Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Tennis ball bots, eco-straws, sm - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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 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.”

November 11

Magnic Microlights — Battery-free contactless bike lights

Back in 2012, a guy by the name of Dirk Strothmann headed to Kickstarter with an awesome invention. Magnic light, as he called it, was an innovative new bike light that seemingly runs on magic. Instead of relying on batteries, or friction-inducing dynamos, Strothmann devised a unique new system that captures electromagnetic eddy currents, which are created as your bike rim spins past a small magnet. These currents spin a small dynamo, which transforms the energy into electricity to power and illuminate an LED.

The device was a massive success on Kickstarter, and now, afteseveral years and a handful of newer iterations, Strothmann is back with yet another Magnic light. This time, the device is smaller than ever before — so small, in fact, that he’s managed to fit the entire apparatus into a standard brake pad. Presumably, this means you’ll have more room on your handlebars to mount other tech — like GPS systems, digital compasses, or laser projectors that keep you safe while riding in the blind spot.

FT Aviator — One-handed drone controller

Dual-joystick controllers have been the go-to control system for drones for as long as the flying machines have been around. Thing is, this isn’t necessarily because two joysticks are the best way to control drones — it’s more because the two-stick layout was popular with the RC aircraft community, and when RC aircraft evolved autonomous capabilities, it made sense to stick with a controller layout that people were already familiar with. The only problem, of course, is that because most drones are equipped with cameras, pilots now have much more than just two joysticks to worry about. In addition to flying, there’s now a slew of buttons, knobs, and other inputs to worry about.

FT Aviator is an attempt to alleviate this issue. Thanks to its clever design, it allows drone pilots to fully control their crafts with just one hand. Whereas dual-stick controllers assign pitch/roll to one stick and yaw/acceleration to the other, FT Aviator assigns pitch/roll to the main joystick, and yaw to the twisting motion of that joystick, while allowing you to control acclereation/deceleration with your thumb. Essentially, this frees up your other hand and allows you to use it exclusively for camera control. In theory, this should make it easier to control panning/tilting/zooming functions while you fly. Pretty neat, right?

Mastersous — 8-in-1 smart cooker

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full article we ran earlier this week: “Sous-vide is a fast-growing trend, but most sous-vide appliances can only do that one thing — they’re uni-taskers. MasterSous bucks that trend with an innovative approach as an all-in-one multicooker. Its unique design allows it to sous-vide, simmer, sear, saute, boil, steam, slow-cook, and deep-fry. The MasterSous is designed with a six-quart, non-stick pot. Using an electronic dial, users can choose the cooking method, time, temperature, and several preprogrammed settings. For instance, MasterSous can heat up oil just below the smoking temperature of eight mainstream oils to perfectly deep fry food.

What separates MasterSous from the competition is its patent-pending, variable-speed stirring mechanism. It secures itself to the pot with a powerful magnet, offering a hands-free experience. Depending on the need, there are interchangeable attachments, as well as the ability to switch between constant stir and other preset intervals. By combining the stirring mechanism with an insertable food rack, this multicooker can easily sous-vide without the need for additional appliances.”

Unobrush — Fully automatic 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 Unobrush, the latest fully automatic toothbrush that (allegedly) does 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 foam mouthpiece. You start by shoving it in your mouth, biting down on the foam, and switching it on — at which point it will blast your pearly whites with ultrasonic pulses that knock plaque loose. The whole process is said to take just a few seconds, and cleans your teeth just as thoroughly as normal brushing.

Rover Speed — Auto-follow suitcase

Believe it or not, artificially intelligent suitcases that automatically follow you around the airport aren’t a new idea. Thanks to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they already exist in various forms, and can be purchased online right now. The only problem? Most major airports have issued a blanket ban on “smart” suitcases because they typically contain lithium ion batteries that could potentially explode. So while you could hop on Amazon right now and buy an A.I. suitcase, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be able to take your luxury luggage with you on the plane.

