Carbon Fiber Tiles add more fun to Lego time

Many kids, and even adults, love building with Lego bricks. The idea of enhancing a Lego-made building, vehicle or other design with tiles made from sheets of high gloss carbon fiber seems like a welcome addition to Lego fun time.

Mark Carpenter of Grand Rapids, Michigan, developed Lego-compatible Carbon Fiber Tiles with his Lego brick-loving sons. He initially began designed black ones sized at 1 x 2 inches each. Backers of the Kickstarter campaign who pledge $14 as part of an early bird special will get a pack of 10 tiles expected to ship this month. The Carpenter family is looking to raise $8,000.

There is certainly an audience for the tiles. But carbon fiber isn’t cheap and it’s questionable how many consumers will spend so much for a handful of tiles when they can opt to get cheaper individual bricks made by Lego at one of its stores that will accomplish much the same thing. There have been other Lego accessories made by third parties in the past, including TinkerBots and Brickmania Track Links. But those two products had more unique purposes and TinkerBots could also be used independently of Lego bricks. The Carpenters will need to push the envelope a little farther in order to make their idea successful.

Connected Objects

Carbon Flyer rugged drone can dive-bomb into anything and live to tell the tale

Everyone enjoys some good old-fashioned drone action, until the drone in question is located in about three different spots on the ground. Although most people fly their drones in open areas, the danger of having it succumb to the environment is ever present due to unknown geography, user error, or just plain bad luck.

Renowned crowdfunding star Trident Design, LLC bills the Carbon Flyer as the “ultimate tech toy”, perhaps rightfully so. The paper plane look-alike is anything but: its 100% carbon fiber construction down to its carbon fiber infused bonds affords it a level of strength and resistance others drones dream of. Long range Bluetooth connects it to an iOS or Android smartphone at distances of up to 240 feet and allows users to control speed, altitude, and steer it, documenting it all with the onboard 640×480 camera.

A rugged plastic nose cone does double duty by both protecting and balancing the unit out, although it won’t have much time to with the Carbon Flyer’s embarrassingly useless three minute run time. The camera also doesn’t support streaming, but may be able to with future upgrades. Instead, the Game of Drones offers Go Pro possibilities along with indestructibility, but is nowhere near as sleek or affordable as the $99 Flyer. Expected ship date for the unit is August 2015 provided a fully-funded campaign of $50,00o before then.


Skully’s AR-1 protects your noggin while leading you home

The Premise. Motorcycle helmets are necessary for the safety of riders all over the world, but most don’t add much to the experience itself. Of utmost importance is keeping a rider’s eyes on the road, but not much has been done to satisfactorily address this issue outside of rear view cameras. Still, some feature lightweights carbon fiber construction where others feature Bluetooth integration, but there isn’t one complete package that tries to change the act of riding a motorcycle itself.

The Product. Skully’s AR-1 is the company’s inaugural attempt at creating the future of motorcycle helmets. Sporting ultra-modern, slim stylings, the aerodynamic polycarbonate shell houses some serious technology built atop the Android platform. This allows for a transparent heads-up display, a wide-angle rearview camera, and both online/offline turn-by-turn GPS navigation, along with future application support thanks to an open SDK. The helmet also includes a variety of connectivity options, including Bluetooth and smartphone-enabled Internet connection, both allowing for over-the-air updates.

Even with so much technology, safety is Skully’s number one aim. The heads-up display has been created so that it’s always in focus, meaning a rider won’t have to take their eyes off the road. Most importantly, the entire product is DOT/ECE certified, meaning it passes the Department of Transportation design requirements for helmets.

The Pitch. Skully’s entire campaign is one of the better ones you’ll come across, featuring top-notch production in each one of the videos. The first goes over what the Skully offers while the second video impresses with endorsements from prominent professional motorcycle riders and Amazon CTO Werner Vogel, amongst others. The campaign leaves you with no doubt as the FAQ answers all of the doubts that you may still have by its end.

The Perks. The introductory price for the Skully AR-1 is $1,399. If that’s too much to swallow, interested backers can reserve one for $499 while paying $949 later. Whatever you do, you can expect the helmet in July 2015 the latest.

The Potential. Each of Skully AR-1’s features have been offered before in helmets, like Reevu’s use of a 180° rear-view camera or BiLT’s super connected offerings featuring smartphone connection and GPS navigation, so in and of themselves they aren’t revolutionary. What Skully succeeds in doing is packaging it all up effectively while still surprising. As with any boundary-pushing product with lots of hype behind it, only time will tell if every component will indeed will work as advertised, especially that HUD they’re touting as so safe.

Personal Transportation

Solar charging e-bike tackles the charging challenge

20140903033339-solarThe LEAOS is looking to have you reconsider exactly what an e-bike is. Two solar panels discreetly located on the back of the bike constantly drink in the sun so you don’t have to ever worry about the battery. You can’t notice the panels immediately, and that’s exactly how LEAOS wants it: the bike sports an carbon fiber, unibody design containing all the components. An automatic gear hub, mud guard, leather seat, LED lights, integrated display, and the ability to go up to 45km/h round out the package. Be glad it’s solar powered and not electric: with a $7,990 price tag, you need as much sun as you can get.