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 the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
Here’s a quick excerpt from our full articlein The Manual: “Juan de Rosenzweig, co-founder of Vaustil Primero, grew up in a culture where grilling was seen as an art form. As a child, his father built Argentinian grills for his friends. After leaving home for Europe, Rosenzweig partnered with some new Austrian friends to follow in his father’s path. The Primero possibly the smartest grill ever made launched on Kickstarter in April 2018. It was fully funded in 20 hours and, with less than two weeks left in its campaign, has raised more than $65,000.”
“‘Primero has mainly five factors that differentiate itself from competitors,’ Rosenzweig explained in an interview. ‘One: We have integrated seven sensors that give live information about the heat distribution in the grill and lend continuous recommendations on the height and placement of your food depending on what you are grilling. Two: An integrated mechanism to start the coal, which allows you to have the perfect glow in 20 minutes with minimum effort. Three: You regulate height without the need of levels as most grills, adjustable through the turn of a simple lever. Four: V-profiles prevent all the fats and liquids from dropping into the coal and make grilling healthier as less carcinogenic substances are produced when the fats are not burned. And five: A double wall construction that prevents burns to the touch and makes it perfect for a family environment.'”
This is arguably one of the most far-out tech projects to hit Kickstarter this year, but also one of the most alluring. It’s essentially a single-use, ultra-long-term launch clock. Think of it as a stopwatch without a stop button. Once you hit the button (or in this case, pull the pin), the count begins — and there’s no way for you to stop it, aside from destroying the device altogether, or letting the battery run out. The latter option is easier said than done, though. Time Since Launch is built with low-power electronics, a corrosion-proof enclosure, and enough battery power to keep on ticking for over 2,700 years.
“Use this very long-scale timepiece to mark the beginning of your epoch.” the creators suggest on their Kickstarter campaign page. “It could begin when you get married, have a baby, quit smoking, launch a rocket, or on an ordinary Tuesday morning. Your epoch is safeguarded within this unique timepiece designed and over-engineered to outlive you. Suspended in a durable borosilicate glass tube and sealed with gasketed aluminum end-caps, two LCDs show days, hours, minutes and seconds since launch. This timepiece is built to count for 2,738 years.”
Here’s a quick cut from our full article: “Here in 2018, we have Roomba vacuum cleaners and a plethora of other useful robots in our homes. But how about a 21st-century update of the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots only with real robots in place of the inanimate high-impact polystyrene plastic figurines? If you have been dreaming of a real life, desktop metallic Conor McGregor, you may be interested in a new fighting robot created by robotics designers in Taiwan. Carrying the name Super Anthony, the smartphone-controlled ‘beetleweight fighting robot’ stands a whopping 15-inches high, weighs 4.6 pounds, and boasts an assortment of martial arts moves.”
“‘Compared with other fighting robots of the same weight level, it has an unparalleled 45 kg per servo force punch,’ designer Hu Che-Wei told Digital Trends. ‘It just won the silver medal for robot demonstration and bronze medal for kung-fu in RoboGames 2018, which is the largest robot competition in the United States. With Super Anthony, you will be self-motivated to learn programming, engineering, and problem-solving skills. We hope this master fighter can accompany and inspire more people to be involved with robotics.'”
Chicago-based startup Ovie is on a mission to reduce food waste. How? By launching a new product that helps people more effectively keep tabs on what’s in their refrigerator, how long it’s been there, and whether or not it’s still fit for human consumption. To achieve this, the company developed a food storage system called Smarterware.
In addition to special storage containers, the Smarterware system includes a number of “Smart Tags” that fit snugly into the containers, clips, and universal connectors. And each tag has a light ring that immediately shows you how fresh a given food item is. When the light is green, you’re good to go, consumption-wise. Yellow means you should think about eating the product soon, and red means you should throw it out altogether.
So how do these tags actually know when food has gone bad? Well, that part is sort of on you. You’ll need to input information into the companion app detailing what food is in each Smarterware or Smarterware-tagged container. This can be done either by entering the information manually or by telling Alexa.
Smarterware also integrates with other smart home hubs, as well as recipe and grocery apps. When your food is getting close to expiration, the system will send you smartphone reminders, as well as tips on how best to prepare ingredients or how to pair them with other tagged items.
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s piece: “The good weather is finally here and with it, barbecue season. But too often barbecuing is limited to our backyards or nearby parks. The reason? Because barbecues aren’t exactly the easiest of thing to transport. That’s especially true if you’re also someone who enjoys spending a sunny day on their bike, since transporting a grill on a bike is downright impossible. Or, at least it was, prior to a cool new Kickstarter campaign. Created by German entrepreneur Carolin Kunert, the Knister Grill is a handlebar-mounted barbecue which lets you easily transport grill, charcoal, food and utensils by pedal power. Simply hook it to the handlebars of your bike (a process which requires no screws and works with all common handlebars), then just remove it when you arrive, and extend it to twice its traveling size for grilling.”
“‘I first developed a transportable barbecue in the third semester of my industrial design studies in Munich,’ Kunert told Digital Trends. ‘Back then, it was super-heavy and mounted on the bike rack I wasn’t able to use it because I had a basket on my bike. In November 2017, during my Erasmus semester, I continued the project intensively, won the competition “Startup Weekend,” and created the first prototypes. I created a team behind Knister Grill and developed the product to get it into serial production.'”
Just like mobile phones, drones keep getting smaller, smarter, and more capable. The drones of yesteryear were lucky if they could fit in a backpack — but today you can get a pocket-friendly UAV that has all the bells and whistles you could ever want. The only problem? Drones that offer the best of both worlds (loads of features in a compact form factor) are generally pretty expensive. But thanks to platforms like Kickstarter, that’s starting to change, as smaller companies pop up to challenge the big guys with competitive prices.
Fairy Drone is one such company. If you act fast, you can snag yourself one of its tiny UAVs for under $100. “As drone lovers, we have found out that everybody wants to fly one nowadays, but are hesitant to spend a lot of money for one when they think they’ll only fly it a few times before crashing it,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “That’s why we decided to create Fairy, a pocket drone that anyone can fly and take anywhere. Fairy is affordable, easy to fly, and have extensive features that make it ideal for first time navigators.
“With the Fairy, you will get all the amazing images and 1080P FHD aerial videos with ease anywhere, anytime. Turn Fairy into your personal air camera with a single touch thanks to its intuitive remote controller and app. Designed for its portability, Fairy can be folded into the size of a phone. Thanks to its 140g weight, no FAA registration is required, so enjoy its 16mins flying time with a single charge.”
Writing on a computer is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, having a keyboard, word processing software, and a world of information at your fingertips allows you to compose faster and more efficiently than you could ever do with just a pen and paper. But on the other hand, trying to write on a machine that’s connected to the internet can be an exercise in frustration. Between all the pop-up notifications, email alert noises, and flashy advertisements, your computer can be an extremely distracting environment — and that’s not ideal when you’re trying to concentrate on writing.
In recent years, a handful of solutions have popped up to address this problem. Among the more well-known devices is the Freewrite: an e-ink typewriter that’s purposefully designed to separate you from the distractions of the internet. Unfortunately, it’s huge and costs way more than it should. Pomera, on the other hand, is small, compact, and won’t make you look like a hipster asshat when you bust it out a Starbucks. Okay maybe it will make you look silly — but not nearly as much as pulling giant new-age typewriter out of your backpack.
