Geek Chic

The next frontier of product design? You’re looking at it

Sep 5, 2008
Outside Magazine
New Gear Design
New Gear Design

New Gear Design

New Gear Design

New Gear Design

1. SEA CHANGE Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin both drew up designs for a swim fin, but we doubt either imagined one that could nearly double your max underwater speed—and, theoretically at least, propel you completely out of the water, dolphin style (no one has pulled it off yet). But that's what the revolutionary Lunocet promises: unprecedented marine acrobatics. Inspired by the dolphin's tail, the 42-inch carbon-fiber monofin's hydrofoils create hydrodynamic lift—similar to what keeps airplanes aloft—as you swim, with far less drag than you get with those floppy flippers in your closet. Just as clip-in pedals allow cyclists to both push and pull a bike's drivetrain, the Lunocet moves on a pivot, enabling swimmers, for the first time, to produce thrust on the up- and downstroke equally. Who says there's no such thing as a merman? From $1,250;

2. MIX MASTER A four-cylinder gas/electric engine, eight inches of ground clearance, a bed that extends to eight feet (with the tailgate down), a removable solar-powered GPS unit, a mountain-bike-inspired carbon-fiber dash … Known as the Advanced Aero Breakthrough Truck, or A-BAT, this 4WD concept vehicle from Toyota doesn't have a set production date yet, but we want one now—bad. Price TBD;

3. SEARCH AND ENJOY With its HD-like three-inch display, intuitive touchscreeninterface, and slew of handy features (electronic compass, altimeter, photo viewer, etc.), Garmin's Oregon 400t is the sleekest, most functional GPS we've seen. It's social, too: It can communicate with your computer via USB, or with other units wirelessly. $600;

4. BACKYARD BEAUTY Kalamazoo's stainless-steel Edo Grill pays homage to Japan's ubiquitous yakitori carts. It may look like highbrow lawn art, but when it comes time to fire it up, the top shelf slides open to reveal two customizable, 25,000-BTU burners. $7,495;

5. THE BIGGER PICTURE Think about how incredible Planet Earth looks on your 32-inch screen; now imagine it projected on your wall, ten feet across. Epson's new superquiet PowerLite 1080 UB beams vivid, high-def action for a cinematic experience at home. You're gonna need some new speakers. $3,000;

6. RIDE AND SEEK The problem with most goggles? Poor peripheral vision. Which is why Swedish company POC ditched the frames on the Lobes. Don't worry: The anti-fog, anti-scratch lenses aren't as dark as they look; they work just as well when the forecast is partly cloudy. $150;

7. SPACE FACE Omega's Alaska Project, with its removable anodized-aluminum casing, is back in a limited run. First developed in 1970, the stainless-steel timepiece is the only watch "flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions," i.e. it's built to withstand temperatures between –234 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Because you never know. $5,500;

8. THE ONE? Talk about a mash-up. Take a Yamaha R1 motorcycle frame, a unicycle, and a couple of electric wheelchair motors and you've got the Uno—a prototype designed to tuck in and out of the tightest city traffic. The zero-emissions bike can be plugged into any household socket and actually has two parallel wheels for increased stability. Like a Segway, the Uno uses a gyroscope for balance and propulsion—when you lean into a turn, the independent suspension allows the inside wheel to slide upward so both stay on the ground. Toronto native and incoming MIT freshman Ben Gulak, 19, got the idea for a green, compact bike on a 2006 trip to China, after seeing smog rising from Beijing's motorcycle hordes. After debuting the bike last April at the National Motorcycle Show, in Toronto, Gulak raised the Uno's top speed from 15 to 45 miles per hour and started lining up investors. Anyone? Price TBD;

9. ROLLING ROCK Sure, Samsonite's Graviton Upright Spinner's polycarbonate is virtually indestructible, but this baby is all about the ride. The German-designed 360-degree wheel system allows you to whip it in a circle and roll any way you want to. Good luck keeping up. $550;

10. UNFOLD AND GO It won't be available until next summer, but we're already lusting after Cannondale's ON bike. Not only is it elegantly designed (the gears, chain, and cables are all internal); it also folds up in gloriously simple fashion: Just press a button and it flips closed for easy transport. Price TBD;

11. COLD CLAW This newest iteration of Black Diamond's Cobra ice ax, while just as wicked, is more intelligent than previous models. The lightweight carbon-fiber shaft sucks up vibration, while its slightly more exaggerated curve provides even better clearance for nailing gnarly overhangs. $300;

12. TIME MACHINE Casio told its digicam engineers to have a field day. They came back with a consumer camera that can stop time. The EX-F1 shoots at a jaw-dropping 60 frames per second—that's not a typo. (By comparison, most point-and-shoots grab around two.) The money shot? You caught it. $1,000;

13. MAGIC SHELL A jacket that knows when you're getting cold and self-adjusts? Yup. The Schoeller Phase Change Material in Helly Hansen's Odin PCM soft shell contains paraffin: When the temp inside the jacket rises, the paraffin absorbs the heat and melts; when you cool down, it hardens and releases stored heat. $550;

14. BOLD FUSION Sick of juggling your PC, PDA, and media player? Drop-kick all three and upgrade/downsize to Samsung's new do-it-all Q1 Ultra Premium mobile PC. At 1.9 pounds and just 9" x 5.5" x 1", the wireless, 80GB touchscreen unit features Windows XP and is about as fast and light as you can get. $1,299;

15. SHAPED SHIFTER Atomic literally split the limited-run Doubledecks from tip to binding and binding to tail, then inserted a strip of elastomer. The result? It adjusts on the fly, depending on the terrain and how aggressively you're skiing. When you really lean on it on hardpack, for example, the sidecut actually decreases, allowing you to make shorter, quicker turns. $1,550;

16. TALK TO THE THUMB Still can't keep solids down, hope the meeting went well …" Swany's Bluetooth-equipped, water-resistant G-Cell ski glove lets you take and make calls via inconspicuous buttons and, on the thumb, a mike/speaker combo. Just keep it quick, OK? $495;

17. BLAZING FAST Let there be light—wherever you need it. Knog's surprisingly bright Gekko bike light (three LEDs, three modes) is encased in malleable silicone, so you can wrap it—like moldable clay—around your handlebars, seatpost, bag strap, etc. $26;

18. BACK ON THE BUS Montreal industrial designer Alexandre Verdier resurrects the classic Volkswagen Westfalia microbus with the Verdier Solar Power, a 32-mpg-rated gas/diesel hybrid with solar panels that track the sun via GPS. Get on the waiting list now—the 2009 models are already spoken for. $119,000 as pictured (est.);

19. WALL RIDER Photographer and surfer Brown Cannon III paired up with custom shapers GP Surfboards to create a series of gallery-worthy limited editions featuring Cannon's arresting, silver-gelatin black-and-whites. This is for your living room, not the water. From $6,500;

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