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Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Big, beefy batteries and ferrofluid clocks

Drew Prindle

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. 

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.)”

September 8

Beatbox — DIY cardboard MIDI controller

We are truly living in the golden age of cardboard right now. Name practically any product, and there’s a pretty good chance that somebody’s made a version of it out of cardboard. VR headsets? Check. Video game consoles? Check. MIDI controllers? Well, thanks to a new Kickstarter project, we can now check that off the list as well. The Beatbox, as it’s called, is a cardboard-based DIY MIDI controller that you assemble yourself. It even has built-in speakers!

Philips PicoPix Max — portable pico projector

So Philips is trying something new for its latest projector. Instead of launching it outright on its own site, it decided to launch on Indiegogo and offer it to early adopters at a fat discount — allegedly 52% off. The projector, dubbed the PicoPix Max, looks pretty stacked. In addition to a 120-inch, 1080p projection, it also has built-in speakers, 3 hours of battery life, 16 gigs of onboard storage, and Bluetooth so you can connect it to your favorite speaker. The best part though? It runs an Android operating system, so you can use apps like Netflix and YouTube on it.

Beyond Nordic 001 — searchable hiking pants

This is a weird one — but I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of obsessively browsing Kickstarter, so it’s worth mentioning. It’s basically a pair of hiking/mountaineering pants outfitted with a built-in tracking module. The idea is that if you were to go missing, search and rescue teams would be able to easily locate you via Recco, a radar-based location system used by hundreds of ski resorts, search and rescue teams, and helicopter bases around the globe. That’s not all the pants have to offer though — they have a ton of other features as well.

Chopbox — multi-function cutting board

Before seeing this project, I never would’ve even considered buying a $100 cutting board. After seeing this project, I’m having a lot of trouble not impulse buying this $100 cutting board. The Chopbox, as it’s called, is absolutely brilliant — and it’s much more than just a cutting board. It also pulls double-duty as a blade sanitizer, a kitchen scale, and a knife sharpener. There’s even a slide-out board that gives you extra real estate for food prep. Shut up and take my money.

Powerup 4.0 — RC paper airplane

Powerup has been making these awesome little paper airplane drones for years now, and this is its most advanced model yet. In addition to more battery, the new generation also boasts a new onboard flight computer and 2 new sensors: a gyroscope and an accelerometer, combined with 2 thrust vectoring motors. This gives it a bunch of new abilities, like take-off assist, acrobatic maneuvers, and automatic stabilization. It even works in wind!

August 30

Boaz One — modular electric guitar

This thing is pretty rad. In short, it’s a modular electric guitar designed with swappable bodies and pickup modules that allow you to adjust practically every aspect of the instrument quickly and efficiently. It also has some sweet features that eliminate the need to buy ancillary guitar equipment, like a built-in stand, or a swappable body that has a built-in battery and amplifier.

Q-Mic — simplified microphone

If you’re an aspiring YouTuber, podcaster, streamer, vlogger, or any other form of internet-era storyteller, you should probably give this project a look. Q-mic, as it’s called, is a no-nonsense microphone designed specifically for content creators. It has three modes: Directional, Omni, and ASMR — and that’s it. The device ditches fine-tuning and confusing options for a dead-simple 3-mode interface, so you can focus more on telling your story and less on adjusting your equipment.

Kammok Burro — modular, waterproof, high-performance packs

Full disclosure: I f*&#ing love Kammok. It’s arguably one of the most innovative and forward-thinking outdoor brands that’s popped up in the past decade, and practically everything the company makes is ridiculously high-quality (check out their adjustable insulation sleeping bag, their tent/hammock hybrid, or their rain-collecting tarp). I haven’t had a chance to try out these packs yet, but based on my previous experience with Kammok gear, I have zero doubt that these suckers will be nothing short of bulletproof.

Ooni Karu — portable wood-fired pizza oven

If you haven’t had a wood-pizza before, then you’re not living your life to the fullest. Wood-fired pizza is the way all pizza should be done, and if this Kickstarter project delivers on its promise, you’ll soon be able to make it wherever you go. The Karu, as it’s called, is a collapsible wood-fired pizza oven designed for portability — without compromising on quality. It heats up to over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to cook perfect pizza in under a minute.

Supercharger 2 — self-charging smartwatch

Self-winding watches have been around for ages at this point, but self-charging smartwatches? That’s a whole different level of awesome. This sucker uses kinetic charging technology (basically a refined version of those shake-to-shine flashlights) to power itself indefinitely. According to the creators, you never need to charge it — despite the fact that it can track your activity, store information, and sync with your phone.

August 23

Oru Inlet — ultraportable origami kayak

Kayaking is amazing, but one of the big downsides of the sport is the cumbersome nature of the gear. In order to partake, you typically have to buy specialized racks for your car in order to transport them. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if your kayak could fit in the trunk of your car? That’s precisely the idea behind Oru’s latest (and smallest) foldable kayak, the Inlet. Thanks to some origami magic, this little sucker collapses down into a form that’s so small you could easily fit three of them in a standard car trunk.

