Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Self-healing gear bags and 3D-printed jewelry

awesome tech new crowdfunding projects wolverine slughaus flexsafe pack  self healing utility bag
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 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.

Wooden Word Watch — Alphabetical timepiece

Ever seen that sweet typographical clock that spells out the time in full words instead of numbers? The Qlocktwo, as it’s called, hit the scene a few years ago and has since gone on to win numerous awards for its innovative and visually appealing design. A couple years after its big debut, the company behind the clock released a smaller, more wrist-friendly version called the Qlocktwo W. It’s basically a watch with the same typographic clock face, just miniaturized a bit. The only problem, however, is that both the original and wrist-borne iterations of the Qlocktwo are outrageously expensive.

But don’t fret — there’s a fresh new project up on Kickstarter for a wristwatch that boasts a very similar design — but for a tiny fraction of the price. The blandly-named Wooden Word Watch is exactly what it sounds like: a wooden watch that bears a striking resemblance to the Qlocktwo clock, and displays time typographically instead of numerically. The best part, however, is that you can reserve one now on Kickstarter for just $219 — nearly a quarter of the price of the Qlocktwo W. If you’re a fan of good design or a watch collector looking to add a unique piece to your collection, this thing should definitely be on your radar.

Wolverine Pack – Self-healing utility bag

High-performance textiles have come a long way in the past couple decades, and now gear manufacturers have a veritable boatload of different materials to choose from when designing stuff. There’s super lightweight stuff like cuben fiber, waterproof stuff like GoreTex, and even super durable slash-proof fabric like Dyneema. But the material the Wolverine Pack is made from makes the aforementioned textiles seem like they’re from the Stone Age. This compressible utility pack is made from something called FuseFabric — a new material that allegedly has self-healing abilities.

In the unfortunate event that your Wolverine Pack should get punctured, all you need to do is pinch the fabric around the hole and rub it between your fingers. Due to the material’s unique construction, this slight bit of friction and heat will cause the fibers to bond with each other and fuse together again — thereby filling the puncture. We haven’t seen this stuff in person yet, so we’re still a bit wary about how effective it is — but there’s a pretty convincing video in the “prototyping” section of the campaign. Check it out and see for yourself!

FlexSafe — flexible, portable lockbox

Lock boxes come in just about every shape, size, and configuration these days. There are ones you can unlock with your fingerprint, ones that link to your smartphone, and even ones that call the cops if tampered with. Despite all this diversity and technological sophistication, however, most lockboxes suffer from the same drawback: they’re heavy as hell. Because safes by definition should be hardy and tough to break into, the vast majority of them are made out of metal, which is inherently rigid, heavy, and inconvenient to carry along with you. But what if there was a lightweight, flexible option that still offered the same level of protection against thieves?

That’s precisely the idea behind FlexSafe. It’s totally unlike any lockbox you’ve ever seen. Instead of layered steel, this badboy is made from a variety of special textiles that make it slash proof, smash-proof, and otherwise impervious to thieves. On top of that, the bag’s unique locking mechanism allows you to attach it to just about anything — be it a bike frame, a telephone pole, or even your deck chair at the pool. FlexSafe also boasts a variety of high-tech features as well, including an RFID-blocking interior, a motion-triggered alarm, and an optional power bank that recharges in the sun.

Tofu — Universal travel adapter/charger

If you ever plan to visit different countries in a single trip, bringing along a universal travel adapter is crucial. Depending on where you land, the outlets are likely to be completely different than what you’re used to — which means you’ll need an adapter to juice up your electronics. Luckily, there are tons of universal travel adapters on the market right now. You can pick one up for under $20 on Amazon right now — but the thing is, most of them aren’t so great. The vast majority of adapters you’ll find aren’t equipped with fuses, and virtually all of them are bulky and inconvenient for travel. Tofu is an attempt to change that.

Unlike most universal travel adapters, this one is designed to be slim, sleek, and travel friendly. On top of that, it’s also equipped with a fuseless design. Generally speaking, fuses are a good thing — as they prevent power surges from frying your devices. But they also have to  be replaced after they burn up — which is inconvenient when you’re traveling around a foreign country and don’t know where to find a replacement. To avoid this, Tofu employs a fuseless system that’s allegedly still capable of protecting your laptop from unexpected power surges.

Bezel — 3D printed jewelry

Ever wished you could design custom jewelry the same way you design a custom t-shirt? Well if Chicago-based upstart Bezel succeeds with its freshly-launched Kickstarter campaign, you might soon be able to. In an effort to disrupt the jewelry industry, Bezel has developed an innovative platform that allows you to design, scale, and print jewelry from your smartphone or tablet. And we’re not talking about cheap plastic either. Thanks to recent advances in 3D printing technology, anything you design on Bezel can be printed in real, jewelry-grade metal.

What’s more, that’s not even the coolest part. Once you’ve uploaded your design, you can actually use the app to “wear” your creation virtually to see how it looks on you. The real innovation, however, is in Bezel’s sizing process. The app uses your smartphone’s camera (and a bundle of highly-sophisticated algorithms) to calculate the circumference of your fingers and determine your ring size. Believe it or not, Bezel’s software is so precise that it can approximate ring circumference for every digit on your hand, with millimeter accuracy. All that information is stored in the cloud and can be applied to any future designs you upload.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

The cordless vacuum gets a reinvention thanks to these Dyson disciples

Dyson has been a shining light in the home appliance industry for decades but a pair of its former employees are working to change the cleaning industry with a new cordless vacuum called Lupe.
Product Review

It's a camera! It's a printer! And it's more fun than it has any right to be

By going digital and adding a built-in mobile printer, the Instax Mini LiPlay puts more features into a smaller form factor than previous Instax cameras, while still being every bit as fun.
Emerging Tech

Hypnotic spinning top throws out crazy optical illusions as it rotates

Remember the never-ending spinning top in the movie Inception? The new 'Mozmocoin' promises to both spin for over 10 minutes and also throw out some dream-worthy optical illusions as it does.
Emerging Tech

This drone with hands looks like a nightmare straight out of Black Mirror

This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original brief. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Got $400 million to burn? The world’s largest airplane is up for sale

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, is up for sale. All it'll cost you is $400 million dollars. The brainchild of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the plane was supposed to make space travel more accessible and affordable.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Emerging Tech

Ex astris, scientia: Star Trek logo spotted on the surface of Mars

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been boldly going to Mars and capturing images since 2005, and now it has spotted something where no man has gone before: a structure on the planet's surface which will look familiar to Trekkies.
Emerging Tech

Adobe develops tool to identify Photoshopped images of faces

With deepfake videos making headlines, and campaigns against the Photoshopping of models, people are more aware than ever of the digital manipulation of images. Now Adobe wants to give tools to users to let them spot faked images.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will pave the way for manned missions to Mars

Survival on Mars is a massive challenge for humanity. To cope with the highly variable temperatures, lack of oxygen and water, and high levels of radiation, the Mars 2020 rover will carry instruments to pave the way for human exploration.
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods struggles to keep up with Impossible Burger demand

Red Robin and White Castle have reported Impossible Burger shortages, as it appears that Impossible Foods is struggling to keep up with demand. The company will be selling its meat-like patties in retail outlets within the year.
Emerging Tech

Pass the salt please: Table salt found on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Astronomers have spotted something unexpectedly familiar on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa -- sodium chloride, better known as table salt. This suggests the under-ice oceans on Europa are salty and similar to our oceans on Earth.