Top 5 Tech Kickstarters

Jambadoo

Kickstarter is making dreams come to life through the power of crowd funding. One of the hottest categories on the site is Technology. Professional and amateur inventors alike are trying their hand at making our lives better, easier or just plain fun. Here are the top five Technology Kickstarters you can contribute to. Don’t delay, though, once funding closes you’ll miss out on perks.

LibraryBox 2.0

This little device offers users a way to share files anonymously in any location, even those areas that do not have reliable internet service. Libraries, teachers and museum around the world use LibraryBox to serve files to wifi-enabled devices. When the next fundraising goal is reached, they’ll enable the ability to transfer files to the LibraryBox via FTP rather than requiring connection via USB.

SunStash Portable Solar Power Charger for Gadgets & Laptops

Want to be able to charge your laptop, smartphone or tablet anywhere, even when you don’t have electricity? This device can store a significant amount of energy that you can use to power your mobile devices. Their customized case properly aims the solar panel regardless of the time of day, giving it 50 percent or more charging efficiency than a panel with no case. It’s portable and powerful.

GlassKap

If you’re one of the lucky few that have Google Glass, this is a must-have accessory. It is a lens cover for the Google Glass to protect the lens and to let the people around you know that you’re not taking pictures or recording them. Because privacy is one of the primary concerns regarding Google Glass, GlassKaps come in a variety of bold colours in order to be highly visible to those around you.

Jambadoo

If you’re like most tech geeks, you have multiple devices but can only connect to one of them via Bluetooth at a time. Until now. Jambadoo allows you and two friends to connect to the same Bluetooth receiver to play music from all three devices. No need to pause any of them; as soon as one hits play, the others pause.

Handibot

If you’re familiar with CNC technology, you’ll know that it involves computers sending designs to machines to be cut into various materials. Handibot works similar to that, except instead of a computer, you use apps on your smart phone, and instead of massive pieces of equipment, you use power tools. They cut into aluminium, wood, plastics and other materials with greater position than cutting by hand.

Crosskase Solar 15: Take the power back (pack)

We sometimes have a little snigger to ourselves when we read about solar gadgets – usually because we look outside the window and see that it’s raining again – but as the sun is shining as I write this, let me introduce you to the Crosskase Solar 15 Backpack.

Crosskase-Solar-

If you’re planning on doing a bit of travelling this summer – or indeed take your gadgets with you when commuting – the backpack might be worth a look.

Imagine if you’re lost 10,000 feet high on a snow-capped mountain and need help but your phone has no battery and your GPS has died. Plug either of them into the Solar 15 and you’ll have the power to make that emergency call or find directions and be safe and sound in no time.

Or for the slightly less-adventurous, how about you’ve mislaid your mates at a festival and the battery’s died on your phone. Plug it into the backpack and you can call them while still enjoying your favourite band.

Looks-wise, the Solar 15 looks like your average laptop-carrying backpack, but on the front of the bag is a 3-Watt solar panel that soaks up natural light and then stores the energy it has grabbed on an internal battery. That battery is capable of charging most handheld devices, such as music players, phones and pocket games consoles.

It takes eight hours to fully charge the battery from solar power, three hours from mains power and four hours from a USB connection. The battery holds enough power to charge most devices twice over.

The makers claim it takes two hours to fully charge devices such as the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy, iPod nano 6G, BlackBerry Curve and Nokia N95.

In case you’re thinking that a solar backpack is no use in rainy old Blighty, the makers tell us it doesn’t need strong sunlight to work because it also trickle charges in standard daylight or artificial light and, they have thoughtfully added splashproof material and paneling, so it even works in the rain!

Nine adapter fittings include micro USB, mini uSB, Apple, Samsung, Nokia and TomTom – other devices can be connected using the USB 2.0 lead.

The backpack itself is made from 1680D Ballistic Nylon, has a 25-litre capacity, and pockets for holding laptops and iPad/iPod. A rain cover can be pulled out for extra protection.

The backpack costs £139.99 from www.crosskase.com, amazon.co.uk and store.apple.com/uk

Logitech’s Solar-Powered Keyboard Case

A case and a bluetooth keyboard are two of the must-have accessories for every iPad owner. Logitech have done the sensible things and created a new gadget that combines both these features, and does so in style.

