Twenty years ago, innovative products took shape out of sight, in basements and garages. Today they’re born online, at crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. More than 52,000 campaigns have been run through Kickstarter alone since the site’s 2009 debut. The greatest successes are inventions that improve on existing offerings. “It’s all about solving problems,” says Backcountry brand director Adrian Montgomery.
Take a look at tomorrow's gear and tech fully funded by the crowd and available now or coming soon.
Pedal Power Big Rig
Problem: Active desks are functional but lack style.
Solution: The handcrafted Big Rig uses an exposed Shimano drivetrain to power a lamp or charge a laptop.
Get It: Available now; $2,000; pedal-power.com
Problem: Most cameras shoot only what you see in the viewfinder.
Solution: A palm-size sphere, equipped with 36 lenses, that captures 360-degree digital photos. Toss it in the air to snap the scene, then scroll through the pic in any direction in the Panono app. It's Google Street View for the masses.
Get It: Available for preorder; $535; panono.com
Power Pot X
Problem: Dead batteries in the backcountry.
Solution: A lightweight stove that can cook dinner and charge up to two devices at the same time - and do it more efficiently than existing backcountry chargers.
Get It: Available in April; $219; powerpot.com
Ninja Blocks Ninja Sphere
Problem: You left the space heater on.
Solution: A Wi-Fi-capable base station that integrates with your smartphone and lets you monitor and control certain household functions remotely.
Get It: Available for preorder this summer; $199; ninjablocks.com
Problem: Performance footwear tends to look like performance footwear.
Solution: Breathable leather kicks that are tough enough for trekking to base camp and slick enough for hitting the town.
Get It: Available now; $130; forsake.co
FlyKly Smart Wheel
Problem: Electric bikes are expensive.
Solution: A rear wheel with a motor, a battery, and electronics in the hub that turns any bicycle with standard 26-, 27.5-, or 29-inch rims into an e-bike capable of going 20 miles per hour for up to 30 miles.
Get It: Available for preorder; $590; flykly.com
Shredly Mountain-Bike Shorts
Problem: Women's bike shorts are built like men's.
Solution: Stylish patterns with adjustable tabs for a snug fit.
Get It: Available now; $90; shredly.com
Earl Survival Tablet
Problem: Tablets and smartphones can't withstand the elements.
Solution: A weather- and drop-proof tablet that can run mapping and weather apps and doubles as a walkie-talkie.
Get It: Available now; $299; meetearl.com
Problem: These classic surfer shades hadn't been made for 25 years.
Solution: Two California designers rebooted the vintage style with modern hand-polished polycarbonate frames and scratch-resistant polarized lenses.
Get It: Available now; $48; sunskis.com
Next Up: Perfect Things: 2014 Editors' Choice Awards