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

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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 iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. 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.

October 14

Retyre — zip-on bike tires

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full article we published earlier in the week: “If you’re a bike commuter or gravel rider who wishes your bike were a bit more versatile, you’re going to want to take a look at what Retyre brings to the table. This product, which recently launched on Kickstarter, promises to make just about any bike more off-road ready without the need to completely replace your tires. In fact, Retyre promises to let cyclists quickly and easily change back and forth between their standard tires and tread built for the trail, all without ever removing the wheels from the bike.

The secret behind Retyre’s ability to transform your standard city commuter into a trail bike is simple but unique. The product essentially takes a similar concept of adding skins to your skis to provide more uphill traction but extends it to the bike instead. In this case, however, the new tread comes with an integrated zipper that allows riders to attach them to their wheels and then zip them tightly into place. The result is a burly new layer of rubber that sits on top of the existing tires, offering better traction on mud, snow, and other slick surfaces. When riders return to dry, smooth pavement they can remove the Retyre altogether, returning to their regular style of cycling.”

Urmo — folding personal transport device

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and more powerful, and batteries have begun to last longer — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. There are almost too many rideables to keep track of and they seem to get crazier and more advanced with each passing month.

Case in point? This awesome new personal transportation gizmo that goes by the name Urmo. At first glance, it looks relatively similar to those “hoverboard” contraptions that were popular a couple years ago before they started lighting people’s houses on fire. But don’t let its appearance fool you — Urmo brings some rad new features to the table. Most notably, it has big all-terrain tires, hub motors, and a unique folding design that makes it a breeze to transport when you’re not riding.

Makerphone — educational DIY mobile phone

Here’s a cut from Luke Dormehl’s full post: “With upward of a billion units sold, owning an iPhone is no longer a way to mark you out as a member of the phone-owning elite. Nor is having the latest Samsung flagship. You know what would garner admiring glances from fellow smartphone geeks, though? Building a functioning, limited-edition phone with your own hands.

That is exactly what makes Makerphone special. Well, that and the fact that, while building your own DIY handset, you will get a crash course in electronics and coding. It’s the brainchild of 20-year-old Albert Gajak, a young engineering-minded entrepreneur who previously created Makerbuino, a build-your-own 8-bit handheld games console.

With his previous project raising 10 times its funding goal on Kickstarter, Gajak has settled on phones as the next product people would likely enjoy piecing together. ‘The idea for a DIY mobile phone was actually born before Makerbuino’s campaign; we just weren’t skilled enough to make it happen,” he told Digital Trends. “We opted for a phone as a Makerbuino successor since we wanted to bring electronics to people using a general concept that everyone understands. And there is nothing as general and common as a mobile phone, since everybody has one.”

Svanki — wireless heated ice cream scoop

Heated ice cream scoops aren’t a new idea. Take a stroll through Amazon right now and you can find a wide range of different models — but they all have the same drawback: They need to be plugged into an electrical outlet in order to work. In other words, you can’t enjoy the smooth ice cream-collecting capabilities of a heated scoop unless you’re within spitting distance of a plug. Think about that. This is 2018. We have jetpacks and robots that do parkour. The fact that we can’t take our heated ice cream scoops with us wherever we go is simply unacceptable.

Luckily, we won’t have to suffer much longer. Svanki, a Silicon Valley, California-based company, created a completely wireless heated ice cream scoop that’s fit for the 21st century. In addition to heating up at the touch of a button, this sucker also charges wirelessly and can operate for up to 30 minutes on a full battery. Sure, you probably won’t ever need to scoop ice cream for 30 minutes straight, but you never know!

Soundbrenner Core — wearable for musicians

These days there’s a wearable device for everything. If you’re a runner, there’s one that tracks mileage. If you’re a swimmer, there’s one that counts your laps. Hell, there’s even wearables for senior citizens and newborn babies — so it comes as no surprise that there’s now a wearable build specifically for musicians. The Soundbrenner Core is designed to be something of a Swiss Army knife for people who make music. As such, it functions as a metronome, guitar tuner, decibel meter, and a watch.