Logitech-Solar-iPad-Case

The Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is the newest product in the company’s line of tablet accessories. It functions as a case, protecting the front and back of your iPad, and also transforms into a Bluetooth keyboard.

While most Bluetooth keyboards are battery or USB-powered, the Logitech keyboard endeavours to save both your money and the environment, with built-in solar panels providing enough charge to use the keyboard for two years. The stand is adjustable so you can angle your iPad exactly the way you want: putting your iPad in the first position allows you to use the full keyboard, while the second position gives you access to play, pause and volume keys.

Even though it houses a keyboard, the case itself is ultra-slim. It automatically wakes your iPad when you open it, and puts your iPad into sleep mode when you close it again. The solar panels are sensitive to low lighting, as well as natural and artificial light.

“Now that people are seemingly inseparable from their tablets, using them for everything from sending emails to watching videos, they want accessories powered to meet their needs,” said Alexis Richard, director of product marketing at Logitech. “The Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is a smart partner for your iPad. Its sleek built-in keyboard uses light to charge and it provides hassle-free protection for your iPad – both for the front and back. It gives you an ideal way to use and protect your tablet without adding bulk.”

The case fits all models of iPad and is available now for £119.

Here comes the sun – time to charge your iPad

Whether you’re going camping, travelling or are off to a festival this summer, charging your gadgets looks set to be a tad easier as solar chargers gain in popularity.

Latest to hit the hit street is the new FreeLoader Classic from Solar Technology International.

Freeloader

The charger has new super-powerful solar panels that can collect 25% more power and can provide enough juice to charge an iPad.

Eight hours of charging will give you up to 18 hours of power for your iPod or iPhone, 44 hours on a smartphone, two hours on an iPad and 2.5 hours on a mobile gaming device such as a PSP or DS.

Ready to use straight out of the box, the FreeLoader Classic has nine connector tips (including the new ‘standard’ micro USB and a standard USB cable.

Small and light, you should be able to slip the charger into a back pocket (unless your jeans are absolutely skintight!) and boasts a silver aluminium skin, which has been designed to be hard wearing.

If you’re at home, or there’s not enough sun, you can charge the Classic via USB in three hours.

An LCD data panel offers info on power input, connectivity and battery level, which allows you to make sure it’s always charged up.

Additional accessories are also available, including the Supercharger, which can power up the Classic really quickly. Buy separately or buy packaged with the Classic as the Globe Trotter package.

The Freeloader Classic is available now from www.solartechnology.co.uk and various retailers (such as Firebox) for £39.99.

Sun-powered sounds on the move with the Eton Soulra XL

Back in May (which was, it now appears, when we had our summer), I enjoyed a couple of weeks of excellent quality sound in the garden thanks to the Eton Soulra solar-powered sound system.

soulraXL

I was pretty impressed by its easy of use, sound quality and compatibility, so I suspect that the same will be true of its latest release – a solar-powered boombox that goes by the name of the Soulra XL.

The device looks pretty good, and is triangular in shape – reminiscent of a giant Toblerone. The dock sits behind a waterproof antiglare glass that should protect it during outdoor use and also allow you to view the display if the sun is glaring.

The solar panel is retractable and can provide more than five hours of playing time – it will also charge up an iPad or iPhone in four hours – really handy if you’re away camping, or out for the day on the beach or in a park.

The portable sound system includes eight speakers, two woofers, two tweeters and four passive radiators to help push out the sound from a powerful 22-watt amplifier, as well as a remote control.

It has a gel-cushioned carry strap for portability and a mains adaptor for use indoors.

Fifty quid more pricey than the last unit I reviewed, the Eton Soulra XL is still a pretty reasonable £199.99, and if portability is a big issue for you, it looks like Eton has addressed it here.

Ocean Leisure press day: Underwater and sailing gadgets

Ocean Leisure is one of the UK’s premier marine and water sports superstore and they recently held a press day to show off their latest and greatest pieces of equipment. Promising the Latest Gadgets team wet and wonderful gadgets, the likes of which I had never seen before I headed down to their 8000 sq ft store in the heart of London. Ocean Leisure has over thirty specialist staff, including diving instructors, dinghy sailors and ocean yachtsmen, who all seemed happy to deal with a series of “… oooh what does this do” style questions from me.

