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Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Ultrafast toothbrushes and a laptop/phone hybrid

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. 

April 5

Eyesy — video synthesizer

When it comes to creating and mixing sounds, there are countless tools available to help you out. We’ve got musical instruments, MIDI controllers, synthesizers, loop pedals, drum pads, and all manner of digital audio workstations to help you mix it all together. But when it comes to visuals, there aren’t really a lot of tools available to artists. Eyesy aims to change that. It’s a video synthesizer that allows you to create reactive visuals that respond to music in real time.

Arebo — whole body dryer

You know that high-speed “Airblade” blowdryer from Dyson that dries your hands so fast that it eliminates the need for hand towels? Well, now somebody’s taken that same concept to the next level and developed a device that blow-dries your entire body, thereby eliminating the need to use bath towels. Weird? Yes. Enticing? Also yes.

Tau — keychain powerbank

TAU - The Power Bank that is always charged!

This thing doesn’t have any kind of revolutionary technology under the hood. When you get down to it, it’s really just a portable battery. But what makes it brilliant is the fact that it’s designed to function like a keychain — thereby ensuring that you always have it with you when you leave the house. Best of all? It also comes with a wall-mountable dock and makes recharging the battery as easy as hanging up your keyring. Pretty clever, right?

Astro Slide — 5G smartphone with physical keyboard

Astro Slide Indiegogo Campaign Video

Physical keyboards on mobile phones are a bit of a rarity these days, but apparently there’s still a passionate community out there keeping them alive. The latest entrant into this dying category is the Astro Slide — a smartphone/laptop hybrid of sorts. In addition to running Android and functioning like a proper smartphone, it also has a slide-out screen that allows you to use the phone like a miniature laptop. I’m not going to lie — despite the fact that I know this thing would be a nightmare to type on, I still kinda want one.

Talobrush — ultrafast toothbrush

Tired of all the squeezing, scrubbing, spitting, rinsing, gargling, and flossing required to keep your pearly whites clean? For decades now, your only recourse from this mildly laborious task has been the electric toothbrush. But while these automatically oscillating tooth scrubbers are definitely a step in the right direction, they still don’t remove all the tediousness and time consumption from the act of brushing your teeth. That’s where Talobrush comes in. It’s a new-age toothbrush that (allegedly) finishes the job in a fraction of the time.

March 29

Supercalla — magnetic, self-organizing charger cable

Cables are an annoying but necessary part of life. No matter how hard you try, they always seem to get tangled and disorganized. But what if they didn’t? What if they could self-organize and stay tidy all the time? That’s precisely the idea behind Supercalla — a clever new cable system that snaps itself together with a series of magnets so that it’s always organized.

Hygiene hand — EDC door opener

Thanks to the unprecedented viral outbreak we’re currently living in, it’s probably not going to be 100 percent safe to touch public door handles and press buttons for a while. So what do you do when you inevitably find yourself in a situation that requires you to push a button or pull a handle? Answer: you bust out this sweet little EDC hook/button presser tool and use it to open the door. I wouldn’t be surprised if these things start popping up everywhere soon.

Arkade Blaster — FPS motion controller

Arkade Blaster - Now Available on IndieGoGo!

Remember that sweet handheld light gun controller you used to play Duck Hunt back in the good ol’ days? Well this is like that on meth. It’s a system that allows you ditch your normal joystick controller and play FPS games by pointing/shooting a gun-shaped controller — one that’s filled with high-precisions accelerometers to give you extra accuracy.

Waffle Wow — building block waffle iron

This might be the most brilliant thing I’ve seen on Kickstarter in months. It’s a waffle iron that, thanks to its unique design, produces waffle pieces that can be snapped apart to create Lego-like bricks, which can then be stacked together to build things. I honestly feel cheated that this didn’t exist when I was a kid.

Deskspace — lunar surface relief slab

Created using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Deskspace showcases the topography of the far side of the moon — in high fidelity — using concrete. It’s definitely not the most useful thing on this list, but it’s certainly a conversation starter. How many people can say they have a legit 3D relief map of the lunar surface in their house?

March 22

Keyboardio Atreus — ultra-minimalist mechanical keyboard

Kickstarter has hosted thousands of keyboard projects over the past decade, but this is definitely one of the best yet. It’s a wired mechanical keyboard that’s been stripped down to the bare essentials, but without compromising on comfort and performance. It’s so stripped down, in fact, that despite having no folding or collapsing action, it’s still small and portable enough to fit easily in a backpack.

Photonbar — programmable light painting wand

One of my favorite Kickstarer projects of all time is the PixelStick: an electrified rail that holds 200 programmable LEDs, and allows you to take the most amazing light painting photos ever. Photonbar is essentially the same idea, but in a smaller and slightly less cumbersome form factor — and also a considerably lower price. If you’re into creative photography, you’ll definitely want to check this thing out.

Sensforce Chair Extreme — haptic feedback gaming chair

Modern video games are pretty dialed-in in terms of sights and sounds, but when it comes to physical feeling, they’re still relatively boring. The best we get is really just vibrating controllers. Sensforce wants to change that with an innovative new haptic gaming chair that vibrates in three different zones. The coolest part is that it relies exclusively on audio signals to do this, so you don’t need any special drivers or plugins to make it work with your system. Just plug it in and go!

The Babymaker — stealthy electric road bike

Introducing the Babymaker - The Worlds Sexiest eBike

There are zillions of e-bike projects on kickstarter and indiegogo, but few are as polished as this one. It’s an e-bike that’s intentionally designed to not look like an e-bike, but still offer all the benefits of one. The Babymaker’s battery is hidden inside its normal-looking frame, and it has variable levels of pedal assist — but that’s where the modern bells and whistles stop. You won’t find any unnecessary mobile apps or annoying software updates attached to this bike, and that’s on purpose.