“The Soundbrenner Core, the 4-in-1 Smart Music Tool, brings all your most essential music tools in a premium wearable,” the creators explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “It serves as your everyday watch plus a Vibrating Metronome, Magnetic Twist Tuner, and a Decibel Meter. The Core will allow you to focus on what matters: Your music.”

October 7

IRL glasses — Screen-blocking spectacles

We covered these bad boys earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from our full article: “Inspired by the superpowered, ad-blocking sunglasses from John Carpenter’s 1988 cult movie They Live, IRL Glasses promise to turn LCD and LED digital screens black. They do this by using horizontal polarized optics. By flattening and rotating the polarized lens 90 degrees, light emitted by these screens is blocked, thereby making it look like the TV or computer in front of you is switched off. At present, this effect works with the majority of televisions and some computers, although it won’t help with with your fancy new OLED smartphone or on digital billboards. That may change in the future, though.

“‘My good friend and head of product, Scott, was waiting at a food truck back in May 2017, and it had a giant screen blasting Fox News as people waited in line for their food,’ creator Ivan Cash told Digital Trends. ‘He had a strike of inspiration based on an article he had recently read in Wired magazine about polarizer film that blocked screens. Soon after, he made a rough mock-up. Meanwhile, I’d been thinking about a collective called IRL that would empower people to control tech, not the other way around. We flirted with the idea of collaborating for about six months before I finally decided the idea of screen-blocking glasses was sticky enough to go all-in on. A year later, here we are!’”

Cybershoes — VR gaming shoes

Virtual reality has come a long way in the past few years, but despite the feverish pace of progress in the space, there are a few big problems with VR that remain unsolved. One of the biggest ones is walking and running. Because VR typically takes place in a confined space, you can’t actually walk and run any more than just a few feet in any direction. Hell, with some rigs, you can’t move around using anything other than a joystick on your controller — which isn’t exactly the most realistic or immersive way to get around.

Cybershoes are an attempt to solve this problem. Rather than forcing you to use a joystick, these suckers strap on to the bottoms of your feet and allow you to move around by moving your legs. To be fair, you still have to sit down to use the shoes, and the “walking” motion is more akin to dragging your feet across the floor, but it’s still more realistic than moving through the virtual world with your thumbs. According to creators, it even helps alleviate the motion sickness experienced by some users. Pretty neat, no?

Freewrite Traveler — Distraction-free portable typewriter

Here’s a quick excerpt from our full article, which ran earlier this week: “If you’re a writer who tends to be easily distracted, the Freewrite Traveler may be just what you need. The device is a better-looking, more compact version of the Freewrite machine that launched a couple of years ago, and aims to divert you from your procrastination method of choice so that you can focus on the writing task in hand. At least, that’s the idea. Created by New York-based Astrohaus, what the Traveler doesn’t feature is the reason you might want to get it. There’s no email, no social media, no games, no alerts or notifications, no video streaming, and no apps. There’s really little more than a keyboard, a display, and an internet connection so you can save your work to the cloud.

“One of the main strengths of the Traveler over its predecessor is its lightweight, foldable, and altogether more portable design, hence its name. Tipping the scales at 4 pounds, the original Freewrite device was a hefty, bulky lump of a thing, while the Traveler weighs in at a more manageable 1.8 pounds. So now you can head to your favorite coffee shop to finally begin work on that amazing novel idea you’ve been talking about for so long, though if you’re a bit of a people-watcher, distractions other than those provided by the internet may prove a challenge. Oh, and best to chain your smartphone to the bottom of your bag, too.”

Laserlight Core — Laser-projection bike light

Bike lights come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and configurations these days, but regardless of how bright and flashy they might be, many still fall short in certain situations. For example, if you’re riding in a car’s blind spot, it doesn’t matter how bright your light is — you’ll still likely get cut off, simply because the driver doesn’t know you’re approaching. But what if there was a light that could fix that problem? What if there was a way to alert drivers not only to your current position on the road, but also to your future position?