Rover Speed aims to change that. In addition to a slew of sensors and motors that enable the suitcase to follow you autonomously as you walk, Rover Speed is also equipped with a Transportation Security Administration -approved battery pack. For added convenience, this battery pack is also completely detachable, so you can snap it off and throw it in the bin when you go through security. Hell, it even has proximity alarms that’ll beep and cause a ruckus if somebody tries to steal your suitcase.

November 4

Aqua Dew — Alexa powered shower speaker

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from our full article: “The wake-word activated Aqua Dew speaker works much like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. On your command, the shower speaker can read the news, manage your smart home, call or message people, or make announcements in other rooms. The Aqua Dew’s IPX5 waterproof rating means it can withstand spray from water jets from any angle, but you can’t immerse it. You shouldn’t have a problem with the device in the shower, but don’t drop it in a bathtub.

You can set the Aqua Dew flat on a table, but it also comes with a hanging strap and a suction cup and mounting plate so you can hang it on a wall or loop it around a shower door handle. The Aqua Dew supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. In addition to power on/off, volume up, volume down, and mute buttons, there’s a WPS button for secure Wi-Fi connections. Two holes for the Aqua Dew’s far-field microphone are also on the top surface of the device, along with four six-color LED light indicators.”

Snowfeet — Snow skates

Here’s DT’s Kraig Becker with the scoop: “At first glance, Snowfeet look an awful lot like a pair of sandals on steroids. Upon closer inspection however, you’ll soon notice that Snowfeet’s straps look a lot more like a ski binding than anything you’ve ever seen on a flip-flop. Those bindings allow Snowfeet to accommodate any type of shoe or boot, and expand to accommodate larger footwear including snowboard boots then contract down to hold the footwear squarely in place.

Snowfeet also feature a metal ski edge on either side of the bottom of the sole. That edge is what allows the wearer to glide along on snow and ice so smoothly. An integrated heel brake provides a method for slowing down and stopping, which will not only prove useful in controlling the wearer’s speed but also avoiding obstacles, as well as other skiers and snowboarders, on the slopes. And since Snowfeet are far smaller than any skis on the market, they are much easier to carry around, slipping easily into a backpack for easy transport.

By combining both skating and skiing into a single activity, Snowfeet promise to give wearers a whole new level of control and performance. According to the Indiegogo page, not only will users be able to glide down the slopes as if they were skiing, they’ll be able to pull off stunts and tricks that would typically be associated with figuring skating. This unique set of footwear can also be used for cross-country skiing , providing a good aerobic workout on flat trails.”

Raylier — Light-up motorcycle jacket

Here’s a quick excerpt from the full article we published earlier this week: “Motorbike leathers are there to protect riders from injury, as well as to keep them warm while riding in colder climates. But darker leather jackets, which are some of the most popular available, also have an obvious downside: They make bikers difficult to see in the dark. This poses a clear safety risk for riders, which a new Kickstarter campaign wants to help lessen. Manufactured by French company Raylier, the ‘first luminous jacket for bikers’ promises to make bikers more visible on the road — courtesy of various embedded LED strips. These can be switched on with the simple press of a button on the jacket’s belt.

The aim is reduce the number of fatalities on the road, of which bikers currently represent around 18 percent. ‘More than 60 percent of bikers’ accidents are due to a lack of visibility,’ Baptiste Rosay, one of the co-founders of Raylier, told Digital Trends. ‘Thanks to our jacket, we improve their visibility in order to avoid crashes and save their lives. More than visibility, we improve the communication with the road users. A warning mode will make the jacket blink and improve visibility in risky situations. A brake light works autonomously, thanks to an on-board accelerometer. It intensifies the rear lights when slowing down.’”