Techwrap — multipurpose electronic gear protector

This thing is simply brilliant. It’s simple because all it really is is a thoughtfully designed cloth that you can wrap up your camera gear and electronics with. It’s brilliant because this simple design allows it to serve multiple functions. It can be a waterproof/dirt-proof gear wrap, a platform for your lenses, or even a microfiber cleaning cloth. It’s all up to you, and can be switched at a moment’s notice.

March 15

Tucktek — origami kayak

Kayaking is amazing, but one of the big downsides of the sport is the cumbersome nature of the gear. In order to partake, you typically have to buy specialized racks for you car in order to transport them. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you kayak could fit in the trunk of your car? That’s precisely the idea behind Tucktek’s foldable kayak. Thanks to some origami magic, this little sucker collapses down into a form that’s so small that you could easily fit three of them in a standard car trunk.

Oros Apparel — aerogel insulated outerwear

Generally speaking, most insulated jackets use materials taken from (or inspired by) animals — like wool and down. But while nature-derived materials certainly do the trick, there are certain man-made materials that are far better insulators. Take aerogel for example. Aerogel is a synthetic substance derived from a gel, which weighs nearly nothing, yet provides some of the lowest thermal conductivity of any material in existence. It’s so good, in fact, that NASA uses aerogel as the primary thermal insulation in space suits — and now, Oros has figured out how to put it inside a line of jackets.

Himo — ultracompact folding ebike

HiMo: Folding E-Bike That Goes with You Everywhere

Folding bikes just keep getting better and better, and at this point i’m not sure how it’s even possible. This latest entry into the category is called Himo, and in addition to the fact that it packs down smaller than any just about any folding bike I’ve ever seen, it’s also fully electric. If you live in a place where suitable bike parking is scarce, or you’re simply worried about thieves, something like this would be ideal. Instead of locking it up, you can just collapse the frame, pick up the whole bike, and carry it to the safety of your office or apartment. Pretty neat, right?

Atypical cosmetics — AI-curated skincare

Everyone’s skin is different. So why are skincare products still basically one-kind-fits-all? Sure, there’s a bit of variation from brand to brand and formula to formula, but lotions and moisturizers definitely don’t take your exact needs into account. Atypical cosmetics wants to change that, and has developed an A.I. powered customization platform to make it happen.

A-Zero — compostable plastic bags

There’s a large movement happening right now to end the use of single-use plastic, but while that’s all well and good, there’s no denying that plastic bags are still extremely useful and convenient for certain situations. But what if you could still get all that ease and convenience without harming the planet? Well that’s precisely what A-Zero bags aim to do. They’re made of vegetable cellulose, and rapidly degrade after you toss them out.

March 8

Prompt — eyes-free watch

I’m kind of obsessed with the concept behind this watch. It’s designed to be completely “eyes-free” — so you don’t have to look at it to tell the time. Instead, you hold your finger on the face, and it emits a short burst of haptic vibrations that communicate what time of day it is. The idea is that, since it doesn’t have a screen and you can check it without looking at it, it’ll allow you to be more present during conversations and meetings.

Fire Ant — fire starter for Swiss Army knives

This thing is easily one of the most brilliantly designed products I’ve ever encountered on Kickstarter. You know all that empty space inside the corkscrew on a Swiss Army Knife? The Fire Ant fills that space up with something extremely useful: an ultracompact fire starting kit. The outer shell, which screws neatly into the corkscrew, is partially made of wax-covered tinder. Remove that, and you’ll find a flint, which you can strike on the back of your knife to make a spark to ignite the aforementioned tinder. How ingenious is that?!

Moft Z — flat-pack desk stand

Standing desk kits certainly aren’t a new thing at this point. These devices, which allow you to turn your existing desk into a standing desk by raising up a platform, have been around almost as long as standing desks themselves have. But despite being the latest entrant into an already full category, Moft Z is special. This sucker sits almost completely flat when its not in use thanks to its clever origami-like design.

Freebord 5x — snowboard-like skateboard

Freebord 5-X on Indiegogo

Skateboards are an undeniably great tool for getting around a city, but they also take a fair amount of practice to get comfortable with — and a large chunk of that practice is usually spent learning how to brake properly. Freebord circumvents that problem with a super clever truck and caster wheel system that allows you to more easily execute a slide brake — much like you would on a snowboard. This is the fifth generation of this design, and as someone who’s ridden (and crashed!) the first generation a few times, I’m here to tell you that this looks like a massive improvement.

Impossible table — tensegrity desk toy

If there’s one thing there will always be plenty of on Kickstarter, it’s desk toys. Specifically, desk toys that are made of machined metal and designed to showcase some sort of inspiring physical or mechanical phenomenon. Impossible Table fits that description to a T. It’s a machined metal desk toy that showcases the concept of tensegrity: the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not.

March 1

Litta — solar-powered bike light

Solar powered bike lights aren’t exactly a new idea at this point, but they also aren’t particularly common. Why? Because up until fairly recently, small solar panels simply couldn’t soak up enough energy quickly enough to be useful in a bike light. This one is different. Thanks to its high-end solar panel and low-power LED bulb, Litta can completely charge itself in just a few hours, and will work for years to come without ever needing to be pugged in — even if you live in an area that doesn’t get a ton of direct sunshine.

Locomoco — screen-less coding teacher

Robots that teach kids how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Locomoco is different. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen on Kickstarter, it’s arguably one of the coolest. Why? Well, in addition to looking and functioning like a normal toy train set, it’s also designed to teach kids (or adults!) the fundamentals of coding and computer logic without forcing them to stare dead-eyed into a tablet or smartphone screen. As such, it allows users to learn through a more tactile and hands-on process.