Our Senior tech correspondent Jenny McGrath covered this mean brewing machine earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from her full article: “There probably isn’t a restaurant in your neighborhood that sells golden milk, yuenyeung, and kombucha, but soon you could have one machine to brew them all on your countertop. The PicoBrew Pico U, launching today on Kickstarter, is the latest offering from the countertop beer-maker company. The list of beverages it pumps out is impressive: single-cup pour-over coffee, lattes, dry soda, chai, horchata, and, of course, beer.
Every iteration of PicoBrew’s machines have gotten smaller and simpler to use, but the U’s small size is what makes it stand out. At 13 by 9 by 10 inches, it’s close to the dimensions of your average $25 coffee maker. That’s the point: It’s meant to stay on your counter.
We saw a working prototype of the Pico U at the company’s demo lab and tasted a bunch of drinks with founders Bill Mitchell, Jim Mitchell, and Avi Geiger. They compare the new machine to a stand mixer: you’ll leave the base out but store most of the accessories. The U still looks like its big siblings from PicoBrew, though it’s more rectangular than boxy. If your Airbnb guests were left to their own devices, they might not automatically peg it as a coffee maker.”
Here’s a clip from the full post we published a few days ago: “The amount of units you’ve drunk will tell you if you’re within the safe legal limit for driving. But there are few easy ways to be alerted if you’re too tired to be safely behind the wheel of your car. A new in-car device called Ridy aims to change that, and it’s using state-of-the-art facial recognition to help.
The Ridy smart camera easily attaches to your dashboard or windshield. It then uses machine learning technology to watch your face as you drive and notice behavior suggesting that you may be tired or distracted. This might include things like how often you blink, facial expressions such as yawns, or how often you look away from the road. If a certain threshold is passed, Ridy will give you a verbal warning.
“Young drivers can benefit a lot from this device,” co-founder Yuri Galt told Digital Trends. “They often start texting or using Snapchat while driving. If you have a 16 to 18-year-old kid and you buy him a car, get him a Ridy as well. Professional drivers such as Uber drivers can also benefit from this, [along with] busy parents that lack sleep, and any person who texts a lot while driving.”’
Have you ever gone to pour yourself a glass of wine from a bottle that tasted perfectly good a few days ago, only to find that it tastes completely different a little sour and even acidic? Or perhaps you’ve experienced the feeling of wanting to open up a bottle of wine, but you hesitate because you know you’ll be racing to finish the bottle before it goes bad. Wish there was a better way? Well, if the folks behind the Syphon achieve their Kickstarter goals, wine lovers the world over might soon have an alternative.
Syphon is a clever wine pouring/preservation device that pierces the cork in the wine bottle with a hollow needle. As the wine flows out of the needle and into your glass, the Syphon pumps argon into the bottle to displace the wine and keep the flow going. Argon is atasteless and odorless gas, so it doesn’t affect the flavor like oxygen does. When you’re done pouring, you simply pull the needle out. Compression from the neck of the wine bottle forces the cork to form an airtight seal when the Syphon needle is removed.
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from our full post: “It may be awhile before ordinary people can journey to the stars, but until then we can bring the stars closer to us. Here to help is a new smart interactive telescope that promises to satisfy the needs of both amateur stargazers and professional astronomers alike. Meet the Hiuni, a telescope that connects to an app to provide an interactive view of the starry canvas above us. This scope promises to automatically position itself for a perfect look at the constellations, stars, and planets that you’re most interested in observing.
Thanks to the Hiuni’s interactive iOS and Android apps, you won’t be relegated to squinting into your telescope in order to see what lies beyond. Instead, your smartphone will provide enhanced, in-app live views that will allow you as well as your family and friends to take a closer look at the night sky. The app also offers extra educational content in the form of videos, images, and audio, as well as an interactive component with discovery and story modes, and tours. Finally, there are challenges for the most competitive of astronomers in the form of badges, mini-games, and unlockable content.”
Here’s DT’s Lulu Chang with the scoop: “It’s the 21st century, which means that there is now officially nothing in your life that you can’t make smart. And that includes things that often aid in your making choices that are not so smart — like your beer keg. Meet the Kegtron, a new device promising to bring ‘intelligence to your kegerator.’ Because we all know that nothing else really will.
With this keg monitor and its companion app, you’ll be able to wirelessly track the number of pours you have remaining in your keg from your phone. The expandable system can be leveraged by beer enthusiasts of both the amateur and professional variety, so whether you’re a home brewer, a restaurateur, or just someone with a keg sitting in your kitchen, you can use this handy device. So how does it work? The keg monitor itself is a small box that sits between your keg and your tap. There’s an internal flowmeter that measures how much liquid has come out of your keg, and a wireless processor that feeds this information to the companion app.”
Thanks largely to the ultralight movement, outdoor gear has gotten ridiculously sophisticated over the course of the last decade or so. The first wave consisted mostly of advances in lighter, stronger, more high-performance fabrics and materials that allowed outdoor enthusiasts to pack lighter and go further. But now, designers are pushing into completely new territory and designing gear that’s not only ultra-lightweight, but also serves multiple functions, thereby allowing you to carry even less gear on your back when you go on adventures.
Case in point? The Bitterroot. It’s a fully-functional dry bag that pulls triple duty as a water filter and air mattress inflator. The idea is that instead of carrying both a dry bag and a water filter, you can carry this dual-function piece of gear and cut down on your pack weight, while also making your sleeping pad easier to inflate. Check out the video to see how it works — it’s a clever little invention. This is a trend we hope to see a lot more of.
Over the past few years, many backpackers have taken to replacing their ground-bound tents with suspended hammock setups — and it’s easy to see why. Hammocks are often lighter to carry, faster and less complex to set up, and can even offer better all-around comfort. But hammocks aren’t without their own drawbacks. Generally speaking, most of them are fairly bare-bones, and designed primarily for “ultralighters” and other people whose main concern is carrying less weight. But what about us “glamping” enthusiasts who favor comfort and convenience over minimalism and lighter packs?
Crua has developed a hammock for the latter camp. The Koala, as it’s called, is designed with just about every bell and whistle you could ever ask for on a hammock. It’s big and spacious, comes with optional spacing poles, an integrated bug net, dedicated pockets for gadgets and snacks, and can even be used as a “chair” with an upright seating configuration option. The only thing it’s missing is a kitchen sink.
If you use a lot of candles in your house, it’s pretty easy to burn through a bunch of matches (or hell, even an entire lighter) in a relatively short span of time. Buying replacements isn’t a huge financial burden by any means, but wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to worry about fuel refills or spare matches ever again? Well, that’s the idea behind the Power Practical’s new Sparkr lighters.
Unlike fuel-based lighters, these gizmos only need electricity to function. They run on long-lasting lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged hundreds of times before they need to be replaced. So how do they work? Rather than using the spark/fuel setup that most lighters use, Sparkr lighters work by creating a small electrical arc between two ceramic electrodes. This arc is smaller but drastically hotter than an open flame, so it lights the candle wick (or anything else) faster and more efficiently. Furthermore, because the devices don’t use a flame, they can be used upside-down without risk of burning the user.
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full article: “Remember how Guitar Hero made you feel like you were one wrecked hotel room and a pair of uncomfortably tight leather pants away from being a rock god? Fret Zealot uses a similar idea (the Guitar Hero bit, not the hotel room-trashing and tight pants) to help you master the guitar for real. It’s a paper-thin LED aftermarket accessory for guitars that fits just above the frets and provides you with glowing, color-coded guides to help you master any song that comes your way.
