Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: inflatable backpacks and robotic submarines | Computing

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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 those with the best intentions — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

August 19th

Air Pack — backpack

Generally speaking, can be divvied up into two categories: There are ones that are compact but not ideal for big trips, and ones that are massive and good for hauling a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, there’s not much overlap between these two categories. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any. Small, lightweight that boast large capacities and are comfortable to wear with heavy loads are practically non-existent. This means you’re often forced to choose between the two, or settle for a middle-ground option that does a mediocre job of both. But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if there was a lightweight pack that could handle large loads, but also take up a tiny amount of space when not in use?

Well, that’s precisely the idea behind the Air Pack. It’s an ultralight pack that’s also ultra compact, tough as nails, waterproof, and super comfortable when fully loaded. The secret to the packs success is it’s unique inflatable support system. With just a single lung-full of air, you can quickly inflate the bag’s shoulder straps, hip belt, and frame. This adds cushion in all the necessary areas, and also gives the pack rigidity, so it can more effectively transfer weight off of your shoulders and onto your hips. Plus, when it’s deflated and folded up, it’s no bigger than the palm of your hand. Pretty nifty, right?

Lyd — sippy cup for adults

Here’s Dyllan Furness with the scoop: “Technology companies have a habit of solving problems we didn’t know existed. Paper maps were working just fine until apps came along. And now look at us. We can hardly find the way home when our phone is dead.  Enter Lyd, a battery-powered bottle that is something like a sippy cup for adults. If you’re the type of grownup who constantly spills drinks on yourself, Lyd may be perfect for you. If you aren’t, the high- container might strike you as a bit of a gimmick.

Lyd’s no-spill solution is a specialized, well, lid that uses an algorithm to detect when your lips are on the bottle.  For Lyd CEO Fredrik Krafft, the inspiration for his product came from a moment of clarity. ‘I remember the moment very clearly,’ he told Digital Trends. ‘I was holding a vacuum bottle and was thinking [about] how the bottle should work. It came to me that it should work just like when you drink from a glass.’ In other words, he wanted a bottle that could be drunk from all sides. The final product contains a 360-degree lid for ultimate ease of access, and a vacuum flask designed to keep hot beverage hot and cold drinks cold.”

Para — Pythagorean laser measurer

Measurement is a tricky thing. Depending on what you’re trying to measure, you typically need a specific tool for the job. For things like length and height, you can use a tape measure. For longer distances, a laser rangefinder might be necessary. And if you need to figure out the circumference of something, you need a tape measure that can be wrapped around your object. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a single tool you could use in all of these situations — and also make them easier than ever?

Enter: Para. It’s a smart new take on the traditional laser range finder that’s designed to find distances in two clever ways. The first and most interesting way uses the Pythagorean theorem. The device basically shoots out two lasers in a sort of V pattern — two sides of a triangle. Because it knows the length of these sides, Para can instantly determine the length of the third side (the hypotenuse)  uses a digitally measured cord instead of a numbered piece of tape — which allows you to bend it around curved surfaces and irregularly shaped objects. On the bottom, there’s also a roller wheel, which will track distances digitally as it runs along a certain path — which makes measuring curves and irregular surfaces a snap.

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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 those with the best intentions — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

