We've seen the concept cars we would love to drive, now we turn our attention to the technology of the future...
Concepts represent the very cutting edge future of technology and product design. Every gadget that defines the tech world now started off as a simple drawing on a piece of paper, so it would be remiss not to keep a watchful eye on concept tech.
As we continue through 2015, we'll be bringing you the most exciting new concepts that we find - from the sketchings of eccentric designers, to Kickstarter projects we think are worth your time. Read on, tech pioneer...
Klippa Leg for Climbers
Working with amputees, the Klippa Leg is a prosthetic leg designed specially for rock climbers. Inspired by mountain goats, the leg features a hoof-like soul for extra purchase, and there’s also an elastic pivot to mimic the ankle joint - one of the toughest pieces of human engineering to recreate.
£TBC | Klippa Leg for Climbers
Touted as the most affordable e-bike ever, the Sondors is fully electric, so it doesn’t require any pedalling to get it started. The 350W motor offers speeds up to 20mph and it can travel up to 50 miles on a single charge.
From $649 | Indiegogo
Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1
Set to be a hit with digital musicians, INSTRUMENT 1 is a single device that be used to mimic a variety of different instruments. It’ll hook up to any MIDI-compatible software and can be used with apps like Garageband.
$349 | Kickstarter
Pebble Time & Pebble Time Steel
Pebble is back with not one, but two next-gen smart wearables and it has used Kickstarter as a foundation to launch them. It did pretty well, racking up $20 million in funding and becoming the most successful project ever on the crowdfunding site, ever. But what sets this watch apart from the competition? Well, a new Timeline features lets you easily see what you've got coming up and apps integrate better with the system, so you're not endlessly scrolling through menus. It's compatible with all of the existing apps built for Pebble, should last around a week on a single charge and it's water-resistant too.
From $179 | Pebble Time
This award-winning bag is “the world’s smartest backpack” according to its makers, thanks to its integrated chargers and a USB port in every pocket. Charging can be controlled from your smartphone, without having to open the bag and it also features shock absorbers and a water-resistant coating.
$249 | Indiegogo
AKOLYT is a key that simply plugs into the diagnostics socket of any car built after 2001 and gives it a check-up. It also gives tips on eco-friendly driving techniques which could save you money on fuel.
99 Euros | Indiegogo
Nike Self Tying Shoe
It’s 2015, so all the future tech that Back to the Future Part II promised us should be landing this year. Hover boards are still a work in progress (we really wish they'd hurry up), but Nike’s self-tightening MAGS are soon to be a reality.
£TBC | Nike
This GPS tracker comes in three different configurations - for seatpost, tail light or handlebars - so that it can fit on any bike. Using a cellular network, you can triangulate the exact location of your bike on your phone, should it go missing.
From $82 | Indiegogo
Elon Musk Hyperloop
Charismatic Tesla boss and SpaceX founder Elon Musk isn’t content with changing the way we get around on four wheels. The transport mastermind has also come up with this supersonic train, which can travel at speeds of up to 700mph. It’s still at concept phase but work has started and, when it’s finished, could get you from London to Edinburgh in under 30 minutes.
The world’s thinnest international charger means that you’ll never run out of power again, no matter where in the world you are. Compatible with pretty much all USB-powered devices, the charger comes with a selection of interchangeable plugs which can be swapped according to which country you’re in.
$44 | Indiegogo
PLEN2 is the “first printable open-source humanoid” and includes a circuit board along with a series of 3D printable parts so that all you need to put to it together is a screwdriver (that and a 3D printer).
$499 | Kickstarter
One for water goers with cash to burn, this jaw-droopingly expensive eco-friendly electric watercraft features a silent motor and zero emissions meaning that it can be used on lakes and rivers where boats are not allowed. Oh, and it’s unsinkable. Although we don’t suggest you test that too extensively.
€15,000 (approx £11, 500) | Quadrofoil
This LED-embedded skipping rope syncs up to your smartphone to count ‘jumps’ and calculate the number of calories burned thanks to sensor technology housed in the handles.
$60 | Kickstarter
Senz Windproof Umbrella
An incredibly simple, yet effective, design innovation that ought to be particularly popular with us rain-soaked Brits - the Senz umbrella sports an asymmetric design that will keep its shape in heavy winds, rather than blowing inside out. Finally.
£62 | Senz
Typed: A Better Blogging Platform
We've mentioned Real Mac Software products before, whether it's Clear for iOS or the simple text editor Typed for Mac, but the latest product from the Brighton based team is something a little bit different. Again going with the Typed name, this time around though it's a web based blogging platform that aims to give you a beautiful writing experience plus all those typical blogging features, like tags, scheduling, additional pages and plenty of callaboration tools. It's mobile friendly, always a plus, and comes with plenty of slick themes.
