Sometimes the simplest design tweak can make a big difference. When Nemo CEO Cam Brensinger, an industrial designer, was clearing camp after a sandy, muddy trip near Moab, Utah, he noticed his filthy tent stakes. “Though it’s easily overlooked, staking and dealing with dirty stakes is a significant part of camping,” he says. “We saw a chance to solve some functional issues.” Starting next year, the simple polymer ring he added to the Sweepstake Tent Stake will solve a host of frustrating issues. Slide it down and it wipes the metal clear of muck before you toss the stake into your gear bag. The biscuit also glows in the dark, making it easier to find the stakes at night. Because the ring is wider than the metal section, it secures the tent’s guylines in 360 degrees, so you won’t have to worry about orienting the notch in the right direction.
Fjällräven senior designer Fredrik Hyltén-Cavallius wasn’t happy with the durability of ripstop nylon, so his team made Bergshell—a better version used in the Ulvö Rolltop 23 bag. Normal ripstop fabric has a ribbed, undulating surface that wears unevenly, tearing as you repeatedly drag it across rocks, trees, or the floor. Using 31 percent recycled nylon, Fjällräven weaves Bergshell flatter, with threads of the same thickness to distribute abuse evenly, resulting in a bombproof bag ready for years of commutes, hikes, and long weekends.
iRobot created Roomba to fulfill the future the Jetsons promised us: outsourcing menial tasks like vacuuming. Next year, the Terra t7 Robot Mower tackles another giant time suck—yards—but in a new way. Until now, lawn bots had the same flaws: a tedious boundary wire installed around the perimeter of the yard and a random mowing pattern that never quite looked freshly cut. The Terra mows back and forth, leaving crisp rows. The secret was to replace the boundary wire with ultra-wideband radio signals, which bounce off beacons staked in the lawn, so the robot knows where to go.
Portable smart tech’s weakest link is battery life. The PowerWatch 2 solves that with a thermoelectric case that contacts your wrist, turning body heat into electricity—a technology similar to the one NASA uses in satellites. And the new model takes it a step further: A solar panel ring around the watch face generates power from sunlight. The two technologies produce enough energy to keep the device’s battery topped off all day and night, even when you remove the watch. That means features like a heart-rate monitor and always-on color display run without needing a conventional charge. GPS is one of the largest power draws, so if you want more runtime than the 30 minutes the watch normally provides, just go for a run: The more heat you generate, the more power the watch makes.
It’s a conundrum: We’ve always wanted our televisions to be big yet inconspicuous. Many even come loaded with wallpapers like The Starry Night in an effort to blend in when not in use. With the LG Signature OLED TV R9’s rollable screen, the television isn’t just hidden, it disappears. “Screens are getting larger and larger and, on or off, they dominate living spaces,” says designer Mike Holland, who watches shows at his home on a modest 43-inch flatscreen because anything larger would take over the living room.
LG developed a two-penny-thick organic LED (OLED) screen that can twist and bend, then tasked Holland’s London firm Foster + Partners to turn the tech into a better TV. Their creation: A screen that rises and falls (using a rack-and-pinion system like a car’s steering mechanism) out of a shin-high Dolby Atmos soundbar. After using models and virtual-reality simulations to test ideas—like having the screen come out of the wall, fall from the ceiling, or even form a showy upright cylinder—Holland and his team decided the pop-up was less distracting. “The key here is that it can roll up and is incredibly discreet and quiet,” he says, “making it look something more akin to sculpture than to visible technology.”
This isn’t the world’s first disappearing TV—even Wayfair sells credenzas that allow rigid flat panels to rise and fall—but it is by far the smallest. The base of the 65-inch TV takes up little space, making it easier to place in front of a window, behind a sofa, or in any other nonwall adjacent locations. “It’ll enable the living space and furniture to be used in a different way when we are not watching TV,” Holland says.
In an era when most of us are questioning the ubiquity and intrusion of technology, the time is ripe for a television that truly hides itself. “It’s very much ‘TV on demand,’ ” says Holland. “The ability for technology to completely disappear is something that will soon become part of all consumer electronics.”