Kolude KD-1 Keyhub — multi-port keyboard

Warning: this keyboard will piss you off. Why? Because it’s so simple that it makes you wonder why no computer or peripherals manufacturer has done something like this already. It’s a keyboard equipped with all the ports you could ever need: HDMI, USB, SD, USB C, and a handful of others. This essentially means you can it into anything, plug anything into it, and won’t have to reach to the back of your computer tower every time you want to to insert a flash drive or plug in a new display. Seriously, why isn’t this already a standard design feature on all keyboards?

Solid state watch — buttonless, unchangeable wristwatch

This is totally one of those artsy, high-concept Kickstarter projects that probably doesn’t have mass appeal, but is also so fun and far-out that I couldn’t resist including it in this roundup. Here’s the idea: if you order one, the creators basically take the guts out of a Casio F-91W and permanently cast it into a transparent resin case. Once that’s done, you can’t mess with it. No buttons, no functions, no nothing. Much like time itself, it is immutable and beyond your control. It’ll just keep going until it runs out of battery and dies.

Ultrasona — ultrasonic cleaner

Ultrasona is a portable ultrasonic washing machine. Sounds crazy, right? Here’s how it works: When submerged in water and switched on, the device’s transducer sends out ultrasonic vibrations, creating tiny cavitation bubbles in the water that violently agitate dirt, grime, and bacteria on whatever you’re washing — simultaneously washing and disinfecting it. This exact same technology is used at a larger scale in chemistry laboratories, where it’s known as sonication. With Ultrasona, you can finally get this tech in a convenient and totally portable form factor. Imagine — you could wash your clothes in a hotel sink!

February 23

Rocketbook orbit — reusable legal pad

If you haven’t heard of Rocketbook yet, you’re missing out. The company makes these amazing notebooks that are infinitely reusable, and also allow you to sync/save your notes to the cloud. I’m a big fan. The company’s latest product, however, isn’t a notebook at all — it’s a legal pad outfitted with a single, infinitely reusable sheet for your notes. No more wasting paper just so you can write stuff down!

Vector Unleashed — open-source toolkit for Vector

Remember Vector? The adorable little A.I. robot from Anki? Well after winning the hearts of geeks around the world, the poor little guy’s creators went bankrupt in 2019 and stopped offering updates/support for him. But now, if this Kickstarter project makes its funding goal, Vector owners might soon have a way to resurrect their little robo-buddies and keep them roving around for years to come.

Clicbot — modular robot system

Robots that teach kids how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Clicbot is special. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen on Kickstarter, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being outrageously simple and modular, it’s also designed to teach kids (or adults!) the fundamentals of coding and computer logic without relying exclusively on a screen. This way, they don’t have to stare dead-eyed into a tablet and can learn through a more tactile and hands-on process.

Midea — U-shaped window AC

Midea: The Window Air Conditioner, Reinvented

If you’ve ever installed a window AC unit, you know firsthand just how cumbersome and annoying the process is. In addition to building a suitable platform for the unit to sit on, you also have to patch the gap left in your window — which, if you’re like me, typically means hacking up a cardboard box and haphazardly duct-taping it until you’ve got a decent seal. Midea mitigates all that. It’s equipped with an integrated mounting system and a clever U-shaped design that allows you to close your window more and avoid large gaps. It sort of makes you wonder why AC units weren’t designed like this from the get-go.

Makeway — modular marble track

Remember those reconfigurable marble track toys you had as a kid? Makeway is basically that, but with a handful of modern twists. First and foremost, all the pieces are magnetic and designed to stick on vertical surfaces like a fridge or whiteboard, meaning they don’t take up any floor space. Second, they’re totally modular, and can therefore be re-arranged to create a practically infinite number of configurations.

February 9

Lomo Perzval 80.5 — bokeh art lens

Tired of the images you can capture with your stock camera lenses? Check out Lomography. The NYC-based lens company has been making oddball lenses for years, and is now back on Kickstarter with its twelfth (twelfth!) project: the Perzval 80.5 Art Lens. It’s essentially an art lens that was inspired by a 180-year-old design from 19th-century photographer Joseph Perzval. It’s equipped with some unusual features that give your photos a unique bokeh effect and make the lens particularly well-suited for portrait photography.

Solidtekniks Bigga — wrought iron skillet

Cast iron skillets are, in many ways, the best cooking implement ever. They provide supremely even and consistent heat, you can put them in the oven, and if you care for them properly they’ll last a lifetime. But they do have some downsides, too. In addition to being a pain to maintain, they’re also ridiculously heavy. Luckily, Solidteknics has devised an ingenious solution to this problem: use wrought iron instead of cast iron. The company’s new line of pans allegedly cook and behave exactly like traditional cast iron, but without being so heavy and unruly.

Forkaknife — flat-pack reusable cutlery

As the movement to cut down on single-use plastic continues to pick up steam, there are dozens of startups clamoring to sell you collapsible/reusable straws and eating utensils — especially on Kickstarter. However, while these products are undeniably useful, they also aren’t particularly convenient. You have to remember to bring them along wherever you go in order for them to be useful. That’s what makes Forkaknife so neat. It’s a fork and knife that are designed to pack up into a wallet-sized carrying case, so you can easily slip them inside a purse or wallet and have them with you at all times.

Nireeka Prime — fat-tire ebike

The all-new Nireeka Prime. Official launch film.