With the smart home actually becoming a ‘thing’, the next problem we’ll no doubt face is how to control all our separate components, without juggling a 100 different apps. While Works with Nest and Apple’s HomeKit are working on the solution, the NEEO is actually much simpler and has the ability to work with anything. The futuristic looking, aluminium and glass clad remote wouldn’t look out of place on the Enterprise and has the design chops to make even Apple stand up and take note. Along with the remote, is the ‘Brain’ which connects to your home network and learns everything you’ve got hooked up, from your TV, to your Sonos and even your Hue bulbs and Nest Thermostat, you can then control everything with one device.
What we love most about Indiegogo and Kickstarter is there ability to give people a platform to take an everyday product and haul it in to the modern day. And that’s exactly what’s happened with the Bluesmart Carry On. At it’s core this is a piece of hand luggage, but in truth it’s a hell of lot more. It can be locked and unlocked from your phone, automatically sealing up when it senses you’re not close and the built-in scales mean you’ll have to pay excess baggage again. An integrated battery has enough juice to recharge your phone six times over, while the front pockets are made for tech, so you can quickly remove your laptop without opening up the whole bag. There’s even GPS on-board, so you always know where your bag is. Handy, eh?
Coolbox - Advanced toolbox
If you though there would be little to reinvent on the toolbox, you’d be wrong. The Coolbox is the toolbox of the 21st century, packed to bursting with tech. There’s an integrated battery that powers dual USB ports for charging, a Bluetooth speaker for pumping out some tunes while you’re working and sockets for all your power tools. Carrying is made easy thanks to wheels and durable handles, while an LED flood light on the front lets you get stuff done after dark. There’s even a whiteboard for jotting down notes and a magnetic panel for catching screws.
Moment iPhone case
The iPhone is one of, if not the best, phone to take pictures with, thanks to a sharp sensor, awesome low light performance and plenty of editing features. But it’s still a long way off feeling like a dedicated camera. Moment is looking to change that with its Case, a cover for the iPhone 6 that adds in a bunch of features photo junkies will love. First off there’s the improved grip, which juts out out just like a typical CSC or DSLR. There’s also a strap clasp, so you can keep your phone out at all times, in the hope of catching the perfect shot. There’s a two stage shutter button on the top that works with the Moment app, giving you more control and a clever lens interface that makes it easy to clip on one of Moment’s lenses.
Tracking your sleep is nothing new, we’ve had it on our fitness bands and smartwatches for a while. Even the idea of laying something under your bedsheets is an area that’s already been tackled (hello Beddit). So, what really sets Luna apart? Well, one of its coolest features is how it learns your sleep routine and heats up the mattress to an optimum temperature. It’ll even let you set two temperatures for each side of the bed. It’ll track all your sleep states, like heart rate, breathing and so on, while the alarm should, in theory, wake up feeling refreshed.
Now, these look ridiculously awesome. While we’ve seen a few attempts to add tech into skiing and snowboarding goggles, the results have been mixed. We took Oakley’s Airwaves 1.5, for example, out for a ride, but found them unreliable and bulky. The RideOn though does things a bit different, adding augmented reality layers to your vision and it looks very impressive. It’ll connect up to your smartphone and beam maps, challenges and more right into your eyeballs and you control everything just by looking at it. The goggles will even calculate how long you’re going to be waiting to board a ski lift. Up front there’s an HD camera, while the panel you see has a 3x larger viewable space than Google Glass, so plenty of room for lots of information.
While Polaroid was once a thing, recent attempts to bring back on-the-go printing haven’t been all that successful. But, Pyrnt might just be the product to turn that around. The case works with any iOS or Android device, which is a a great boast to kick things off with, and lets you print shots off instantly, whether it’s a picture you’ve just taken or one you’ve got saved.
This clever device uses the energy of your motion to recharge any device with a USB port. It's a bit like those watches that turn your wrist movement into kinetic energy. Walk 10,000 steps, cycle for an hour or run for 30 minutes and it will recharge three hours worth of battery life on a smartphone. Cheapest Kickstarter bid is US$75 so not too bad for the pocketable device.
Commuting can be a miserable experience, especially when it comes to getting a bike on a train. Luckily there is the Ion SmartScooter, an easy to carry device (weighs 26lbs) for gliding around the city on two wheels. It can manage 17 miles on a single charge of the lithium ion battery at speeds up to 15mph. Best of all; it can be had for US$399, making it cheaper than its competitors.
Pace Robot Team and Classroom STEM equipment
This Kickstarter project wants a mere US$800. For that it plans to start a robotics team in the UK so younger minds can get a glimpse into the science. At the very least learning to build a robot will make maths and science more appealing for those who find classroom learning difficult.
The Pronto Fast-Charge Battery
Time waits for no man (or woman), so we rather like The Pronto â Fast-Charge Battery. This portable battery pack can store the energy to recharge an iPhone 5 9 times over in 60 minutes. One charge is done in five minutes. It comes in a tough aluminium case and in two versions, 5 and 12. 5 has a 4,500mAh battery, while the 12 has a 13,500mAh capacity. Plenty of juice for a variety of gadgets.
