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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: 3-wheeled longboards. smart shirts, and more


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns 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. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Rive — anti-texting smartphone car mount

What’s the best way to ensure you won’t text and drive? Make it impossible to do so. That’s the logic behind new a clever new smartphone accessory called Rive, a combination of hardware and software that promises to “eliminate the ability to text and drive while keeping you connected to what matters.” The goal of the product is to take away both the temptation and the ability to use your mobile device when you’re on the road, while simultaneously keeping your phone on your dashboard. This way, you still have access to things like GPS and music control.

So what goes into Rive? First and foremost, there’s the hardware. Simply plug one side into your dashboard, and the other side (a clip) will block your phone’s home button, which means that you’ll be physically unable to check your phone while driving. As for the Rive software, when your vehicle is in use, the Rive app will hold all your text message alerts (and anything else you ask it to keep for later). If you’re on a longer road trip, your contacts can receive a customizable auto-reply letting them know that you’re driving and can’t get to the phone.

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10ELEVEN9 — smart, sensor-studded shirt

More and more, wearable tech is moving beyond wristbands and watches. Now that smartphones have driven down the cost of sensors and made them cheap and easily accessible, designers are figuring out crazy new ways to implement them into things like clothing, shoes, and jewelry. The latest addition to this growing category is 10Eleven9: a smart shirt that attempts to fuse high tech with high fashion.

“This shirt, which looks like a traditional shirt, has the newest technology integrated,” Julia Seeler, senior account manager at Colorfy, told Digital Trends in an interview. “It’s the first smart shirt of its kind. Our goal is to bring a garment to the market which not only looks good, but supports the user in various ways to make his life easier and more convenient.”

In terms of tech and features, 10Eleven9 sports seven pockets, each of which can be accessed through an invisible opening in the shirt’s side seam. Two of these are even RFID-blocking pockets, designed to protect your passport and credit cards from potential high-tech scams. There’s also an obligatory plethora of smart sensors (of course), including heart rate sensors, posture sensor and breathing measurements, which can be read through either vibrating feedback or push notifications sent to your smartphone.

Ever been on a hot date and wished you had a shirt that would tell you to sit straighter and calm down? No? Well it doesn’t matter — your wish has been granted whether you wanted it or not!

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Landsurf — 3-wheeled surf-style longboard

There are countless longboards that claim to give you a very surf-like feel while you ride, but Landsurf might be the first one that truly makes you feel like you’re riding a wave. It’s basically a three-wheeled longboard (two normal wheels on a normal truck, then one 360-degree caster) that’s specifically designed to emulate a surfboard cruising on the water.

To create the board, a team of biomechanical engineers and professional surfers used motion sensors to recreate the movements of surfing, then utilized the results to tweak the board’s components and make it as surf-like as possible.

The Landsurf’s wheel configuration provides a rotational pivot that allows users to practice real surfing maneuvers — and that’s what’s so special about it. Unlike a skateboard, the LandSurf doesn’t need to be pushed. Instead, it’s powered by pumping, similar to how you might pump on a wave in the water. The front caster wheel 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.

The Landsurf also comes in a variety of different styles — each of which is better suited for various types of surf maneuvers, including carving, cutbacks, pumping, and snaps.

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BeeScanning — honeybee protection app

For decades, the Varroa Destructor mite has ravaged bee colonies all over the globe. Since the invasive species was first introduced into North America in the late 1980s, it’s been responsible for wiping out entire populations of Western honeybees — and it’s easy to see why. Western honeybees are completely defenseless against the mite.

The parasite, no bigger than a sesame seed, latches onto a bee and sucks its blood, eventually either killing it outright or making the bee more susceptible to disease. To make matters worse, beekeepers don’t really have much recourse when it comes to these mites, but thanks to an innovative new Kickstarer project, that might soon change.

BeeScanning is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mobile app that allows beekeepers to upload photos of their hives and get computer-aided insight into Varroa mite infestation levels. The app is still in development right now, which is why the creators put it up on Kickstarter. The end goal is to gather a bunch of user-submitted photos, and then use these to train an artificial neural network that can spot mites in pictures with far more accuracy than a human. With this tool, beekeepers will be able to more effectively manage their hives and protect them from parasites.

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Seed — retro-modern record player

After decades of moving away from records and the old-fashioned record player, history is repeating itself. But this isn’t your (great-great) grandmother’s phonograph — rather, the Seed promises to inject a heavy dose of modernity into a nostalgic piece of technology with its all-in-one multi-function turntable system. Promising top-notch sound quality, high output, and wireless streaming, the makers of Seed say this is the only setup you need to spin your favorite LPs.

It’s definitely not the first reimagining of the classic record player, but the Seed differentiates itself from the rest of the pack with high-end components and a patented suspension design. All this is integrated into all-in-one system driven by 70 watts of high-output amplification. The unique suspension system is meant to isolate the platter and tonearm from speaker vibrations, promising steady, clean sound even when the volume gets cranked. Moreover, Seed comes with a built-in amplifier, two 1-inch tweeters, and two 4-inch woofers, which come together to provide (allegedly) super dynamic sound.

We haven’t had a chance to hear it in person, but if it sounds half as good as it looks, we’ll be happy.

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