Marvelous multipurpose gadgets (pictures)

Who doesn't want to get two or more things for the price of one? Here's a look at some offbeat versatile creations we crave.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
1 of 12 Garrison Bespoke

Dressed to not be killed

When is a tailored suit not just a tailored suit but a suit of armor, or a hammer not just a hammer but a zombie onslaught survival tool? When it's multipurpose.

Canadian tailor Garrison Bespoke is offering this slick bulletproof suit for $20,000 and up, and it got us thinking about great multifunction creations we love. Two or more uses for the price of one? Music to our ears.

The suit features carbon nanotubes in a layer under the exterior fabric that harden on impact to stop both bullets and knife blades. Tailor Michael Nguyen says the threads can stop a .45 bullet. Style doesn't have to leave you vulnerable.

2 of 12 ThinkGeek

Bring on the zombies

Designed for the zombie apocalypse, the $29.99 Dead-On Annihilator Superhammer is a multipurpose miracle at ThinkGeek.

This 14-inch forged steel weapon has a hammer, wrench, nail puller, chisel, and small ax. A bonus function is its bottle opener, perfect for celebrating after dispatching the undead.

3 of 12 BoatBox

Storage you can float in

Who wants to haul a bunch of gear camping as well as a boat? Well, BoatBox can do both. It's a rooftop storage container for your car that doubles as a rowboat. Retailing in the UK for 595 pounds ($950), it's far from luxurious or spacious, but it can accommodate two people on the water and about 385 pounds on the road, including life jackets.
4 of 12 Vodafone

Power in your pocket

Some might just call these another excuse to check out an appealing rear end, but Power Shorts are certainly eye-catching. Mobile carrier Vodafone has been testing out shorts (and sleeping bags) that can recharge gadgets by harvesting the power of movement.

Created with University of Southampton scientists, the shorts incorporate a Power Pocket that contains foam-like ferroelectret materials with pockets of permanently charged surfaces. When the material gets squashed or deformed through movement, kinetic energy gets produced.

Vodafone says a full day's walking and dancing will charge a smartphone for more than four hours.

5 of 12 Znug Design, Poplife

Helmet head

Japanese schoolchildren are trained to jump under their desks in an earthquake, but the makers of this chair believe it can also protect people -- by turning into a helmet.

With the twist of a dial, the Mamoris goes from seat to armor. Japanese industrial designer Kota Nezu of Znug Design developed the prototype, which weighs some 3 pounds.

6 of 12 Reno Innovations

Work while you work out

It's so hard wrenching oneself away from the computer, especially when you feel you should hit the gym. Well, the FitDesk lets you continue doing all that stuff that had to be done yesterday: it's an exercise bike that doubles as a desk.

The FitDesk has a padded deck instead of handlebars, so you can rest your electronic stuff on it and type, browse, or tweet away to your heart's content while burning calories.

CNET columnist Danny Sullivan recently tested out another fitness desk, the LifeSpan treadmill desk. He had his doubts about working and walking at the same time, but now he's a convert.

7 of 12 Trioh

Flashlight's secret life

It's been billed as the "world's most beautiful flashlight." Whether you agree or not, you've got to give designer Greg Hinzmann credit for making a flashlight that's stylish enough to double as a lamp in your living room.

The Trioh, which was priced at $69 on Kickstarter, functions as a rechargeable flashlight with three super-bright LEDs; an emergency light that automatically goes on when the power goes out; and a modern-looking accent light.

8 of 12 Pieter Claessen

Dresses that recite verse

What we wear can say a lot about who were are, but here's a fashion piece that speaks volumes. Lace Sensor Dresses from artists Anja Hertenberger and Meg Grant have poetry embroidered into the fabric as well as coming out of speakers in it.

The Lace Sensor collection consists of three dresses, each based on the Arduino open-source platform popular among DIYers and each with a different poem. Fortunately, the dresses don't always play back recorded poems -- the embedded speakers are triggered by specific body gestures.

9 of 12 Gear Up Center

Pry and dig with the Crovel

Going multipurpose can create some interesting synergies when it comes to tools. The Crovel, for instance, takes the humdrum functions of shoveling and prying and presents them in a radically unique format. Half crowbar, half shovel, this can get you out of nearly any jam when it comes to objects that resist your will.

The recent Crovel Extreme II weighs 5.5 pounds and also packs a bottle opener, sawtooth edge, chisel, storage compartment, and parachute cord. Get it for $140 here.

10 of 12 Lin Tsui-Wei

The sleeping bag coat

We love multipurpose fashions, and the Inflatable Sleeping Coat goes far beyond the call of duty in this regard. This concept by designer Lin Tsui-Wei is a raincoat, sleeping coat, sleeping bag, and even mattress rolled into one.

Made of waterproof fabric, the entire garment can be pumped full of air to form a kind of body pillow, which, along with the hood, will cradle you as you sleep. The skirt can be detached to serve as a mattress to protect your fanny if you're sitting on the ground.

11 of 12 ThinkGeek

'Doctor Who' TV remote

The Doctor has a plethora of awesome tools, not the least being his sonic screwdriver: it can pick just about any lock, perform medical scans, and control other devices.

Now you can use it to master your TV. The Sonic Screwdriver Programmable TV Remote at ThinkGeek has sound effects, lights, and gestural controls to change the volume, channel, and other functions of your entertainment system. Perfect for tuning in to the Doctor.

12 of 12 ThinkGeek

A multi-tool for new digs

If only I'd had the Kelvin.23 All in One Tool last time I moved. It's got nearly everything you'd need to get your home up to a rudimentary level of habitability.

It's basically a screwdriver with 18 magnetic bits, an LED light, a 5-foot tape measure, a liquid level, and a small hammer to nail help hang those pictures. Not bad for $24.99.

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