Category Archives: Smart Gizmos & Gadgets

YOUMO is a smart modular power strip


Think of it like the littleBits of charging. 


These days, people have more than one device in their arsenal. From our phones to laptops, tablets and wearables, we need more than just the standard wall socket to power up our electronics. A power strip solves that problem, but what if it could do more for you? YOUOMO is the reinvented power strip you never knew you needed until now.

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Like the littleBits of power strips, YOUMO boasts wireless charging, IoT capabilities, multi-USB ports, as well as U.S. and E.U. sockets. Due to its modular design, YOUMO allows you to custom build your own power strip with the power options you need by simply adding on the respective modules. Aptly named Good Gadgets, the Germany-based company behind YOUMO delivers a modern take on the power strip, while also offering stylish functionality.

YOUMO comes in seven base cord colors and three different lengths, in addition to various modules such as: solo (one socket and two USB ports), triple (three European plug type sockets), fiver (five U.S. plug type sockets), multi-USB (four USB ports), wireless charging (set devices on the surface of this module for cable-free charging) and the smart module. Modules could connect together, making it a power strip that is tailored exactly to your needs and is travel-friendly as separate pieces.

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The smart module enables you to wirelessly control, monitor and communicate with the electronics that’s plugged into the other modules. The accompanying app will send power updates and suggestions for those connected electronics on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. For example, you can receive a warning message if you leave an appliance on or you can schedule different times for a lamp to automatically turn on or off.

All base cords and modules are suitable for electrical systems operating 100-240V at 50-60Hz. In the future, the Good Gadgets team plans to build additional modules including a wireless speaker, nightlight, Ethernet (LAN) and a Wi-Fi access point, sensor and more.

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Interested? Then you should check out YOUMO’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Good Gadgets crew is seeking $55,560. You can expect to get your first smart modular power strip by February 2017.

Alcohoot Edge is a palm-sized, Bluetooth-enabled breathalyzer


This mobile breathalyzer will call you an Uber or find some food nearby when you’re drunk.


Chances are, at some point, many of you have been out with friends throwing back a couple of drinks and found yourself unsure as to whether or not you were sober enough to get behind a wheel. Before having to summon an uber, what if there was a convenient way to detect your blood alcohol levels right there on the spot, eliminating any possibility of bad judgment? Now there is, thanks to Vertisense.

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The New York City-based startup has developed the Alcohoot Edge, a mobile device for monitoring your alcohol consumption at home or while out and about. It works like any other standard breathalyzer, employing the same advanced technologies as law enforcement. The unit combines a platinum electrochemical fuel cell along with an active breath sampling system that includes a 15-second timer ensuring the most accurate BAC reading to encourage smarter and more responsible decisions.

To get started, users simply blow into the Alcohoot Edge to instantly measure their breath receiving instant and accurate feedback on their BAC level in their body. The portable tracker is powered by a lithium-ion battery and is rechargeable via USB. Need to share with friends? Germaphobes fear not, the Alcohoot Edge comes with replaceable mouthpieces.

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Alcohoot Edge is more than just a gadget, however, it’s a complete monitoring system. The palm-sized breathalyzer will communicate over Bluetooth with its accompanying app to offer users with an insightful way to stay on track with their alcohol consumption. Through morning quizzes answered by the user, the app performs qualitative analysis to algorithmically predict optimal alcohol consumption levels, seamlessly keeping tabs on user behavior. It also contains a Smartline Line that provides users with trends in their alcohol consumption, and is supported by both Apple Health and Google Fit.

What’s more, the Alcohoot Edge has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you out of harm’s way. The app can puts ride-sharing services one touch away so you can get home easily without taking any risks, and using your GPS location, can even map out a list of local restaurants so you can soak up some of the booze with greasy food.

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Ready to become a more responsible drinker? The Alcohoot Edge is there to help. Head over to its Indiegogo campaign, where the Vertisense crew is currently seeking $25,000. Delivery is slated for August 2016.