That’s precisely the idea behind the Laserlight Core, a clever bike light that not only illuminates the road, but also projects a big, bright bicycle symbol onto the road 6 meters ahead of you. In essence, it extends your visibility footprint so that cars know where you’re going to be before you actually get there. Better yet, the Laserlight Core is actually the second generation of this concept, so many of the flaws and shortcomings tof the original projection light have been ironed out.

Ninox — Flat-lay hammock

Hammock camping has experienced a huge boom in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. The average hammock setup is considerably lighter and more compact than the average tent — and not to mention more comfortable to most people. But for some people, sleeping in a hammock isn’t comfortable at all — namely people who like to sleep on their sides or stomach. Due to the nature of most hammocks, sleeping on anything other than your back just isn’t feasible. Luckily, Sierra Madre Research aims to change that with an innovative new hammock design.

Ninox, as it’s called, is designed to allow users to lay as flat as possible. Thanks to it’s unique wave-shaped form, this sling is claimed to allow you to lay diagonally without being pushed back toward the center of the hammock, as you generally are in most camping hammocks. The result is a roomy, level sleeping surface that’s more comfortable for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers alike. Sierra Madre is definitely onto something here. Keep an eye on this company.

September 30

Park & Diamond — Collapsible bike helmet

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from our full article: “A good cycling helmet provides a degree of head protection for riders, potentially saving them from serious injury or even death. Despite the extra measure of safety that a helmet provides, however, some cyclists still choose to take their chances while out on the road by going without one. But a new company called Park & Diamond is looking to change that by introducing a helmet that was designed to overcome the most common objections that riders have to these important pieces of safety equipment.

The Park & Diamond Bike Helmet, which launched a few days back on Indiegogo, brings some intriguing features along with it. For starters, the helmet is designed to resemble a baseball cap and reportedly has the comfort to match. This makes it a lot more stylish and natural looking when compared to traditional cycling helmets, which are often large, brightly colored, and oddly shaped. By giving riders an option that more closely resembles something that they would wear when not on their bikes, the hope is that it will eliminate at least one excuse for not using a helmet.”

Fenik Yuma — Electricity-free fridge

Here’s a quick excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full post, which we published earlier in the week: “The electricity-free, fan-free, air compressor-free Yuma 60L fridge — which runs solely on water — could be useful for both your upcoming camping trip and, potentially, in developing countries or disaster areas where power is in short supply. While it won’t keep your beers as frosty as a standard compression refrigerator, it does promise to retain a “nice and refreshing” temperature level for anything stored in it. And all without needing to be plugged in.

‘The Fenik Yuma cooler is a portable food preserver that never needs ice or electricity,’ co-founder Jeremy Fryer-Biggs told Digital Trends. “It comes totally flat, and pops up like a tent in under 20 seconds. This allows you to easily take it anywhere. Once assembled, you open the door, place your food inside and activate it by pouring water into the fill-port. The water absorbs heat energy from your food and evaporates through a smart material called PhaseTek, in much the same way that your body cools itself. The result is that your food lasts much longer. Yumas will work anywhere in the world where there isn’t excessive humidity and can be stacked to save space or collapsed again for easy transport.”

Dryp — Houseplant watering app

Keeping a couple plants alive isn’t too difficult — but once your plant collection reaches a certain size, making sure all your leafy friends are properly hydrated can be a monumental challenge. Not only do different plants need different amounts of water, they also need to be watered at different intervals in order to promote growth. You can’t water a succulent as often as you water, say, a fiddle leaf fig tree — so keeping track of when and how thoroughly to water everything can be a dizzying experience.

Dryp is an app designed to solve this problem. It’s essentially a reminder app built specifically for people who tend to murder houseplants with neglect. After you enter in all the plants that you own, the app sends you notifications whenever a particular plant needs watering, and lists your plants in order of when they they’ll be thirsty next. It also acts as a plant doctor, and helps you diagnose (and fix!) various growing problems. And the best part? Now that the campaign has surpassed its funding goal, the app will be available on both Android and iOS.

