Gadgets you wish you thought of first

Hundreds of startups pitched their seriously smart ideas at SXSW. Here are four you need to know.

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Ever get an idea that’s just so brilliantly brilliant, you’re convinced no one has thought of it before? Usually, five minutes of Google time later, you realize you’re wrong. Almost everything exists today, but below are some of those smart ideas that a lucky few managed to conquer first. They recently pitched their startups at the 2016 SXSW Accelerator program, and while not all four of them were deemed winners, we love them anyway.

You can’t get much closer to music than this

Do you feel music? Before you answer that, note that we’re not just talking about the sadness that bubbles up when you listen to Adele, or the foot-tapping, head-bopping happiness that builds into full-on dance when you hear a Justin Bieber song. We’re talking about the somatic stuff. Let’s call it the physical equivalent of synethesia (a phenomenon where music can quite literally be seen by some). If you answered no, you’re not alone, but you can breathe happy now, because Basslet is here and it’s bringing the feeling of music to wrists of all shapes and size.

The Lofelt-owned device (made in Germany) can translate music’s deep bass into vibrations that tickle your arm, so you can literally be “touched by music” as it flows through your body. The best part is that it’s wireless and you don’t need another app stealing share of your (probably) already congested phone dashboard. One thing though: between all the fitness trackers, smart watches and now this, we’re not quite sure how anyone’s meant to have any free wrist/arm space these days?


Showgo puts the world in your living room

Some people (particularity the talkative ones who love to vocally dissect a show from start to end) don’t have the luxury of having a TV partner-in-viewing-crime every time they watch a show. Maybe their roommate is out having a life, they live alone or their significant other is working late that night. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, you probably won’t care to watch another show with a physical human being in real-time again if this app is as effective as it sounds.

The Showgo app is a place where the entire world (or at least multitasking pros who can watch and type at the same time) can come together to watch a show. Not in real-time, though (Netflix did a real number on the traditional viewing model), but rather in your own time and in a way that makes it feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend, or even stranger, at that very moment. It works like this: you jump on the app, choose a show that’s listed in the Showgo’s directory of ones with recorded conversations, and then watch and periodically (but more like obsessively) check your phone for comments.

The app is able to sync to the streaming device connected to your TV and listen/detect exactly where you are in the show. Comments from people who have watched the same episode, but at another time, and who have left their thoughts/frustrations/commentary will then pop up for you to see at the exact same point in the show that they were left. That means no spoilers, and a guilt-free feeling of being able to binge (because others are doing it with you, so it’s fair game, right?).

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Knocki breathes life into tables and walls

Knock once to lock the house, twice for a cup of coffee.

Imagine a future where any surface (table, wall or door) in your home can be connected to a device/fixture/appliance and can be switched on or opened with just a simple knock, knock. Now imagine you’re not in the year 2098, and you’re back in present day where a device called Knocki exists and does just that.

The clever little thing kind of looks like a Nest, in that it floats on a wall and has a round, simple and clean look, but Knocki does more than control the temperature or alarm system in a home. It can do a range of tasks, including, but not limited to, turning a coffee machine on in the kitchen, lock the house, shuffle music, switch a TV on/off, find your phone and text for emergency. It’s as easy and entertaining as a knock, knock joke (and who doesn’t enjoy those?).


A helmet that acts like an umbrella

There are few things worse than having to lug a clunky, dorky bike helmet into a bar on a Friday night. It seriously throws off your entire outfit.

That’s just one of the reasons we like the Morpher helmet so much. Not only is it 100% recyclable (this deserves a high-five), but it can easily collapse and fold into a tiny, less round, more stick-like version of itself, much like an umbrella. As of today, the helmet is being targeted toward cyclists, but the company hopes that one day it will broaden its horizons and hit the skiing, snowboarding, hockey and even horse-riding markets. It’s even seriously considering selling the piece in vending machines. That’s right, we’ll have one Kit Kat and a collapsible helmet to go.


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