A group of students at the University of Sherbrooke want to smash a record held by MIT. Project Leviathan is a human powered watercraft that hopes to beat the world record of 34km/h by 3km/h. Kickstarter funding is the final piece in the puzzle. While donating doesn't get you your own Leviathan swimmer, you can at least help the mechanical engineering students afford the use of a lightweight carbon monocoque chassis.
Anyone who has wanted to fly behind an aircraft needs to check out WingBoard. This clever extreme sport gadget takes the idea of wakeboarding and skydiving and evolves it into something that lets a human fly through the clouds. Perfect while we wait for the long awaited hover board, then.
Salt ─ Keyless entry for your phone
For anyone who wants a little extra security but without having to enter in a pin code every time they want to use their phone, Salt's keyless entry card is the answer. It basically unlocks your device when you are within 10-feet, saving you the hassle. Walk away and your phone locks as usual. It is the size and shape of a credit card so you can just put it in your wallet and works with an easy to use app. No wonder it smashed its US$50,000 goal.
One of the worst bits of working away from home is you end up losing the dual or sometimes triple-screen experience and the productivity it provides. Fortunately the Packed Pixels Kickstarter attaches to a laptop, giving you two extra 9.7-inch screens in total. As it only weighs 340g total, it's light enough to go into a laptop bag or your luggage. Plugs into any Thunderbolt, DisplayPort or MiniDisplayPort laptop.
It sounds like a mixture of a food and baby walker, but the Granola Strolla is in fact a neat device that harnesses the power of the sun so you can charge your gadgets. It stores the power of the sun in a lithium iron phosphate battery, while being lightweight, water resistant and affordable. It can even work indoors â just more slowly, as you would expect.
World's First DSP Enabled Wireless Headphone
XTZ wants to bring the world's first DSP-enabled wireless headphones to market and this Kickstarter project is the way in. The clever cans aim to give the listener DSP sound optimisation for better sound quality, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity so no pesky wires, NFC pairing for easy setup and an app for changing the sound depending on your surroundings. Yours for a pledge of US$99.
We will be the first to admit that our camera skills are more below par than Martin Parr so that's why we love the Panono. This ball camera allows you to take 360 degree panoramic shots by throwing the thing up in the air. The Panono is clever enough to know what the optimum height to take a picture is so you end up with snaps that are both clear and a whopping 108MP in quality. It's rugged too – made of the same water/life resistant plastic that a GoPro is.
Design Boom | Out: September 2014
Flykly Smart Wheel
The idea of an electric bike is unpalatable to many a true cyclist but Flykly is different. Add this wheel to your existing setup and what you have is a connected bike that helps you cycle more efficiently and comfortably. It will speed up your journey but works at your pace and it comes with a tracker so if someone decided to take off with your bike you will know exactly where it is. The key to Flykly's success is that the wheel fits pretty much all frames and it comes with its own app too.
Kickstarter | Out: November 2014
Atlas calls itself 'the first fitness tracker' which isn't strictly true. But its maker believes that it deserves this moniker as it identifies what workout you are doing, evaluates your form and will even count your reps for you. It's like having a personal trainer without the massive inferiority complex that inevitably goes along with this. Oh, and it will also measure heart rate as well as working with many a fitness app that's out there too. And, looks wise, it definitely gets our vote.
Indiegogo | Out: December 2014
While Oculus Rift has the VR headset market all sewn up before it is even launched, there is still plenty of space for headsets that offer an experience that strips out the virtual and focuses much more on the reality. This is what the Avegant Glyph is promising. It's a personal movie theatre that immerses you in the film, offering a 45-degree image to bathe your eyes in. The Glyph is packed with DLP (digital light processing) technology and while it may look like your headphones have slipped from your head over your eyes the results, according to those who have tried it at CES 2013, are incredible.
Kickstarter | Out: December 2014
While the smartwatch revolution hasn't exactly started yet – no matter what Samsung says – there are a trickle of devices that prove there could well be something in strapping a smart device to your wrist and letting it control bits of your life. The Android-powered Pine Smartwatch goes even further – offering everything from the ability to text, video chat and take photos from your wrist. This is the Dick Tracy watch you are looking for, but you do have put up with a bit of bulk to accommodate the sizeable 2.4 inch screen.
Kickstarter | Out: March 2014
Dubbed 'the brain of your devices', Lima is a tiny plug-and-play device that can hook up to any USB stick and then share whatever media is stored to as many devices as you want. It's a bit like a non-virtual Dropbox. But instead of relying on the cloud it finds a use for fading USB storage, unleashing your content and allowing access whenever you want through the Lima app. When it is released it will be Mac, Windows and Linux compatible.
Kickstarter | Out: March 2014
When you name your product Ninja Sphere, it better be something to shout about. This future-styled gadget offers a way into the internet of things that is actually cool. It allows you to control your home's environment by monitoring things like temperature, lighting and energy usage. Hook it up to your home via a smart plug and it will tell you through an app if you have forgotten to turn off a light or if someone has been rummaging in your fridge.