Digital audio recording “you” with quality and ease


Instamic wants to do for microphones what the GoPro did for cameras. 


Many analog years ago, digital recorded audio won the popularity contest. Nowadays, whether it’s from your mobile phone, infotainment system or personal audio device, every sound you hear is from digitally encoded bits.

Digital audio has eliminated all of the analog audio’s distortions and noise-related problems. Quite simply, people are shaped and drawn to recorded audio, ranging from music producers, to creative artist, to the everyday consumer. It’s in these moments for the user, high-quality audio conveys clarity in the recording moments. In today’s user interfaces, from media and podcasts to tablets, many whizzing bits are streaming a world of information including audio — readily available at every reach of a finger or ear.

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More and more, we are seeing the prolific expansion and seamless integration of the stack. What does this all mean, though? Screen time now captivates us, while voice recognition and audio are blended into the user pathways of UX. Spurring from technology, we see popular apps like Evernote and iOS/Android natively adopting audio recording right within its inherent interface. These apps are taking in the voice user input to also drive UX — cleverly weaving experience, intention, outcome, commenting and moments.

Almost every sound you hear coming out of a speaker is digitally sampled and encoded.  Moment upon moment of keynotes stored are recorded more, albeit in the format of video or audio, we are seeing an increasing number of unique use cases to why one would want to capture a particular moment. These moments offer an on-demand periscope — referencing a historic timeline of ripples in our experience, memory, and journey through work, life, play, and what matters most to us.

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For much of our pleasures, sound is always in digital — whether it’s on your smartphone, computer, radio, television, home theater or in a concert hall. Today, across many electronic devices, audio recording is integral transition to many advanced features applied toward enhancing old ways of doing things. Just take a look at visual voicemail, and how recording voicemails took the next leap once UX and advance playback was offered. Visual and digital voice recording meshed with non-linear play, took voice playback to the next level. I’d go so far as to point out that most people never hear analog recordings anymore.

Unless you’re a musician, or live with one, virtually all the music you hear live or recorded is digital. We now see the integration of audio and voice recording into all forms of day-to-day activity. Audio with depth is helping bring back some of those analog qualities where the shape and length of a sound wave can be more defined by bit depth and bit sampling rate. With these 24-bit audio embedded designs and digital audio recordings, we can also achieve better sound quality more akin to what our ear can register and decode, help bringing forth the finer granular details of high fidelity. But it’s not all about just emitting fidelity via the digital audio recording. The use cases and need to record audio, albeit ourselves or surrounding interactions, is helpful for many use cases (musician during creative process, senior suffering stages of memory loss, students seeking catalog of lectures, author recalling and commenting wiring plots during writing process, etc.)lectures and applications for audio recording
Why does bit depth matter, you ask? Bit depth refers to the number of bits you have when a device is capturing audio. Below is a graph showing a series of levels in how bit depth works. There are 65,536 possible levels for 16-bit audio. As for 24-bit, there are 16,777,216 levels. Now, let’s see how the depth is explained. The capturing of audio can be sliced in partitions at any moment in time such as shown in this  graph. To move to higher resolution in audio, every bit added counts toward greater resolution. The deeper the bit depth, the number of levels stack greater audio information, layering richer context to the profile of the audio being recorded. Altogether, what’s said describes a segment of audio frozen in a single slice or moment of time.

The second integral “high quality” factor is called sample rate. Together, bit depth and sample rate complete the higher resolution audio model. The sample rate represents the number of times your audio is measured or “sampled” per second. The typical standard for CDs, the sample rate is 44.1 kHz or 44,100 slices every second.
bit depth and sample rate explained

Digital audio eliminated all of analog audio’s distortions and noise-related problems. In that sense digital is “perfect.” When analog recordings are copied, there are significant generation-to-generation losses, added distortion and noise; digital-to-digital copies are perfect clones. Some recording engineers believe digital doesn’t have a sound per se, and that it’s a completely transparent recording medium. Analog, with its distortions, noise and speed variations imparts its own sound. Arguably, perfect, it is not. This is why high resolution in audio paired with the best form factor and ease and usability go hand in hand.