Digital Trends tried and liked the original Fret Zealot when it launched in 2017, but now the team is back with a new variation that’s bound to further expand the device’s appeal. And for anyone who has ever tried and failed to learn the guitar and now the bass that can only be a good thing. ‘We launched the regular guitar version last year, and are excited to be releasing the bass guitar version this year,’ Shaun Masavage, CEO of Fret Zealot manufacturer Edge Tech Labs, told Digital Trends. ‘The biggest challenge for bass guitar was moving every single LED individually and scaling the product such that we were confident it would fit every full size bass scale length and neck width.’”
Dig the idea of exploring the bottom of the ocean, but don’t have the money or expertise to strap on a bunch of scuba gear and do it yourself? Well good news the folks at LA-based company Aquarobotman have developed an RC submarine that makes exploring the depths a possibility for pretty much anyone. Nemo, as it’s called, features a hydrodynamic design that’s incredibly efficient at flying through in the water in long, straight runs, yet maneuverable enough to slide in between underwater rocks and crevices. It’s also small enough to fit inside a backpack.
Nemo is packed to the max with features that make exploring aquatic environments easy and accessible. The bot can swim in long, straight lines when you’re in a big, open area or perform delicate maneuvers when you need to navigate through tight spaces.
“Nemo Underwater Drone is capable of diving up to 100 meters (328ft) deep,” the creators claim, “allowing you to capture Ultra HD 4K quality photo and video saved directly to internal storage or live stream your dive in real-time. With its Virtual Reality function, you can even enjoy real-time, high definition underwater views.”
Here’s an excerpt from our full post: “Now slow us down if we get a bit too technical with our terminology, but microphones are things designed to record sound. Cameras, on the other hand, are there to record images. Got it? Well, most of the time that is true. A new device, currently raising funds on Kickstarter, messes around with that equation thanks to a camera that is designed to record sound in the form of an image. While acoustic cameras are already a thing, this new device aims to substantially bring the cost down, from more than $100,000 to just a few thousand dollars.
‘Soundcam is the first handheld camera that images sound and is affordable for everyone,’ creator Maik Kuklinski told Digital Trends. ‘It locates sound sources in real time and immediately displays the results on the screen. The system is intuitive and as easy to use as a smartphone with its touchscreen.’
The Soundcam camera functions by combining 64 separate microphones, a traditional optical camera, and an integrated data analysis system. The data from the microphones, aided by some smart algorithms, allows the device to work out where in a frame a particular sound is coming from. It can then overlay this information in real time on the optical camera’s live view.”
Here’s DT’s Hiliary Grigonis with the scoop: “The twin lens camera was first introduced in the late 1800s to dramatically speed up the process of taking a picture. Now, photographs are taken in milliseconds, but the twin-lens reflex is getting a modern makeover. On Thursday, April 26, historic photography company Rollei launched the Rolleiflex Instant Kamera, a twin lens camera using widely available Fujifilm Instax Mini film. The company’s crowdfunded campaign landed complete funding in only 22 minutes.
Like the traditional twin lens reflex camera, the Instant Kamera uses a waist-level viewfinder. The preview on the screen is also the same size as the print on the Instax Mini film. With the Instant Kamera, photographers can control the aperture, with settings available from f/5.6 to f/22, as well as setting the focus manually. The camera uses a built-in light meter, with a green light telling photographers when the shot is properly exposed, along with options for controlling the exposure compensation. A flash is also built in.”
Wrist-borne wearable devices are a dime a dozen these days. We’ve got fitness trackers that count your steps and estimate how many calories you burn; smartwatches that let you take calls and answer emails; and a whole host of oddball wristbands that do everything from securing your PC to regulating your temperature. But why wear a bulky wristband when you can achieve many of the same functions with a ring? That’s the premise behind an upcoming smart right called the Xenxo S-Ring. Despite its small size, it packs in more than 12 different functions.
“The Xenxo S-Ring wraps technology around your little finger,” the creators explain on Kickstarter, “thereby making your world smarter, secure and more seamless than ever before. The ring’s 360-degree functionality is deliberate though, and we — the company co-founder’s, would like you in on the ‘big why’ of the product. Wrap technology around your little finger, accomplish anything and everything by wearing just one little ring — The Xenxo S-Ring. By having specifically developed 12 applications, the ring vests the control of your life in your hands.”
Here’s DT’s Luke Dormehl with the scoop: “Braille, the tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired, helps transform lives. It allows them to read information in books and magazines and, thanks to technologies like refreshable braille displays, on computers. However, not everyone is able to learn braille. Originated in 1824, the language wasn’t designed for ease of use, but rather around the technological capabilities of the tools of its day. Entrepreneur Andrew Chepaitis discovered just how difficult braille can be when his grandmother lost her vision and was unable to pick up the new language. Working with his mother, a student of human factors design, Chepaitis went on to develop a new font which, he claims, is significantly easier to learn.”
“Rather than taking months at a time to learn, Chepaitis’ ELIA Frames font can reportedly be learned in just a few hours. According to Chepaitis, after 5 to 11 years of learning braille, readers have an average reading speed of 23 words per minute. With ELIA, a person can achieve 25 words per minute after just 60 hours of study.”
“‘We customized the standard alphabet for tactile reading,’ Chepaitis told Digital Trends. ‘It is raised print, optimized for a specific use case. We set about applying best practices from the field of human factors design to the standard alphabet. But standard alphabet letters weren’t made for tactile reading, so we pushed the basic elements of each letter to the edges of a given space by using a frame. We then added the core elements of the letters to the interior of the frame, and iteratively tested letter designs to identify what is easiest to feel.'”
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that fire is fun to look at. Whether they’re part of a campfire or a candle, flames just have a mesmerizing appearance that somehow never gets old. The beauty of fire and flames is so powerful that we readily welcome it into our homes, despite the fact that doing so is inherently dangerous. But if you’re sick of the same old fireplace setups and scented candles, there’s a new product on Kickstarter right now that you should check out. It’s called Tornadex, and as you’ve probably guessed from its name already, it’s essentially a decorative fire tornado that fits on a tabletop.
“Tornadex is a biofuelled fireplace, elegant and easy to use,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Whether you’d like relaxing in silence or dancing to cheery beats, Tornadex fits your mood with a twist and a different flame color. Tornadex has a base and a spiral glass envelope. This envelope shape enables the airflow swirling, which, in turn, twists the flame into a fire tornado. A bioethanol container is placed into the base. Tornadex catches fire with an electric ignition system, activated by a button on the body. Using the flap hidden inside the base, you shut the fireplace off in a single move.”
Here’s an excerpt from the full article we posted earlier this week: “One of the more tedious parts of playing tennis, or just practicing your swing, is having to retrieve all of the tennis balls you knocked around the court. But a new Kickstarter project is looking to make this time-consuming task a thing of the past by introducing a robot that can automatically pick up all of those balls for you, making post-match cleanup quick, easy, and convenient. The Tennibot launched on Kickstarter recently and comes packed with some interesting technology that could make it a must-have for any tennis club.”
“According to Haitham Eletrabi, developer of the device, ‘Tennibot is the only robotic or autonomous solution that can pick up balls while you are playing. Tennibot perfectly integrates computer vision and artificial intelligence to save tennis players, coaches, and tennis clubs from wasted time and effort.’ This Roomba for the tennis court reportedly uses high-tech sensors, object detection, and artificial intelligence to identify tennis balls and quickly sweep them up. It is designed to move around both hard and clay courts at speeds of 1.4 miles per hour and can hold up to 80 balls at a time. An on-board battery offers up to five hours of operation on a single charge and requires 90 minutes to recharge before it is ready to go again.”
