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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Self-cleaning gym bags and coffee table Pong

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns 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. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Z Grills Elite 900: wood pellet grill

Z Grills Elite 900 - The Affordable Wood Pellet Grill

When it comes to grilling, some people prefer the simplicity of propane, whereas others are die hard charcoal advocates. But no matter what side you’re on, there’s no denying that when it comes to flavor, nothing holds a candle to wood fire grills.

As fuel, wood pellets are inherently more complex and flavorful than propane gas or charcoal briquettes, so they naturally impart your food with more complex and enjoyable flavors. The only downside, however, is that they’re notoriously needy. Making sure your grill is at the correct temperature requires a level of attention that most grill enthusiasts simply can’t commit to.

The Z Grills wants to change that with its new Elite 900. This pellet-powered beast is designed to alleviate all the usability issues typically associated with wood-fired grills. The key to the system is a Z Grills’ digital temperature control system, which automatically adds pellets as needed to regulate the temperature. while convection heat distribution technology ensures food gets cooked evenly. Put simply, this grill gets you wood fire flavor with a level of simplicity usually only enjoyed by propane users.

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Stealth P-7 — all terrain electric bike

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and more powerful, and batteries have become more capacitous and long-lasting. The two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices.  There’s almost too many of them to keep track of anymore.

Between all the electric skateboards, gyroscopically stabilized unicycles, and motorized skates, staying on top of all the new rideable gizmos that get announced each month is near impossible. Case in point: this ridiculously badass electric mountain bike from Australian upstart Stealth Electric.

The P-7 is the company’s newest electric bike, and it hit Kickstarter early last week. Much like Stealth’s previous entries into this category, the P-7 straddles the line between mountain bike and electric motorcycle. At about 64 pounds, it isn’t the lightest ebike around, but it certainly isn’t the heaviest either. Where it really stands out is its 93-mile range and the simplicity of its design. Stealth approached the bike with both city cyclists and weekend warriors in mind, building the street-legal bike to suit daily commutes around town and integrating a dual suspension frame for those who want to hit the trails.

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Sierra Madre Inferno — camping hammock insulation

Hammock camping is where its at. Why? Well put simply, adventuring with a hammock allows you to skip the tent, poles, and rainfly routine. You can carry way less gear, go further, and still have a comfortable place to sleep at the end of the night. The only downside is that, without the proper gear, your ass can get pretty damn cold while you sleep. Even if you have a sleeping pad in the bottom of your sling, a chilly breeze can steal a ton of booty warmth over the course of the night. Warm summer nights aren’t so bad, but if you want to hammock during the colder seasons of the year, you’d be wise to pack along some extra insulation.

That’s where sierra Madre’s new Inferno bag comes in. It’s not quite a sleeping bag, but also a bit more than your average down blanket. It appears to be somewhere right in the Goldilocks zone between the two — like some sort of a hammock exoskeleton that cradles you in a half-cocoon of puffy, warm insulation. Just affix it to the underside of your hammock and suddenly you won’t have to worry about the developing the dreaded “cold butt syndrome” while you’re out in the middle of the wilderness.

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Paqsule — self-sanitizing gym bag

Introducing Paqsule - The Smart, Self-Cleaning Bag

There’s nothing quite like unzipping a gym bag and getting blasted in the face with a cloud of hot stink. Gym bag odor is definitely one of the gnarliest smells in existence, but the folks behind a new Kickstarter project think they’ve developed a smart new solution to the problem. The Paqsule, as it’s called, is an electronic gym bag that bombards your gear with low-wavelength UV light, thereby scrambling the DNA of any odor-causing microbes and preventing them from reproducing.

“Paqsule is a bag that cleans itself and anything you put inside it,” co-creator Ravid Yosef told Digital Trends in an interview. “Using UV-c and O3 (read: ozone) technology, it sanitizes, deodorizes and kills bacteria with the touch of a button to keep your bag and everything inside smelling fresh.”

The idea is that by attacking the cause of the odor (bacteria) instead of treating the symptoms (smell) with fresheners, your bag will stay fresher for longer  — and you might also save some money on deodorants in the long run.

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Pong Table — coffee table with physical pong game

A little less than a year ago, Digital Trends ran a story about a bunch of friends who banded together to build a mechanical version of Atari’s classic game Pong; and we weren’t the only ones who did. The story quickly went viral, and shortly thereafter, Gerardo Orioli and his buddies were buried under a pile of purchase requests. Unsurprisingly, a coffee table that plays mechanical Pong was a big hit with the internet. Fast forward 10 months, and the pals are ready to deliver on that demand. Well, to take pre-orders at least.

“After the viral success we had last year, we decided to move forward with the next set of challenges,” Orioli told Digital Trends. “We secured an investor to further our research, and obtained an exclusive license with Atari. We built more prototypes and perfected the functionality and performance in our design. Now we are ready for the next stage. We started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in order to start mass production. Our goal is to partner with fans of the game worldwide, and come up with the minimum units required to enter production and to start manufacturing.”

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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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