Brilliant new T-shirt lets travelers communicate with anyone, regardless of the language they speak

iconspeak travel signs t shirt screen shot 2016 04 21 at 1 59 25 pm
Your mother may have told you that pointing is rude, but when you need to communicate, you do what you gotta do. Now, that involves pointing at your new favorite travel shirt from Iconspeak. It’s not “smart” in the 21st-century digital sense of the word, but it’s still pretty genius (if not absurd in its simplicity). Iconspeak offers the “ultimate functional wear for the modern traveler,” and that includes a seriously clever T-shirt that features 40 of the most commonly asked-for icons when traveling in a foreign land. So instead of relying on your odd gesticulations and broken (though sincere) attempts at speaking another language, just point to what you need instead — on yourself.

The very definition of a statement piece, Iconspeak was created by a Swiss team that recognized a need for easier methods of communication. “We came up with the idea in 2013 when we were riding motorbikes through Vietnam and one broke down,” co-founder George Horn told CNN. At the time, he and his friends used a series of flashcards bearing symbols to get their point across to the locals, and found that it was a surprisingly efficient means of communication. So of course, they turned it into a T-shirt.

“It was a long process,” Horn said. “We started with a huge list of possible items and began testing a lot of prototypes.” The 40 symbols were carefully considered to ensure that none of them could be offensive (no religious symbols are included, for example), but were all necessary and useful in day-to-day life.

“I’ve been testing them around Europe and my colleague Florian is right now using them in Latin America,” he added.

Currently available for purchase online at, the shirts retail for $33 and include figures to help you talk about everything from bikes to beer to the Wi-Fi — basically, the important things in life. So if you’ve got any trips coming up, perhaps considering investing in a shirt instead of a new edition of Rosetta Stone.


Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Digital Trends Live

Jobbatical’s Lauren Proctor discusses the future of jobs for tech experts

Today on Digital Trends Live we had Jobbatical's Lauren Proctor to talk about the future trends for finding tech jobs abroad, including a Digital Nomad Visa, which allows tech experts to travel from country to country much easier.

Forget pumps. This innovative filter purifies H2O in 8 seconds flat

The Grayl Geopress water purification system removes more than 99 percent of all bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water in just eight seconds, providing clean drinking water to travelers and outdoor adventurers.

Get caught up on all things 'Fallout 76,' including recent controversies

Bethesda's Fallout 76 takes the open world series in a new direction. With an emphasis on co-op, survival, and rebuilding a broken world, Fallout 76 is a far different game than its predecessors.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.