Kickstarter | Out: June 2014
The Pocket Drone
Before the AR Drone made automated flying machines cool again, drones were destined to have a bad rep forever – what with their association with various armies using them as killing machines. Of late, though, everyone is getting into the drone business, even the likes of Amazon, and The Pocket Drone is a perfect addition to this category. Coming complete with a collapsible design, The Pocket Drone is completely hackable and upgradeable and can be used straight out of the box – just strap a small camera to it and away you go.
Kickstarter | Out: June 2014
'Suit up. Game on.' That's the sort of tagline we can get behind and it just so happens to brilliantly describe PrioVR, a new virtually suit by YEI Technology. The PrioVR is a suit that comes equipped with two hand controllers that allow you to 'walk' through virtual worlds by merely pressing a thumbstick. Promising low latency and real-time motion tracking, PrioVR could well be a successful successor to Kinect – except without those messy privacy issues as it doesn't use a camera.
Kickstarter | Out: June 2014
Robot Starter Kit
The Robot Starter Kit is for those who think LEGO is strictly for kids. Inside the kit you will find everything you need to build your own robot companion. That is if your idea of a robot companion is something that looks like a cross between a raver and a tripod. As this is a modular kit, you can build the robot to whichever specifications suit you best and then rip it apart and start over again. Or buy more and create your very own robot army.
Kickstarter | Out: April 2014
A button, we hear you cry? A button? Yes, and a smart one at that. The WiseButton is a good-looking addition to your keychain that not only allows you to control a number of devices remotely, it will notify you if you are about to leave your phone somewhere you shouldn't. WiseButton support smartphones and computers alike, is Android, iOS and Windows friendly and comes in a variety of colours. And if you want to stretch the whole tracking thing further, it also comes with stickers that can also be used to track other objects that may go missing.
Indiegogo | Out: June 2014
Business cards are one area of the office that haven't really been given a tech makeover – that is until now. No, we're not enamoured with the name either but it does go some way in explaining just what a smart business card is. Touch Base is the idea that you can have a business card that won't get lost in someone's wallet as once it is touched on a phone, all the details are instantly recorded.
The best thing about the cards is that they don't use NFC but reacts with the capacitive nature of your phone screen. Great stuff and not a QR code in sight.
Indiegogo | Out: May 2014
This is definitely one for the 'awesome but I don't think I have a need for this' category. Essentially it is your very own miniaturised robot arm that you can plonk on your desk and do whatever you want with it. The uArm is a 4-axis parallel mechanism robot arm that was inspired by those giant arms that are used to put cars together and the like. The smaller version can be used as a light, a grabber... whatever you want really as the makers have made the arm as mod-friendly as possible.
Kickstarter | Out: June 2014
Sammy Screamer motion alarm
Okay, you've got us. The first thing that attracted us to the Sammy Screamer was that face. Just look at it – it's like a cartoon character stuck in perpetual fear. But then we looked a bit further and Sammy Screamer isn't just a scared face, but a great little motion alarm as well. Hook the small plastic device up to your smartphone and Sammy Screamer will let you know if something is on the move. Whether that something is your bag, your dog or even your baby's buggy. This gadget proves that simplicity is the key to the Internet of Things.
Kickstarter | Out: April 2014
The Ark is a wireless charger with a difference. It is 100% cord free (crazy, we know) and is small enough to carry around with you so you are never without a power boost. How does it work? Well, like most chargers you do need a case or patch for your phone but the device has enough juice in it to power three phones while on the go. And you can charge two devices at once on the block.
Kickstarter | Out: February 2014
It may sound like a band whose sound is dripping in angst and desolation but EmoSPARK is actually a great spin on AI in the home. Feed the box your music habits, speak to it and allow it to access your TV, smartphone and computer habits and it will offer up recommendations no matter what emotional state you are in. It's all a little HAL on earth but EmoSPARK is hooked up to Google and the like so can offer information as well as trying to please you when you are a bit down.
Indiegogo | Out: May 2014
With the advent of Android gaming has come a glut of controllers and devices that aren't actually very good. The Drone controller is hoping to change this though. It is a controller that is for any smart device and made by developers that lovingly embrace open source. This means that no matter how you use your controller it can be modded to your specs and so can game developers. It's pocket friendly too so there's no worry that you will leave home without it.
Evolution Controllers | Out: Mid 2014
With rumour of Apple looking to release it's very own iRing, the idea that you can have connected jewellery is certainly an intriguing one. Fin is a wearable ring that actually turns your palm into a gesture interface or numerical keypad – whichever takes your fancy. It is done by hooking the ring up to your smart device via Bluetooth and using sensors to track movement. It looks like something Apple would make and that is definitely no bad thing.
Indiegogo | Out: September 2014
Dash Smart Earphones
These Tron-flavoured wireless in-ear headphones are a huge step in the right direction for audio kind. They are Bluetooth 4.0 ready, so you can stream music from your phone, and equipped with 4GB of storage in case you want to leave your handset at home. But the real 'wow' factor is that Dash Smart Earphones double as a fitness tracker, come complete with touch control and can even be used as a phone headset thanks to some interesting bone conductive technology. Impressive.
