Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Graphene headphones, a smarter ball for Fido

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 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.

Bringy — smart dog ball

Fitness trackers for pets aren’t exactly a novel concept, but Bringy is a fresh take on an otherwise stale idea. Instead of tracking your furry friend’s every move (or lack thereof), this gizmo is designed to track your dog’s ball-chasing stats. It’s basically a bunch of sensors and processors packed into a durable, fetch-proof ball. When paired with a smartphone, the device can monitor the speed and distance that your dog has run, and also track how high he or she jumps to retrieve the ball. It’ll even compile stats over time so you can see how your dog has improved in terms of quickness and agility while training with the ball.

And don’t worry about it getting chewed to bits, either — Bringy is made of durable, chew-proof materials that are designed to keep the internal electronics safe no matter how much abuse you give it. And Bringy is jam packed with other handy features; for instance, it has a built-in alarm that can be activated to help locate it when you lose track of the ball, as well as an internal LED light that makes it more visible in low-light conditions. It is also shock and waterproof, allowing it to be used on hard ground, concrete, or even a lake or pool.

Foldio3 — ultraportable pop-up photo studio

If you’re an avid online seller on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or even Etsy and Amazon, you know how important it is to have high-quality product shots. A good image can spell the difference between making a sale and missing out on one — especially if there are other sellers hawking similar wares elsewhere online. But not everybody has a budget to hire a professional for magazine-quality photos (nor the time to make one of their own). That is, until now.

Foldio3 is (as you’ve probably guessed from the name) the third generation of Foldio’s signature pop-up photo studio. It’s essentially a collapsible box made from laminated white paper and equipped with a set of LEDs. When unfolded, it provides a perfectly-lit, all-encompassing white backdrop for your photos. But in this latest iteration, Foldio3 also has some new tricks to show off. Whereas the first and second generations were smaller, and intended primarily for smartphone photography, Foldio3 is larger, and designed for both smartphones and traditional cameras. It also boasts an updated lighting system that’s brighter and more consistent, which results in less visible shadows.

Visio — portable photoprojector

Visio (not to be confused with the TV manufacturer Vizio) is a super-powerful mobile projector designed for one thing: emblazoning huge still images onto large outdoor spaces. With an aim to “bring still projection out of the shadow of animated projection,” the device projects photo slides onto potentially enormous surfaces, offering quality beyond that of 4K digital projection.The French team behind the device was keen to overcome limitations found with many of today’s projectors, including their high cost, physical fragility, high energy consumption, and large size.

To use Visio, you simply pop a standard 35mm slide into the device’s holder. Sure, most people don’t really keep 35mm slides around these days, but there are plenty of services that’ll convert your digital images into slide format for a small fee. Once you’ve got your image in physical form, you’re ready to go. Just open up the device, slip the slide between the light and the lens, close it up, and you’re ready to start projecting. Visio’s creators say the device runs for three hours on a single charge, and could appeal to artists interested in creating outdoor installations or simply showing off their work.

Ora GrapheneQ — graphene headphones

Graphene is amazing. A true wonder-material, it’s exceptionally light, thin, and strong, making it ideal for a wide range of different applications — including making great sound. With that in mind, Canadian startup Ora has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the “world’s first” graphene-based headphones —  and while we haven’t had a chance to hear them yet, they certainly sound good on paper.

It’s all about physics — traditional dynamic drivers, also called moving coil drivers, use an electrically charged voice coil to move a cone, which in turn creates sound waves. The heavier a speaker’s cone, the harder it is to drive. With their incredible strength-to-weight ratio, graphene drivers cut down on the amount of power that’s required to move the coil back and forth, creating better efficiency, and in theory, better sound. But that’s not even the best part. Ora’s GrapheneQ compound is also ridiculously cheap to produce, so you can pre-order a set of these cutting-edge headphones for just $200 on Kickstarter.

Mistbox — moisture based air cooler

Air conditioning is arguably the best thing since sliced bread, but unfortunately, AC units aren’t exactly the most efficient contraptions in the world. Running your AC all day is a surefire way to jack up your electricity bill. But what if there was a way to boost the cooling power of your AC system without using much more electricity? Well, thanks to a clever gizmo called Mistbox, that’s now possible.

To achieve this seemingly magical result, the device uses an age-old trick that scientists refer to as “evaporative cooling.” Essentially, you clip Mistbox onto your AC intake unit, and it’ll periodically send a burst of water mist into the air above the intake. Thanks to physics, this helps pre-cool the air before it enters your system, resulting in more efficient cooling for a relatively low amount of power input. Mistbox’s creators claim it can reduce your air conditioning bill by up to 30 percent. If that’s true, that means the device could pay for itself within a year or two — depending on how much your use your AC unit.

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