Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Haptic bass straps, musical rings, 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 fidget spinners 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.

April 22nd

OneUp — throwable life preserver

We covered this one last week, so here’s an excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full story: “When you’re talking about a potentially life-saving device like a life preserver, it should ideally fit a couple of criteria: ease of transport and quick, easy deployment. This combination means that, should disaster strike, you’ll be in the best possible position to do something about it. The designers of a new life preserver called OneUp have apparently taken these crucial points into consideration when developing their new device. The result is a gadget the size and shape of a large can of soda, but which promises to rapidly inflate into a full-sized polyurethane float in just a couple of seconds.

‘OneUp is a portable life float which is automatically inflated in two seconds once in contact with water,’ Saul de Leon, CEO and founder of OneUp, told Digital Trends. ‘It is lightweight, portable, and easy to throw. You don’t need to do anything [special] to activate it, you just need to throw it [into] the water.’

The device’s cylindrical case houses the deflated float, a CO2 canister, a salt pod, and a spring. The moment the device comes into contact with water, the salt pod dissolves, releasing the spring, and triggering the CO2 canister to inflate the float, which subsequently bursts out of its container. According to its creators, it can support swimmers weighing up to 330 pounds. Once used, you can then replace the CO2 canister and salt pod in order to recycle the device.”

Back Beat — haptic feedback for bassists

Remember those Rumble Packs that Nintendo sold as an attachment for the N64? They were a clever peripheral that allowed the player to feel in-game events in the form of vibration. The more intense the event was, the more the rumble pack would vibrate. Now that this kind of haptic feedback is built into just about every standard game controller, designers are taking the idea and applying it to other devices. Case in point? This vibrating amplifier pack designed for bassists, named Backbeat.

“Designed in Detroit, BackBeat is a wearable subwoofer designed to meet the performance and practice needs of the serious bass player,” the creators explain on Kickstarter.  “When you play a string on your bass, BackBeat turns the sound you make into a vibration you can feel. Clip it to your strap, connect it to your bass, feel what you play. Plug your headphones into the BackBeat for a complete auditory and tactile immersion experience. BackBeat allows you to play with confidence by providing instant feedback directly to your body.

Natede — plant-powered air purifier

Keeping a bit of greenery around your house works wonders for keeping the air in your home fresh, but with the addition of a bit of technology, the purifying power of plants can apparently be supercharged. That’s the idea behind Natede, a new product from San Francisco-based startup Clairy. It’s essentially a living air filter that accelerates room pollutants through the soil/root system of a plant to continuously clean and oxygenate your home’s atmosphere.

Here’s how it works: once you’ve got a living plant growing happily inside the chamber, just switch it on and a small fan will draw in air from the top and suck it down through the soil. The soil works almost like a charcoal filter, trapping airborne pollutants. Microbes on the plant’s roots will then metabolize the toxins and break them down. A tray of water underneath the soil produces humidity that keeps the plant moist and traps additional toxic molecules. And once the air has run through this all-natural filtration gauntlet, a vent on the side recirculates it into the room.

Cyborg Drummer — robotic prosthetic for drummers

A few years ago, Digital Trends published a story about a man named Jason Barnes, who lost his right hand and forearm due to an electrocution accident in 2012. Initially, Barnes thought his drumming career was over — but after seeing a video of a robotic marimba player online, he had an idea. He reached out to the creator, professor Gil Winberg of Georgia Tech, and the two began working on a bionic arm designed specifically to help Barnes to play the drums again. Now, they’re on Kickstarter to get extra funding for development.

“By supporting the Cyborg Drummer project, you would help amputee drummer Jason Barnes get his own robotic drumming prosthetic,” the Kickstarter campaign page explains. “This revolutionary technology would not only allow Jason to play like he used to before his injury, but also enable him to push what’s humanly possible, with unbelievable speed and virtuosic capabilities. With the new arm we will compose, record and perform new music to which you will get exclusive access.”

Neova — connected ring for musicians

The piano is arguably one of the most dynamic musical instruments ever created — but it does have its own set of limitations. While playing the piano, a musician can only use existing keys and produce specific, fixed notes. This is notably different than say, the guitar, where a player can bend the notes, or the French horn, where a player can use their breath to shape the tone. The piano is not quite as free and expressive.

Sure, modern keyboards have helped overcome this limitation somewhat, but they often do so via peripheral buttons and sliders that require the musician to take his fingers off the keyboard itself.

Neova aims to change that. “Neova is a MIDI ring controller that lets musicians control any musical effect with natural hand gestures,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “The ring comes with a hub that connects via USB to the computer or via MIDI with instruments that supports it. Neova is designed with 9 motion sensors which have highly accurate gesture recognition algorithms. They enable to control musical effects naturally and only when intended to. We imagined Neova with the simple idea of creating the shortest path between your musical intention and music creation.”

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