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 Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Travel-Lite’s G-RO is a different breed of carry-on. They don’t even call it a suitcase; the creators refer to it as “companion bag.” Why? Because they seem to think that instead of begrudgingly lugging it along, you’ll happily hold the G-RO’s hand. It’s not a number of game-changing innovations under the hood, but arguably the most significant is the bag’s big ol’ roller wheels. The two axel-less wheels are thinner and larger than your average roller bag, giving G-RO a higher center of gravity and reducing the bag’s perceived weight. They also make the bag handle better on uneven territory like cobblestones or dirt paths.
But the wheels are just the beginning. For added convenience, Travel-Lite made the G-RO’s aircraft-grade aluminum handle about six inches longer than any other roller on the market, making this an ideal choice for tall people. It’s also built to withstand stuff like floods (the bottom portion is waterproof), obstacles (the bottom is also curved so that you can roll over any weird topographic irregularities) and even the occasional explosion or gunfight (it’s made from firearm-grade polymers and ballistic nylon). It’s also got an optional USB power bank and GPS tracker, allowing you to charge your gadgets and track your bag if it ever gets lost.
There are all manner of products promising to keep you (or your partner) from snoring. From nasal strips to tubes and masks, the anti-snoring industry is full of inventions. Nora is the latest addition to the club. If you’re tired of being on either the giving or receiving end of an elbow when the snoring kicks in, the Nora claims to do that job more gently — before anyone actually wakes up. The system includes a white wireless mic that looks a bit like a mouse, which sits next to the snorer’s bed. A pump hides under the bed, while an inflatable device goes under the pillow.
Unlike something that promises to completely stop you from snoring, the Nora, actually relies on the snarfs and snorts you make at night to work. When the mic picks up the sounds of you snoring, it sends a message to the pump, which kicks on and delivers air to the inflatable cushion under your pillow. That shifts your pillow, changing the position of your head. This in turn stimulates your relaxed neck and throat muscles, opening the airway further and stopping the snoring. All this is supposed to happen quickly enough that neither you nor your bedmate wakes up.
At first glance, the ePint, doesn’t look particularly special. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a product that’s touted as a “smart mug,” and comes with a fairly standard set of tech specs. Tucked inside the bottom of the vessel, there’s a little Bluetooth low energy transceiver that allows the mug to connect to your smartphone or tablet, a weight sensor to track how much liquid the mug is holding, a few accelerometers, and a set of built-in LEDs that can blink or change color. Nothing crazy about any of that, right?
Admittedly, the ePint boasts some fairly uninteresting tech under the hood — but luckily, the mug’s creators have leveraged that tech in a number of clever ways. While other smart mugs/cups/bottles offer dubious features like hydration reminders or what liquid you’re currently drinking, ePint simply aims to help you have a good time. Using info from the app, it can figure out what sporting event you’re watching and light up whenever your team scores. It’ll also change color when it’s empty, and keep track of how many drinks you’ve consumed over the course of the night. If you’ve had a few too many and it’s time to go home, the app will even suggest a cab ride and call one for you at the press of a button.
Loud music and human ears often don’t mix well, but Aegis Acoustics has a solution. The company, co-founded by 16-year-old Kingsley Cheng, has designed Aegis Pro: a set of ear-safe headphones that aim to reduce the risk of permanent hearing loss, a common health problem in the United States. The headphones incorporate the company’s proprietary JamsDefender technology, which protects your ears by actively canceling noise, limiting volume, and utilizing a digital decibel equalizer. With all this tech, the cans are capable of canceling out 95 percent of ambient noise, thereby improving the clarity and perceived volume of music being listened to. At the same time, Aegis Pro optimizes the content played back to ensure its quality remains at safe levels as it is played, even as you turn up the volume.
According to Aegis Acoustics, listening to music or sound above 85 decibels for extensive periods puts listeners at high risk of hearing loss. The equalizer technology ensures that the source volume is normalized before bringing it up to a safeguarded level. The feature is so unique that the company says no other product on the market has incorporated it.
As far as hobbies go, brewing your own beer is one that requires a large amount of time and space. As such, beer-loving inventors have mounted numerous attempts to wrap the multi-step process up in a neat little package — and MiniBrew is the latest such contraption. The machine is the result of a Dutch company’s attempt to simplify, streamline, and speed up at-home beer making. With MiniBrew’s semi-automated process, it reportedly takes about three-and-a-half hours to make a batch of beer — but the combination of an ingredient package and the iOS (with Android to come later) app should give step-by-step instructions.
You need to select the recipe, add the ingredients, start the “mashing” process, and let the machine do its thing. The machine boils, cools, does yeast pitching, and handles primary and secondary fermentation. It’s pretty automated, but after the brewing process, you may have to add yeast and extra hops before fermentation. All of that will take some time, with the machine’s sensors and software guiding the majority of these actions. You could be drinking your lager in as little as a week, according to MiniBrew, though other types of beer will take longer.