Ocean-Leisure

The first thing to elicit an oooh from me was the Bladefish, a lightweight James Bond style driver propulsion vehicle with a built in propeller that pulls you along under water. It has a nice safety feature to prevent you fingers from getting chopped off – you have to depress tabs on both sides to engage the engine. There are a variety of models that have differing battery capacities and engine strengths with the Bladefish 7000 coming top of the charts with 2 hours of battery life and the ability to happily withstand depths of up to 40 metres, making it ideal for a diving enthusiast.

Other useful innovations included the solargorilla – huge slabs of solar panels to charge your phones, tablets of laptops whilst you were out on the open sea. They also had cool little water bouy devices to help you find your keys or other equipment if they happened to go overboard (something similar was on the most recent series of It’s Always Sunny in Philiadelphia). And if you go overboard, Personal Location Beacons from Fast Find should help to find you, beaming your exact GPS co-ordinates to rescue services.  They also had hand held anemometers – the SKYWATCH Xplorer 4 Anemometer (JDC X4), which is a pocket sized meteorological instrument that measures Windspeed, Temperature, Windchill factor, Digital compass, Altitude, Barometric air pressure. Useful if you ever need to know any of those things obviously and great for windsurfers and their ilk. And h20 audio had an amazing enclosure beloved by divers waiting to decompress that enabled you to use an iPhone or iPod touch underwater (pictured).

Want to know more? Head to http://www.oceanleisure.co.uk/

ID Cook: Solar powered cooking is hot stuff

For those of you who feel strongly about spreading the eco friendly word, you can now publicly demonstrate that you wholeheartedly practice what you preach with a new range of solar powered cooking appliances.

Cookup200

French solar energy experts ID Cook have developed an intriguing array of portable ovens and barbecues that are powered entirely from the sun’s rays. The Cookup 200 and Cookup Inox are solar powered barbecues that can be taken anywhere from the beach to a picnic outing and be set up and ready to go in minutes. The griddle sits snugly inside a reflector dish which is simply pointed towards that yellow dot in the sky. You can cook directly on the griddle or place pots and pans on it.

Alternatively, Suncook + is like a conventional oven, but uses the sunlight as its only source of energy. Perhaps gentle cooking under the sun’s rays might enhance the natural flavours of freshly prepared food, and make you feel you’re doing something positive for the environment at the same time. Now there’s a thought.

An even more practical device is their Solar Lighter, possibly one of the most talked about birthday gifts you would ever receive. This nifty little gadget will set light to anything that need to burn in seconds, again purely from harnessing solar energy.

The appliances are only currently available online or in DIY stores and garden centres throughout France but ID Cook is on the lookout for a UK distributor.

www.idcook.com

Eton Raptor: Taking the ‘ruggedness’ out of camping!

The arrival of summer – even if it has turned slightly sour, at least up north anyway – beckons us into the open air. If you are heading to a music festival , or camping with the kids, or trekking in the Alps, or whatever your outdoor activity is this summer, being able to charge your phone is a present-day necessity of many modern outdoor enthusiasts. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no battery and therefore no contact with the outside world needn’t be a worry, thanks to the Eton Raptor – the rugged, solar-powered radio that also charges your phone, thus providing ‘outdoor freedom’.

Eton-Raptor

Not only can the Eton Raptor be a much needed companion providing you with the usual entertainment, news and music a radio can, as well as charging your phone, without the use of batteries, but it also doubles up as a LED torch, altimeter, barometer, compass, alarm clock and even bottle opener. For anyone who has ever spent a night camping on the face of a mountain or has even been to a music festival, you will realise that the items mentioned above are often as essential items as a tent, particularly the bottle opener!

Not only does this multi-faceted device provide virtually everything you will need in the great outdoors and is an emergency did occur – i.e you can’t find your bottle opener – but it is rugged, waterproof, rubberised and has a IPX4 splash proof rating, which can withstand a direct, constant shower for up to five minutes – An imperative feature of any device meant for the outdoors in a British summer.

Concealed behind a protective rubber flap, owners of the Eton raptor will find a USB output that will enable them to charge gadgets, such as mobiles and a headphone socket and audio output also cunningly hidden, which means users can play music from an iPod or mobile without obtruding the ears of other campers!

In short, for a mere £99.99 you can turn your outdoor camping ventures into a ‘home from home’ experience with the help of the Eton Raptor.