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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Programmable drums, LED helmets, and more

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.

Gnarbox: Rugged wireless media processor

If you’ve been looking for a way to download, organize, edit, and share your photos and videos on the go without having to use a laptop, look no further than Gnarbox. It’s a new mobile solution that aims to replace your bulky laptop by putting everything you need inside a small, durable device, and giving you access to it via a mobile app. In essence, it’s got all the processing power and storage space that a high-end laptop does (if not more), but it’s all tucked away in a screenless, compact, super-rugged case that you can take anywhere.

Inside the Gnarbox you’ll find a quad-core CPU, an 8-core GPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage, 6-8 hours of battery life, and 300Mb/s Wi-Fi — all of which is packed inside a dustproof, sandproof, shockproof, waterproof, temperature-resistant shell (IP67). Those are impressive specs, no doubt, but what’s really exciting about the Gnarbox isn’t what it’s got under the hood — it’s how it uses it. After you pop in your camera’s memory card, you can connect to the box wirelessly via Wi-Fi, and use device’s processing power to edit photos and videos (in full resolution, mind you) right on your phone or tablet.

Find out more here.

Lumos: LED bike helmet

Lumos is a bike helmet with all the lights you need built in. The front of the helmet has not one little puny headlamp, but a row of 14 super-bright LEDs shaped like a modified asterisk; designed to stand out in driver’s reviews.  The 16-LED rear warning lights form a flashing red triangle on the back. An accelerometer integrated into the helmet picks up when you brake and automatically turns the rear triangle solid and increases the brightness, just like a car’s brake light.

The standout feature of the Lumos, however, has got to be the turn signal lights. Arrows made up of 12 LEDs on either side of the rear triangle and to either end of the headlight strip are controlled by a remote on the handlebars. The remote itself is a simple two-button affair. It runs on a CR2032 battery, one of the round flat ones that look like a coin. The turn signal remote wirelessly pairs to the helmet whenever the two get close enough together. The helmet itself is rechargeable via Micro USB, but should flash and blink away for three and a half hours before it conks out. Water resistant, both helmet and remote will survive a good rain, but don’t go swimming with them.

Find out more here.

Lumenati CS1: Cinematic smartphone case

Designed by Lumenati, a collection of filmmakers, animators, and designers in Denver, Colorado, the CS1 is a unique smartphone camera system that aims to “combine the technological features of a digital device with the cool design, ergonomic ease and natural narrative that the lo-fi classic camera is known for.” Basically, it transforms your iPhone 6 into an old-school cinema camera — but it’s not just another camera case. The design allows for swappable 58mm lenses, as well as a cold shoe for adding on microphones, lights, or other accessories. Lumenati says that the “lenses can be swapped to shoot in wide-angle, fisheye, and telephoto”; however, at this time, the Kickstarter only offers a .45 wide angle lens and a 2x telephoto lens.

When you’re ready to start recording video, simply pop your iPhone into the case with the Lumenati app loaded and you can begin shooting. To capture footage, just squeeze and hold the bright red trigger, and then release it when you are finished. As of now, the case is only compatible with Apple’s iPhone 6 — though Lumenati says that it hopes to make its design compatible with more phones in the future.

Find out more here.

Reify: Augmented reality music sculptures

Listening to music is one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your sense of hearing — but what if you could enjoy it with more than just your ears? What if you could invite your other senses to the party to experience music in not only auditory form, but visual and tactile form as well? Well, believe it or not, there’s a new startup out there that has developed a unique new way to turn sound waves into tangible, interactive, 3D-printed objects, and it’s absolutely mind-bending.

The designers and engineers at NYC-based startup Reify have created a way to give people the opportunity to not only hear music, but also see and feel it at the same time — effectively making it a cross-sensory experience. By first 3D-printing a unique totem specific to an artist’s song, Reify then encodes these objects with the original music and a series of intense visuals. With the help of a mobile app called Stylus, these totems transform before your eyes, taking you on an augmented reality journey like nothing else. As the song plays through Stylus, users have the ability to move the screen around to see all sides of the transforming sculpture as it bends, builds, and pulsates in time with the audio.

Find out more here.

Sensory Percussion: Programmable drum sensors

Sensory Percussion is a modern take on electronic drums that captures the true expressive nature of drumming. While standard trigger systems turn your drum into little more than an on/off button, Sensory Percussion listens and reacts, responding to the essence of your performance in real time. Unlike your typical programmable drum pad, which doesn’t have the same articulation and sonic freedom that a regular drum has, the Sensory Percussion system is designed as an overlay for your existing acoustic drums.

It’s a hardware sensor that clamps to the side of a drum (snare, tom, or kick) and connects to our Mac/PC software via a standard audio interface. Thanks to its finely-tuned sensors, the system understands where and how you hit the drum. It not only lets you map different parts of the drum to any sound desired (from samples and synthesizers to digital audio effects), it also lets you control those sounds in an intuitive, expressive way. Sounds follow your playing in real-time—so rather than twiddle knobs and push buttons, you can control the experience simply by playing the drums.

Find out more here.

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Drew Prindle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
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