The cell phone industry has always been one of the more rigid sectors of the electronics world. Subsidized phones tied to contracts somehow make repairs pricey or nearly impossible. The Phonebloks concept is an idea for a more user-oriented device that can be repaired or customized with a system of removable and replaceable components. The logic is that when a single component of a cell phone breaks, users will simply replace that part instead of scrapping the entire phone. Replacing individual parts would mean much less e-waste, and the ability to prioritize features like battery life or storage space.
Apparently a lot of people are interested in the concept. In only 48 hours, the company's introduction video has over 4.6 million views.
Cold drip coffee brewing, a smaller subset of the cold brew method, has an equipment problem. The cold drip machines currently available are complex, large, and pricey towers that look like they belong in a Victorian chemical lab rather than a kitchen, and can easily cost a few hundred dollars. The Cold Bruer is a much more compact version of the cold drip tower, designed to use filters from the cult classic Aeropress.
The Cold Bruer is made almost entirely of glass, save for the silicone plug that regulates the drip speed. Depending on which drip speed the user chooses, a full pot can take anywhere from three to 12 hours. While it may not be much quicker than cold brewing in a french press, the drip system works as kind of a low-tech timer that can have a pot of cold brew ready in the morning.
The Cold Bruer system starts at $50 for Kickstarter backers.
Anyone who’s traveled an itinerary with multi-country stops knows that a travel adapter is one of those small but necessary accessories. We pass on any doodads where plugs pop out with a push of a button; moving parts break easy on the road.
Instead, we’re about these colorful 4-in-1 adapters from Flight 001. They’re solid, compact, and, perhaps most importantly, thoughtfully designed. Perhaps more obvious than required, a color-coded system matches the right plug to the corresponding country. You'll have power on whatever side of the world you're on, jetsetter.
Tile is a new tracking system for personal items like keys, wallets, bikes, or any material possession that can hold a tiny chip. The two part system includes a tiny white "tile" that one attaches to the item, and a smartphone app to find it. When it comes time to activate the system, the app shows the distance to a selected tile using a warmer/colder style meter (pictured below). Users can have a bunch of tiles linked to one app.
While a simple tracking system doesn't sound too outrageous in a marketplace that includes GPS-based systems like Apple's Find My iPhone and Find My Friends, the Tile system has a few distinct advantages. First, it's made for short ranges. In other words, GPS-based systems are able to show a user that their phone is indeed somewhere in their house, but Tile can show which couch cushion it's under. Second, Tile has an interesting "lost item" feature that uses their entire network of users to find and report the location of a tile that's gone missing. More on that in the video below.
One unexpected quirk of the system is that the tiles have no user-replaceable battery and only last about a year. Because the chip can't be charged, users have to purchase a new Tile once a year. Don't fret, the old ones are recycled.
Under the right circumstances, donating power from one's iPhone to another is borderline heroic. The Juice Up is a new case concept with a built-in cable for power sharing. After connecting two phones, a simple app designates which way to send the power, and how much charge to give. Unfortunately, it's only in the concept stage as designer Francois Rybarczyk is still working on the electrical engineering.