Giz Gadgets: Sometimes Good Things Come Of Kickstarter Too

Each new week brings with it an abundance of new gadgets -- whether devised by tech giants like Google and Samsung or pushed by hopeful entrepreneurs to Kickstarter, they run the gamut from useful to niche to tech that nobody really needs. This week we're looking at some great projects that have come out of Kickstarter and other small developers.

Image: Lifehacker


Melbourne Headphone Inventors Just Broke The Australian Kickstarter Record

Melbourne startup Nura has officially broken a record to become the most funded Australian Kickstarter campaign ever, reaching a current total of $1.2 million in pledges, with 12 days to go, for its world-first invention — headphones that learn and adapt to your unique hearing.

Nura is a new headphone that integrates unique soundwave technology to automatically measure your hearing (from the outer ear all the way to the brain), aiming to adapt the music perfectly to you.

Your hearing is as unique as your fingerprint, your face and your voice. Each of us has different sensitivities to different frequencies of sound. This means the same pair of headphones sound different for each person. And the difference is significant.

"In order for headphones to deliver the right sound," Nura says, "they must be matched to the listener".

Nura is aiming to bridge the worlds of hearing science, engineering and music to create the best music experience for everyone, uniquely. Unlike other premium headphones on the market, Nura conveys all of the detail in the recording and adapting to the way you hear.

This is an entirely new kind of headphone, world-first patented technology, and a home grown Aussie invention.


A Dedicated Wearable For Winter Sports Is Actually Clever

Image: Supplied

Image: Supplied

The verdict is still out on whether smartwatches are a legitimately useful thing to strap to your wrist. But setting Apple Watch dweebiness aside, a very limited, completely dedicated wrist-puter for winter sports could make real sense.

Smartphones and cold do not mix: either, you keep your phone buried under 18 layers and it's warm and inaccessible, or you take it out in 10-degree weather, and it dies instantly. I've been using a Pebble smartwatch since they first came out to combat this exact problem -- checking texts and switching music without having to pull my phone out -- but the small buttons aren't ideal.

YodelUp was a Kickstarter project for a much more specific kind of wearable. It's basically a chunky, screenless watch aimed at skiers and snowboarders. It's got two functions: letting you use big rocker buttons to control music, and a push-to-talk button that pairs with your phone to emulate a walkie-talkie.

It was $US100 on pre-order during Kickstarter and is now in further development, which is a steep price for a glorified Bluetooth remote with a wrist strap. But that said, it's cheaper than other smartwatches out there, and definitely better designed for skiing.

As ever, it's buyer beware with Kickstarter projects, although this one at least has a working prototype.


This 'Shazam For Text' Gadget Can Detect Fonts

Imagine being able to capture colours and fonts anywhere you are, and transfer them straight to InDesign. That’s what Spector can do, and while the gadget is still a prototype, its future is promising.

Wired tracked down the gadget creator, Fiona O’Leary, who developed Spector for her graduation project at the Royal College of Art. O’Leary calls Spector a “physical eyedropper”.

Getting it to work is simple — you put the Spector over whatever you want to capture and take a photo with the built-in camera. An algorithm translates the image into information about the shape of the typeface, or the color’s CMYK/RGB values, which is sent a font or color database for identification.

You can store up to 20 “captures” on Spector, or a custom plugin can port the font or color information to InDesign (if your computer is handy), and then you can highlight text or projects to automatically change to same you’ve selected.

So while you can’t throw your money at this invention right at this moment, be sure to watch this space.


What Does Every Camper Need? A Marshmallow Crossbow, Obviously

Image: Litchfield

On today’s episode of weird and wonderful weapons, we’re going to look at the marshmallow crossbow from the Vancouver-based Litchfield. Why anyone would want such a device is beyond me, but there must have been some inkling of a market for it to be a thing.

Lacking even the most basic of product descriptions, the crossbow appears to be solidly built for its purpose of flinging soft confectionery at fellow humans.

That said, I can’t really say how effective it is at the task, or whether such a spongy projectile would cause you harm (unlikely), but at the very least, whipping it out on a camping trip or similar external gathering should serve as a conversation starter for even the most socially desperate.

The crossbow would set you back $US90, or around $120 in local dollars, except Litchfield doesn’t ship outside of the US and Canada. Which is probably for the best.


You Can Now Buy A USB Powerbank That Also Charges Your MacBook

The MOS Go is a USB powerbank with a sizeable 12000mAh capacity, but it also has an extra handy hook for anyone with a new USB Type C-capable laptop like the 12-inch Apple MacBook or the HP Spectre — it can charge these significantly larger, more power-hungry notebooks through its high-power reversible output. After a long wait, it’s now on sale.

12000mAh means 44.4Wh capacity and the ability to charge a USB-C MacBook to 75 per cent of its battery from empty, which is pretty damn impressive considering we’ve clocked that tiny, super-thin laptop at around nine hours of usable life from a full charge. If you just want to charge a phone, that 12000mAh should mean up to four complete recharges of an iPhone-sized battery, or a couple of iPads worth.

Unlike most USB batteries already on the market, the MOS Go uses a USB-C port for power input as well as power output (alongside one legacy USB Type-A full-size output port), and this means it should be able to recharge pretty quickly. MOS also has new, more flexible spring-terminated cables on the way that it says should soon be available.

You can buy the MOS Go for a not-insignificant $US119.95 here, which is a lot of money for a simple battery but justifiable if you have a modern USB Type-C laptop and you find yourself running out of charge more often than not. MOS also has a video explaining the difference between its Go powerbank and other, lesser batteries.

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