simple to use. Simply connect your PC, Mac or tablet via Wi-Fi, choose the design you’d like to cut/etch, and hit go. The software makes it nearly foolproof and the machine has presets for just about every material under the sun. Wood, leather, fabric, and even mirrors or anodized aluminum are no problem for Beambox. The integrated software allows for pictures to be engraved directly onto your material, no matter what picture or material you choose.

ForwardX Ovis — auto-follow suitcase

Here’s DT’s Brandon Widder with the scoop: “CES 2018 brought with it a deluge of smart appliances, larger-than-life screens, and a bevy of notable tech that will begin rolling out throughout the course of the year. (Suit)case in point? The recently unveiled ForwardX CX-1, an autonomous piece of luggage that’s designed to follow you around as you make your way from point A to B, and everywhere in between. Now, four months after its Las Vegas debut, this autonomous suitcase has launched on Indiegogo, with early bird pricing beginning at $399.

Ovis has been branded as the ‘world’s first self-driving carry-on,’ and features an array of advanced tech, including a 170-degree wide-angle lens and built-in facial recognition software, which allow the device to follow you at up to 7 miles per hour throughout the terminal. Other nifty features namely those tailored toward obstacle avoidance work in tandem with the suitcase’s tracking algorithms, while a smart wristband works to keep would-be thieves at bay. If the suitcase happens to wander out of range, the bracelet will let you know. When production is complete, the suitcase will allegedly weigh in at just under 10 pounds, and be made of polypropylene and carbon fiber. It’ll also be waterproof and carry an IP56 rating.”

  helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.

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