August 19th

Web Hosting

Air Pack — inflatable backpack

Generally speaking, backpacks can be divvied up into two categories: There are ones that are compact but not ideal for big trips, and ones that are massive and good for hauling a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, there’s not much overlap between these two categories. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any. Small, lightweight backpacks that boast large capacities and are comfortable to wear with heavy loads are practically non-existent. This means you’re often forced to choose between the two, or settle for a middle-ground option that does a mediocre job of both. But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if there was a lightweight pack that could handle large loads, but also take up a tiny amount of space when not in use? Well, that’s precisely the idea behind the Air Pack. It’s an ultralight pack that’s also ultra compact, tough as nails, waterproof, and super comfortable when fully loaded. The secret to the packs success is it’s unique inflatable support system. With just a single lung-full of air, you can quickly inflate the bag’s shoulder straps, hip belt, and frame. This adds cushion in all the necessary areas, and also gives the pack rigidity, so it can more effectively transfer weight off of your shoulders and onto your hips. Plus, when it’s deflated and folded up, it’s no bigger than the palm of your hand. Pretty nifty, right? Lyd — sippy cup for adults Here’s Dyllan Furness with the scoop: “Technology companies have a habit of solving problems we didn’t know existed. Paper maps were working just fine until apps came along. And now look at us. We can hardly find the way home when our phone is dead.  Enter Lyd, a battery-powered bottle that is something like a sippy cup for adults. If you’re the type of grownup who constantly spills drinks on yourself, Lyd may be perfect for you. If you aren’t, the high-tech container might strike you as a bit of a gimmick. Lyd’s no-spill solution is a specialized, well, lid that uses an algorithm to detect when your lips are on the bottle.  For Lyd CEO Fredrik Krafft, the inspiration for his product came from a moment of clarity. ‘I remember the moment very clearly,’ he told Digital Trends. ‘I was holding a vacuum bottle and was thinking [about] how the bottle should work. It came to me that it should work just like when you drink from a glass.’ In other words, he wanted a bottle that could be drunk from all sides. The final product contains a 360-degree lid for ultimate ease of access, and a vacuum flask designed to keep hot beverage hot and cold drinks cold.” Para — Pythagorean laser measurer Measurement is a tricky thing. Depending on what you’re trying to measure, you typically need a specific tool for the job. For things like length and height, you can use a tape measure. For longer distances, a laser rangefinder might be necessary. And if you need to figure out the circumference of something, you need a tape measure that can be wrapped around your object. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a single tool you could use in all of these situations — and also make them easier than ever?   Enter: Para. It’s a smart new take on the traditional laser range finder that’s designed to find distances in two clever ways. The first and most interesting way uses the Pythagorean theorem. The device basically shoots out two lasers in a sort of V pattern — two sides of a triangle. Because it knows the length of these sides, Para can instantly determine the length of the third side (the hypotenuse)  uses a digitally measured cord instead of a numbered piece of tape — which allows you to bend it around curved surfaces and irregularly shaped objects. On the bottom, there’s also a roller wheel, which will track distances digitally as it runs along a certain path — which makes measuring curves and irregular surfaces a snap. BW Space — Underwater drone w/ face tracking We covered this one last week, so here’s a quick cut from the full article: “Chalk it up to a misspent youth watching movies like The Abyss if you want, but we’re total suckers for underwater robots. However, the majority of machines we see in this space are either aimed at industry or used exclusively as research and development projects within university research labs. Thankfully, Chinese startup Youcan Robot is throwing a bone to the regular working man and woman — courtesy of its new underwater drone, which just launched on Kickstarter.   Called BW Space, it’s a remote control drone that’s capable of descending more than 300 feet below the waves, attached to dry land via a communications cable which reaches up to a Wi-Fi module on the surface. So long as you’re within range of this module, you can then control the underwater drone using your trusty smartphone or tablet. What better way to spend a day at the beach than taking well-illuminated 4K videos or 12MP stills of the depths, right?” GoChair — ultracompact folding chair Camp chairs (much like backpacks) can be divvied up into two distinct categories. There’s the kind that are big and bulky but easy to set up, and the kind that are tiny and lightweight but a massive pain to assemble. Both have their benefits — but unfortunately you can’t really get the best of both worlds in a single product. You either get a small one and suffer through five minutes of assembly/disassembly every time you need to use it, or you haul around a big, bulky one that folds and unfolds in seconds. But not to worry! If you’ve been waiting patiently for someone to design a chair that’s both compact and convenient to assemble, then we’ve got good news for you: The wait is finally over. Or at least it will be if the creators of GoChair have their way. This sucker is essentially an ultracompact camp chair that, thanks to its clever design, can pop open or fold up in the blink of an eye.

August 12

Vector — A.I. home robot

Here’s a quick cut from our full article on Vector, which ran earlier this week. “Sure, home robots such as the Roomba vacuum cleaner are pretty useful, but it’s still a long way from the characterful, interactive droids we were promised by a misspent youth watching Star Wars and Short Circuit. Fortunately, those dark, lonely days without the company of a droid buddy are about to be over — and we’ve got the Kickstarter campaign to prove it. Called Vector, it’s a diminutive always-on, fully autonomous, cloud-connected home robot bursting with personality. Capable of performing around 1,000 different animations, Vector can react to his environment in a way that’s disarmingly lifelike. That includes recognizing individual people courtesy of an in-built HD camera or responding to their touch via a capacitive touch sensor in his back. Oh, and did we mention that you can use Vector as a moving Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod-style smart speaker by asking him questions with the prefix, ‘Hey Vector’?”

