Hammock backpack + Bluetooth portable speaker: All you need for camping this summer

New hammock backpack makes packing for outdoor adventures easy-breezy

As perennial supporters of outdoor living, we have to point out this most awesome new piece of camp equipment to hit the shelves. It’s called the HackedPack and, in short, it’s a backpack that packs up the most important piece of camping gear: a hammock.

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Of course, it’s not just a piece of sheet for you to tie between trees. The HackedPack also includes all of the ropes, carabiners, and other necessities for securing the hammock between trees. It also has plenty of strap space for you to clip on your favorite Bluetooth portable speaker, and just enough additional room to pack away some trail mix and water.

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The backpack is able to achieve this remarkable space saving technique by using some fancy pass-through design trickery that allows the hammock to support the weight of an individual without putting stress on the backpack’s straps.

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Pretty cool idea, and what’s additionally beneficial about its design is the fact that it keeps the pack off the ground, thereby eliminating the chances of any sort of bugs or critters scurrying their way in while you sleep.

You can only hear this album if you hack it

Band takes unique approach to debuting music

Hey guys! I just came out with a new album, but you can’t hear it unless you’re able to hack the wall it’s hidden behind.

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Yes, that seems to be the marketing approach behind promoting the new album from Netcat, a Seattle-based electronic band. You see, the group’s latest drop, entitled “Cycles Per Instruction”, was released on Github, but only to those who are able to “hack” its contents; that is, in order to hear their newest songs, listeners need to have a working knowledge of the Linux operating system.

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Why the focus on computer software? Well, the band actually uses a fairly technical setup for their music, including 8 to 10 laptops, an instrumented WiFi network, statistical language models, speech synthesis software, and a synth-based on computer vision algorithms. To make sure the level of complication associated with their music carried over to the release of their latest album, the band decided to use a loadable kernel module for the Linux operating system. The alternative was a custom hardware schematic, but their love of software point them back to something less physical.

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All of this is no surprise when you consider the gents that make up the band: Brand Lucia is a research with a PhD in computer science, David Balatero is a computer programmer, and Andrew Olmstead is an engineer . . . in the aerospace industry. They all agree that in making the music harder to access, their listeners would appreciate what they’re listening to a bit more.

After a few days, though, the band did also make the album available on Bandcamp, hack-free. You can access it there, but for those looking for a bit of a challenge, you can install the kernel module from Github here.

Smart bike brings turn-by-turn directions to the rider’s handlebars

Connected cycle helps riders keep their eyes on the road

If you’ve ever biked a longer distance, then you know the headache that comes with trying to figure out directions beforehand.

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Either you’ve got to memorize the name of every road and turn, or you’re constantly pulling off on the side of the road to check the map on your phone.

A new “smart” bike on Kickstarter seeks to put an end to this frustration. Referred to as the Vanhawks Valour, this connected cycle has 11 days to go on the web funding site and has already achieved its funding goal five times over.

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The reason why everyone’s throwing money at it is because it’s a pretty damn cool product. Basically, the bike connects to one’s smartphone via mobile app (iOS and Android) / Bluetooth technology, and sends GPS directions directly to the rider’s handlebars, using LEDs to indicate which road to go down. The reason behind this technology? To keep the rider’s eyes on the road, especially during high-traffic commute times.

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The bike can be pre-ordered via Kickstarter for $1,049. That’s the single fixed-gear though – if you want the multi-speed unit, you’ll need to pony up $1,199. Both models are expected to be ready for shipping out in November (just in time for the holiday season).

Also worth noting is that as the bike app becomes familiar with roads and areas traversed, it becomes smarter; that is, it learns where to avoid potholes and suggest safer routes. The bike also includes haptic feedback in the handle bar grips, so when an object is entering a blind spot, the rider is alerted.

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Lastly, the Valour app can also act like a fitness wristband tracker, keeping score of your riding progress by monitoring and logging your activity, including things like distance traveled, time spent riding, and calories burned. The data is sent to a corresponding app where riders can analyze later on and set goals accordingly.

Floating speaker shows sound waves as it plays

Concept device stimulates the auditory and visual senses

Check out Giorgio Bonaguro and Juan Soriano Blanco’s new audio techno-gadget: the Virtruvio speaker.

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Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man drawing, the spherical speaker features a unique design which allows the user to see the actual sound waves of the music as it’s being played.

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Made of a cubic wooden box, rubber wires in each of the eight corners suspend the speaker in the center. The wires are attached along the diagonals, meaning the speaker — made of either metal or ceramic — gets bounced around by the force of the sound waves generated by the music, thereby giving the user the ability to actually see the sound.

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Virtruvio comes with an auxiliary in-feed, so just about all devices on the market can wire up to it. Right now, though, the speaker’s still in its concept stages, so it won’t be on the market any time soon. Those in the NYC area can check it out later this month at Wanted Design’s Launch Pad.

It’s a cool concept, and certainly a better presentation of sound waves than corn starch vibrating at 30 Hz:

Remote control brake keeps young cyclists safe when biking near busy streets

Nifty gadget is easy to add on to the rear tire of bike

If you’re a parent of a young cyclist, then you’ve probably had – at the very least – half a million heart attacks while watching them ride in the street. To ease the parent’s trouble mind, a group of investors have developed a pretty cool, unique way to control the little biker: a remote-control bike brake.

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Referred to as the “MiniBrake”, this smart little gadget is fitted to the rear of the bike’s frame right above the tire. Its remote control has a range of just a little over 160 feet and when a parent becomes worried that their two-wheeling tot is going too fast or coming too close to an intersection, they simply push the remote control’s button and the MiniBrake clamps down on the tire.

Now while one might envision this brake causing the child to come to a screeching hault, whereupon they’re flipped head over the handlebars, the stopping motion happens over a distance of about 20 inches, so it’s fairly gentle, and gives the rider a chance to put his / her feet on the ground.

Worth noting: if MiniBrake detects the bike is broken or has a flat tire, the brake automatically applies till it gets fixed.

The device’s battery has a couple hours of charge to it, and shuts off when not in use; LEDs indicate how much charge is left, letting the user know when it needs a boost-up.

Right now, the device is on Indiegogo trying to secure funds to go into production. Being the supporters of all things cycling-related, we encourage you to check it out.