Kickstarter | Out: November 2014
Wood keys for MacBook & Apple Keyboards
If you often think the only downside to your MacBook is that it doesn’t offer enough wood, then some folk over in a Brooklyn design company have a product especially for you. Crafted from Rosewood and Bamboo, the keys fit over your keyboard and can be easily removed without leaving a sticky, gluey residue.
Designer: RAWBKNY | Kickstarter
AGENT smart watch
Another project to smash the million dollar Kickstarter pledge barrier is the next in a long line of smart watches designed to give you glancable information on your wrist. Connecting with your smartphone using super low powered Bluetooth 4.0, the AGENT watch will let you know when your phones ringing, if you have new texts and remind you if you leave your phone in Starbucks. Its nifty fitness features, and Qi wireless charging pad could give this the edge over other smart watches. Until of course, Google and Apple decide to release theirs.
Designer: Secret Labs + House of Horology | Kickstarter
Space has always fascinated us. Right from the classrooms, to the movies it has been seen as mysterious and just down right exciting. Arkyd, created by private space company Planetary Resources, aims to allow us normal folk the chance to control a space telescope, for purely personal reasons. It has received the support of NASA and will cost just a fraction of what was spent on the Hubble telescope.
Designer: Planetary Resources | Kickstarter
One of the best things about Kickstarter is its ability to allow people to create ingenious things that most would never even have thought about. The BubblePod is exactly one of those ideas, letting you create professional looking, high-res panorama photos, without those annoying blurry spots. The ingenuity doesn’t stop there, BubblePix has also designed it to fit on a tri-pod, and even on a wine bottle, for perfect 360 degree party snaps. An online sharing service lets you distribute your creations with other users.
Designer: BubblePix | Kickstarter
Gaining over a million dollars in Kickstarter pledges, The Buccaneer is certainly making its impact felt on the crowd sourcing site, and with good reason. Aiming to make 3-D printing accessible and affordable, this brushed aluminium and clear plastic rectangle looks like it could have been cooked up by the design chiefs at Apple. It is feature packed too, with cloud printing, easy set-up and the ability to print from mobile devices.
Designer: Pirate3D inc | Kickstarter
Darkmatter Xbox Laptop
If a PS Vita just doesn’t satisfy your portable gaming needs, then the Darkmatter Xbox kit could be just your thing. It may not be exactly pocketable, yet it still offers full Xbox 360 and Xbox One gaming on the go and even has Xbox Live access. Perfect for a bit of online Call of Duty when you’re out of the house.
Designer: Techjango | Kickstarter
Goji Smart Lock
Keys are so 2012. The Goji Smart Lock ditches those metal things and replaces them with your smartphone, offering easy access to your humble abode. What sets this apart is its ability to easily send access to other people who may be coming to stay, allowing them to enter the house from a particular time. Even more inventive is the embedded camera that sends a snap of anyone at the door to your phone. This truly looks like something straight off the Enterprise.
Designer: Goji | Indiegogo
Jamstick claim that their product offers a real guitar playing experience that connects to your iOS device, and from their introductory video it seems they may be telling the truth. With the looks of a severely decapitated guitar, the Jamstick integrates with apps, like Apple’s Garageband, and allows you to record music anywhere. It features in-depth tutorials, no need to keep it tuned and some nifty finger tracking tech.
Designer: Dan Sullivan | Indiegogo
Smartphones are all well and good. Yes they can direct you anywhere, take great photos and hold your entire music collection, but can they fit inside your wallet? Definitely not. The Micro-Phone however, can. It’s the shape of a credit card and would be perfectly suited to someone who can fore-go the needs of a modern smartphone. A clever locator function means the phone can be tracked so you can keep an eye on your kids.
Designer: Yan Yan Li | Indiegogo
MonkeyLectric's Monkey Light Pro
Bicycles are everywhere, yet for some unknown reason (to us anyway) no one has yet managed to do something colourful and wacky with that untapped space on the wheels. MonkeyLectric’s Monkey Light Pro looks to change this, by adding LED lights that can show animations and customisable patterns transmitted by Bluetooth. The images shown also look steady, even while the wheel is spinning, due to something called "persistence of vision".
Designer: MonkeyLectric | Kickstarter
NanoState Flash Flood
Nanostate is an innovative solution to that age old tech problem of accidentally spilling your morning brew over your pricey phone. All that is required to waterproof your device is to cover it in the military used product, leave it to dry and you can spill to your hearts content. Nanostate claim one coating lasts around 12 months and it won’t cause any ill-effects to the phone.
Designer: Steve Mich | Indiegogo
Sitting down while gaming may be the norm, yet it can get a tad boring. The Omni hopes to change this by adding an element of movement, allowing you to actually walk to move around, instead of flicking a controller nub. It looks a little sci-fi fantasy and wouldn’t exactly go un-noticed in the lounge, yet its support for Oculus Rift could finally make complete VR gaming a possibility.
