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Tech in the Great Outdoors: Three of the Biggest Ideas Being Crowdfunded Now


Inventions that disconnect


Tech in the Great Outdoors: Three of the Biggest Ideas Being Crowdfunded Now

Amanda Layman Low

The best technology enhances the thrill of being outside. From smart tents to exploratory robots, ingenious new prototypes simmer on the horizon,  weeks away from being nudged into existence via crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. We’re particularly enamored with three of these inventions, all of which make the outdoors more accessible, comfortable, and convenient for the modern world.

Cinch! Ultimate Pop-Up Tent

What’s the difference between a solar-powered, temperature-controlled tiny house and the Cinch! Ultimate Pop-Up Tent? Answer: one of them folds into a backpack.

The Cinch! Ultimate Pop-Up Tent is a spacious tent with an extended canopy. The whole thing packs down into a round rucksack that’s easy to haul, set up, and break down. The dome tent features a rooftop solar panel that links with a 13,000 mA-h power bank inside the tent, where you can charge two devices simultaneously, in the tent or on the go, via a detachable USB charger. The tent is made of an ultra-reflective material that keeps the sun out, sustaining cool temperatures well into the morning for those who prefer to sleep in.

As far as project execution goes, Cinch! has our vote for reliability: they already have a strong track record on Kickstarter, as well as six years experience manufacturing the product. They’ve released the standard version of their tent with excellent feedback from users, and they’ve engaged with a number of partners with expertise in the outdoor industry.

Fathom One: Underwater Drone

The Fathom One is an underwater drone, available for less than $600, that’s as portable and lightweight as a laptop computer. It comes with a built-in, HD camera for viewing and recording your deep sea expeditions. The robot moves up to 1.5 meters per second, with 100 feet of tether, and lasts one hour on a single charge.

The developers thought of everything when it comes to controls, which is why you can operate the drone from any touch-screen device or bluetooth controller: simply take your pick, and pilot. The buoy creates a Wifi network, meaning you can stream live video up to 100 feet away and 100 feet deep.

The drone is customizable –– allowing you to remove its thrust modules and build your own. With its integrated rail system, users can attach additional cameras, lights, sensors, or whatever you dream of.

We dig the Fathom One because of its versatility and broad potential for use in a number of industries. Not only is it inherently fascinating for outdoors enthusiasts to be able to explore uncharted waters via live video, but the drone has the potential to serve a valuable role in search and rescue missions, education, and even tourism. The Fathom One is backed by a trio of dedicated co-founders, with expertise in biomechanical engineering, business, and operations.

The Zero Breeze

Beyond alleviating the serious discomfort of camping in 100-degree heat, this innovation actually has the potential to reduce human energy consumption and save lives in home settings.

According to its Kickstarter, the Zero Breeze is the “world’s first portable, smart, multifunctional air conditioner.” Because that wasn’t cool enough by itself (get it?) this gadget also includes a bluetooth speaker, night light, and smartphone charging station. You can plug it in or use the battery pack, which runs for up to five hours on low power before needing a recharge.

Perhaps the most impressive feature is its power in relation to portability. At its modest size, it’s capable of cooling a 50 square-foot room down to an astonishing 44℉. We like the Zero Breeze because of its potential for use in both outdoor activities and to alleviate heat-related illnesses and deaths in homes and vehicles. Its appearance is sleek, unlike the more cumbersome models on the market, and the “multi-tool” functionality is great for campers wary of hauling too much stuff on adventures.