Straws might not be the most obvious perpetrators of environmental damage, but despite the fact that they keep a pretty low profile (compared to oil spills and people who drive Hummers), they’re a fairly big contributor to the world’s growing plastic waste problem. Think about it: people in the United States use about 500 million plastic straws per day, and practically all of them are disposed of after use. That’s a hell of a lot of plastic waste. But what if there was an alternative? That’s precisely where FinalStraw comes in.
According to the device’s creators, “FinalStraw’s mission is to reduce plastic straw use by giving people a convenient, reusable alternative. In doing so, we hope to make the public more aware of the devastating effects of plastic pollution and use that awareness to pressure restaurants to stop using straws. One FinalStraw can save 584 plastic straws from entering our oceans and landfills each year.”
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full article: “Want to stop *@$%ing swearing so much? Then get yourself a swear jar. Want to stop *@$%ing swearing so much, while also getting a unique new gadget for the home? Then get yourself a god&%@ smart swear jar. That’s the premise behind a somewhat unusual new gadget that has popped up on Kickstarter. Called JarGone, it’s basically an ‘always listening’ speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home only with the sole function of recognizing whenever you use a naughty word.”
“’Like its inspiration, the purpose of the jar is to clean up the language around it,’ creator Bryan Rogers told Digital Trends. ‘But unlike the classic mason jar, into which users place money after swearing, our device is a smart device that does the detection automatically. JarGone uses speech recognition to listen to nearby speech for user-entered ‘flagged words,’ which are entered via our mobile application. Multiple family or team members can pair to the device via Bluetooth and send their own set of flagged words to the jar. When anyone speaks a flagged word within range of the device, it sets off an audible alarm and the device glows red.'”
We covered this one last week, so here’s an excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full story: “When you’re talking about a potentially life-saving device like a life preserver, it should ideally fit a couple of criteria: ease of transport and quick, easy deployment. This combination means that, should disaster strike, you’ll be in the best possible position to do something about it. The designers of a new life preserver called OneUp have apparently taken these crucial points into consideration when developing their new device. The result is a gadget the size and shape of a large can of soda, but which promises to rapidly inflate into a full-sized polyurethane float in just a couple of seconds.
‘OneUp is a portable life float which is automatically inflated in two seconds once in contact with water,’ Saul de Leon, CEO and founder of OneUp, told Digital Trends. ‘It is lightweight, portable, and easy to throw. You don’t need to do anything [special] to activate it, you just need to throw it [into] the water.’
The device’s cylindrical case houses the deflated float, a CO2 canister, a salt pod, and a spring. The moment the device comes into contact with water, the salt pod dissolves, releasing the spring, and triggering the CO2 canister to inflate the float, which subsequently bursts out of its container. According to its creators, it can support swimmers weighing up to 330 pounds. Once used, you can then replace the CO2 canister and salt pod in order to recycle the device.”
Remember those Rumble Packs that Nintendo sold as an attachment for the N64? They were a clever peripheral that allowed the player to feel in-game events in the form of vibration. The more intense the event was, the more the rumble pack would vibrate. Now that this kind of haptic feedback is built into just about every standard game controller, designers are taking the idea and applying it to other devices. Case in point? This vibrating amplifier pack designed for bassists, named Backbeat.
“Designed in Detroit, BackBeat is a wearable subwoofer designed to meet the performance and practice needs of the serious bass player,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “When you play a string on your bass, BackBeat turns the sound you make into a vibration you can feel. Clip it to your strap, connect it to your bass, feel what you play. Plug your headphones into the BackBeat for a complete auditory and tactile immersion experience. BackBeat allows you to play with confidence by providing instant feedback directly to your body.
Keeping a bit of greenery around your house works wonders for keeping the air in your home fresh, but with the addition of a bit of technology, the purifying power of plants can apparently be supercharged. That’s the idea behind Natede, a new product from San Francisco-based startup Clairy. It’s essentially a living air filter that accelerates room pollutants through the soil/root system of a plant to continuously clean and oxygenate your home’s atmosphere.
Here’s how it works: once you’ve got a living plant growing happily inside the chamber, just switch it on and a small fan will draw in air from the top and suck it down through the soil. The soil works almost like a charcoal filter, trapping airborne pollutants. Microbes on the plant’s roots will then metabolize the toxins and break them down. A tray of water underneath the soil produces humidity that keeps the plant moist and traps additional toxic molecules. And once the air has run through this all-natural filtration gauntlet, a vent on the side recirculates it into the room.
A few years ago, Digital Trends published a story about a man named Jason Barnes,who lost his right hand and forearm due to an electrocution accident in 2012. Initially, Barnes thought his drumming career was over — but after seeing a video of a robotic marimba player online, he had an idea. He reached out to the creator, professor Gil Winberg of Georgia Tech, and the two began working on a bionicarm designed specifically to help Barnes to play the drums again. Now, they’re on Kickstarter to get extra funding for development.
“By supporting the Cyborg Drummer project, you would help amputee drummer Jason Barnes get his own robotic drumming prosthetic,” the Kickstarter campaign page explains. “This revolutionary technology would not only allow Jason to play like he used to before his injury, but also enable him to push what’s humanly possible, with unbelievable speed and virtuosic capabilities. With the new arm we will compose, record and perform new music to which you will get exclusive access.”
The piano is arguably one of the most dynamic musical instruments ever created — but it does have its own set of limitations.While playing the piano, a musician can only use existing keys and produce specific, fixed notes. This is notably different than say, the guitar, where a player can bend the notes, or the French horn, where a player can use their breath to shape the tone. The piano is not quite as free and expressive.
Sure, modern keyboards have helped overcome this limitation somewhat, but they often do so via peripheral buttons and sliders that require the musician to take his fingers off the keyboard itself.
Neova aims to change that. “Neova is a MIDI ring controller that lets musicians control any musical effect with natural hand gestures,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “The ring comes with a hub that connects via USB to the computer or via MIDI with instruments that supports it.Neova is designed with 9 motion sensors which have highly accurate gesture recognition algorithms. They enable to control musical effects naturally and only when intended to.We imagined Neova with the simple idea of creating the shortest path between your musical intention and music creation.”
Riding a bike without proper shock absorption can be a jarring experience. Most bike frames are designed to transfer vibrations directly up to the rider, so goingover anything that’s less than perfectly smooth can easily give you a serious case of numb butt cheeks. You can install shock absorbers on your ride, but available frame and fork suspension systems aren’t always ideal, since they tend to rob you of your downward pedaling force and make riding up hills more difficult. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a suspension system just for your seat?
That’s where the Shockstop Seatpost comes in. Not only does this simple little device install in just a couple of minutes, but it also protects your buns from bumps and vibrations without negatively impacting your pedaling power. It’s essentially a seatpost that’s outfitted with a clever hinge system that sits between the post itself and the seat. When you hit a rough patch in the road, the hinge travels a bit to absorb the impact.
The world is absolutely stuffed with plastic waste. it’s everywhere: in our streets, in our oceans, and piled high in landfills. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do something useful with all that rubbish? That’s precisely the idea behind Sandhelden — an innovative German startup that’s developed a clever new way to upcycle trash.
The process essentially involves pulverizing the plastic into a superfine powder, then using a special kind of 3D printer to bind the particles together again in a different shape. Its first project aims to use this technique to make furniture.
“Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems we currently face when it comes to environmental issues,” the creators explain. “Several projects already came up with a solution to collect this waste, for example with specific nets that extract huge plastic islands from the oceans. However, the question remains what will be done with the plastic waste. This is where we found the perfect solution. 3D printed furniture of recycled plastic waste! We are a diversified team of designers and engineers with a vision to set new standards in recycling processes by using our self developed binder-based 3D printing technology (Binder Jetting). Our goal is to produce interior products by crushing plastic waste into powder and to use this as a 3D printing material.”
Robots that teach you how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Cubetto is special. Of all the coding robots you can get your hands on right now, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being outrageously simple and intuitive to use, it’s also designed to teach kids the basics of computer programming without forcing them to stare into a screen for hours on end. Instead, Cubetto utilizes acoding language your child can touch and manipulate via a set of simple blocks. Each block is an action, and you combine them to create programs.
The best part? You don’t actually have to wait until this Kickstarter campaign is over before you can get your hands on a Cubetto bot. The creators have already built up a successful business, and Cubetto is currently available through their online storefront. They’re back on Kickstarter to launch a new themed version of their original product called African Savannah: “a new, limited-edition collectible Adventure Pack to expand Cubetto’s learning and play.”
Tables that can change size are nothing new. Hell, your grandparents probably have one that they add “leaves” to when when they need to seat more people around the holidays. But the Transformer Table isn’t just another expanding table — it’s the most extreme expanding table on the face of the earth. Not only is this sucker only 18 inches deep when in its slimmest form, but it can expand to over 118 inches (nearly ten feet) long if you add all the leaves. Plus, it comes with an expanding bench so you always have enough seating, no matter how big or small your table is.
“Our unique telescopic rail system is the heart of the Transformer Table,” the table’s creators explain. “It easily allows you to extend the table from 18 inches to its full size of 118 inches. Its ball bearing component allows the track system to slide with little effort. This cutting edge technology is what makes our product standout from the rest. The rail system is sturdy and we guaranteethat it will amaze everyone who sees it!”
We covered this one earlier in the week, so i’ll let Bruce Brown give you the scoop. “Harvesting and roasting beans from your own coffee trees is challenging if you don’t live in an equatorial country. Roasting raw coffee beans at home is as close as most of us will get to making the freshest possible cup ofcoffee. IA Collaborative‘s Kelvin Home Coffee Roaster could do the trick if roasting raw coffee beans is your goal. Currentlyfeatured in aKickstarter campaign, you canpledge funds for the Kelvin roaster with one to six pounds of unroasted coffee beans. Estimated delivery is December in the U.S., February 2019 for international pledges.
Home-roasting raw coffee beans isn’t just about better tasting brew, buying raw beans saves money. The Kelvin Kickstarter page quotes unroasted coffee bean prices at $6 per pound and roasted beans at $15 per pound. Digital Trends took a quick look on Amazon and found plenty of listings for raw coffee beans priced from $5 to $7 a pound, usually in two- to five-pound bags. The same search turned up roasted beans from $8 to $14 per pound. So the Kelvin statement about cost-savings is correct if a bit overstated. Searching for exotic, special beans could certainly turn up more expensive coffee beans raw and roasted but let’s leave it that you can save money roasting your own beans.”
If you’ve been looking for a way to download, organize, edit, and share your photos and videos on the go without having to use a laptop, look no further than Gnarbox 2.0. It’s a new mobile solution that aims to replace your bulky laptop by putting everything you need inside a small, durable device, and giving you access to it via a mobile app. In essence, it’s got all the processing power and storage space that a high-end laptop does (if not more), but it’s all tucked away in a screenless, compact, super-rugged case that you can take anywhere.
Inside the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD, you’ll find a quad-core 2.4 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, up to 1 TB of storage, a swappable battery, and 300Mb/s Wi-Fi all of which is packed inside adustproof, sandproof, shockproof, waterproof, temperature-resistant shell (IP67). Those are impressive specs, no doubt, but what’s really exciting about the Gnarbox isn’t what it’s got under the hood it’s how it uses it. After you pop in your camera’s memory card, you can connect to the box wirelessly via Wi-Fi, and use device’s processing power to edit photos and videos (in full resolution, mind you) right on your phone or tablet.
Here’s DT’s Luke Dormehl with the scoop: “If you’re on the lookout for a high-security padlock, a new lock that arrived on Kickstarter may be the answer to your prayers. Created by the renowned Bowley Lock Company, which has previously used the crowdfunding website to bring its innovative Bowley Lock to life, the chunky Model 543 padlock boasts a unique key and locking mechanism. The result promises to be one of the strongest and most secure locks you will find anywhere.
The padlock’s innovative design incorporates a dual-shielded 9 pin core with more than 2.3 billion key combinations. It builds on the company’s previous deadbolt five-pin design, which has proven formidable against lockpicks. It’s available in three materials, including aluminum, brass, and stainless steel. Simply put, no one except the rightful owner is getting into this sucker.”
Fire pits are great. They allow you to enjoy the warmth and cooking power of a campfire without having to dig a hole in your backyard, or burn a hole through your deck. The only problem, of course, is that they’re not particularly portable. Most are big, bulky, and made from heavy metals like steel or cast iron. But what if you could take your fire pit with you wherever you go? Well, that’s precisely the idea behind the Pop-up Fire Pit.
“The Pop-Up Pit measures 24″ x 24″ x 15″ when fully opened — large enough to have the whole family enjoy the campfire,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Unlike other fire pits the Pop-Up Pit allows for maximum airflow meaning your fires burn brighter with less smoke. Conversely, the Pop-Up Pit measures only 5″ x 5″ x 27″ when folded up in its carrying bag, and weighs less than eight pounds.” That means it’s smaller and more portable than most camp chairs, so you can easily stow it in your car, boat, or backpack — or just sling it over your shoulder.
We’ll let DT reporter Lulu Chang give you the lowdown on this one. “The worst thing about your puffy jacket? It’s not big enough to be a puffy blanket. Luckily, the folks over at Sierra Madre Research have developed a solution to this outdoors(wo)man annoyance. Meet the Puffle, a three-in-one adventure blanket that has already managed to raise over $53,000, with over two weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign. Contributing to its popularity is likely the Puffle’s promise of serving as a blanket, underquilt, or sleeping bag, all inspired by a puffy jacket.
The blanket comes in two variations one with Synthetic Insulation, and another with DownTek Goose Down Insulation. The former claims to imitate the feel of down feathers, but because it’s fully synthetic, it is entirely allergen free. The blanket purports to keep its owners warm at temperatures down to 40 degrees. As for the DownTek Goose Down option, this 650FP variant is RDS certified and promises to be ethically harvested. It’s also water resistant (though not as much so as the synthetic version). That said, the goose blanket is the lighter option of the two.”
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from the full article: “Have you ever dreamed of getting into surfing, but wanted to flatten out the learning curve a little bit before you set foot in the ocean? If so, you may be interested in a new pair of electric surfboards which recently surfaced on Kickstarter. Called Blea Shark, the relatively low-priced e-surfboards promise you up to 70 minutes of surfing, a top speed of 20-30 miles per hour, and a learning time of only around five minutes, even for folks who have never tried surfing before.
“I was a surf coach and many of my students are from inland areas,” Singapore-based creator Ryan Chen told Digital Trends. “They need to travel hundreds of miles away to just get to the beach. I was inspired by electric scooters and thought, ‘Why not build a motor to push the surfboard so that they can surf in any water area near their hometown, like rivers, lakes, or ponds?’” Blea Shark was the result.