Duotek — reversible hi-viz jacket

Reflective jackets are a great idea if you do a lot of cycling, scootering, walking, or just existing in an urban area with a lot of car traffic. The only problem is that if you happen to wear that jacket anywhere off the street, you look like an absolute dweeb. Luckily, the folks at Fullframe Design have developed an ingenious solution: A reversible reflective jacket. When you need to be highly visible, wear it reflective-side out. When you don’t, just flip it inside out and rock the matte-black look. It’s amazing that nobody thought of this until now!

Norm — normal-looking AR glasses

AR glasses certainly aren’t a new thing at this point, but practically all of the existing versions are bulky and ugly as hell. It’s a rare thing to see a pair that resembles a normal set of spectacles — but Norm hopes to change that. Despite boasting features like voice control, touch control, and audio playback, the glasses themselves are nearly indistinguishable from a set of normal glasses. The quality of the software remains to be seen, but we’re definitely going to keep an eye on this company.

Innochiller — ultrafast beverage chiller

Ever forget to put a drink in the fridge, then end up settling for a lukewarm beverage later on because you’re too thirsty to wait for it to cool down? Well if the folks behind the Innochiller succeed in their mission, you’ll never have to experience that ever again. This gizmo leverages some clever physics to take a room temperature drink and chill it down to refrigerator-level coolness in just 10 minutes. You’ll definitely want to check out the pitch video — the creators explain how it works far better than I ever could.

Woojer Edge — wearable subwoofer

Headphones are great, but no matter how high you crank the volume, they never seem to make you feel the sound in the same way a gigantic set of speakers and subs can. So, to make your headphone listening experiences more engaging, immersive, and similar to what you’d experience at a live concert, the folks at Woojer have created the Woojer Edge, a wearable subwoofer that adds a tactile dimension to your experience of music. Just plug it into your headphones and you’ll be able to feel the vibes of your tunes without cranking your earphones to max volume.

August 18

Joola Infinity — robotic ping pong trainer

Here’s a quick cut from our full article: “In the most basic terms, the Infinity Smart Table Tennis Training Robot is like one of those ball-firing machines used by tennis players or in baseball batting cages. It fires out balls at a rate of 30 to 100 per minute. But it doesn’t stop there. It can perform just about any kind of shot — from no spin to topspin, underspin, or side spin — by moving 150 degrees side to side. The app-controlled drills will be selected by world-leading players and coaches.”

DRL Racer4 Street — Professional racing drone

“The DRL Racer4 Street is nearly identical to the DRL Racer4 drone that the pilots [will] navigate through complex courses in iconic venues around the world,” Drone Racing League founder and CEO Nicholas Horbaczewski told Digital Trends in a recent interview. “It has the same high-performance, speed, and modularity, so fans can experience exactly what it’s like to fly like the best pilots in the world. The only difference is that the DRL Racer4 Street will have 100 LEDs instead of a thousand, as well as simplified electronics. Our professional racetracks require an advanced radio package and diagnostics tools that aren’t necessary for flying on the street.”

Rype Go — A.I. language learning app

“Rype GO uses A.I.-powered speaking lessons that empower you to speak any language from day one without feeling judged,” CEO Sean Kim told Digital Trends in a recent interview. “Our speaking lessons are designed to feel like real-life conversations you would have with a friend, a co-worker, or a native speaker you just met. Rather than feel embarrassed by asking someone to correct you, our speech recognition technology gives you real-time feedback to keep you on the right track. Our app [also] provides bite-sized, engaging video lessons that we produced in our studio that you can enjoy before your speaking lessons. Instead of learning how to say ‘pineapple,’ you’ll learn everyday relevant topics like how to talk to someone at a party, and even how to communicate with your Airbnb host.”

Genki Covert Dock — ultraportable Nintendo Switch dock

Here’s DT’s Gabe Gurwin with the lowdown: “The Nintendo Switch is a brilliant hybrid console, and this is largely in thanks to its ability to be used either as a handheld system or a traditional system. Connecting it to a television requires a dock, and Nintendo’s own design is unwieldy and bulky. The Genki Covert Dock aims to eliminate this issue by combining the dock’s functionality with a charger in a tiny single device. The dock, which just launched on Kickstarter, includes an HDMI port, foldable prongs, and USB 3.1 and USB-C ports for charging and accessories.”

Pale blue — rechargeable lithium polymer batteries

Rechargeable batteries certainly aren’t a new idea at this point, but most of the ones you can buy right now aren’t particularly convenient. In addition to losing their capacity over time, many of the rechargeable batteries on the market right now also take a long time to recharge. Pale Blue batteries aim to alleviate these issues. They’re lithium polymer batteries, which means that in addition to being more power-dense, they’re also capable of recharging quite quickly.