The Couchlet nestles between cushions or under a mattress to make for a more comfortable reach of your phone when charging. Photo: Trident Design
Chris Hawker does his best thinking when he sees someone doing something awkward. Watching people struggle with everyday tools guides the designer to invent things that solve everyday problems, from peeling a cucumber to powering our growing number of electronic devices.
So when Hawker found himself in an uncomfortable stretch between his couch and the nearest outlet, trying to charge his phone and talk on it at the same time, he wished for a plug-in near his leg.
Hawker came up with Couchlet, a thin, dual-USB port that tucks in between couch cushions or wedges beneath a mattress. On Indiegogo for just three days, the Couchlet attracted more than 1,600 funders and surpassed a $30,000 goal.
The Titanic: Honor and Glory game would take players through the full five days of the luxury liner’s tragic journey. Photo: Four Funnels Entertainment
Video games let us experience murderous rampages, violent carjackings and the horrors of war. But should virtual entertainment take us through a real-life tragedy with depictions of the actual people who lost their lives?
The developers of Titanic: Honor and Glory are prepared to answer that question as they build out a game based on the 1912 sinking of the luxury liner that claimed more than 1,500 lives.
The wearable tech you can take off and talk into. Photo: .klatz
Some of the best tech ideas come from taking two separate concepts and trying to merge them together into one device.
With all the chatter about smartwatches and smartphones as of late, it was only going to be so long before someone tried to combine the two: creating a gadget that gives smartwatch-like functionality while on the wrist, but also allows the user to take it off and use it like a smartphone when necessary.
That’s the idea behind .klatz, a Ukrainian “smartwatch/watchphone” project that’s currently raising money on Indiegogo. Its creator points out its iOS support — which means that you can pair it with an iPhone if you don’t fancy using it as your primary handset — while a promo video for the project shows it providing Pebble-style notifications, along with fitness tracking and music playing functionality.
Crowdfunding has been one of the best things to happen to entrepreneurs since the invention of the IPO. It's been pretty great for technophiles, too, giving us the chance to get involved with exciting projects at the earliest stage possible. Scouring through the pages of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, we've put together a list of the eight most tantalizing projects we've seen so far. What are they? Peruse our gallery to find out.
SITU is an attractive Bluetooth food scale that talks to your iPad. Created by former Apple employee Michael Grothaus — who came up with the idea while sitting in Apple’s Caffè Macs cafeteria — the device lets you see the exact nutritional content of any food you place on it, based on the food’s weight and broken down into calories, sugar, salt, protein, vitamins and minerals. The device itself is beautiful, too, with a simple but pleasing design that could have come straight out of Jony Ive’s workshop.
“This one weird trick” is usually a cue you’re in a part of the Internet where somebody is trying to convince you a British woman figured out a way to nab a new iPhone for just $10, or a guy worked out a totally safe steroid substitute doctors don’t want you know about. Not so in the case of Lunecase.
This iPhone case's one weird trick isn’t massively useful, but it is pretty cool nonetheless: Lunecase uses your device’s electromagnetic radiation to tell you of alerts you receive, then lights up the appropriate symbol on back to show if you’re getting a phone call or text message. Currently available for pre-order.
Milled from solid aluminum, the Elevation is the iPhone dock we wish Apple would make. What does it have over other docks? Attractive design, physical weight and an easy docking/undocking function, to name a few positives. There have been several versions since the first iteration of the Elevation Dock, but this is one crowdfunding project that definitely connected with the crowd needed to support it. Currently available for sale through its official website.
Apple is looking to out-feature this smartwatch with its long-awaited iWatch, but the Pebble is still a great device that works perfectly with your iPhone. Originally asking for just $100,000 on Kickstarter, the Pebble project ended up raking in a massive $10,266,845 in backer support. From its seamless integration with iOS — for notifications and easy control of iTunes and the like — to its own dedicated watch apps, Pebble is one of the best smartwatches to date.
How good is it? Even if the iWatch can do everything it’s rumored to do, I can still see why some users would stick with the Pebble.