Designer: Virtuix | Kickstarter
So, you have Wi-Fi in your phone, laptop, camera and even your fridge. Think that’s enough? Course you don’t! These windows from Californian tech start-up SONTE integrate Wi-Fi so you can do away with blinds and simply alter the transparency of the glass with a smartphone app. Best of all it’s completely DIY and the special film can be used on your existing windows.
Designer: Bernard Kwan | Kickstarter
The Practical Meter
Pretty much every gadget you own - whether it's a brand new smartphone or some brick-sized MP3 player from the dark ages - tells you roughly how much battery you have. So why does nothing ever tell you how close you are to being fully charged? Enter 'The Practical Meter', a simple USB dongle that tells you roughly how long you have to wait before your tech is fully charged. Neat.
Designer: David Toledo | Kickstarter
This Android-compatible speaker/docking station hybrid is completely wireless - that means no power cables and no charging cables either. Just place your Android device on the top, and it will charge automatically as well as connecting to the dock so you can stream music to the speaker. Rotating the device will adjust the volume too - genius.
Designer: Matteo Massimi
Apple iLens concept
What if Apple made (another) camera? This ultra-slim digital snapper has a 50mm interchangeable lens that fixes onto the camera magnetically - the idea being to make the camera sleek for casual users as well as capable enough to be useful to serious photographers. The 4.8-inch Retina display on the back is a nice touch, too.
Designer: Rishi Soman
This is technically a smartphone, but it's not really built for calls and texts. Slide the unit open, and what you've got is a portable set of DJ decks, complete with turntables for each thumb, and equalisers in the middle, along with touch screen controls at the top. Looks like great fun - almost certainly will never, ever happen.
Designer: Yu Hiraoka
For those moments when you're without running water, Klenzi is like a Karcher Window Vacuum, but all up in your face. It has interchangeable heads for body, face and hair and cleans your skin with water and detergents which it then reabsorbs. Perfect for festivals, camping and lazy couch potatoes.
Designer: Hamed Kohan
Thanks to a flexible OLED touch screen, Bluetooth earpieces, and a myriad of other connectors, LifeHub can be shaped into a watch, a smartphone, a headset... even a Bluetooth speaker, or a projector. The idea is that you don't need all these separate devices - the convergence of digital technology should mean that we can have it all in one.
Designer: Lucid Designs
The Y-Drum is a portable drum kit consisting of nine minimalist grey drum pads and two cymbals. The whole kit slots neatly into a combined case/Bluetooth receiver/amplifier, and it connects to Roland’s drum app on smartphone or PC for digital drumming on the go. The drumsticks even double up as a carry handle.
Designer: Kevin Depape
This concept for a Bluetooth portable speaker features a sleek circular grille surrounded by hundreds of tiny bubbles, all embedded in a lozenge of crystalline silicone. The bubbles are micro-sized solar cells called Sphelar, and the curvaceous design lets it soak up rays from every angle.
Designer: Jeabyun Yeon
Heat-electricity Conversion Storage Device
Snappily titled, this battery clips around fluorescent lighting tubes and turns waste heat into useful electricity through a thermoelectric conversion material. A LED screen shows the charging process, outputting power through a USB port. Cleverly, the plastic clip lets you clamp together batteries for an ersatz USB charging station.
Designers: Shuguang Li and Xiaoping Chen
This tiny snapper designed for Japanese retailer Muji aims for simplicity both in its form factor and in use. With two touch interfaces that you can interact with via finger gestures, the button-less camera uses an accelerometer to recognise which of the surfaces you are using to avoid confusion. Specs-wise there’s an 8-megapixel sensor with LCD flash, mini USB charging support and 4GB of built-in storage.
Designer: Forrest Radford
One of the standout concepts from CES 2013 that might not be too far away from production, Paper Logic is hoping its 10.7-inch flexible paper tablet could usher in the next generation of slates. Running on an Intel Core i5 processor, PaperTabs can work together to help you get tasks done quicker. Sending an email? Simply type it on one tab then place it on another and off it goes.
We’re suckers for innovative-looking timepieces and this watch which appears to have an iPod Nano as a screen, swaps conventional time-telling methods for shades of colour to indicate different times of the day. So, five to green means it’s time to get up and jump in the shower and if it’s half past red it’s time to power down the computer and leave the office.
Designer: Maxim Mezentsev
Ghetto blaster backpack
Taking the boombox off the top of your shoulder and strapped to your back, the 80s inspired portable sound system packs eight speakers that deliver 100 watts of sound and a built-in rechargeable battery to give you six hours of power. There’s plenty of connectivity with USB and SD support alongside 32GB of internal storage and a 200 lumen pico projector to shoot out video and images making it perfect for building up the atmosphere at a dance-off in an empty car park.
