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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Pocket projectors and automatic toilet cleaners

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Pocket projectors and automatic toilet cleaners

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

October 6

Bijou — pocket-sized projector

Tiny projectors aren’t a new thing at this point, but this one is remarkably small. Like, so small that you can comfortably fit it in your pocket. Yet, despite the fact that it’s roughly the same dimensions as a deck of playing cards, it’s also equipped with some damn decent features. For example, it uses a MEMS laser beam scanning technology that allegedly allows it to project images at greater distances than DLP projection does, with better focus, and also with deeper blacks. I’m not sure how much I believe these claims, but if the creators deliver on their promises, this thing is practically guaranteed to be awesome.

Hunt23 — prybar flashlight

Flashlights are a handy thing to have with you at all times, but most people will agree that lugging around a full-sized flashlight is a bit of a pain. More often than not, it’s easier just to skip the flashlight altogether and just use an app on your smartphone. But what if there was a flashlight so small that you’d hardly even notice you’re carrying it? That’s where the Hunt23 comes in. In addition to being one of the smallest torches in the world, it’s also equipped with a fully functional prybar on the end. So now, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to pry staples out of hardwood flooring in the dark, you’ll be prepared!

Tetracube — sustainable smartphone

Smartphones are a crucial part of modern digital life, but unfortunately, they’re pretty awful for the environment. In addition to being filled with rare earth metals that can only be obtained through environmentally damaging mining operations, they also have relatively short lifespans, and can leech toxic chemicals when discarded improperly. Tetracube aims to address all these issues. How? With a phone that’s guaranteed to last for at least 4 years.

Shine — automatic toilet cleaner

Cleaning your toilet is arguably the worst household chore there is, and as such, there are tons of different cleaning products that aim to make it easier and less of a hassle. Shine is the latest entrant into this long-standing product category, and it’s got some neat tricks up its sleeve that help differentiate it from the rest of the pack. To clean your throne, it uses electrolyzed water — which sounds like total BS, but it’s actually legit, and was developed in Japan to sanitize high-bacteria environments like sushi restaurants, without introducing harmful chemicals. Best of all, Shine is also voice activated, so you can shout commands at it just like you do with Alexa.

Transformer Table 3.0 — expanding table and bench

This thing is brilliant. It’s essentially an expanding table that, when fully extended, can accommodate 12 people — but that also collapses down small enough to be a table for two. The secret is a super clever rail system that’s hidden underneath, and not only provides support for table leaves, but can also extend to whatever length you desire. This is actually the third iteration of the Transformer Table, and it now comes with a nifty coffee table that you can store unused leaves in, or use as a furniture piece in its own right. Be prepared though: this thing ain’t cheap!

Sepetember 29

Move — direct-to-consumer grocery service

You know how Warby Parker disrupted the eyeglass industry with a direct-to-consumer business model that cut out the middleman (eyeglass retailers) and was therefore able to sell high-end glasses for drastically less than the competition? Remember how the same thing happened to the mattress industry when companies like Tuft & Needle and Casper figured out how to ship mattresses directly to your door? Well now, a company called Move wants to apply the same idea to grocery shopping. By cutting out the middleman, the company claims it can delivery groceries to your house for less than it costs you to buy them in a store. Now that’s an idea we can get behind!

Doer — compact, portable toolshed

This thing is nothing short of amazing. It’s basically a cross between a tool shed and a Swiss Army Knife. Inside, you’ll find a cordless drill, a drill press, a scroll saw, a circular saw, a table saw, two kinds of hot wire cutter, a table sander, a mini lathe, a worklight, and a lantern. Best of all, though, thanks to either black magic or extremely advanced Tetris skills, all of these tools somehow pack up and fit into a box no bigger than an average-sized cooler — which is why its creators are calling it “the most compact toolshed ever.” Shut up and take my money!

Keychron K4 — optimized wireless mechanical keyboard

Kickstarter has hosted hundreds — maybe even thousands — of keyboard projects over the years, and of all those projects, Keychron was behind three of the best. Now, the company is back with its fourth project: The Keychron K4. In the words of its creators, it’s “ a 96% wireless mechanical keyboard. It has full-size functionality in a compact design with 100 necessary keys. It features two premium switch options enabling peak productivity, a great tactile typing experience, and a minimalist, unique, and sturdy design. With 15+ RGB backlights and a large battery capacity of 4000mAh, K4 is a power-packed keyboard for all keyboard enthusiasts.”

Mudita Pure — minimalist e-ink phone

At this point, it’s no secret that screens are bad for our health — both mentally and physically. The science is pretty definitive: Focusing on things at a fixed distance for prolonged periods of time weakens our eyeballs and make our eyesight deteriorate, while blasting blue light into our rods and cones disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. And don’t even get me started on how addicted we are to our phones. Mudita is an attempt to alleviate these problems. Instead of a bright, colorful screen, it uses an e-ink display that doesn’t emit any artificial light. In theory, this should help you avoid too much blue light exposure, and also avoid the irresistible urge to check all those colorful notification icons.

Tilt Five — holographic tabletop gaming system

When it comes to augmented reality, everyone in the consumer electronics industry seems to be racing toward the same goal: The creation of an all-powerful, all-purpose set of AR glasses. But the thing is, AR doesn’t need to be all-purpose. What if you applied augmented reality to a very specific use case? That’s the idea behind Tilt Five, an innovative and highly specialized take on AR that focuses on tabletop gaming. I won’t even try to explain any more than that — this is one where the pitch video paints a much more vivid picture than I ever could.