Electric bikes certainly aren’t a new thing at this point. Nor are electric mountain bikes. But electric fat-tire bikes? There’s not a ton of them on the market right now — but, if funded, Nireeka Prime would help change that. It’s essentially a standard-issue e-mountain bike that’s outfitted with ultra-wide tires that allow it to ride on a broader variety of terrain types — including sand and packed snow. The upshot is that while fatbikes are typically a bit tougher to pedal, the electric motor helps you overcome that and plow through any terrain you encounter.

Hunu — collapsible, reusable coffee cup

Disposable paper cups might not sound like they’re all that bad compared to, say, plastic bags or Keurig pods, but despite their recyclability, most of them still end up in landfills. Therefore, as part of the ongoing movement to phase out single-use items, a duo from London has developed a solution: A cleverly designed cup that, thanks to its unique shape, is capable of collapsing so you can take it along wherever you go, and avoid using disposable cups in the first place.

February 2

Circular — smart ring

Smart rings certainly aren’t a new idea at this point, but this one is arguably one of the best yet. In addition to boasting all the requisite “smart” features we’ve come to expect from wrist-borne wearables — things like step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and sleep monitoring — it’s also small enough that it doesn’t get in the way. That’s the big deal here. Unlike most smart rings we’ve seen in the past, this one is actually quite slim and discreet. Yet, despite its impressively small dimensions, it somehow packs enough battery power to last for two full days between charges.

Jollylook — vintage style instant cam

Instant cameras are all the rage right now. Maybe it’s nostalgia for the Polaroid days of yore, maybe it’s a manifestation of our subconscious lust for tangibility in a world where everything is digital. Who knows. But regardless of the reasoning behind it, instant cameras are enjoying something of a renaissance right now. Jollybook is the latest entry into this booming subcategory, and it’s designed with an aesthetic that’s even more vintage than the Polaroid cameras that started the trend.

The Mars Atlas — detailed martian map

Who doesn’t love a good map book? This one is probably a bit different than ones you’ve seen in the past, though, since it’s all about a different planet than the one you and I inhabit. “The Mars Atlas is the first of its kind publication containing stunningly detailed maps of the entire Martian surface,” the book’s creators explain. “Designed by a team of astrocartographers, the Atlas lets you unleash your inner explorer and learn about the Red Planet til your heart’s content. No longer science fiction, now you can discover Martian mountains, valleys, and riverbeds  – many of which are still unnamed.”

Last Tissue — reusable handkerchief system

Single-use items are going the way of the dodo. It started with plastic grocery bags. Then we moved on to plastic straws. More recently, there’s been a movement to eradicate things like plastic utensils, cling wrap, and even cotton swabs. Now, if Last Tissue has its way, the next one on the chopping block will be single-use facial wipes like Kleenex tissues. How? To make that possible, the company has developed a nifty reusable handkerchief system that makes using old-school cloth hankies a bit more convenient and sanitary than before.

Cove — redesigned litter box

Litter boxes are hardly ever well-designed. Most are just injection-molded plastic boxes built for the sole purpose of holding kitty litter. But they could (and should) do so much more. That’s the thinking behind Cove — a thoughtfully designed litter box that comes with integrated tools (like a scooper and a broom to clean up stray litter bits) that address the realities of owning a cat and cleaning up after it.

January 26

Nebia by Moen — ultra-efficient shower

If you haven’t heard of Nebia by now, you’ve been living under a rock. The company basically makes crazy-efficient showerheads that use 65 percent less water than a traditional showerhead — yet still manage to douse you well enough to provide a proper shower experience. After two massively successful Kickstarter campaigns, it’s back with a third-generation product — this time created in partnership with Moen. If you’re in the market for a water-saving showerhead, look no further.

Glamos — Lidar-based gesture control

This thing looks pretty sweet. It’s essentially a little electronic brick that, thanks to some super clever engineering, allows you to use gesture control with any screen — regardless of whether it’s “smart” or not. The secret? Lidar: the same technology that self-driving cars use to “see” their surroundings. Using this tech, it tracks what you’re doing with your hands, translates those motions into commands, and then relays them to whatever screen you’ve connected it to. Pretty cool, right?

Bilby — waterproof silicone headlamp

Headlamps are a dime a dozen these days. They come in just about every shape, size, and configuration you could ever need, and no matter what sport you’re into, there’s probably one designed specifically for that activity — unless of course, you need one that’s sweatproof. Practically all of them are equipped with elastic fabric headbands, which tend to soak up sweat and get gross over time. But not this one! The Bilby is 100% silicone (and waterproof, too!), so it won’t absorb your forehead sweat.

Baha — shovel multitool 

Multitools certainly aren’t a new idea when it comes to outdoor/survival gear, but the Baha shovel is totally different than the Leathermans and pocket knives you’re probably used to seeing. Rather than tucking a bunch of tools into the handle of a folding knife, the creators of this monstrosity decided to tuck them into the handle of a shovel. The result is a multifunctional outdoor tool with 21 different functions — most of which you simply can’t get with something as small as a pocket knife.

Porfee — Blackhead vacuum

This is definitely one of the grossest yet most oddly appealing things I’ve ever encountered on Kickstarter. You know those handheld facial vacuum things that will suck blackheads out of your pores? It’s that, but with a camera embedded in the nozzle and outfitted with a video uplink — so you can sync it with your phone and watch in real time as the blackheads squirm out of your skin. And yes, it even comes with a social function that allows you to record clips and share them on social media. Whoever thought of this is a disgusting genius.

January 19

Platyball Elite — auto-leveling tripod head

Here’s a quick cut from the full article we wrote about this gizmo earlier in the week. “Rather than using a small leveling bubble, the Platyball Elite uses an electronic leveling system — similar to the system inside some digital cameras that tells you when the horizon is crooked. That electronic design allows the leveling system to be accessed via  backlit screen. That screen is visible at night, along with the option to position the camera so that the screen is visible from the front of the camera.