Loftek adventure jacket — Water repellent insulated jacket

Generally speaking, insulated jackets come in two varieties: those that use traditional down, and those that use synthetic. Each style has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, regular down is super lightweight, warm, and compressible — but it doesn’t handle moisture very well. Once it gets wet, it loses many of its best properties. Conversely, sythentic down has great water repellency, but isn’t quite as warm or compressible. It used to be that you had to choose between these two sides, but now, thanks to Utah-based upstart Outdoor Vitals, there’s finally a happy medium. The company has created a completely new type of insulation that offers the best of both worlds.

“LoftTek insulation is a hollow-filament polyester fiber that’s about 2.5 denier, so it’s a very small fiber, which also helps with its thermal efficiency,” founder Tayson Whittaker explains on his website. “It’s actually been rated. We sent it in to the IDFL (International Down Laboratories for Testing), and they typically test down. However they tested our LoftTek as if it were down, and it was rated as a 525 fill-power by them. Essentially LoftTek is rated as a little bit of a lower quality down, but does that while retaining all the properties of a synthetic. The fibers have been siliconized so that as it comes in contact with water, the water won’t stick to it, but kind of just drains out.”

Inflatable travel jumpsuit — Air travel onesie

If you spend a lot of time on airplanes, you definitely need to give this project a look. It’s essentially a onesie that’s been designed from the ground up to be the most comfortable, convenient thing you could possibly wear on a flight. Despite the fact that it looks relatively normal from the outside, it’s absolutely stuffed with clever features and design elements that make it an ideal garment for both the airport and the plane. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s under the hood — both literally and figuratively:

In addition to a nifty pull-down “snooze cap” that helps you shield your eyes when its time for a nap, the jumpsuit’s hood can also be zipped closed completely, or even inflated when you need a pillow. There’s also an inflatable neck pillow built into the collar. Lower down, the onesie is equipped with a myriad of different pockets — two of which are designed to be detachable, so you can just tear them out and throw them in the TSA tub when you go through security. And that’s just the beginning. There’s also an integrated headphone management loop, a set of earplugs, and even a “rear exit solution” zipper for when nature calls. They seriously thought of everything!

October 28

Footloose — Automatic litter box

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a cut from our full article: “Footloose is a litter box that promises to be the most cutting-edge way imaginable for your kitty to take a dump. After using this sci-fi-style litter tray, your beloved Mr. Bigglesworth won’t be able to so much look at your neighbor’s lawn without turning its nose up in disgust.

‘Footloose is the first smart cat potty that cleans itself automatically, and also monitors the wellness of felines,’ Byron Fan, founder of Footloose manufacturer Petato, told Digital Trends. ‘The patent-pending self-cleaning mechanism is a nifty and efficient way to dispose of cat waste. The tech can distinguish litter from cats, recognize multiple cats, and detect any motion such that human intervention is reduced to a minimum. These features are possible thanks to onboard computing cores embedded with a dimensionality-reduction algorithm which fuses data from a dozen sensors. Footloose is also the first litter box integrated with a proactive deodorizing unit. The result is a box that requires little owner maintenance, but delivers information including a cat’s body weight, waste volume, toilet frequency, and duration.’”

Mui — wooden smart panel

Once again, we covered this gizmo a few days back. Here’s the scoop from our previous post: “Are you so immersed in technology that you long for a touch of nature in your home? You could get some potted plants — or you could invest in Mui, a wood panel that is also an internet-connected smart display. ‘Mui lets you adjust the lighting and temperature of your home, check news and weather, play music, send and receive voice and text, and is programmable by developers to do even more,’ Mui Labs said in a press release. ‘When in sleep mode, Mui regains its original natural look, in a nod to calm design principles.’

A Mui Kickstarter campaign is now live, with the goal of raising $100,000 to fund development of the device by December 7. Available in either sycamore (light) or cherry (dark), Mui looks like a slim and stylish wood panel until you swipe its touch-sensitive surface, which then glows to display information such as time, date and temperature. Out of the box, you can use it as an alarm clock, timer, voicemail reader, and message display.”