Traditional expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam bike helmets primarily safeguard a head from a direct blow, but most cycling head injuries happen from an angled impact, which adds twisting and turning as the crown continues through the fall. The Bontrager XXX WaveCel helmet protects against both scenarios. “The real culprit is rotational force,” says Michael Bottlang, a biomechanical engineer and director of R&D at WaveCel. Under the outer plastic shell is a sheet of EPS, supported by a green grid of layered copolymer that flexes, crumples, and glides on impact, deflecting the rotational energy.
Mummy bags warm up faster than other styles because of their snug fit, but they can also be constricting. The 20-degree Torchlight UL fixes that with extra wiggle room. A full-length zipper on each side of the chest lets you change the bag’s shape on the fly: Pull them partially for 10 inches of extra shoulder room or yank them all the way down and turn the Torchlight into a wider, semi-rectangular bag. Now you can zip tight on cold nights or let the bag out when it’s warmer.
The Polestar 1 is what you get when an automotive designer runs a car company: a vehicle with fantastically obsessed-over details like a panoramic glass roof that stretches over the driver’s head. Leading the 1, the first car from Volvo’s luxury brand, is CEO Thomas Ingenlath, formerly the Swedish parent company’s SVP of design. But the grand-touring four-seater is more than just a looker—it boasts a carbon-fiber body and hybrid powertrain with a combined 616 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque.
In the same way a KitchenAid stand mixer has pasta- and sausage-making attachments, there are now plug-in add-ons for ovens. The SmartOven+ has a grill pan that sears steak without filling the kitchen with smoke and a steamer that’s spot-on for delicate fish or vegetables. Pizza night? The baking stone heats up faster than a traditional one to cook a pie or crisp up leftovers. The attachments plug in to the oven and, when you’re done, nest together to fit inside.
Waxy cannabis concentrate offers unparalleled pot potency—but vaporizing it can require a blowtorch. The sleek, seven-inch-tall Puffco Peak Smart Rig simplifies things with a rechargeable heater that hits 600 degrees, creating vapor in about 25 seconds.
Designed in Vienna, the Geiger Crosshatch Settee is a big, five-foot-wide love seat that doesn’t look it. A lattice of parachute cord—not often used in furniture—supports the back pillows and appears to suspend the seat cushions. But the solid-walnut joints below do the real heavy lifting. Wrapping around the sides, the cord gives the seat a barely-there feel and with all the eased edges and curves, it’s difficult to find a hard line anywhere.
By partnering with Sonos, IKEA upped its smart-home game while sticking to its minimalist Scandinavian design vibe. The base of the roll-off-the-tongue Symfonisk Table Lamp is a speaker that fits seamlessly into the Sonos ecosystem (also compatible with AirPlay 2) and makes whole-house jamming easy. When nightstands are increasingly filled with smartphones, virtual assistants, and a mess of cables, we embrace the chance to declutter (if only slightly). With a chunky analog power dial mounted low on the lamp, controlling the light from bed is easier than reaching under a shade.
The fantasy of off-the-grid living—make that luxurious off-the-grid living—is inching closer to reality. That’s thanks to Max Gerbut, the brains behind a 3-D-printed manufactured house called the mOne. Unlike prefabs, this 400-square-foot unit—with a sleek minimalist Scandinavian look, large windows, and a bright-white interior—arrives fully assembled, inside and out, and ready to hoist in place anywhere. All you need to do is fill the roughly 500-gallon water tank. Solar panels gather enough energy to run the house, from the refrigerator to a high-definition projector.
Gerbut, a window manufacturer with a Ph.D. in robotics engineering and physics, has long been dismayed by what he sees as a lack of innovation in the construction industry, especially compared with other, more forward-looking sectors. “The industry is too conservative,” Gerbut says. “We’ve got advanced smartphone and autonomous-driving Teslas, but why do I still have to live in a cave?” To reinvent the domicile, his Reno, Nevada–based company, PassivDom, has developed a proprietary building composite 20 times better at retaining heat than an insulated wood house. With its composite walls, roof, and energy-efficient windows, the mOne is so thermally sound that you’d use more energy bringing a cup of water to a boil than the house needs to keep itself warm for an hour in winter.
Outfitted with more than 100 interior sensors, it’s got brains, too. Doors automatically close to retain heat, and if you run the tap waiting for a hot shower, that clean water is directed back into the house. Algorithms control heating and cooling, even moving the window shades to block the sun.