The electronic level isn’t the only odd feature on the tripod head. Platypod says the design of the head is flipped upside-down, with the panning turntable at the top instead of the bottom. That switch allows photographers and videographers to pan the camera in a straight line even when the tripod legs itself aren’t perfectly level.”

Tribotex Transmission — nanotech transmission repair

Despite the fact that tech pundits have been singing nanotechnology’s praises for decades, it hasn’t really impacted the lives of everyday people quite yet. Thankfully, though, our technology is finally catching up with our imaginations and starting to pop up in the real world. Case in point? This crazy new nanotech transmission repair system from TriboTex. It’s one of a small handful of nanotech-based products that are not only practical, but actually available to average consumers. Normally I’d be quite skeptical of such a thing, but the company’s first product was totally legit, so I have no reason to doubt them here.

Sinex — 3-in-1 laptop case

This is one of the simplest yet most brilliant designs I’ve seen on kickstarter in ages. It’s a laptop case that, due to its clever construction, unfolds to become a laptop stand — one that’s complete with a padded wrist rest. It even comes in a variety of different sizes, so no matter what dimensions your laptop might be, there’s likely a model that it’ll fit inside.

Shark Electric — electric skateboard

Electric skateboards are a dime a dozen these days, but this one looks interesting for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, it’s the first electric skateboard we’ve seen from Shark — a company that got its start making the oddly-shaped wheels you see in the video above. Second, it’s also apparently the thinnest board in the game, and has speed/range specs that outshine some of the most popular and well-reviewed skateboards on the market right now. Color us intrigued.

Foldyroll — accordion-style reusable bag

If you haven’t already ditched paper and plastic bags and hopped on the reusable bag bandwagon, it’s high time you do the planet a favor and join the party. Reusable bags can be purchased damn near everywhere now, so you have zero excuses at this point. If, however, you’re still in the market for a reusable bag, this one looks pretty sweet. It’s got an accordion-style design that allows it to fold up in the most compact/convenient shape ever.

December 29

Onpark 3 — electric skateboard

Electric skateboards are a dime a dozen these days, but this one has a feature that puts it a cut above the rest: a swappable battery system. That means that if you’re riding and the battery dies, you don’t have to find a charger and wait for an hour while the battery tops off. Instead, you can just click in a new cell and keep riding. It’s honestly a mystery why this feature isn’t more common on electric skateboards.

Flash Forest — drone reforestation squad

Ever since the industrial revolution, humanity has been fighting an uphill battle against deforestation. Despite the best efforts of conservationists, the world either burns or cuts down about 10 billion more trees than it replants each year — a problem that has big implications for climate change. Environmental organizations have been trying (and failing) to reverse this trend for decades, but Flash Forest thinks it can succeed where others have failed. How? By enlisting an army of seed-bombing drones to autonomously replant trees faster than mere humans ever could.

Skill board — 360-degree balance board

Balance boards are an amazing training tool, but the vast majority of them — the ones that are basically a plank that sits atop a cylinder — only teach you how to balance from left to right. The Skill Board is different, though. This cruel bastard puts you on top of a mildly-squishy sphere, thereby forcing you to engage more muscles in order to keep your balance and stay stable. If you’re looking to build your core muscles and boost your balance skills, this thing is worth checking out.

Alfred — robotic AI assistant

Alfred. The ultimate A.I. assistant that is designed to make your life more productive.

AI assistants have progressed in leaps and bounds in the past few years, but Alfred wants to kick things up a notch further. He’s basically an AI assistant with a robotic body. This allows him to do things that Siri and Alexa can’t — like following you around your apartment, understanding his environment, and projecting images and video onto your walls. It’s a neat idea, and could very well usher in a new era for AI assistants

XEV Yoyo — 3D printed electric car

This one is pretty sweet. It’s a 3D printed electric car that’s made with just 57 components — a massive step down from the thousands of parts that make up a conventional car. This essentially makes it cheaper to produce, which allows XEV to sell it for under $7K. In terms of specs, the Yoyo’s 10-horsepower electric motor gives it a 43-mph top speed, while a 9.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack provides enough juice for a claimed 93 miles of driving.

December 22

Mantour X — self-balancing e-scooter

This thing is a self-balancing scooter — but it’s not self-balancing in the way you’re used to seeing. Instead of balancing for you while you ride, it’s designed to balance itself on one wheel when you’re not riding. The idea is that this makes it easier to transport, since you don’t actually have to carry it. Pretty clever stuff!

JBL Reflect — solar-powered headphones

What if you never had to charge your wireless headphones again? What if they could juice themselves up as you walked around and went about your day? Well, that’s basically what JBL is promising with it’s new Reflect headphones. Thanks to a headband that’s covered in solar cells, the phones can allegedly stay powered indefinitely with just 2.5 hours of light exposure per day

Cameradactyl Bracopan — 3d printable film camera

This project is awesome. This dude Ethan Moses has been designing and selling amazing 3D printed cameras for the past few years, and now he’s on Kickstarter selling the STL files so that other people can build them, using their own tools and equipment. Best of all? You can get your hands on all the files and instructions you need for just $1. That means he’s going to need a LOT of people to back the project in order to meet his $12K funding goal!

Fingerbot — multi-use IoT switch

Want to transform your home into an internet-connected smart home, but don’t want to spend a fortune on upgrading every single switch, thermostat, and appliance you own? Fingerbot is for you. It’s essentially a little IoT module with an adhesive patch on one end and an actuator on the other. The idea is that you can stick it onto the things you already own and use Fingerbot to activate them remotely by physically flipping the switch or pressing the button.

