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.
You might not realize it, but candles contain a boatload of potential energy. The only thing is, there’s not really an easy way to transform the energy stored in the wax into electricity that you can juice up your gadgets with — until now, that is. Candle Charger finally makes it easy. It’s essentially a compact thermoelectric charging device designed specifically to run on candle power. Just fill up the top with water, light a candle underneath the reservoir, plug in your phone, and sit back.
Here’s how it works. As the wax (or oil, or whatever) burns, the flame stretches up and heats the bottom panel of the water reservoir. As this happens, it creates a difference in temperature between the water and the bottom panel, causing electrons to move away from the hot end toward the cold end. When the electrons go from the hot side to the cold side, it creates an electrical current, which Candle Charger harnesses to charge your USB devices. The larger the temperature difference the more electrical current is produced and therefore more power generated.
If you work on an Internet-connected computer, you know firsthand just how difficult it can be to stay focused. At any given moment, there are a zillion different things vying your attention: emails, instant messages, app notifications, websites you shouldn’t be browsing, calendar reminders — the list goes on and on. Distractions are everywhere on your desktop, but thankfully there’s a fresh new gizmo in the works that might help you miss them.
Saent, as its called, is a physical button that stops Internet users from wandering online and succumbing to a cacophony of messages and alerts. To use it, you simply plug it into your computer and fire up the accompanying software application. The dashboard allows you to choose which apps and websites to block out, and will activate for a predetermined amount of time whenever you press the button. Saent can also be used as a hotkey for your favorite productivity apps, and even has a unique gamification element that allows you to compete against friends and coworkers for points.
If I had a dollar for every headphone cable storage gizmo that’s ever been invented, I’d probably be a millionaire. There are a countless number of “solutions” out there that are designed to keep your earbuds neatly organized and untangled in your pockets — but most of them still have one main drawback. For all their organizational capabilities, none of them actually make your headphones easier to access.
Helix aims to change that. It’s basically a Bluetooth headphone system that’s designed to fit inside a cuff you wear on your wrist, so that your headphones are always readily accessible and easy to find. No more digging through your pockets; no more rummaging through your purse or backpack — just slip your buds out of the cuff, pop ’em into your earholes, and hit play. The wristband, which vaguely resembles a JawBone Up, is designed to be worn anywhere and everywhere — though you probably shouldn’t take it swimming — the creators make no mention of waterproofing.
Wireless earbuds aren’t anything new at this point. Dozens have been announced on Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the past couple years, but so far, none have delivered on their high-flying promises. The Earin, the Dash, and the controversial Dot projects all easily surpassed their funding goals during their respective crowdfunding campaigns, but despite a voracious public lining up to throw money at them, none of them have reached consumers. Earin and Dash supporters still don’t have anything to show for their funding and the Dot … well, that’s a complicated story.
Pearbuds are different. They might actually make it to market in a reasonable amount of time, and as far as we can tell, their creators aren’t trying to stuff them with crazy (and unnecessary) features that will complicate the manufacturing process. When Eric Tsoi, CEO of Pear Designs, set out to develop the Pearbuds, he approached the design from the inside out, carefully choosing components and figuring out where they would go within the enclosure along the way. The Pearbuds use the best rechargeable battery on the market, an excellent (and tiny) digital amplifier, a compact but highly functional Bluetooth chip, and the best transducer (speaker) they could find. We actually got a chance to hear them last week, and our AV Editor Caleb Denison was convinced that Pear Designs has cracked the code on wireless earbuds.
Whether they project directly onto your windshield or use a dedicated screen, head-up displays (HUDs) are undeniably cool gadgets. Inspired by military aircraft, most versions offer navigation and some smartphone capabilities, but few are as comprehensive as we’d like. Exploride wants to change that. The Maryland-based startup is launching an eponymous new product that it’s calling “the world’s first all-in-one HUD.”
Using convenient gesture and voice controls, the Exploride HUD grants drivers the ability to take or decline phone calls, access Google Maps navigation, control music, hear texts, and even monitor vehicle diagnostics like speed, tire pressure, and fuel level, all from one place. There’s also an inbuilt 3MP dash cam, cloud-storage capability, and tons of available apps including Internet radio. All of these functions are accessed through the HUD’s 6-inch transparent screen, which is controlled with four basic hand gestures: up, down, left, and right. From there, all your in-car gadgets are consolidated in front of the driver, which Exploride says will reduce distracted driving and increase safety.