EZ Teethbrush — Ultrafast toothbrush

Tired of all the squeezing, scrubbing, spitting, rinsing, gargling, and flossing required to keep your pearly whites clean? For decades now, your only recourse from this mildly laborious task has been the electric toothbrush. But while these automatically oscillating tooth scrubbers are definitely a step in the right direction, they still don’t remove all the tediousness and time consumption from the act of brushing your teeth. What if there was a way to get the same job done, achieve the same level of cleanliness, and do it in a fraction of the time?

Enter the EZ Teethbrush, the first fully automatic toothbrush that (allegedly) finishes the job in just a few seconds, giving you more time to do well, anything else. Here’s how it works. The device itself is essentially a big, bristly mouthpiece. You start by shoving it in your mouth and switching it on, at which point it will oscillate at a high frequency to scrub your chompers. The whole process allegedly takes just a few seconds, and cleans your teeth just as thoroughly as normal brushing.

Kammok Bobcat — Multipurpose outdoor quilt

Outdoor quilts aren’t a new idea. A handful of companies already make them, and they come in just about every shape, size, and configuration you could ever want these days. But Kammok’s new Bobcat has a few tricks up its sleeve that help it stand out from the rest of the pack. Unlike most quilts, it’s equipped with a tethering system that allows it to function as a top quilt or an underquilt in your hammock.

“The Bobcat is a 45-degree Fahrenheit down trail quilt that offers packable warmth on-the-go.” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Designed with versatility in mind, the Bobcat adapts as a top quilt, underquilt, or cozy comforter. A lightweight insulator for travel, the Bobcat’s water-resistant rolltop stuff sack helps the quilt pack down and puff up to keep you warm. Think of it as your traveling cloud nine.”

September 23

Biolite headlamp

Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, or merely going for a run at night, a headlamp is an invaluable accessory, giving you a hands-free way to illuminate the path in front of you. Headlamps, however, can be uncomfortable (given you’re basically strapping a flashlight to your head), which makes the new BioLite headlamp something of a godsend. It’s a lightweight, slimmed-down design that doesn’t sacrifice decent lighting.

The main thing that stands out about the BioLite is the cushy design. The headband is made of moisture-wicking material, with electronics woven into the fabric to cut down on bulk. A lot of headlamps put all the weight up front, which means the devices often tend to slide down; the BioLite moves the battery to the back, more evenly distributing the weight around the user’s head. The BioLite has a few lighting modes: Red light, strobe light, and white light, which comes in both a short but wide flood mode and a longer, narrower spot mode. Producing 330 lumens, the BioLite is on par with one of our favorite headlamps, and at the lowest setting, it can last up to 40 hours on a single charge.

Sail electric skateboard

Electric skateboards let you zip around the city at (relatively) high speeds, but that luxury often comes at a steep price. The Sail electric skateboard is a product designed to be a little less intimidating it’s a lightweight, affordable skateboard designed for smooth handling. The Sail cuts a slim profile (12mm), thanks in part to the fact that the battery pack, built to the same thickness as the deck, is built into the deck. The skateboard weighs a mere 11 pounds, so it’s easy to carry around.

The deck sits close to the ground, giving users better control over the skateboard as they steer it, but wipeouts are always a possibility. Thankfully, the Sail is built of sturdy materials, and the battery bends as the board does, so you can ride without worries. The Sail has a range of 10 miles on a single charge, putting it on par with our favorte electric skateboard, the Inboard M1 — and it’s three pounds lighter!

Beermkr

Homebrewing is a popular hobby, offering beer enthusiasts the chance to get creative and stimulate their minds before they start enjoying the fruits of their labors, but it also requires a huge investment of time. So much of homebrewing is waiting for ingredients to boil or ferment — or scrubbing equipment afterwards. The creators of the BeerMKR hope to make homebrewing more accessible by automating most of the process. How does it work? Inside the BeerMKR are three chambers: The brewing chamber, brew pouch, and a collection bin for the waste. To get a brew going, users simply have to pour water into the machine, dump their ingredients in the brewing chamber, and let the BeerMKR do its thing.