Have you heard the one about Neil Young’s high-definition iPod? I’ll admit I chuckled when I heard about the PonoPlayer, as did a lot of people, but few were laughing when the project racked up $6,225,354 in backer support against a stated goal of $800,000. With "Pono" being a Hawaiian word for “righteous” or “pureness,” the PonoPlayer hopes to deliver the same kind of leap from today’s MP3s that we saw when cassette tapes made way for CDs.
Young’s goal is that our "cultural history should be preserved for enjoyment of the people in its highest possible form forever.” And despite the PonoPlayer's slightly wacky design, he’s convinced it's the tool to accomplish it. Pono will soon begin shipping more than 15,000 PonoPlayers to its Kickstarter backers.
Is there any more obvious sign of the increasing role computers are playing in our lives than the fact that we now use them in the kitchen? Even 20 years ago, the idea that we would want to expose our laptops or desktops to the same surface we were chopping meat and onions on would have seemed preposterous. If you’re anything like me, that changed the moment the iPad came along, and you got used to being able to watch TV or check out a recipe while you were cooking. The MagBak, a super-thin iPad case that lets you magnetically stick your tablet to your fridge door, is particularly great for this application. It’s a neat design and works excellently.
One of the biggest — and arguably most controversial — crowdfunding campaigns was for the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. One of the biggest because it saw backers pledge $2,437,429 against a $250,000 goal; one of the most controversial because after that influx of capital from the well-meaning public, the Oculus' creators promptly sold pit to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook empire for the grand sum of $2 billion.
Everyone, with the conspicuous absence of Apple (for now!), is announcing VR projects today. With possible applications in everything from video games to movies, it’s looking like one of the most exciting paradigm shifts to hit tech in years.
As for Oculus’ current status? We’re waiting for the second big iteration, but Oculus VR is currently cracking down on people looking to turn a profit by selling their preordered devices before they even ship.
Compared to the world of virtual reality promised by Oculus, a device that makes your phone beep when you lose it sounds pretty minor. But just because a device solves a relatively run-of-the-mill, commonplace problem doesn’t mean there’s no demand for it. The Duet's Indiegogo campaign proved that perfectly, when it surged past its $5,000 goal by 2,137 percent to raise $106,830.
The Duet is a smart Bluetooth tag that watches out for your iPhone. Working with the PROTAG app, the tag attaches to your key chain, bag or wallet and then searches for your smartphone (or vice versa), allowing you to quickly and easily find whichever of your precious personal belongings have been misplaced. At time of writing, backers have started receiving their devices.
This combined Bluetooth attack alarm, flashlight and pepper spray is called the Peacekeeper. LOL.
The Peacekeeper keeps the peace by letting its user deliver a does of “military-grade” pepper spray into the face of another human being. Here’s what that means, according to a paper from the European Parliament Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA).
The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15–30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes.
You know how when you pull that rank-looking piece of meat from the fridge, you don’t really know whether it’ll fill you or kill you? Is that chunk of chicken still fresh? Should you grill that fish or toss it?
Now (or soon anyway), you can use the Peres to answer those questions. It’s an electronic nose that sniffs your meat and tells you whether it’s still good to eat.
QuickTime architect, ex-Apple programmer, and former trusted Steve Jobs lieutenant Peter Hoddie has launched a new Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
They say cellphones have ruined dramatic fiction. Next time you watch a TV police procedural or read a modern novel, check how many times the characters stray out of cellphone range, or lose their handsets altogether. The truth is that – in fiction just as in real life – the cellphone is just too useful, too good as a means of rescue.
Would Stargate have worked so well if James Spader could have just snapped a photo of those runes and used Google Translate? No. Would Marty McFly have gone back to 1955 if he could have just FaceTimed Doc Brown when he woke up late? Of course not.
And yet it gets worse. Now there’s a case which will let TV characters –and you – get rescued every damn time.
The BluCub is a lot like the Tempo pebble I reviewed a few weeks back, only instead of measuring just temperature, it also measures humidity, adding another feather to your home-weather-station cap. If you wear a cap and put a feather in it when you buy a Bluetooth sensor, that is.
The Togo Dock is a new pocket-sized iPhone dock from the makers of the Une Bobine, the super-successful “handy bendy iPhone-holding snake.” The new gadget is as simple as can be: it’s a little plastic reel with a magnet on the back, which turns a lightning cable into an iPhone dock that can be stuck to anything – as long as it’s made of ferrous metal.