The campaign involves two different surfboards under the Blea Shark banner. The reinforced polymer Shark Performance weighs 66 lbs, including its swappable battery, and boasts a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The Shark Sport, meanwhile, is constructed out of carbon fiber, weighs a slightly lighter 60 lbs, and can travel at up to 30 miles per hour. Speed for both models is controlled using a handheld throttle, and both come with a kill switch to prevent the board from shooting off without you in the event that you take an unintended plunge.”
Here’s DT’s Lulu Chang with the scoop: “The Purisoo hopes to serve as your emergency resource when it comes to attaining filtered, potable drinking water. Capable of processing up to one thousand liters of water (or about two thousand bottles of water), the Purisoo’s replaceable filters capture and eliminate impurities from freshwater sources. You can collect water from a river, a lake, or even the tap at a campground, and begin pumping away the potential contaminants.
Unlike other water bottles or purification techniques, which effectively require you to store unpurified water and purified water in the same place, the Purisoo never actually contains any contaminated liquid. Instead, you’ll begin pumping the Purisoo directly from the water source purified water will then be pumped into the body of the bottle, and you’ll be able to serve fresh, clean water at your convenience.
The Purisoo pulls dirty water through the filter, purifies the source, and then deposits these results into your drinking reservoir. The triple layer filtration system claims to remove 99.99 percent of protozoans, bacteria, and sediment, and also promises to reduce heavy metals and virus presence, as well as bad odor and tastes like chlorine.”
When you’re in the water, diving fins are awesome. They allow you to swim faster, use less effort, and move gracefully through the ocean. However, it’s a different story during those moments between when you’re on land and when you’re fully submerged. Walking with fins on your feet is a surefire way to look and feel awkward. But what if it didn’t have to be like that? What if there was an easy way to clip in and out of your diving fins, similarly to how you clip in and out of a pair of skis? Good news — there is! Meet the Aquabionic Abs system.
“Our aquatic hybrid shoes provide you with the comfort, look, and performance of a high-end sports shoe, and allow you to exit and enter the water with more ease than any current diving boot,” the creators explain. “Our aquatic shoes maintain the natural movement of your feet while walking on land and the natural flex of your feet when maneuvering through the water. Customize your boots with your choice of a 2/3/4mm neoprene liner to best equip your thermal insulation needs for any dive condition.”
On the spectrum of additive manufacturing, there are consumer-level 3D printers at one end, and industrial-level 3D printers at the other and very little in between. Consumer printers are cheap, compact, and can produce relatively small parts, but if you want to print something bigger, your only option is to upgrade to an industrial printer which are oftentimes more expensive than your average sports car. Printing big parts (say, over a one cubic foot in volume) is still largely out of reach for most consumers.
Australian outfit Cultivate3D wants to change that and has built a badass new printer to make it happen. The Beast V2, as they call it, boasts a massive 18.5 x 17 x 27-inch build area making it possible to print a wide variety of objects that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It’s also got a relatively high print resolution and an unprecedented four-nozzle extrusion system that makes it possible to print four objects at once. Don’t even get us started on the e3D HotEnd and Titan extruders. This thing truly is a beast. And the best part? Even with all these awesome features, it still costs less than $2,300.
If you’re not already familiar with Moment, allow us to give you the scoop. Moment is a Seattle-based startup that makes the best smartphone photography lenses on the planet. Unlike some of the cheaper models you can buy, Moment lenses are damn near perfect, and won’t leave you withany image distortion, chromatic aberration, or blurring around the edges of your photos. The company has launched two successful Kickstarter campaigns and is now back with a third one — this time with a full suite of mobile photography/videography tools.
The kit includes a gimbal counterweight, a filter mount, and an anamorphic lens. “Our anamorphic lens is the sexiest product we’ve ever made,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “This is the holy grail of filmmaking. Sweet horizontal flares and that widescreen, letterboxed look. Typically super expensive, we made anamorphic affordable. Now you can shoot like the pros, on your phone. The 1.33x anamorphic lens brings the organic look and character of 2:40:1 Cinemascope to Moment’s mobile platform. In other words, it’s like shooting a wider focal length in the horizontal direction and a longer focal length in the vertical. You can now capture a super wide-angle image with the inherent shallow depth of field and perspective of a telephoto lens.”
Loomo is the latest contraption from Ninebot the company that acquired Segway in 2015. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a robotics company that owns Segway, because, well, it’s basically just a robot brain that rides around on two self-balancing wheels like some sort of dystopian mall cop. It’s actually kind of nifty, though. You can spin the robot’s head and ride it around like a normal Segway, then hop off, spin the head back around to wake up the robot, and have it follow you around autonomously while you’re not riding.
“For tech enthusiasts, early adopters, creators, and Segway fans this is your go-to robot,” Loomo’s creators explain on Indiegogo. “We’ve created the only robot that you can ride, interact with, and program. Dream up a feature that hasn’t been built yet? Develop it using our Android SDK or work with our team to make it a reality!”
It’s also worth noting that Ninebot doesn’t need Indiegogo to raise money for production costs. It’s really just using the crowdfunding platform as a marketing vessel — so you likely don’t have to worry about missed deadlines or delayed shipping. Ninebot knows how to bring a product to life.
Generally speaking, tents are a pain in the ass. Even if you spring for a high-end model that’s well designed, chances are you’ll spend a good chunk of time setting it up. In the best case scenario, it might only take you three minutes or so. But if you went the el-cheapo route and bought the Coleman that was on sale at Wal-Mart, you’re in for at least 15 minutes of frustration before you can relax. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to erect it by yourself we all know that feeding poles through sleeves is a two-man job.
Cinch is different. Tired of toiling with all the nonsense associated with traditional tents, Jake Jackson set out to create a tent that didn’t require lots of set-up time and effort. The fruit of that labor is Cinch, a high quality pop-up tent that both erects and breaks down in a matter of seconds. In place of poles, it’s equipped with strong (but flexible) wires built into the body of the tent, so you don’t have to manually feed them through every time you set up. It’s also equipped with a set of detachable solar panels and a rechargeable battery, which help keep your gadgets juiced up during your adventures.
Here’s an excerpt from our full article, posted earlier this week by DT’s Kraig Becker: “Five years ago,Oru Kayak was a crowdfunding sensation thanks to the introduction of its origami-inspired folding boat. At the time, the company’s Kickstarter campaign was among the most successful ever, and helped take it from a struggling startup to a full-fledged success story in the outdoor industry. Paddlers were drawn to Oru’s lightweight design, which allows it to fold down to a surprisingly small size for easy transport and storage.
Oru has now taken the wraps off of its updated Coast XT expedition kayak, bringing a complete redesign to its flagship model. That redesign includes a new folding pattern that does away with wasted interior space, while managing to make the interior roomier at the same time. The craft is sleeker and easier to assemble, which will be a welcome update to anyone who has ever put one of these kayaks together. While not overly complicated, they do take a bit of time to figure out.”
You know Purple? The company that sells mattresses that were literally designed by rocket scientists? Well if you’re not familiar, here’s the scoop. A few years back, there was a big push to disrupt the mattress industry by selling mattresses directly to consumers and cutting out the middle man (mattress stores) to reduce costs. Tons of startups jumped on the bandwagon and made a killing — including Purple. Purple definitely wasn’t the first company on the scene, but it managed to snag a big chunk of the market with a mix of great marketing and some legitimately amazing mattress technology.