Designer: Massimo Battaglia
Unifying all of your mobile displays, researchers at the Tokyo University of Technology have been working on this prototype that lets you pull together content from tablets and smartphones that sit adjacent to each other with a simple pinch of the fingers. This simple action can then create one giant display making it possible to share photos as easy as it is with NFC but without the fuss.
Designers: Tokyo University of Technology
Aiming to offer the ultimate tablet, phone and camera experience that can fit snug in your pocket, the all-in-one ‘Wallet’ concept is made up of three folding screens that will allow you to multitask across and link up to expand the space for watching videos. With a 12.1-Megapixel camera, 1080p HD recording capabilities, mic, speakers and USB port to connect external devices it packs some pretty impressive specs for such a small device.
Designer: Claudia Copersito
This innovative irrigation tool catches water vapour as it rises, cooling it to soil temperature and hence back into plant-nourishing H2O, which is stored in an undersoil tank. The drought-alleviating gizmo scooped Edward Linacre the James Dyson Award for 2012.
Designer: Edward Linacre
Condense your home gym into this do-it-all Penny Farthing of fitness. The 3to1 combines an exercise bike, an elliptical bike to give you buns of steel and a rowing machine, with simple switching between all exercises. It also looks very stylish during periods of inactivity.
Designer: Michael Imbert
One for social networking lovers who need to know the precise locations of friends (both virtual and real) ,this white cane detects obstacles using sensors and finds friends using Foursquare. Yes, really.
Designer: Selene Chew
What would make doing the laundry more fun? How about if your dirty clothes and a dash of detergent were packed inside a giant, hollow hula hoop that you then had to gyrate on your hips like a human spin cycle? What’s that? You’d rather stick to your Zanussi? Oh.
Designer: Sang-Soon Lee
In the words of designer Samuel Wilkinson: “I want to create a solar ‘forest’ that could be used to create autonomous, powered street landscapes. A tree-like structure with solar panels on the top of the canopy supplies electricity to the street it’s on, powering everything from lighting and kiosks to, in future, charge points for electric cars. The canopy is shaped to maximise efficiency and also to provide shelter from both sun and rain.”
Designer: Samuel Wilkinson
2011: PlayStation 4 concept
PlayStation 4 concept
No doubt likely to be the first of many, this mooted design concept for the next generation PlayStation suggests it will include a 1.5TB HDD and Full 3D 4K2K compatibility amongst other high end features. Crafted from 60 per cent recyclable materials, there's further green points gained by using 0 watts of power in standby mode with an ECO Restart feature meaning gamers can resume games at the point they turned the console off at without requiring large amounts of power. Throw in a 3D Blu-ray player, HDMI connection ports and USB 3.0 connections, Qriocity integration, Sony Ericsson sync PlayStation widgets and we'd be quite happy with that.
Designer: Joseph Dumary
2011: Ford Evos Concept
Ford Evos Concept
We may never be able to drive it, but this could well be the blueprint for cars in the near future. Connecting driver and vehicle through a 'personal cloud' Ford explores the idea of making your driving experience unique to the individual by choosing the same music you stream in your house in your car and selecting the ideal interior temperature before you get in. When will we see it in action for real? We hope it's not too long...
Video: Ford Evos Concept
2011: Citroen Taranis off-road racer
Citroen Taranis off-road racer
Like the offspring of an drunken fumble between a Citroen Saxo and Christopher Nolan's Batmobile, the Taranis rolls around on double-jointed wheel arms and is accessed through gullwing doors. Also, it's named after the Celtic god of thunder, which can only ever make things more awesome.
Designer: Peter Norris
2011: Honda Chopper
If driver-less car pods sound a little too detached from you your sci-fi future, try this Honda chopper on for size. Designed by Peter Norris, the chopper is fully electric and takes design pointers from Star Wars and Japanese manga.
Designer: Peter Norris
2011: Lockheed Stratoliner
The Stratoliner is monstrous bird, designed to fly higher and further than any plane in history. It's trick is to switch off it's engines for the last 20% of its inter-continental flights, using its onboard computers to glide it back to Earth, thereby saving on fuel.
Designer: William Brown
These spider robots have been designed to perform repairs and sort problems in places human beings can't go. At least, that's what the scientists who designed them say. As far as we're concerned, the arrival of running, jumping mechanical spiders our cue to start bulk buying tinned food and pulse grenades.
2011: BeFresh fruit storage
BeFresh fruit storage
Remember those episodes of Dr. Who where everyone wears jump suits and sustains themselves by eating nothing but nutrient pills? Well, we prefer this vision of the future, in which fruit is not only still on the menu, but kept ripe and fresh for longer in a BeFresh fruit storage unit. Using a process called photocatalysis (one for Wikipedia), the BeFresh fridge would remove the gas ethylene that causes fruit to go mouldy, keeping our future fruit crisper for longer.
Designer: Davide Pietrasanta
2011: Razer Switchblade
Named 2011 Innovation of the Year at this year's T3 Gadget Awards, we still hold out hope that this portable gaming console will still come to life. Developed with Intel, this is about the size of a CD case, making it the most portable gaming laptop ever. There’s no need for a mouse, as the keys adjust their configuration depending on what you’re playing, so all your weapons are to hand in a first person shooter. The screen is also multitouch, adding another dimension to this pocket-sized gaming demon.
