Food and Beverage

The Sippy portable espresso maker offers a caffeine fix anywhere

The experience of enjoying a rich, creamy espresso is one usually regulated to the home or to the swanky cafe down the street, to the chagrin of anyone on the go. While powdered coffee solutions exist, they’re really no substitute for the real thing.

Fikra Design’s Sippy espresso maker was designed precisely for this reason. A lightweight, machine grade aluminium tube houses all the machinery necessary to make espressos anywhere, no battery necessary. By combining a CO2 cartridge with an espresso cartridge from Nespresso or Duck Coffee along with some hot water, a 25-35ml espresso can be made within a minute or two.

Connected Objects

AiFi speakers promise great sound, Lego-like stacking capabilities

It takes a lot to come up with an original concept in speaker systems anymore. The last major new speaker category to become a hit was the sound bar, which achieved popularity thanks to the growth of flat-panel TVs. The makers of aiFi (Artificial Intelligence Fidelity), however, seem to have come up with a somewhat unique twist.

AiFi is being positioned as the Lego of sound systems because the small, modular speakers can be stacked one on top of the other and used in conjunction with any audio source. Although one unit is enough to fill a room with sound, stacking them makes the sound louder and serves to enhance the quality of the sound in general. The speakers can be stacked together and built in any configuration the user wants. On the top of each speaker are two grooves that make the rubber feet on the bottom fit securely. Speakers placed next to each other connect magnetically.

A smartphone app for the speaker system turns the user’s mobile device into a remote control. AiFi’s Bluetooth solution is compatible with iOS, OS X, Android and Windows. When stacked, the aiFi speakers will inform the app about their configuration. The speakers use top-of-the-line ADC converters and a 192kHz/24bit digital sound processor. The standard finish of the speaker is brushed aluminum and backers can get one, along with various accessories and other extras, for $170 with an estimated delivery date of April 2015. AiFi is looking to raise $80,000 on Indiegogo.

There have been stackable speakers before, but they have tended to be low-end portable models designed to be used exclusively with mobile devices. The aiFi, however, is being targeted for use with any two-channel sources, especially flat-panel TVs. If the sound quality of aiFi is as strong as its maker claims, the product is enormously promising.

Connected Objects Tech Accessories

Modular Nakatomi Hive is a docking system that connects to whatever you want

Nowhere is our cluttered digital life more evident than in our homes and offices, where wires cross every which way in an effort to keep us connected. Even if our devices have become the digital swiss army knives we’ve always wanted, the ways in which they interact with the world around us have remained clunky at best. Modularity is the bet the team behind the NAKATOMI is making, offering a system in which one dock serves all your needs.

The NAKATOMI PURE is the smartphone version and takes its place atop your home or office desk. It features three USB ports: one to connect to your computer and two to connect to your devices. It also features an ambient light to show whether or not its active, and stylishly facilitates content syncing. The NAKATOMI HIVE is a living room dock that connects to your TV, stereo, and Wi-Fi, allowing for XBMC-like content curation and playback. In addition, the HIVE’s dock is customizable so that you can choose to make it a charging dock or a home monitoring system while you’re away. More docks are expected to be developed, so the HIVE’s uses will continue to evolve.

As interesting as modularity is as a concept, being able to only use one dock at a time limits the NAKATOMI’s utility. And having to change the dock depending on the need is more work than most people care for. Having a few separate devices that each operate independently all the time is better than having to toggle every single time you want a new capability. In any case, the NAKATOMI’s build quality seems superb and would make for a snazzy desk mate. The campaign is looking to get the $99 PURE or the $299 HIVE out to backers by May 2015 by reaching their $100,000 goal.


Cycling Safety

WingLights handlebar lights turn on with a tap, offer better visibility, signaling

Biking is an incredibly fun way of exploring any city, but is an activity full of danger when riding in traffic. Cyclists who are properly outfitted with the essential safety gear still have to be seen at all and the hand signals that are recommended simply cannot be seen most of the time, especially during inclement weather or at night. As such, the way cyclists have to grab attention has evolved and WingLights wants to make it easy.