Boost — powered surfing fin

Why paddle your surfboard when you could slap a motor on it instead? That’s the premise behind Boost, an exceptionally clever surfboard fin that’s equipped with a propellor. When not in use, the fin’s design allows your board to glide through the water just like any other board — but when you power it on, the propellor provides a quick power boost to kick you forward. No more laborious paddling out to the surf, or missing swells due to lack of speed!

December 15

Draft Top — Beer can top remover

If you’re a beer drinker, you’ll want to check this thing out. You know how you can drink beer faster if you poke a hole in the lid? Well the Draft Top lets you you take that idea to a whole new level. Instead of just poking a hole, this clever little tool allows you to completely remove the top portion of the can altogether, effectively transforming your can into a cup. Best of all, it does this without creating any sharp edges, so you’re free to chug as recklessly as you want.

Ode Brew Grinder — variable coarseness coffee grinder

Do you need a $225 coffee grinder? Probably not. You can get a passable one on Amazon for like 30 bucks. But if you are a coffee nerd and you care deeply about quality and consistency, you should probably check this one out. Thanks to its innovative grinder design, the Ode Brew Grinder allows you to dictate the size of your grind and get predictable, precise particles every time. This essentially means you can get the perfect grind for whatever type of coffee you’re making — be it French press, pour over, or even espresso.

EO Blaster — chemical-free cleaning system

What if you didn’t have to use harsh chemicals to clean your countertops? What if you never had to buy those chemicals ever again and could instead use a magical contraption that transforms tap water into a powerful disinfectant using nothing but electricity? Sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s exactly what the EO Blaster does. To clean things around your house, it uses electrolyzed water — which sounds like total BS, but it’s actually legit, and was developed in Japan to sanitize high-bacteria environments like sushi restaurants, without introducing harmful chemicals.

Mova — zip-on waterproof cycling pants

You know those snap-off pants that athletes sometimes wear before a game to warm up? The ones that, due to their unique design, can be put on or taken off without removing your shoes? Well, Mova Cycling has basically taken that exact same idea and applied it to a set of rain pants for cyclists. The only difference is that, instead of buttons, these pants are designed with zippers — so unfortunately you can’t rip them off triumphantly after you finish locking up and head into your office building.

Bagel jeans — made-to-measure jeans by mail 

About a year ago, a company named Bagel took Kickstarter by storm with an innovative new take on the traditional tape measure. Instead of metal tape with markings etched onto it, the Bagel tape measure uses a piece of string and a digital readout that displays the current extended length. Now, the company is back with a new project that uses the aformentioned tape measure tech for a specific purpose: generating made-to-measure jeans you can order online. Check out the video — it’s pretty damn clever.

December 8

Space 3D — affordable SLA printer

It used to be that SLA 3D printers were expensive and out-of-reach for the average consumer,  but that’s now beginning to change. Thanks in large part to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, these kinds of printers have become drastically more affordable and available in the past couple years. Nowadays there are a bunch of them that you can get for less than $1,000, and there’s a boatload more currently in development.

The latest one to hit the crowdfunding scene is Space 3D — a highly affordable SLA/DLP printer that, despite costing just $600 on Kickstarter, comes with a range of high-end features that you typically only see on machines that cost upward of $1,500. Most notably, it has an absolutely massive build envelope that allows you to print bigger parts and pump out more stuff

Gluon — programmable robotic arm

If you’ve ever dreamed of having an automated assistant similar to Tony Stark’s JARVIS robot, you should probably stop whatever you’re doing right now and go check out Hexbot on Kickstarter. In contrast to robotic assistant devices geared specifically towards makers and designers, Hexbot is a robot arm that can serve virtually any purpose around the home, from artistic projects to 3D printing to stirring your coffee. It’s equipped with computer vision and visual processing technologies, so it can be used for an absolutely massive range of different tasks.

Diveroid — universal smartphone case for diving

If you’re going on a vacation and plan to do some diving or snorkeling while you’re there, chances are you probably want to take some pictures in the water. For most people, this means you’ll get a special waterproof case for your phone, use it once or twice, and then toss it out a year later when you get a new phone. Diveroid offers a more sustainable alternative. It’s a universal diving case that’ll work with any smartphone — even the one you might own a few years from now.

Diple — 1000x smartphone microscope

Smartphone microscopes aren’t exactly a new idea at this point, but this one is slightly different than the ones out there right now. Diple, as it’s called, is capable of 1,000x magnification. Functionally speaking that means it’s powerful enough to let you look at individual bacteriums, blood cells, and more — all through your big, bright smartphone screen. You can even pinch and zoom to make the image bigger or smaller. Pretty neat, right?

Bullet SSD — keychain-sized SSD

You know that tattered old USB drive you probably keep on your keychain right now? Imagine if it was smaller, faster, tougher, and had way more storage space. That’s pretty much what the Bullet SSD is. It’s a tiny storage device that, in addition to boasting up to 2TB of storage space, is also IP67 certified — meaning it’s water resistant and dust proof. It’s also encased in metal, so it’ll survive being tossed around for years to come.

December 2

Unocup — lid-equipped paper cup

Disposable, single use paper cups aren’t all that bad for the environment — but the plastic lids that accompany them? They’re not so great. So, as part of the ongoing movement to phase out single use plastic, a startup called Unocup has developed a solution: a cleverly designed paper cup that, thanks to its unique shape, is capable of folding up to create a lid. It basically eliminates the need to top your coffee (or whatever) with a piece of plastic you’ll only use once.

Hyper minimal calendar — redesigned full-year calendar

This is the most low-tech entry on this week’s picks, but it’s just too clever to skip. It’s a full-year calendar with a very practical and human-centric layout. Instead of displaying each month via a series of weeks that don’t line up nicely, months are broken up into four five-day weeks, with two-day weekends between them. Additionally, the first and last days of each month are underlined, so you can easily spot when one month ends and another begins.