2011: Autonomo autonomous vehicle
Autonomo autonomous vehicle
A sci-fi movie staple, the pilot-less car of tomorrow could one day look a bit like this sexy piece of automative futurism. The Autonomo would use a drive-by-wire system to direct it while pootling about, and is wrapped in a photovoltaic skin that turns the car into one big solar panel.
Designer: Charles Rattray
2011: Phillips Beehive
Fresh honey with none of the bulky beekeeping suits? Phillips reckons it's all in our futures, with this concept Urban Beehive which lets you keep your very own bee colony in your living room. Bees come and go through an entrance hidden under the flower on the front panel, and then toil away making honey in the pre-constructed hive. Getting at the honey requires pacifying the bees first, which is done by pulling on the dangling cord, which releases a puff of smoke into the hive that makes the bees sleepy.
2011: Airborne Avalanche Rescue System drone
Airborne Avalanche Rescue System drone
An unmanned aerial drone that would hunt down victims caught in avalanches, the AARS (quiet at the back) launches from its solar power dock and sprays the locations of any buried people it finds with bright paint, making it easier for search and rescue to dig them out.
Designer: Tatjana Rolle
2011: Scan Board portable scanner
Scan Board portable scanner
A portable scanner that allows you to take it to the book, rather than the other way round. The concept is simple: just pop the clear display over the page, snap a scan of the text and then upload it to the computer via USB. The actual business of scanning uses a moving laser pane inside the clear panel, just like in a regular desktop scanner - although how well this would work without darkness could be a sticking point.
Designers: Jo Jae-Hwan and Shin Se-Hwah
2011: Split Computer
The next logical step on from current devices like the Lenovo Ideapad and the Motorola Atrix, the Split is a modular laptop that lets you pick which of the components you'd like to use. So, you can use the display on its own like a tablet, or from a distance with the wireless keyboard, or chuck everything in together and be left with a laptop.
Designers: Dae Hoon Jung
2011: Tropical Island Paradise Yacht
Tropical Island Paradise Yacht
What to give the oligarch who has everything? If they've already splashed the cash on a couple of megayachts and a private island, why not offer the convenience of both in the same, monstrous entity? That was the thinking by the folks at Yacht Island Design, who cooked up this floating middle finger to poverty, starvation and economic recession. There's even a little volcano on the top, which we can only pray erupts and buries the whole thing in magma.
Designers: Yacht Island Design
2011: iFood remote control kitchen
iFood remote control kitchen
The iFood is a remote-controlled kitchen, kitted out with Tron-like appliances that take orders from a touch-display on the fridge. From here, you (or your robot butler) can control the temperature of the hobs, monitor the kitchen's power usage and predict potential glitches or meltdowns, while the iFood's LED displays blink through important information like food temperature, weight and readiness timers.
Designer: Chiara Daniele
2011: Tanning Printer
An environmentally friendly solution to the world's printing needs (and perhaps finally putting an end to all that "think before you print" bumf at the bottom of e-mails), the tanning printer uses a magnifying eye to concentrate natural light into a beam that burns black and white text or images onto the page. We can see some problems cropping up during the winter months, but with enough light to absorb the tanning printer would do away with black printer ink altogether.
Designer: Hosung Jung, Junsang Kim, Seungin Lee and Yonggu Do
2011: Wine Stopper
The perfect stocking filler for the tech-savvy oenophile, this futuristic wine stopper assesses the drinkability of the stoppered wine, reporting the temperature and even suggesting a time at which the wine will be at its most quaffable. Being from the future, it would also beam updates on your wine to your phone or tablet via WiFi. Madness.
Designers: Kwang-wi Park and Eun-ji Lim
Galileo for iPhone 4S
Josh Guyot and JoeBen Bevirt are the founders of Motrr, and the sort of robot enthusiasts that you expect to come up with whacky ideas like the Galileo. Stick your iPhone in this robotic dock, connect it to your iPad, and BAM! You have a remote control camera stand, one which you can use for video conferencing, Skype calls, video, cinematography and a whole host of other stuff.
The Galileo is capable of full 360° pan, and moves at 200° per second, so it's no slouch either. We love the idea, and clearly we aren't the only ones. The project smashed it's target of raising $100,000 by raising over $700,000 from over 5,000 interested backers.
Gaming accessories for tablets and smartphones have been largely more novelty than useful, but the Israel based company has dreamt up this mobile gaming add-on that you wear around your index finger and will play nice with your touchscreen device. Claiming to bring the best capabilities of a joystick and a mouse, the Ringbow hosts a D-pad with nine direction control, supports Bluetooth and can automatically integrate with mobile operating systems like iOS and Android. The SDK has already been available to developers to optimize the accessory for games so it could be coming to an iPad or Galaxy S3 soon.