WingLights are magnetically attached to ends of a bike’s handlebars. A single tap activates bright, flashing amber lights, mimicking the turning signal of vehicles already on the road. Most drivers won’t notice arms flailing to signal direction, but they’ll most definitely see the light emitted from the WingLights. When you’re done with your ride, they’re easily detachable and combine to create a keyring for easy transportation. The product’s aluminum structure makes it very resistant and durableit’s just a shame that there isn’t a version for drop bars or bullhorns, some of the more popular handlebar designs on the market now. A set of WingLights during the campaign goes for £19 (~$30), estimated to be delivered by May 2015. The campaign is hoping to raise £8,500 (~$13,400) to complete mass production.


Pronto charges up quickly to provide juice on the go

In this day and age of charging wonders, with everything from fast to wireless charging capabilities available, it’s a shame most smartphones need to be recharged every day or so if we’re lucky. It’s a practice that seems extremely antiquated, especially with the demands placed on us by our every day lives requiring us to move as much as we do. More and more people have opted for portable battery packs to keep their devices topped up in the time between outlets, but most of the time they themselves take forever to charge and charge devices too slowly even when they are.

Power Practical is looking to alleviate some of that difficulty with their fast-charging Pronto battery pack. It comes in two flavors: the Pronto 5 has a 4500mAh capacity, while the Pronto 12 boasts a 13,500mAh capacity — enough to charge an iPhone 5 nine times. An integrated “smart chip” tells any device to receive charge at its maximum amount, and a hard-anodized aluminum enclosure makes certain nothing can happen to your precious power while you wait. The Pronto 5 can charge using both USB and a wall outlet while the Pronto 12 can only be charged by the latter, but at least both aren’t tethered to the wall like the Tiny TravelBuddy is. The products will launch in June of 2015; the Pronto 5 can be had for $79 while the 12 can be had for $119.


HandleBeard tames wild whiskers on the go

handlebeardIt’s outrageous to think a single item can tame the legions of mighty and lustrous beards ruling over the chins of men the world over, but Joe Bencar and his Handlebeard have stepped into the arena to do battle. Whatever you do, don’t let the keychain comb’s diminutive size or whimsical handlebar design fool you: this is 3.5 inches of pure, anodized aluminum, water-jet cut to keep booming bristles in check. Reasonably priced at just $10, the Handlebeard’s lightweight design will accompany you anywhere you go. Even if the Handlebeard doesn’t come across as versatile as the GoComb, stretch goals include additional color options and a titanium version that inject variety and strike fear into the hearts of even the most labyrinthine mane. It’s due to whisk its way onto keychains in November 2014.


Trigger Bell puts your ringer closer to your finger

TriggerBellThere’s nothing like a leisurely ride through the neighborhood on a gorgeous day — that is, until someone who isn’t watching where they are going steps out in front of you. Not the first bike bell to ring in its debut via Kickstarter, the Trigger Bell gives you quick access to your bell to warn distracted pedestrians to mind their steps. Bike handlebars must be between 22 and 36 millimeters. For £8, backers get the colored brass version, or for £13 your color choice to match your bike. Expected delivery is July 2014.

Cell Phone Accessories

KERO keeps your iPhone cable from moving around the aluminum block

KERO Cable Weight  9998a221511bfe129f2252d045740ce4_large[1] Aarrgh! There goes my iPhone cable again! Seems like those things are always falling onto the floor, flying away like a spastic snake. The good news is that Kero Cable Weight easily converts an iPhone 5 cable into a weighted doc. The  aluminum quasi-dock block has slots for the iPhone connector and its attached cord that allow the iPhone to sit upright at most any dedicated charging area and mobile work station. The iPhone Lightning cable remains anchored, docked and incapable of sailing off into the sunset — or falling onto the floor. One concern: because it is fitted so precisely to Apple cable specifications, third-party cables may not work. A pledge of $18 gets a backer a KERO Cable Weight in their choice of black or silver, with an expected delivery date of June 2014.