Not every mobile gadget is meant to be practical or logical. Sometimes, you get innovations that are downright oddball creations that make the mobile world a bit more colorful, even if you're left scratching your head at the weirdness of it all.
The Oculus Rift VR headset has set the modern standard for what a head-worn virtual-reality device should look like, but things got a whole lot weirder when the AirVR project hit Kickstarter.
AirVR is a head-mounted display that straps an iPad Mini or iPhone 6 Plus in front of your eyes. The system works thanks to apps that deliver separate images to each eye to create a VR effect. Despite the somewhat goofy look of wearing an iPad on your head, the Kickstarter campaign surpassed its funding goal.
One of the niftiest fictional technologies to come out of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was the chest-worn communicator badge. A simple tap on the badge would initiate a voice call with crystal-clear sound. The OnBeep Onyx isn't quite as cool looking, since it resembles a doorbell, but it strives for pretty much the same purpose as the "Trek" device.
Designed for group communications (your cosplay buddies at a "Star Trek" convention, for example), the Onyx works by connecting to an iOS or Android app over Bluetooth. The app allows group management so you won't have to chat with random Klingons you don't know.
A 650,000-volt stun gun hanging out right next to a very expensive smartphone may not sound like the smartest combination, but you can mix the two if you want to. The Yellow Jacket stun-gun case crackles and sizzles on demand, acting as a self-defense tool as well as providing protection for your iPhone. Safety switches and an insulating design keep your phone safe and prevent accidental discharges. Still, a stun-gun iPhone case isn't for everyone.
If Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" were a modern woman, she might own a pair of Dorothy shoes from digital agency iStrategyLabs. Dorothy is a connected device that works with your favored footwear. The system includes a "Ruby" device that clips onto your shoe or slips inside a boot. Tap your heels together three times and it triggers a mobile app to do a predetermined action, like text a friend or call your phone from a fake contact to get you out of a bad date.
Dorothy is not yet available for purchase, but iStrategyLabs is looking at refining the design.
There are plenty of mobile power packs out there to choose from. Some are cylindrical, some are rectangular. What those regular joes lack is a sense of flair and style. You'll get both with the XOO Belt from Nifty. The belt stems from a successful Indiegogo campaign. It looks pretty much like a regular belt, but it hides a flexible 2,100 mAh battery inside. You can even recharge your phone while you're still wearing the belt.
The XOO is an unusual solution to the problem of carrying around an extra power pack. You won't forget your backup battery if it's also responsible for holding up your pants.
Perhaps you've been thinking your smartphone needs a mini-me, a little phone to call its own. That's the idea behind the WiMe Talkase, a small GSM phone that looks like a pocket calculator. It snaps into a case for your big smartphone and acts as a Bluetooth-connected surrogate for your regular phone or as a standalone backup phone with its own SIM.
The concept seems a bit strange, but it caught on with Kickstarter backers, who helped the Talkase project top its funding goal.
As phones have evolved from flip-styles and candy bars to touchscreens, we have lost a lot of the tactile buttons we used to have. If you miss pressing on a raised spot and having something happen, you can add some buttons to your Android device with Dimple, an NFC-enabled sticker that features four programmable buttons.
Dimple comes not too long after the arrival of Pressy, a physical button that attaches to a phone's headphone jack. Both devices are helping Android users get back in touch with their phones by kicking it old-school.
Cold hands make using your smartphone a challenge as you try to make your frozen fingers behave. Exumme's Embercase is designed to protect your phone and lovingly warm up your chilly digits at the same time. The titanium case has a battery-powered heating element on the back and a layer of high-tech insulation to protect your phone from the warmth.
Embercase originally launched as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, but the campaign was cancelled with a note that the project is expected to relaunch soon on Indiegogo instead.
When the Coolest Cooler finished its run on Kickstarter, it had taken the funding crown away from the Pebble smartwatch by raising over $13 million. What is that got so many people excited about a place to stash their beverages? The cooler comes stocked with easy-rolling tires, a built-in cutting board, USB charger, Bluetooth speaker, plate storage and a battery-operated blender. Not many mobile gadgets can promise to both juice up your smartphone and make you a slushy margarita.