Now the company is back with a new product — but this time it’s not for humans. The Purple Pet Bed, as it’s called, is “the first pet bed that doesn’t stink Literally and figuratively. The Purple Pet Bed is antimicrobial, moisture-resistant, odor-neutralizing, and hypoallergenic. It kills the bacteria most pet beds harbor so both your living room and your furry companion smell awesome. The multi-layer protection blocks moisture and is super easy to clean, so the accident-resistant Purple Pet Bed will stay like new for the life of your little buddy.”
A couple years back, a small Colombian startup called Osop took kickstarter by storm with an innovative Raspberry Pi-powered seismograph called the Raspberry Shake. As one of the first affordable earthquake detection systems designed for consumers, it was a resounding success, and the company delivered the device to over 1,400 backers. Now Osop is back with yet another device. It’s called the Raspberry Boom — an affordable infrasound detector.
“The Raspberry Boom detects the ‘infra,’ extremely low frequencies of sound (less than ~20 Hz, or the lower limit of what is audible to humans) from great distances all around your local region, that are completely imperceivable to your human ears,”Osop explains in a press release. “What would you discover if you could hear the inaudible sounds in our planet’s atmosphere?! More than you would think! From far off explosions & avalanches, to tornadoes, rocket launches and more, our new Raspberry Pi home monitor shows it all!”
Here’s DT’s Lulu Chang with the scoop: “If perfecting your golf swing was on your to-do list in 2018, you’re in luck. A new company called SQRDUPis hoping to help you up your game, and perhaps bring down your handicap. The key to the company’s new technology is an ultra-bright laser beam that provides the basis to SQRDUP’s innovative golf swing alignment tool, which aids in positioning.
“‘My youngest brother came up with the basic idea of SQRDUP after noticing the crosshair pattern on our driveway,’ said Randy Bowman, SQRDUP co-founder and CEO. ‘He then had the idea of whether it was possible to build a crosshair pattern device which would project beams of light visible outdoors in the sun. We spent three years in the garage learning everything we could about lasers, LEDs, and holograms. Once we figured out our vision was possible, SQRDUP was created.’
“The tiny device provides laser alignment that can help golfers visualize precise golf swings. The device is only 6 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick, weighing in at under a pound. That means that you can take SQRDUP with you anywhere on the green. When you’re ready to start swinging, simply place it on the green and let the lasers guide you the rest of the way. The product claims to also give golfersadjustment feedback for their feet, hands, club, and target.”
Like most bodies of water that run through densely-populated urban areas, the Chicago River has a serious pollution problem. Now, to be fair, it’s currently much cleaner than it’s been in the past. There are more fish in the river, and more people use it for recreational purposes than ever before.
Unfortunately, the famous river also home to a massive amount of plastic waste, which comes from a vast array of different sources and interacts with the ecosystem in a myriad of different ways, most of which are negative. What’s more, efforts to clean up this plastic have largely fallen short thus far — but a newly-launched Kickstarter project aims to change that.
Urban Rivers’ trash robot is essentially an internet-connected, remote controlled, interactive trash collecting boat. When complete, the device will allegedly be controlled by internet users, who log in to the trash bot’s web platform and take control of it for a specified amount of time. To aid navigation, the bot is equipped with a live streaming video camera that allows users to spot trash in real time, and then pilot the boat toward it. Sounds like a fun game, no?
3D printing has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years. In addition to massive improvements in the quality, availability, and price of 3D printers, users today also have access to an incredibly broad range of materials. It’s not just PLA and ABS anymore — 3D printers can make stuff with wood, clay, nylon, and even metal these days.
The only problem? It’s still fairly expensive. Depending on the type and quality of the filament you buy, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $60 for a single spool of plastic. If you do a lot of printing, the cost of filament can get out of hand quickly. But what if there was a better way to achieve the same result?That’s precisely what the Gigabot X aims to do. Instead of filament, this beast prints with plastic pellets.
“There are some major benefits that come from printing with pellets,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “Iteliminates the need for extruded plastic filament, which tends to be about 10x more expensive than pelletized plastic. Direct pellet extrusion also allows for faster printing — we’re currently experimenting with print times up to 17x faster than the filament-fed Gigabot. And while pellet printers are currently commercially available, they typically are used in larger manufacturing systems and are cost-prohibitive to many potential users. Our goal, much like with the first-generation Gigabot, is to increase3D printer accessibility and bridge the gap between cost and scale by creating an affordable, large-scale pellet printer.”
Here’s DT’s Lulu Chang with the lowdown: “You may not have fins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t glide through the water with the grace of an aquatic creature. Thanks to Hoverstar Flight Technology, a company dedicated to water sports equipment, you will soon be able to fly across or underneath the surface of the great blue ocean (or any other body of water) with ease. Meet the AquaJet H2, a motorized underwater scooter with wings dedicated to improving the experience of divers and snorkelers the world over.
“The scooter, which looks something like a flattened shark head, features aircraft-style wings that are claimed to reduce water resistance, leading to greater balance and less friction and drag. Adventurers need only grab onto the front of the wings and either dive underwater or skim across its surface. Powered by a “smart internal motor,” the AquaJet H2 can carry up to four people at once, and features three variable speeds. Top speed is 5.6 miles per hour, which is almost certainly faster than you can swim (though Michael Phelps is said to reach speeds of six miles per hour).”
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick excerpt from our full article: “A new wearable device that’s just hit Kickstarter promises to help you keep track of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, courtesy of some smart artificial intelligence technology. Called the QSun, the gadget not only aims to protect you from sun-induced skin damage, but also make sure that you’re still getting a healthy amount of vitamin D, which comes from sun exposure.
“To do this, the clip-on QSun wearable uses advanced sensors to measure UV rays in real timeand track your sun exposure. It then calculates how long you can stay outside before getting a sunburn and sends an alert to your smartphone when it determines you need to seek protection from the giant burning ball in the sky. While it’s doing this, it also calculates how much vitamin D you’ve produced from your sun exposure. Both of these metrics can be checked from the QSun app, thereby allowing you to keep tabs on your long-term sun exposure and vitamin D history. The app also claims it can work out how much sunscreen you need to wear, and uses advanced image processing technology to analyze your facial skin health.”
You know what’s more frustrating (and certainly more painful) than having your foot slip off your bike pedal when you’re cycling? Being clipped into the pedals, and finding yourself unable to remove your foot in time to protect you from a nasty spill. That’s what a new Kickstarter campaign hopes to solve with an innovative bike pedal which uses magnets to attach rider’s feet to their bicycle pedals. Made of an inexpensive, lightweight plastic composite, the Vault Magped works thanks to magnets built into the pedalbody, while riders connect via a steel clip attached to their biking shoes.
“The Magped safety bike pedal is a true innovation for mountain bikes and ebike,” the creators explain on Magped’s Kickstarter campaign page. “Our patented magnet mechanism makes quick and easy release of the foot possible at any time. In comparison to standard click in pedals the risk of crash and injury is reduced to a minimum — and your head stays free for a hassle free biking experience without fear.”
When you draw or make art on a computer, you have access to practically any color you could ever want. The only downside? Drawing on a computer isn’t nearly as intuitive and free as drawing with old-fashioned pens, pencils, and markers. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to blend the best attributes of both computer-aided and freehand drawing? Well, if this recently-launched Kickstarter project meets its goal, there might soon be a way.
Picolor, as it’s called, is a “small cube with five different pigment colors which include Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White.” By mixing these pigments together in different quantities, it’s allegedly capable of creating over one million different colors. These can be mixed into paint or ink, and used inside special refillable markers. And best of all, you can customize the colors you create with a smartphone app.