September 22

Printpen — handheld printer

Ever wished you could carry a printer around in your pocket? Probably not — but even though you never asked for it, somebody went ahead and created an inkjet printer that fits in the palm of your hand. Thing is, despite being so small, this printer is capable of printing things far larger than itself. Just wave it over the surface that you’d like to print on, and it will magically deposit ink onto it. It’s like one of those label-maker machines, but supercharged and not limited to printing on tiny strips of paper.

Chasing Dory — compact underwater drone

Underwater drones are fairly common these days, but despite the fact that there are dozens to choose from, the vast majority of them are big, bulky, and likely a pain to haul to the beach. The Dory drone, however, is designed to be small and portable. Don’t let its diminutive stature fool you, though — this thing appears to have all the same features and functionality as any other aquatic drone, including 1080P video capability, 8G of onboard storage, five thrusters for propulsion, headlights, and even smartphone controls.

Escape-S — self-charging smart suitcase

Practically all smart suitcases come with a built-in battery that allows you to charge your devices on the go. When those batteries run out, however, you’d better pray there’s an outlet nearby, because the vast majority of smart suitcases still rely on outside power sources to fill up their batteries. The Escape-S is different. Thanks to a clever wheel design, this suitcase is capable of capturing and storing the energy you generate by rolling it. According to the creators, 10 minutes of rolling is enough to give your smartphone an extra two hours of battery.

Bundl — self-regulating heated sleeping bag

Do you need a “smart” sleeping bag? Probably not, but somebody built one anyway — and it’s kinda awesome. Bundl, as it’s called, is a heated sleeping bag designed with built-in sensors that monitor and regulate your temperature throughout the night, thereby ensuring that your level of comfort never fluctuates, no matter how cold it gets outside. It’s more than just a heated mummy bag, though. It’s also equipped with an unzippable footbox, armholes, and a device pocket, so you can wear it around camp like a goofy-ass poncho before you go to bed.

Axibo Pan/Tilt/Slide — A.I. camera controls for DSLR

Over the past year or so, A.I.-powered cameras that automatically track your subject have been on the rise, but up until now, they’ve typically been designed to work with lower-end cameras or smartphones. If you wanted to give A.I. superpowers to your DSLR, your only option was to build your own rig. Axibo Pan aims to solve that problem. It’s basically a full-featured camera rig that gives artificial intelligence the ability to pan, tilt, and slide your camera for you — effectively turning you into a one-man video production crew.

September 15

Ecoflow Delta — battery-powered generator

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from our full article: “If you’ve been looking for a portable power station to keep all of your devices charged and powered up while on the go, but have come away disappointed with the options, allow us to introduce you to the EcoFlow Delta. This charging station, which launched on Kickstarter last week, promises to deliver not only plenty of ports, but an abundance of power too. So much so, that its designers claim it can even charge a Tesla.

EcoFlow’s latest portable power station features an astounding six AC outlets, allowing users to plug in multiple laptops, LCD monitors, televisions, small appliances, and a wide variety of other items. The unit is also equipped with six USB ports, including two standard USB-A ports, two quick-charging 28-watt USB-A ports, and two 60-watt USB-C ports. It even has a 12-volt port (aka, a car port), giving the Delta the ability to charge up to 13 devices at the same time.”

Lifesaber — multipurpose electronic survival tool

Think of the lightsaber as an electronic Swiss Army Knife for outdoor enthusiasts. It can provide light, it can charge your gear, and it can even purify water for you. Hell, there’s even a plasma arc lighter attachment that allows you to start fires in wind or rain. And the best part? It’s equipped with a hand-crank, so you can power it up manually no matter where you are — rain or shine. The only thing it’s missing is the ability to brew a hot pot of coffee

Haven — hammock/tent hybrid

Hammocks are all the rage right now in the camping/backpacking scene, but sleeping in a hammock isn’t for everyone. If you’re a side sleeper, a belly sleeper, or just can’t sleep on anything but a flat surface, hammocks aren’t ideal. That’s where the Haven tent comes in. It’s basically half tent, half hammock — so it brings the best of both worlds. It’s suspended like a hammock, so it’s easy to set up, but unlike a hammock, it’s designed to hold an air pad and provide a flat surface for you to lay on. Best of all, there’s also a built-in bug net, so you don’t have to worry about being swarmed by mosquitos while you rest.

Encompass — half-mouth 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 Encompass, the latest new-age toothbrush that (allegedly) finishes the job in a fraction of the time.Here’s how it works: rather than the traditional toothbrush shape, Encompass employs a j-shaped bristle module that fully envelops one half of your mouth. From there, a pneumatic air system oscillates the bristles at high speed, allowing you to brush all your teeth — completely — in about 20 seconds.

Ferroflow — ferrofluid clock

Here’s a quick excerpt from our full post, which was published earlier this week: “If everyone’s favorite Marvel symbiote Venom was a clock, what would it look like? That may sound like a riddle, but it’s not. It’s a Kickstarter campaign. Simply called Ferrofluid Clock, it’s an analog desk clock in which the hour and minute hands are made of an oily dark magnetic liquid, called ferrofluid, held in place by hidden magnets behind the face.”

“This magnetic liquid was invented by NASA in the 1960s to use as possible rocket fuel. Since then, many creative types have seized upon ferrofluid as a material due to its unusual, almost alien appearance and movement. Now you can use it to tell the time, too. (Note: the liquid used here, unlike NASA’s original version, is non-combustible.)”

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