Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Self-healing gear bags and 3D-printed jewelry
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.
Wooden Word Watch — Alphabetical timepiece
Ever seen that sweet typographical clock that spells out the time in full words instead of numbers? The Qlocktwo, as it’s called, hit the scene a few years ago and has since gone on to win numerous awards for its innovative and visually appealing design. A couple years after its big debut, the company behind the clock released a smaller, more wrist-friendly version called the Qlocktwo W. It’s basically a watch with the same typographic clock face, just miniaturized a bit. The only problem, however, is that both the original and wrist-borne iterations of the Qlocktwo are outrageously expensive.
But don’t fret — there’s a fresh new project up on Kickstarter for a wristwatch that boasts a very similar design — but for a tiny fraction of the price. The blandly-named Wooden Word Watch is exactly what it sounds like: a wooden watch that bears a striking resemblance to the Qlocktwo clock, and displays time typographically instead of numerically. The best part, however, is that you can reserve one now on Kickstarter for just $219 — nearly a quarter of the price of the Qlocktwo W. If you’re a fan of good design or a watch collector looking to add a unique piece to your collection, this thing should definitely be on your radar.
Wolverine Pack – Self-healing utility bag
High-performance textiles have come a long way in the past couple decades, and now gear manufacturers have a veritable boatload of different materials to choose from when designing stuff. There’s super lightweight stuff like cuben fiber, waterproof stuff like GoreTex, and even super durable slash-proof fabric like Dyneema. But the material the Wolverine Pack is made from makes the aforementioned textiles seem like they’re from the Stone Age. This compressible utility pack is made from something called FuseFabric — a new material that allegedly has self-healing abilities.
In the unfortunate event that your Wolverine Pack should get punctured, all you need to do is pinch the fabric around the hole and rub it between your fingers. Due to the material’s unique construction, this slight bit of friction and heat will cause the fibers to bond with each other and fuse together again — thereby filling the puncture. We haven’t seen this stuff in person yet, so we’re still a bit wary about how effective it is — but there’s a pretty convincing video in the “prototyping” section of the campaign. Check it out and see for yourself!
FlexSafe — flexible, portable lockbox
Lock boxes come in just about every shape, size, and configuration these days. There are ones you can unlock with your fingerprint, ones that link to your smartphone, and even ones that call the cops if tampered with. Despite all this diversity and technological sophistication, however, most lockboxes suffer from the same drawback: they’re heavy as hell. Because safes by definition should be hardy and tough to break into, the vast majority of them are made out of metal, which is inherently rigid, heavy, and inconvenient to carry along with you. But what if there was a lightweight, flexible option that still offered the same level of protection against thieves?
That’s precisely the idea behind FlexSafe. It’s totally unlike any lockbox you’ve ever seen. Instead of layered steel, this badboy is made from a variety of special textiles that make it slash proof, smash-proof, and otherwise impervious to thieves. On top of that, the bag’s unique locking mechanism allows you to attach it to just about anything — be it a bike frame, a telephone pole, or even your deck chair at the pool. FlexSafe also boasts a variety of high-tech features as well, including an RFID-blocking interior, a motion-triggered alarm, and an optional power bank that recharges in the sun.
Tofu — Universal travel adapter/charger
If you ever plan to visit different countries in a single trip, bringing along a universal travel adapter is crucial. Depending on where you land, the outlets are likely to be completely different than what you’re used to — which means you’ll need an adapter to juice up your electronics. Luckily, there are tons of universal travel adapters on the market right now. You can pick one up for under $20 on Amazon right now — but the thing is, most of them aren’t so great. The vast majority of adapters you’ll find aren’t equipped with fuses, and virtually all of them are bulky and inconvenient for travel. Tofu is an attempt to change that.
Unlike most universal travel adapters, this one is designed to be slim, sleek, and travel friendly. On top of that, it’s also equipped with a fuseless design. Generally speaking, fuses are a good thing — as they prevent power surges from frying your devices. But they also have to be replaced after they burn up — which is inconvenient when you’re traveling around a foreign country and don’t know where to find a replacement. To avoid this, Tofu employs a fuseless system that’s allegedly still capable of protecting your laptop from unexpected power surges.
Bezel — 3D printed jewelry
Ever wished you could design custom jewelry the same way you design a custom t-shirt? Well if Chicago-based upstart Bezel succeeds with its freshly-launched Kickstarter campaign, you might soon be able to. In an effort to disrupt the jewelry industry, Bezel has developed an innovative platform that allows you to design, scale, and print jewelry from your smartphone or tablet. And we’re not talking about cheap plastic either. Thanks to recent advances in 3D printing technology, anything you design on Bezel can be printed in real, jewelry-grade metal.
What’s more, that’s not even the coolest part. Once you’ve uploaded your design, you can actually use the app to “wear” your creation virtually to see how it looks on you. The real innovation, however, is in Bezel’s sizing process. The app uses your smartphone’s camera (and a bundle of highly-sophisticated algorithms) to calculate the circumference of your fingers and determine your ring size. Believe it or not, Bezel’s software is so precise that it can approximate ring circumference for every digit on your hand, with millimeter accuracy. All that information is stored in the cloud and can be applied to any future designs you upload.