So far, a dozen versions of the mOne are spoken for and headed to California, as guesthouses and Airbnb units, and to Arizona for a student residence. Gerbut also sees them as perfect vacation homes in remote locations for buyers who want an energy-efficient house with AI that helps it take care of itself. But it’s not tech for tech’s sake. Says Gerbut: “Smart gadgets inside a dumb cave doesn’t make the cave innovative.”
Many ski jackets are waterproof, but the key to making them comfortable is breathability. The Futurelight Summit L5 LT jacket nails a technical cozy feel with game-changing details. Between a crinkle-free outer shell and a softer liner is a polyurethane coating with microscopic holes, which shields out water but is evaporation permeable, so you won’t get clammy. Unlike similar shells, Futurelight also has seam tape that breathes and stretches, increasing the jacket’s mobility. Without heat-dumping zip vents, it cuts weight to 22.9 ounces.
After 142 prototypes and a new manufacturing process, Smith landed on a design that curves the lens on the 4D Mag Goggles under the eyes. The result: When zipping down the slopes, seeing your skies won’t require tilting your head.
Sure, any coffee maker will brew a pot of joe, but the Geesaa is a showstopper—even on bleary-eyed mornings. Press play on your smartphone (or the control panel) and the carafe spins as an arm distributes hot water with a spiral motion over ground coffee, imitating a barista’s pour-over method. “There was a record player in this one cafe we met in during our research into mimicking a barista’s method,” says Geesaa CEO Arthur Huang. “We noticed how the turntable and arm had a similar motion to hand pouring.” For coffee geeks: The app adds useful adjustments like brew temperatures and flow rates to customize your cup.
Each time you drop your level, its liquid-filled vials can shift subtly out of alignment, leading to DIY projects that are always off. The Milwaukee Redstick Digital Level gets rid of the weakest link. Equipped with sensors instead of vials, an LCD screen, and an impact-resistant frame strong enough to jump on, it shows when you’re spot on. It’s calibrated at the factory, so now if photos are still crooked, it’s you.
Instead of making you fuss with knobs to hold a camera in place, the Peak Design Travel Tripod accepts a DSLR with an auto-click head and locks in any position with a simple twist ring. Shooting with an iPhone? A universal mount attaches to your mobile and tucks into the center column so you’ll never lose it. Full-size tripods are normally bigger than a carry-on, but this rig compacts to the size of a Nalgene bottle.
Remember those Maxell cassette ads in which an armchair-lounging dude is blown away by the fury of his home hi-fi? The speaker making waves in those ads was the JBL L100—a touchstone of ’70s design. Now it’s back as the L100 Classic. “We wanted to improve on the past and add features that we thought such an iconic loudspeaker should have,” says Chris Hagen, principal engineer at JBL. This take adds modern tech, like a titanium dome tweeter, but keeps the classic furniture look and famous foam grille. In the age of small, unobtrusive wireless speakers, these make a statement before the needle even drops.
Tradition, rather than innovation, generally drives the pickup market, where brand loyalty reigns supreme. But with the Rivian R1T, we’re about to see the category upended. This groundbreaking ride will be an electric pickup with a range of up to 400 miles—enough to round-trip it from San Francisco to Yosemite without stopping to plug in.
Rivian VP of design Jeff Hammoud—formerly of Jeep—held the stylus for this project and had a hell of a time. “It’s a category that didn’t exist,” he says. So Hammoud and team reimagined the truck as an adventurous and fun cargo hauler, putting plenty of thought into how it will be used. The underpinnings are impressive: Its electric powertrain uses a motor for each wheel to maneuver over terrain, and will be able to tow over 11,000 pounds—like a full-size gas truck—and ford nearly 40 inches of water.
So it’s capable, but has a minimalist front end since the lack of a gas engine means there’s no need for a massive grille. In its place are some distinctive LEDs, including a horizontal light that glows green, signifying its charge level when plugged in. In some ways, Hammoud used the R1T to correct the flaws in existing pickups, like interiors that instantly look dirtied up. “I grabbed swatch materials, wiped them on my shoe, and rejected them if they turned even a little bit white or gray,” Hammoud says. Then there was the lack of protected cargo space, remedied here by a pass-through storage tunnel and a front trunk, both options for stashing groceries that were previously unavailable in a gas pickup.
Hammoud says that Rivian might find a whole new truck buyer. “We’re not trying to sell half a million of these a year, so we have a tighter demographic,” he says. “They see the R1T and say, ‘Wow, I get this.’ ”