Artiphon Orba — palm-sized multi-instrument

Artiphon broke onto the scene a couple years ago when it released the Instrument — a vaguely guitar-shaped electronic musical instrument that allowed users to play practically any sound imaginable via the familiar form of a guitar neck. It was a huge hit, and now the company is back with yet another electronic instrument dubbed Orba. This one is basically the same idea, but squeezed into a much smaller, more open-ended form factor.

Climate neutral certified — environmental product certification

You know how certain things in the grocery store are labeled as “certified organic” or “cage free” or “non-GMO”? In order to get those labels, the company has to actually get certified by an independent organization that verifies the company’s product meets certain standards. Climate Neutral certification is a new one to add to the mix — but instead of signaling that a given product or service is gluten free or non-GMO, it shows that the company behind the product has actively taken steps to offset the carbon impact of its operation. Pretty neat!

Ever Ratchet — ratcheting EDC tool

EverRatchet Clip Ratcheting Keychain Multitool

EDC tools are a dime a dozen on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but this one is arguably one of the best I’ve seen. Thanks to an exceptionally clever design, it’s equipped with a ratcheting screwdriver/wrench setup — which means you don’t have to spin it in a full circle to tighten a bolt or screw a screw. And of course, it’s got a handful of other features stuffed into the tiny little frame — including a pry bar and a bottle opener.

November 24

Epilog — epilepsy tracking wearable

Epilog Final Pitch Video

This thing is brilliant. It’s basically a wearable, battery-powered EEG monitor that tracks your brainwaves throughout the day, beams that information to your smartphone, and then uses algorithms to analyze your brain activity and predict seizures. Obviously, it’s not a mass-market device designed for everyone — it’s specifically built to help people with epilepsy. Still, it’s an idea worth supporting even if you don’t have the condition.

Ebo — robotic cat toy

I’ve seen a LOT of so-called “smart” cat toys on Kickstarter and Indiegogo over the years, but this might be the most advanced one yet. In addition to standard features like the ability to drive around and encourage your cat to chase, it also has environmental awareness sensors that allow it to map out the room and avoid collisions, a return-to-home function that ensures it’s always charged, and even a built-in camera that allows you to watch as your cat gives chase. It’s nuts!

Mellow Duo — IoT sous vide machine

A few years back, Mello took the cooking world by storm with a groundbreaking idea: an internet-connected sous vide machine that could not only cook your food, but also keep it cool until you were ready to cook. That way, you could dunk a steak in the cooking chamber before you leave for work, keep it cool all day, and then tap a button on your phone to start cooking before you got home. It was nothing short of brilliant, and now they company is back with a bigger, badder version with two cooking chambers. That means you can cook two separate dishes at two separate temperatures, but have them come out at the same time. Genius!

Seesense Air — advanced bike tracker

Trackers and other anti-theft devices for bicycles are a dime a dozen these days, but this one is different. Unlike most existing trackers (which either rely on cellular/GPS connections that comes with a monthly subscription fee, or weird proprietary networks that only work if everyone around you has the exact same tracker app), this one communicates with your phone via Narrowband IoT, which basically allows it to work like apple’s Find My iPhone utility, but without any subscriptions or service costs.

Segway dirt ebike — electric dirt bike

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This one hasn’t actually launched yet, so we don’t know a lot about it — but based on the video footage available and the photos on the preview page, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this thing is going to be awesome. It’s certainly not the first electric dirt bike that’s ever been made, but the fact that it’s from Segway, one of the best rideable tech manufacturers in the world, is exciting. Fingers crossed they sell it for an affordable price!

November 17

Rumpl x Loki — travel dog bed

If you need a sleeping pad for your dog, you can find one quite easily online. Just head over to Amazon and you’ll discover no shortage of pads, bags, and other sleeping solutions designed to keep your furry friend comfy. However, if you intend to take your dog along on a trip, then you’ll likely have a bit more trouble finding a suitable canine sleeping pad. The issue is that very few (if any) dog sleeping systems are designed to be compact and portable. They’re typically made with thick padding that doesn’t compress very easily, so they don’t fit nicely into a backpack. Rumpl decided to change that.

HomeBiogas — backyard biodigester

Believe it or not, somewhere around 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. We put all kinds of time and energy into producing it, but we still end up throwing a huge amount of it away and sending it off to a landfill. It’s incredibly wasteful, but the folks behind HomeBiogas have a solution. Their cleverly designed biodigester (now in its 3rd generation) allows you to collect pretty much anything that’s biodegradable — dining room scraps, meat, grease, oil, eggshells, grass clippings, and even small sticks or bits of wood — and use bacteria to transform it into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. Pretty awesome, right?

Hyperjuice — 100W GAN charger block

Charger bricks are probably the least sexy technology of all time, but this one is actually pretty sweet. Despite being no bigger than a standard deck of cards, the Hyperjuice charger, as it’s called, is capable of channeling over 100W of power, and juicing up four devices at once. Thanks to the magical material known as gallium nitride, two of the brick’s USB-A ports support the latest quick-charging standard, and can therefore funnel power to your devices at a blistering pace. The only downside? It’ll cost you $70 bucks. That’s pretty steep for a wall charging station.

Zipbag — reusable food storage bag

As the movement to cut down on single-use plastic continues to pick up steam, there are dozens of startups clamoring to sell you reusable versions of common single-use items like straws, eating utensils, shopping bags, and even Q-tips. The latest piece of plastic in the crosshairs? Ziploc bags. You can already find silicon versions on Amazon for a few bucks, but this one from Twopillars takes things to a whole new level. It’s got a storage pouch, reusable utensils you can tuck inside, a reusable label, and best of all, a lifetime warranty. Get this thing and you’ll legitimately never have to buy storage bags ever again.