Users control the BeerMKR via an app; after pressing a button to start the brew, you can simply sit back and watch. The app will alert users when it’s time to step in and add yeast, for example, but for the most part, the BeerMKR runs on autopilot. According to BeerMKR’s creators, setting up a batch should only take around 5 minutes, with a brewing cycle taking a week. Once you’ve got your completed batch, you just take the airtight beer bag from the machine, put it in the dispenser that comes with the machine, and plug in a CO2 cartridge. Voila! Beer on tap, right in your own kitchen.

The components are dishwasher safe, so you don’t need to spend time scrubbing them after each brew. The BeerMKR team offers kits for users to brew with, but the makers also emphasize that you can brew with whatever ingredients you want — your imagination might be the most valuable ingredient of all.

Atom 3-axis smartphone gimbal

As smartphone cameras continue to improve, aspiring filmmakers have been using them to make professional films — the critically acclaimed movie Tangerine was even shot on iPhones! Shaky hands are the bane of the handheld cinematographer, however, and to solve that problem, there’s the Atom 3-axis smartphone gimbal. For those unfamiliar, a gimbal is a mount that allows the user to move a camera smoothly, keeping the shot from wavering. True to its name, the Atom is small — not literally atom-sized, but small enough to feel comfortable in the user’s hand. It even folds up for easy transportation while traveling.

The Atom can hold up to 310 grams, which means it can handle a lens on top of a smartphone; the device itself only weighs 440 grams, so it won’t require arms like Popeye. There are multiple devices within thumb’s reach for various operations, whether you need to spin the camera to a vertical orientation, focus, zoom, or otherwise.

Oru Kayak Haven

What’s better than origami? How about origami you can sail the high seas in? With the Haven Kayak, the latest from Oru Kayak, you can — and with a buddy, no less! If you’ve missed our coverage of previous Oru releases, the gist is this: They’re foldable kayaks that can carry you across the water yet compress to fit in the trunk of a car or a closet. Don’t let the namesake fool you, though! Rather than thin sheets of paper, Oru’s kayaks are made of sturdy polymer that is nevertheless lightweight. The Haven weighs 40 pounds, but can support up to 500 pounds, and can seat two adults.

The sleek, lightweight design of the Haven makes it easy to handle, and if you want to tear up the water by yourself, you can adjust the interior to make a single-rider, high-performance kayak. If you like to take things easy, though, the Haven sports a rail mount system on which you can fasten various accessories like cupholders or fishing rods.

September 16

Think Board X — Cloud-connected whiteboard

Whiteboards are incredibly useful for getting ideas out of your head and communicating them to other people — but they’re far from perfect. If your scribblings are worth saving, your only option is to snap a photo before the board inevitably gets erased by the next person who comes along. But what if there was a better way? What if there was a whiteboard that allowed you to save all your diagrams, doodles, and lists in the cloud, where they can be stored and shared with other people? Meet the Think Board X, a peel-and-stick whiteboard that’s powered by the Rocketbook app.

How is such a thing possible? Well for starters, the pages of the notebook (which are just regular-ol’ paper, by the way) feature a set of seven different symbols. These symbols can be mapped to different functions, such as saving to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, or even just sending the document to your email inbox. Mark one of the symbols on the page, and when you scan it with Rocketbook’s accompanying smartphone app, a digitized copy of the page will instantly be sent to the cloud storage platform of your choice. Check out the video to see it in action.

Lumapod — Ultra-compact tripod

Here’s Hillary Grigonis with the scoop: “Tripods are essential for some types of shots, but are bulky and time-consuming to set up. A startup may have a solution called Lumapod — with strings attached. No, we’re not saying that to refute Lumapod’s claims (yet), the tripod system actually uses a tensioning system for stability, with “strings” extending from the tripod’s head to the feet. These strings are the backbone of Lumapod’s patented tensioning system, which allegedly helps the tripod provide stability despite its short, stubby legs.

Lumapod says there are two different size models, and shows both compact cameras and interchangeable lens cameras used on the odd tripods. The legs pop up and the long center column telescopes down to what appears to be a rather compact fold. Thanks to this clever design, the creators claim the Lumapod can go from folded to fully extended and set up in just 4 seconds. The tripod system also uses interchangeable legs including rubber feet, terrain leveling, and dolly wheels.”