TourBox — controller for photo editing

Photo and video editing software has come a long way in the decade or so. The stuff you do in Photoshop these days is nothing short of incredible — but unfortunately, despite how advanced this stuff has become, it’s still a bit of a chore to work with. Why? Because in order to change what you’re doing with your mouse, you typically have to navigate through menus, move sliders, uncheck boxes, and generally just waste time switching between tasks. It only takes a few seconds, but over the course of a multi-hour edit, those seconds really start to add up. Thankfully, TourBox is here to fix that problem.

“TourBox is the most advanced creative controller for Photoshop, Lightroom, SAI, and other image processing software,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “It is specifically designed for photographers and designers who want to improve their work efficiency and experience a new state-of-the-art method for editing content. It frees users from endless repetitive tasks such as drawing, editing and retouching using a new, intuitive approach that is ergonomic and natural. Customize your creativity, simplify inputs, and optimize your work. TourBox is a fully customizable device, users can assign different functions for Photoshop, Lightroom, or SAI. And you can also adapt TourBox to suit any software. Personalize your TourBox to best adapt to your own personal workflow.”

The Every Day Calendar — Habit-forming calendar

We ran a story about this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from the full post: “As with a lot of the projects which capture the public’s imagination on Kickstarter, the Every Day Calendar has a simple premise. It’s essentially a big printed circuit board which uses capacitive touch and LEDs to light up the individual days as you achieve your goal. For instance, if your goal is to go for a jog every day or eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, you tap the date as you complete the task and illuminate that section of the calendar. The idea is that this kind of visual reward system will make you more likely to stick to your goal, particularly as the year goes on and you don’t want to ruin your winning streak.

‘Hang the Every Day Calendar in your home, office, workshop, cavern, laboratory, castle, barn or boat,’ Giertz writes on the Kickstarter page. ‘Just make sure that it’s someplace where you see it every day. The Every Day Calendar is 0 percent internet connected, so no apps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or computer programs are needed to set it up. Just plug it into the wall and you’re ready to go.’

The Crunch Cup — portable cereal vessel

If you’re at home, cereal is arguably one of the simplest breakfasts you can prepare in the morning. You just dump some in a bowl, splash some milk on it, and voila — time to grub. However, if you’re on the go, cereal suddenly becomes the most inconvenient breakfast you could possibly eat. In addition to all the sloshing around and inevitable spillage, you also have to use both hands in order to get the food into your mouth. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better way to eat your Lucky Charms on the go? Well, thanks to an enterprising startup from Los Angeles, we might soon have one.

“We couldn’t believe there wasn’t a viable option to eat your cereal on-the-go, so we made one, and it’s awesome.” the creators explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “It’s called **drumroll** The CrunchCup. The Crunch Company (that’s us). Set out to create a portable cereal cup that does not mess around. We don’t play that soggy cereal nonsense. Which is why it’s a two cup system; one for the cereal and the other for the milk. The cereal and milk don’t meet until they hit your mouth.”

October 21

Silo — A.I. vacuum sealer

Vacuum storage contraptions are a great way to keep your perishable foodstuffs from going bad before you can eat them, but unfortunately most of them suck to work with (pun thoroughly intended). The problem is that most vacuum storage solutions rely on single-use bags, so not only do they cost you more in the long run, but they also don’t stack nicely in your fridge. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better, more practical way to vacuum seal your leftovers?

Silo is a vacuum food storage system that aims to solve all the aforementioned problems — and then some. First of all, it does away with the bag system in favor of a container-based one. This allow you to stack and reuse containers, and also means the containers themselves can fit a bit more tech under their hoods. Silo’s vacuum boxes are designed to work with Amazon’s Alexa platform, meaning you can tell your digital assistant what’s inside, and it’ll keep track of it for you. Not sure if the leftover curry you saved is still safe to eat? Just ask Alexa.

