Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Wearable chargers and A.I.-enhanced keyboards

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. 

July 21

Nils — wearable charging cable

As a proud owner of a first-generation Nils wristband, I can say with confidence that this thing rocks. You should most definitely throw some money at version 2.0. It’s essentially a USB charging cable that’s cleverly disguised as a leather bracelet and designed to be worn on your wrist. That way, when you need to juice up your phone, you don’t have to go find a cable — you can just rip off your bracelet and start charging. I dare say it’s one of the best things i’ve ever purchased from a Kickstarter project, and it’s absolutely the one I use most often.

Nanobag 3.0 — ultracompact reusable bag

Reusable shopping bags are a great idea in theory, but regardless of which kind you use, they all suffer from the same drawback: in order to use them, you have to remember to bring them. But what if you didn’t have to remember? What if there was a bag so small and convenient that you could just carry it with you all the time? That’s precisely the idea behind the Nanobag — a product that’s now in its third iteration on Kickstarter. Thanks to an ultra lightweight and compressible fabric, this little sucker can be stuffed into a storage bag that’s so small it’ll fit into the watch pocket of your jeans. Toss a couple of these in your backpack or purse and you’ll never have to use paper or plastic again!

Norshire mini  — ultracompact car tire inflator

A portable tire inflator is smart thing to keep in the trunk of your car, but unfortunately most of the available options are either powerful but bulky, or compact and grossly underpowered. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the best of both worlds? Well if the Norshire Mini makes its funding goal, you might soon be able to. This little sucker is both compact and powerful enough to inflate a car tire, it’s completely digital, and even has a pressure gauge function that can automatically turn the pump off when you hit the desired PSI.

Keystone — A.I.-enhanced analog keyboard

Kickstarter as hosted thousands of keyboard projects over the past decade, but this one might be the most innovative yet. Keystone, as it’s called, is an analog keyboard that uses an incredibly clever magnetic mechanism to register keystrokes. This allows it to gauge pressure, which means the keyboard can differentiate between a light tap and a strong press — thereby allowing you to map different functions to those inputs. The keyboard also ships with adaptive A.I. that learns how you type and optimizes itself automatically to accommodate how hard you strike each individual key. It’s pretty amazing — definitely check out the video for this one.

Circa Solar — daylight clock for smart devices.

This one is a bit odd, but I absolutely love the concept. The idea is to make a clock that, instead of displaying hours, simply displays when the sun rises and sets. That way, instead of thinking about time in terms of increments, you’re encouraged to think about time in more natural terms: day and night. The only problem? Due to the way the earth wobbles on its axis, the amount of daylight that we experience in a given 24 hour period varies wildly depending on the season. For this reason, a static clock face isn’t possible. It needs to be dynamic — and that’s something that the adaptable screens of today’s smartwatches and smartphones are perfectly suited for. The best part? You only have to pledge between 2-6 bucks to lock down a download of the app.

July 14

Moment Air — Anamorphic lens for drones

Drones are one of the coolest tools for photographers these days — whether casual or professional — but while they let you shoot easily from the skies above, those shots aren’t always the prettiest. The people at Moment have developed a new model of anamorphic lens that is light enough for drones, offering the promise of wide, cinematic angles, and bright lens flare. The lenses are designed to attach to a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom, which are two of our favorite drones on the market right now. Beyond the lens, the Moment Air system includes filters and a phone case specifically designed to fit in drone controllers.

Radiator — Laser synthesizer

Imagine calling your audiophile friend over to your house to check out your new speakers.

“Oh, these are cool, I guess,” they say.

“You guess?” You respond, mildly irritated. “But they got an Editor’s choice award from Digital Trends.”

“Yeah, I mean, soundwaves are fine, sure, but I’m really into listening to music with my eyes these days.”

Listening with your eyes? Could such a thing be possible? That’s what the makers of the Radiator laser synthesizer propose. The device is a synthesizer for creating laser light shows, with dozens of knobs for tweaking color and shape, modulating, even cloning lasers. You’ll have to hook the device up to a laser projector, but if you have one, the Radiator seems like a cool, new tool for musicians or visual artists who want to put on their own Pink Floyd show.

Lyra — Handheld Raspberry Pi game console

Emulation has been a boon for fans of old-school video games, whether they want to play them or just preserve them for future generations. There are plenty of great emulators on PC, and companies like Nintendo and Sony have re-released some of their old games on retro consoles like the Nintendo or PlayStation Classic, but if you want to play classic console games on the go, your options are limited. The makers of Lyra are promising all the joy of classic console gaming in a portable frame, one powered by a Raspberry Pi. The device requires some assembly, but once users have put it together, they’ll be able to play games either on the console itself or on a TV by connecting it via HDMI. A Raspberry Pi board is a computer, and so users will also be able to browse the internet, watch videos, and so on. The Lyra’s specs don’t look sufficient for modern PC games, but if you want to play some ActRaiser on your daily commute, it should be enough.

Aroma — Automatic pour-over coffee maker

Pour-over coffee is popular these days, with many claiming it results in a bolder flavor and more efficient brew, but it typically requires a specific gear setup. If you don’t want to carry a kettle with you to the office, the Aroma automatic pour-over device will prep your beverage for you, and it’s small enough to carry with you in a backpack or messenger bag. The contraption works via a rotating spout near the top; with the press of a button, it gets to work pouring water evenly on the coffee grounds, so you can kick back and relax. It even includes a reusable filter, so you can feed your caffeine needs without worrying as much about your environmental impact.

MoveIt Speed — Smart punching bag

After a long day at the office, a little exercise can be a great stress reliever. Sometimes a treadmill just isn’t enough to exorcise your frustrations, however. Boxing is a good way to work out and let off some steam, and the MoveItSpeed offers a number of cool features to take your workout to another level. It has sensors to detect your punching speed and provide feedback and features a number of workout routines and games to help you train.

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