MasterKey 4.0 — laser projection computer

Laser keyboards have been floating around for years now. If you’re not familiar, they’re the super futuristic-looking suckers that project a keyboard onto your desk via a low-power laser, then use sensors to detect when you’ve tapped one of the projected keys. They’re straight from the pages of science-fiction, and believe it or not, you can already get one of them on your desk for just a few bucks. Unfortunately, the idea has fizzled out somewhat in recent years due to a lack of practicality, but now there is a group of creators hoping to revive the laser keyboard and take it to the next level. The MasterKey 4.0, as it’s called, is essentially a laser keyboard fused with a projection-based computer. It has a projector on the front that projects your screen onto the wall, while a laser projector on the back beams a virtual keyboard onto your desk. Pretty , right? We have our doubts about how useful this gizmo would be in practice, but in theory, it’s just too cool to pass up. If you back the project now on Kickstarter, you can lock one down for about $180. Just don’t be surprised if the delivery date gets pushed back a bit. From what we can tell, the team doesn’t have a ton of manufacturing and production experience.

ViableStraw — telescoping, reusable straw

Straws might not be the most obvious perpetrators of environmental damage, but despite the fact that they keep a pretty low profile (compared to oil spills and people who drive Hummers), they’re a fairly big contributor to the world’s growing plastic waste problem. Think about it: People in the United States use about 500 million plastic straws per day, and practically all of them are disposed of after use. That’s a hell of a lot of plastic waste. But what if there was an alternative? That is precisely where Viablestraw comes in. The mission of the team behind it is to reduce plastic straw use by giving people a convenient, reusable alternative. In doing so, they hope to make the public more aware of the devastating effects of plastic pollution and use that awareness to pressure restaurants to stop using straws. According to recent estimates, one reusable straw like Viablestraw can save 584 plastic straws from entering the world’s oceans and landfills each year.

Bedjet V3 — HVAC for your bed

When Mark Aramli appeared on Shark Tank to pitch the original BedJet, it didn’t go well. Mark Cuban said he didn’t hear enough about the technology of the climate-control machine designed specifically for beds, while investor Barbara Corcoran was concerned it wouldn’t fit under her luxury, quilted mattress — the same market Aramli was planning to target. Later, on Twitter, Lori Greiner called him “rude” for ignoring her question, which caused her to drop out. In the end, no one bought in.  But that didn’t stop Aramli from succeeding. Since the Shark Tank appearance, thousands of BedJets have been sold to customers around the globe — and now the company is back with its third iteration. Here’s a quick explanation of how it works from Jenny McGrath: “The system isn’t meant to replace your existing HVAC but merely warm up or cool down your sheets in three minutes or 10 seconds, respectively. It sort of looks like a vacuum cleaner but it actually blows air into your bed. It puffs up the sheets and blanket, so the air can flow to the whole mattress. The system is also smart, controlled by an iPhone or Android app (and now via Alexa voice commands), and will make a temperature profile for you based on sex, age, and body type. Sensors track your sleep and the ambient temperature and the system kicks on and off accordingly.  The dual-zone works with an AirComforter, a washable top-sheet replacement with two separated cavities. The nozzle fills the chambers with either warm or cold air, depending on how hot or cold you and your partner sleep.

Trident — underwater scooter

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Luke Dormehl covered this one earlier in the week, so we’ll let him explain: “It used to be that a day at the beach required a pair of swim trunks or equivalent, a picnic, and maybe a shovel and bucket if you really wanted to go the extra mile. That was before the recent wave of underwater jet packs, drones, and assorted other gadgets that turn a day lying on the sand into some kind of high-tech James Bond mission. (Remember to watch out for the suspicious villainous henchmen who are sunbathing in full clothing, and likely sport some sartorial flourish like an eye patch, hook hand, or very unhappy white cat.) Adding to this growing genre of water-based gizmos is the so-called Trident, an “underwater scooter” which lets scuba divers, snorkelers, and secret agents propel themselves through the depths with a maximum of 26 pounds of thrust. This translates into your choice of either 2.2 or 4.3 mph. The top speed isn’t significantly faster than the average person’s swimming speed (supposedly around 3.7 mph), but it does mean that you won’t have to worry about the strenuous activity of actually swimming. Also, thanks to an hour’s charge, courtesy of Trident’s 24V/6,000-mAh lithium battery pack, you should be able to keep up the pace for a lot longer than your average swimmer.”

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