Winglights 360 — Handlebar lights

Staying visible at night is essential for cyclists, but even with all the great headlights/taillights available these days, riding at night can still be dangerous. The trick is that you need to be visible from all sides at all times — but most lights don’t shine sideways, which can make it difficult for passing cars to keep track of your position while they whiz by. To alleviate this problem, the folks at Cycl designed a set of handlebar lights that are visible no matter what direction they’re viewed from.

“While traditional front and back lights do the job of highlighting cyclists’ presence, they do not give an idea of the bike’s width, leaving drivers to estimate the rider’s exact position and potentially leading to dangerous overtaking situations,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “WingLights360 provide riders with the all-round visibility and encourage drivers to maintain a safe passing distance.”

Segway Drift W1 — Electric skates

We covered these suckers back when Segway first announced them, so here’s a quick cut from the full article: “If you thought Heelys were odd, you may want to take a seat. Segway is here to prove that when it comes to strange methods of transportation, it’s the top dog. Meet the new Segway Drift W1s. They’re self-balancing roller shoes, and can be compared to a hoverboard that just lives on your foot. Well, I suppose it would technically be two halves of a hoverboard living on each foot.

“The Drift W1s are apparently the first product in the company’s new e-Skates category, and they leverage Segway’s self-balancing technology that was first put to use in the original Segway scooter — you know, that thing that let users lean into the direction they wished to travel. These new shoes are in some ways a 21st-century answer to roller blades and inline skates, though it does feel a bit like Segway is trying to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with. But never to be deterred, the company, which was acquired by Ninebot in 2015, is calling its Drift W1s the new trend of 2018.”

DaVinci Color Mini — Full-color 3D printer

We all know that 3D printers can print in just about every material imaginable these days — but when it comes to colors, your choices are still somewhat limited. Sure, there’s a practically endless number of individual filament colors to choose from, but unfortunately, most printers can only handle one or two filament types at a time. If you want to make something multicolored, you’re pretty much out of luck — unless of course you get yourself one of XYZ Printing’s new DaVinci Color printers.

Rather than extruding and mixing separate filaments to create colors (like some printers do), the DaVinci Color Mini prints with a special white filament. After each layer is complete, the printer passes over it with an inkjet print head and applies color. By blending standard cyan, magenta, and yellow, it’s able to create practically any color you desire. In a very literal way, it’s essentially an inkjet printer that prints on 3D plastic instead of 2D paper. And the best part? This miniature version only costs $999, making it one of the most affordable color 3D printers on the market.

September 9

SureKey — Smart key

Forgetting whether you locked your front door is the worst. You’ve probably been there. When it happens, you have two choices: Either go home and check so you can be sure that your house isn’t open for thieves to pillage, or spend the whole day worrying about thieves might potentially be pillaging your house right now, because you were too stupid to lock the door. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was a device that could tell you, definitively, whether your door is locked or not?

Technically speaking, such devices already exist. Most internet-connected smart locks can let you know if your door is locked or not — but the downside is that smart locks require a relatively arduous installation process. SureKey, on the other hand, doesn’t require any more than snapping a piece of sensor-laden plastic onto your key. After that, it’ll use a slew of accelerometers and

Sterka M1 — customizable electric bike

Electric bicycles come in an absolutely massive variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations these days. The technology that powers them has really exploded over the past few years, so now it’s fairly easy to find a bike that’s perfectly-suited to your particular riding style — unless of course your “riding style” requires constant tuning, tweaking, and upgrading your bike. Despite the fact that today’s bikes are super high-tech and amazing, very few of them allow you to easily get under the hood and make modifications.

The Sterka M1 is an attempt to change that. Instead of tucking all the components inside a sleek and mostly inaccessible frame, the creators of the M1 designed the bike to be easy to work on. Using little more than an allen wrench and a few screwdrivers, you can completely disassemble this entire bicycle and fiddle with its guts to your heart’s content. Want to install a bigger battery? A more powerful motor? A smoother crank? Just bust out your toolset and get to work — the only thing standing in your way is a few bolts.