Ekster 3.0 — smart wallet

Here’s a quick excerpt from our full article: “Smart wallet brand Ekster has been building a name for itself for a few years now, but its latest pocket-sized money carrier promises to be its best yet — and certainly its smartest. Called (what else?) Ekster 3.0, the company’s newest creation builds on the slimline, security conscious, RFID-blocking technology of its predecessor, while also adding a few neat touches. Not only is it slimmer than ever, available in new colors, and packed with a new card-dispensing mechanism, it also aims to solve the “lost wallet” problem. Should you find yourself unable to locate your wallet, you can now summon it using your smartphone. Heck, if you really want to show off, you can even get your smart speaker to do it, via voice control.

‘Our tracking technology allows you to ring your wallet from your phone, or vice versa, when lost,’ co-founder Olivier Momma told Digital Trends. ‘It allows you to locate your wallet on a map, and even supports Alexa and Google Assistant so you don’t need to get off that comfortable spot on the couch to discover its last seen location. This voice-controlled wallet is also the first-ever solar-powered smart wallet, meaning that you only have to place it under a lamp or the sun for 2 to 3 hours [for the battery] to last two full months.’”

Kimblade — better wiper blade

Windshield wiper blades are one of those things that were invented decades ago, but haven’t gotten a significant design upgrade in ages. That might soon change though, if the so-called Kimblade ever comes to fruition. Currently sitting on over $120K in backer pledges, the Kimblade is a fresh new take on windshield wiper blade design. Rather than sticking with the usual “inverted triangle” shape, which causes the blade’s contact surface to increase as it moves across your windshield; the Kimblade employs a unique square shape. When it moves, friction causes the blade to stand up on its corner, thereby reducing the size of the contact surface, and resulting in a more effective wipe.

But more efficient wiping is just the beginning. Thanks to some materials science wizardry, Kimblade wipers also apply a hydrophobic coating to your windshield as they wipe. This prevents water droplets from sticking to your windshield in the first place, and thereby makes it easier for the wipers to remove them. Ultimately, all this clever tech and design results in a streak-free wiping process that’s highly effective even on low speed settings.

Felik — A.I. cat toy

We covered this one back when it was on Kickstarter, so here’s a quick cut from the original article: “If you’ve got a pet dog or cat at home, you almost certainly had the experience of having to leave it alone at some point when you go out to work.

That is what the folks behind a new Indiegogo campaign called Felik want to help with. They developed a smart device they describe as being a bit like a ‘Kinect for pets.’ It combines a camera, computer vision algorithms, motion tracking, and artificial intelligence to keep your beloved cat or dog entertained (and therefore mentally active) with a laser pointer in your absence.

‘All existing laser pet toys move in unnatural random or pre-programmed patterns and do not react to pets’ movements,’ inventor Yuri Brigance told Digital Trends. ‘Others, like PetCube, allow a human to control the laser via an app, but it requires real-time human interaction and there’s a lag between using the app and seeing the laser move. Felik doesn’t require any human interaction and produces laser movements that are almost identical to a human moving a laser by hand. It is designed to mimic natural prey like a bug or a mouse.’”

Kupol — 3D printed helmet

Here’s DT’s Kraig Becker with the scoop: “The designers of the Kupol helmet were looking for ways to improve traditional bike helmets without sacrificing performance or comfort in any way. They hit on the idea of using 3D-printed parts to create what they call the Kollide Safety System, which consists of a soft and flexible layer that sits inside the shell of the helmet itself. This layer is able to move about independently within the shell, allowing it to absorb impact from any direction. This helps to protect a cyclist not only from the impact of a motor vehicle but when striking the ground from any direction as well.

The Kollide Safety System is made up of three independent elements, all of which work together to provide improved protection. The first of those elements is something called the Oktopus pods, which are designed to help the helmet sit comfortably on a rider’s head, while also mitigating rotational motion during a crash. Kinetic bumpers are also built into the helmet to absorb medium speed impacts, while the ‘3D Kore’ will reportedly collapse in on itself to absorb blunt force damage. According to the designers, the result of these layers working together is greatly improved absorption of kinetic energy, which translates to fewer head injuries.”

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