Tempest — advanced personal weather station

Home weather stations have been around for decades at this point, but Tempest might be the most advanced one yet. It measures just about everything you could ever imagine. Seriously. It’s not just the basic stuff like rain, temperature, and barometric pressure — it measures all that stuff and more using a variety of different methods, thereby giving you the most complete set of real-time weather data possible. Amazingly, it does all this without any moving parts, and also without wires. It’s 100% solar-powered and can transmit information via Wi-Fi to a base station in your house. It even shares all this data with the National Weather Service so it can make more accurate predictions for the general forecast. Pretty neat stuff!

November 10

Focusbuds — productivity-boosting earbuds

Potential X Indiegogo Video

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion things competing for your attention. With all the messages, alerts, emails, and notifications that bombard us throughout the day, it’s increasingly difficult to focus on anything for an extended period of time. That’s exactly what Focusbuds aim to fix. According to their creators, Focusbuds monitor users’ concentration levels using a process called electroencephalogram (EEG) neurofeedback. This is achieved by using embedded sensors capable of capturing this brain activity and proprietary software that analyzes it. The resulting data insights are then conveyed in real-time to the user via audio cues. In doing so, the promise is that the earbuds will help train your brain to concentrate and block out distractions over time.

Castaway — second screen for smartphones

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do you need a second screen for your smartphone? Probably not, but somebody made one anyway. It’s pretty straightforward. The Castaway, as it’s called, is basically a tiny chromium tablet that’s tucked into a smartphone case. Put your phone in the case, and it’ll be linked to the tablet, thereby allowing you to use two apps at the same time.

Fourneau Grande — artisan bread oven

Unfortunately, it’s damn near impossible to make bakery-quality bread in a standard kitchen oven — unless of course, you use something like Fourneau. It’s basically like a souped-up Dutch oven that creates the perfect environment for you to make artisan bread at home. This new version, the Fourneau Grande, is a larger version of the original, which gives you space to make specialty loaves that are longer, bigger, or oddly shaped.

The Big Sphere — Milky Way desk ornament

In 2016, designer Clemens Steffin launched his ‘Universe in a Sphere’ project on Kickstarter, creating a glass orb containing 380,000 perfectly lasered dots, each one representing an entire galaxy. His next project then aimed to re-create just our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, with every dot representing a different star. Now he’s back with a bigger version of that idea, and it’s even more painstakingly detailed than before!

Snowfeet 2 — skates for snow

Here’s DT’s Kraig Becker with the scoop: “At first glance, Snowfeet look an awful lot like a pair of sandals on steroids. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll soon notice that Snowfeet’s straps look a lot more like a ski binding than anything you’ve ever seen on a flip-flop. Those bindings allow Snowfeet to accommodate any type of shoe or boot, then contract down to hold the footwear squarely in place. Once attached, Snowfeet are effectively skates that you can use on snow.” Sounds pretty awesome, right?

November 3

Gosun Flatware — flat-pack reusable utensils

As the movement to cut down on single-use plastic continues to pick up steam, there are dozens of startups clamoring to sell you collapsible/reusable straws and eating utensils — especially on Kickstarter. However, while these products are undeniably useful, they also aren’t particularly convenient. You have to remember to bring them along wherever you go in order for them to be useful. That’s what makes GoSun’s new reusable utensils so neat. They’re designed to pack up into a wallet-sized carrying case, so you can easily slip them inside a purse or wallet and have them with you at all times.

Ember — heated midlayer

Earlier in 2019, up-and-coming outdoor gear startup Sierra Madre launched a Kickstarter to fund the development of an innovative new insulated stuff sack called the Hot Pocket. To bring that product to life, the company developed a cutting-edge thermal panel that’s both lightweight and highly efficient — and now it wants to bake that same technology into a heated midlayer. The Ember, as it’s called is allegedly “10X more powerful than its competitors.” If that claim holds up, it’ll be well worth the $259 its currently going for on Kickstarter.

Pillowdy — hoodie with inflatable neck pillow

Neck pillows have been a staple for air travelers for decades — but why do we only use them when we’re flying? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have one at your disposal wherever you went, so you could catch a quick nap on the bus home? That’s precisely the idea behind Pillowdy. It’s a hoodie with a hidden inflatable neck pillow built into the hood. Whenever you need a quick siesta, just bust out the stowable blow tube and give it a couple of puffs. With less than a lungful of air, your neck pillow will spring to life and provide a place to rest your head.

Square off Neo — automatic chessboard

Here’s a quick cut from our full article, which ran earlier in the week: “Measuring 14.72 inches by 14.72 inches and weighing just 3.3 pounds, the Neo is designed to be a cheaper entryway to Square Off’s smart chess experience. It’s controlled through an app on your phone, which connects to the board via a Bluetooth connection. From there, you can play against Square Off’s built-in A.I. with 30 different difficulty levels. You don’t just have to play against the computer though — the app also connects you to a world of real opponents. Send a challenge and the board handles the rest, transmitting your moves to their chessboard, while theirs are sent to yours.”

Owly Pack — modular backpack

Modular backpacks aren’t necessarily a new thing at this point, but Owly Pack seems pretty remarkable. Thanks to its unique set of swappable modules, you can easily add or remove features as necessary to build out the perfect pack for your particular adventure. For example, if you’re going on a quick and easy day hike and want to keep some drinks cold, you can zip in the cooler module. If you plan on camping where you’re headed, there’s a shelter module that contains a tent/hammock hybrid. And best of all? It’s completely waterproof to boot.

Editors' Recommendations

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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