We’ll let DT reporter Luke Dormehl give you the scoop on this one:
“Whether it is gravity-defying phone chargers or human-floating tractor beams, we’re suckers for levitating technologies. A new Kickstarter campaign therefore hits our sweet spot with an ‘executive novelty’ (read: a high-priced desk toy) that levitates water droplets entirely for your viewing pleasure.
“Called LeviZen, the retro-styled devicedoesn’t have any practical applications, but it certainly promises to be an attention-grabbing conversation starter. Unlike the majority of levitating gadgets we’ve written about in the past, LeviZen doesn’t use magnetic levitation to achieve its effect, due to the fact that this would not work with a liquid like water. Instead, it opts for sound-based acoustic levitation, which adds an unusual element to a product that’s joining a crowded levitating marketplace.”
Remember that scene from Men In Black? The one that zooms out to reveal that our entire galaxy sits inside the marble on a cat’s leash? If that scene stuck with you, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate this new desktop trinket that recently popped up on Kickstarter. The Milky Way in a Sphere is exactly what it sounds like — a desk ornament that contains a tiny scale model of the cosmic neighborhood that we live in.
With the help of an ultra-precise laser etching machine and a heap of astronomical data, creator Clemens Steffin managed to shrink the Milky Way and fit it inside a beautiful glass desk ornament that’s no bigger than an orange. In his model, there are over 200,000 individual dots — each of which represents a star (or cluster of stars). It’s arguably one of the coolest desk ornaments of all time.
We covered this on earlier in the week, so here’s an excerpt from our full article:
“Call it form over function if you want, but the Iris, a new high-tech trash can, looks like something out of a 1960s science fiction movie. The idea is this: it’s a shiny trash can with a sealed top. Approach it with some piece of debris, however, and you will be detected by an infrared sensor beam when you’re within a few inches. At this point, its iris diaphragm lid slowly opens like an airlock or futuristic spaceship door so you can carefully place the object inside without having to touch the can. The sensors then cause the mechanism to close again as you walk away.”
“The idea came to me when I was helping my wife prepare dinner,” creator Everett Belmont told Digital Trends. “After cutting some vegetables, I had to throw some debris into our bin that was located inside a cabinet under the sink. The bin was one of those with a stepper that propels the lid open. The lid kept bumping into the undersink so I [started thinking about whether it was possible to build] a trash can with a closing mechanism that didn’t lift up like most trash cans in the market, but one that could retract within itself.”
As you may or may not have noticed, film photography has enjoyed a resurgence as of late. As it continues to claw back some of its former popularity, inventors are finding more ways to blend classic photography with digital convenience. I’m Back is the latest such invention to hit the crowdfunding scene. After finding success with a 3D-printed, Raspberry Pi-powered film camera, the creators of the device are back with a clever new gizmo that transforms old film cameras into digital shooters.
Here’s how it works. Rather than popping a roll of 35mm film into your old camera, you open up the back and attach the camera to I’m Back. The device’s 16 megapixel sensor will then pick up light that passes through the cameras lens, and save it to an SD card. If you’d like to see the photo afterward, you can even connect your smartphone and use it as a display screen.
We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s an excerpt from our full article, written by Luke Dormehl:
“Developed by health experts in Austria, Stapp One insoles fit into your regular shoe, where they use state-of-the-art textile sensors to collect information about your posture, distribution of weight, movement, and location. Through this approach, its creators claim the insoles can gather details including your weight, calorie burn, posture, activity, and skeletal deformities. This information is then sent to a connected smartphone app and presented to you in a manner that’s understandable, helpful, and easy to use.
“While a lot of these metrics can be measured through other fitness trackers, Stapp One’s big claim to fame is the fact that it can hone in on postural problems. In particular, it says it can recognize and help correct back pain, foot pain, neck pain, restricted movement, foot deformities, misalignment of the spine, and musculoskeletal weakness. It’s like having a tiny physiotherapist in your shoe!”
People have had a hard time getting out of bed ever since — well, probably ever since beds became comfortable. And ever since the invention of the snooze button, sleep-loving procrastinators around the globe have been struggling to wake up on time. Part of the reason the snooze button is so easy to abuse is that, oftentimes, you don’t have to do much more than roll over and flop your arm onto your clock to make it shut off. To remedy this issue, the creators of the Snoozle alarm clock have designed a simple and effective new system.
If you’re the type who can’t resist the allure of your mattress even after standing up, perhaps an alarm that forces you to leave your bedroom altogether is the best choice — and that’s precisely what Snoozle does. Once activated, the alarm won’t turn off until you pick it up and place it atop an accompanying pad — which would ideally be placed in your bathroom, kitchen, or somewhere else far, far away from your bedside. Not a bad idea, right? How much easier would it be to wake up on time if your snooze button was right next to the coffee maker in your kitchen?
A couple years ago, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) commissioned a team of artists to design a series of travel posters that depict exotic locales in our solar system.They were (and still are) absolutely awesome, and are illustrated in a way that makes them resemble classic travel posters. All in all, JPL’s artists created a total of fourteen posters — and since the artwork was funded with taxpayer dollars, NASA went ahead and made all of it available for free. You can actually download and print them yourself right now if you want to.
The only downside? Unless you have access to a large format printer, putting NASA’s artwork on a full-fledged poster is a bit of a pain. So, to make it more accessible, German graphic designer Tim Hippmann is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds for some full-size reprints.
“The posters are free for download and reprinting, so I wanted to print them in a printer studio for my working place,” Hippmann explains on his campaign page. “But they were not that size I needed, so I decided to retouch the posters and fit them to international standard sizes in Europe and the U.S.: 70 by 100 centimeters, and 24 by 36 inches.”
This is a weird one. It really serves no purpose other than to just sit on your desk and look cool — or maybe act as a paperweight. Still, it’s undeniably cool. It’s called the Orbiform, and it’s what’s known as a “solid of constant width.” What this means is that, despite the fact that it’s shaped a bit like an acorn, it actually has a constant width no matter how its oriented. If you put a bunch of these underneath a board, the board would roll around as if it was sitting atop a series of spheres.
“An Orbiform,” the creators explain, “is a little-known, unintuitive geometric shape, with fascinating mathematical properties. Orbiforms were unwittingly used by polymath Leonardo da Vinci in 1514, mathematically discovered by mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1771, and placed in application by engineer Franz Reuleaux in 1876. We are Kickstarting a 3D Orbiform derived from a triangle to spread our enjoyment of mathematics and design with math lovers, designers, creators, educators and students.”
DT’s Lulu Chang covered this one earlier in the week, so we’ll let her give you the rundown:
“Two years ago, the folks behind Movpakmanaged to raise over $250,000 to bring their electric skateboard and backpack combination to life. Now, the team is ready to ship a new-and-improved version of the electric skateboard that takes portability to a whole new level to eager backers around the world. You see, once you’re finished riding the Movpak, you won’t need to pick it up and tuck it under your arm. Rather, you’ll be able to simply fold it up into a backpack and go about your merry way. So whether you want to consider it a backpack you can ride or a skateboard you can wear, it seems like the perfect tool for your urban commute.
“Riding the Movpak is as easy as pulling a dedicated handle. From there, the board easily slides out, and using a companion remote, you’ll be able to control your speed and braking as you cruise down streets. In order to recharge the Movpak, just plug the charger into any standard outlet for a couple hours. The deck of the eboard is constructed with a combination of wood, metal, and Kevlar compounds, which promises to make the board simultaneously strong and flexible.”