Lex — wearable bionic chair

We ran a story about this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from the full post: “How awesome would it be if, any time you started to feel tired, you could just kick back and relax on a chair that appears seemingly from out of nowhere? What if this miraculous chair also happened to be one of the most ergonomic sitting devices you’ve ever encountered, promising a seat that ensures you maintain the best possible posture? That is the mission statement of a fancy new Kickstarter campaign for Lex, a pair of wearable, folding exoskeleton legs that just so happen to transform into an ultra-versatile portable seat.

‘You can lead a better life and prevent a lot of injuries by maintaining the correct posture, caring for your shoulders, and finding a chance to relax your body more,” Lex team member Don Plooksawasdi told Digital Trends. “If you find that hard to do in your daily life, the Lex is here to help.’

The lightweight, 2.2-pound exoskeleton legs retract when they’re not in use, giving you the ability to move around easily and without any restrictions. (You can even jump while wearing it!) It attaches to your body just like a belt, requiring only three straps. When it’s in folded mode, the Lex is hardly visible from the side.”

Tempo — adjustable hourglass

Tempo is essentially an adjustable analog hourglass designed to help you better manage your time. “The three time settings built into Tempo were chosen to optimize both your work and play,” the creators explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “Pair different times together depending on your task and activity. Set a timer for a 25 minute focused work sprint. Journal for 15 minutes or meditate for 5 minutes. Or break down an hour-long activity into four 15 minute blocks. To set a time, simply turn the dial to the time you want.”

Do you need an adjustable analog timer? Probably not. You could likely achieve the same result with an app on your smartphone — although doing so likely introduces more potential for distractions. With an analog solution like Tempo, you’d ostensibly be insulated from all the attention-stealing notifications, alerts, and updates that bombard your phone throughout the day. If your focus wasn’t constantly disrupted by the bright colors, sounds, and vibrations of your mobile device, how much more productive could you be with your time?

WhizBang — Toilet target for training toddlers

Here’s a quick cut from our full article, which ran earlier in the week: “No one likes to walk into the bathroom and discover evidence of poor marksmanship on the toilet seat. For parents and spouses sick and tired of cleaning up someone else’s mess before doing their own business, there’s Whizz Bang. Instead of allowing a bathroom goer — be it a child who is just learning how to use the toilet or an adult who should know better — to shoot from the hip, Whizz Bang turns every trip to the toilet into a game. The device installs with a simple, universal mount. Once in place, it creates a target to aim at with an LED light. That bull’s eye not only helps kids maintain their focus on the process of peeing, it helps people of all ages cut down on the splash back that can come from poorly aimed bathroom trips. It doesn’t quite turn your toilet into a fully functioning smart toilet, but it does the trick for its specific task

When a person going to the bathroom manages to hit the LED target projected into the toilet bowl, they are rewarded with arcade sound effects that encourage them to stay on target. The product doesn’t go all the way with gamification—there are no scores or long-term tracking of any sort. That’s probably for the best, though. Unlocking achievements for going to the bathroom may be a step too far (and it may even have the accidental side effect of encouraging people to drink more water so they can play more).”

September 2

Spry Drone — Submersible UAV

Here’s DT’s Hillary Grigonis with the scoop: “The Spry looks like a typical quadcopter — until you flip it upside down and toss it in the water. Designed by waterproof drone company SwellPro and Urban Drones, the Spry can navigate both in the air and in water with its (also waterproof) controller. Launching on Kickstarter and fully funded in a day, the Spry crosses both aerial and aquatic categories. The Spry and its controller float in the water, allowing the drone to take off and land in water. Flip the drone over, and the props can help the drone navigate the water, though the company hasn’t yet detailed how fast or how long the drone can maneuver like a boat.

While the company has launched air-to-water drones before like the Splash 3, the company says the Spry is the first that can also temporarily navigate underwater like a submarine using the propellers. (once the propellers stop, the floating drone returns to the surface). In the air, the Spry is a mix between a racing drone and a camera drone. The drone uses a 4K 30fps camera with 12-megapixel stills, but with the GPS disabled, the drone can hit top speeds of more than 43 mph. With the GPS, the drone offers flight patterns like auto follow and object orbit, along with options like returning to the pilot’s position and holding the drone’s position in the air. The mobile app also allows pilots to pre-set a flight path using waypoints.”

