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December 10, 2017

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Folding helmets and emojis for your carna

by John_A

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

Isolite — light modifier for photographers

You know those “light field” Lytro cameras that allow you to take a picture, then adjust the focus later? Isolite works on basically the same principle, but rather than allowing you to adjust the focus of an image after you’ve shot it, the system allows you to adjust the lighting of the scene. That might not sound particularly impressive on its own, but think about that for a second. Focus is controlled by the camera, but lighting is controlled by the light source, and generally isn’t something you can change after you’ve done your exposure. Isolite changes that.

“It fits on your light like any soft box or beauty dish,” creator Christ Gergley said. “But what makes Isolite unique is these special optical components that encode the light. These are used generally in scientific and medical imaging, but never before in conventional photography. All the information is captured in a single RAW file. The isolate hardware encodes the light into very specific wavelengths, and then we can easily decode it with our software, essentially splitting them into editable layers. Once you’ve adjusted the light, you edit as you would any other photo. Instead of pushing pixels, you’re playing with light.” 

Carwink — emoji-based car communication

When someone drives like a prick and cuts you off in traffic, you have a wide variety of non-verbal communication methods to express your feelings: you can flip that idiot the bird, lean on the horn, or just sit there and quietly fantasize about murdering him with a cheese grater. But what happens when somebody does something nice on the road, like giving you room to merge comfortably when you enter a busy freeway?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to express your gratitude? That’s precisely where Carwink comes in.

Carwink is a voice controlled, solar powered, emoji-based car-to-car communication device. “Designed with both form and function in mind, CarWink sets out to break the boundary between vehicles by using simple and pure communication methods,” the device’s Kickstarter page explains. “Gone are the days of rude hand gestures, sailor mouths and reckless driving. With CarWink’s hands-free voice control, drivers can now use a wide variety of emojis to communicate with one another.”

Want to give gratitude for lane change? Just say “Thanks!” and Carwink will display a smiley face to show how you feel. Accident ahead? Say it out loud, and Carwink will alert the cars behind you with an animated display.

Swytch Kit — ebike conversion system

If you’re looking to upgrade your traditional bicycle to an ebike, then you generally have two options: either install a complicated retrofit kit, or ditch your analog bike altogether and buy a ready-made electric one. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an easier option? Well, thanks to the Swytch Kit, there finally is. Unlike most of other retrofittable ebike kits out there right now, the Swytch is designed to be installed in just a few minutes. Using basic hand tools, the device can be affixed to just about any bicycle. Once you’ve got the kit on, the system’s electric drive module can be clipped on or off in seconds.

The secret to Swytch Kit’s success is a small electric motor that’s hidden inside a special front wheel. This wheel is available in all standard sizes, so no matter what kind of bike you have, Swytch has a setup that’ll work for you. This wheel is then linked up with a lightweight and removable power pack that sits between the handlebars — like a basket you can’t fill with anything. Inside the power pack is a battery, user display, controls, front light, and USB output for charging other devices.

Skateboard Surf Adapter — wave-simulating trucks

There are countless longboards that claim to give you a very surf-like feel while you ride, but the Skateboard Surf Adapter might be the first product that truly makes you feel like you’re riding a wave. It’s basically a swiveling truck system that’s specifically designed to make your land board feel like it’s cruising on water. And the best part is it’s just an adapter — not an entire board. You don’t have to dish out big bucks for a completely new setup. Just buy the little metal bracket, attach it to your existing skateboard, and start shredding.

So what’s so special about it? Well, unlike a normal board, a skate deck equipped with a Surf Adapter doesn’t need to be pushed. Instead, it can be powered by pumping, similar to how you might pump on a wave in the water. The front truck is designed with a slope that matches the direction of momentum, while also allowing for freedom of movement.  The rear two wheels work similarly to surfboard fins, providing stability in the tail of the board. You can attach it to practically anything, from a short deck to a giant land cruiser.

Lid — collapsible helmet

Riding your bike without a helmet is a bad idea — but many people forego one simply because lugging around a cumbersome helmet when you’re not riding the bike is inconvenient. Helmets just aren’t easy to stuff in a backpack or tuck in a purse, so you’re forced to clip them awkwardly onto exterior straps, or just wear them around and embrace the fact that you look like a doofus. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if there was a helmet that could not only offer protection for your melon, but also collapse and fit inside a backpack? Good news: there finally is, and it’s called the Lid.

“Our research told us that ‘helmet hassle’ is the No. 1 reason why cyclists opt not to wear a helmet, and also that safety concerns prevent many commuters from cycling altogether,” creator Sam Terry told Digital Trends’ Luke Dormehl in an interview. “We went about changing this and developed an eco-friendly helmet which would bring ‘safety with convenience’, by folding to a size and shape which would slip easily into a backpack, satchel, or handbag. We’ve designed Lid with clean lines and an urban profile, so we think it also looks great too.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best smart helmets are full of cool tech, and totally worth the messy hair
  • Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Heated coats, folding ebikes, and more
  • Nuviz motorcycle HUD review
  • Ditch your bulky commuter bike helmet and ride smarter with the foldable Lid
  • Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: 8K VR, smoke-free fires, a drone for your home

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