Nopixgo — Mosquito repelling wearable

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from Luke Dormehl’s full article: “Anyone who has been caught in a summer storm knows that it kind of sucks. Evidently, mosquitoes think the same thing, as they apparently choose to seek shelter when they sense an approaching storm, rather than risk hanging out and biting people. Who can blame them, right? Well, maybe no one can blame them, but smart engineers can certainly jump on that evolutionary quirk to find a new way of fending off everyone’s least favorite blood-drinking insects.

That’s where the Nopixgo wristband comes into play. According to its creators, it emits very weak electromagnetic signals, which essentially convince mosquitos that a storm is brewing and they should probably be packing their bags to leave. It’s a smart solution that protects users without the use of chemicals. ‘This is a revolutionary new way to approach mosquito bites. In a way, the mosquitoes’ own genetics is used against them; something they cannot adapt to and avoid.’ Johan Niklasson, chief business development officer at NopixGlobal, told Digital Trends. ‘It goes deeper than just repelling with bad smells or irritating sounds. No one has ever tried this before, and the technology has not existed to make this possible until just recently.’”

Purtrek — Trekking pole water filter

One of the hottest trends in outdoor gear right now is multipurposing. We’ve sorta hit a ceiling with how light materials can get, so instead of dumping a bunch of R&D into developing stuff that’s just a fraction of an ounce lighter than before, many gear manufacturers are cooking up ways to build gear fulfills multiple needs. This trend has resulted in all kinds of awesome stuff — everything from blankets that double as ponchos, to hammocks that can fold up to become backpacks.

The latest addition to this burgeoning category of gear is the PurTrek: an innovative new trekking pole that has a built-in water filtration system. To use it, you simply insert the included hose into the top of the pole, unscrew the handle, and start pumping. The pole will draw in water through the bottom, push it through a hollow-fiber filter, and deposit it into your vessel of choice. Pretty nifty, right? If you get yourself one of those tents that use trekking poles for support, then this thing could cut some serious weight from your setup!

Feel Three — VR gaming cockpit

This is another one we covered earlier in the week. Here’s an excerpt from the full article: “Are you a virtual reality fan who wishes the whole VR experience could be made even more immersive than it already is? Do you have the cash to throw down for a gaming chair that looks like something a Star Trek captain or James Bond villain would sit in? If so, you may be interested in the new “3 Degree of Freedom Motion Simulator” that’s just launched on Kickstarter.

Created by U.K. entrepreneur Mark Towner, the cockpit-style motion simulator takes the form of a hemispherical platform, seated on an array of omni-wheels. It’s similar in concept to the kind of motion-simulator rigs usually reserved for large VR arcades, but intended for home use. The three degrees referenced in its name describe the device’s ability to yaw, pitch, and roll; essentially giving users the ability to quickly (but silently) rotate in any direction. For extra verisimilitude, built-in tactile transducers add immersive surround vibration. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to VR experiences like racing or flight simulators.”

Mag iCreatum — 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC

Slowly but surely, 3D printers are getting cheaper. Drastically cheaper, in fact. In the early days it wasn’t uncommon for even the most basic printer to carry a price tag upwards of $3,000, but in just a few years time, the average price has plummeted. Nowadays there are dozens of printers you can get for under 500 bucks, and some are even cheaper than that.

iCreatum is the latest addition to the ultra-affordable club. Priced at just 99 euros (about $120) on Kickstarter, it’s easily one of the most affordable printers we’ve ever laid eyes on. But affordability isn’t the only selling point, either. In addition to being super cheap, this sucker also comes with a swappable toolhead system, which means that it can also function as a laser engraver and a CNC machine.

Sounds pretty rad, right? Well don’t bust out your wallet too fast. In our experience, crowdfunded 3D printer projects have a woefully high failure rate compared to most other things. We’re not sure why, but we’ve seen quite a few flops over the past few years — so definitely do your homework before you back this one.


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