As to whether digital composes sounds with better quality than analog, that’s merely a moot point. Digital audio recording and its very nature of having the ability to slice into segments and layer, then import into other applications and change into enhanced or analyzed into wave forms has been remarkable and pivotal for many industries. In fact, we now see results of digital audio having a significant impact when having the ability to vector to angular and distinct wave form shapes as to help identify voices and interpret intelligent voice recognition. These encoding factors coupled with deep learning programmatic layers are ushering in a new era of digital interpretation and digital recognition.Instamic-every-day-use
Despite such a proposal of questionable technical and audible merits, founder of Instamic Michelle Baggio apparently moved ahead with the idea and recently launched a well-funded Indiegogo campaign for a new audio and player designed to revive factors of instant usability and simplicity that has been squeezed out of digital recording. Thoughts and experience can now be easily captured or reduced to a series of moments, but it is in this very reason for being captured that one can traverse thoughts by memorable experience to episode, so we as users can stitch what’s most meaningful to formulate a mosaic of audio recordings to help serve a purpose.  Whether it’s for applications in medical, academics, business, music or film, the list goes on and on… even a victim of memory impairment can find good use for Instamic.

Instamic isn’t just an ordinary microphone. It happens to be the smartest, smallest and most affordable digital audio recorder that is also easy to operate, combining usability with the smartphone. It attained over 2,500+ backers and crowdfunding exceeding 539% its original campaign goal. With that many backers and goals funded beyond expectations, there are good market/application factors yielding wider acceptance and adoption of more and more of these audio recording tools. Instamic can function as the day-to-day voice logging tool of choice.go-pro-likeness-recording-revolution
We have now leaped into the “Recording Revolution.” GoPro had an effect on the video revolution, opening up a periscope and view into so many never before seen vantage points. Previously, only a number of people had access to seeing. Adventures and passions of people, shared from around the world into showcases for all to experience what they had seen. Giving an eagle’s eye into the experience of many, providing a viewport into those that would never have seen amazing video capture. The recording revolution is upon us and will grow. Instamic is a mic build and made for everyone. Not only is this recording device at 24-bit, the sample rate matches industry high resolution standards at 96khz sample rate. That’s right, based on the aforementioned bit sampling description, that puts the recording at high resolution of 96,000 slices of audio sampled per second.

Instamic Pro and Instamic

Instamic records at 96khz/24-bit, having both mono and dual-mono while its Pro version even boasts stereo recording. This simple but advance digital recorder features omnidirectional polar pattern. Omnidirectional polar pattern records and performs ideally based on its small form factor. A peek inside reveals the architecture of quickly including minimal-phase digital filtering, zero-feedback circuitry, one of the “best sounding” DAC -nabled chips available with dual 2Msps, 12-bit DAC and analog comparator, and an all-discrete output buffer.

Instamic has the ideal form factor — it’s tiny and can be virtually attached to anything. As a standalone recorder, given the right price and origin of this idea, it can very well replace conventional handheld and lavaliere microphones. Packed with mounting options (magnet, velcro and tape) and a quick release clip, the super portable gadget can register hours of 48khz/24-bit sound in mono and dual mono mode, as well as in stereo quality with its Pro variant. A built-in, rechargeable battery allows for roughly four hours of uncompressed audio recording, with duration varying slightly depending on charge time, temperature and storage conditions.

Instamic has a frequency response of 50 to 18,000Hz. Try doing this with current smartphones or other devices, and batteries will drain quick. Then, recording is sensitive having a frequency response of 50 to 18,000Hz. Instamic crams big recording power into a small form factor which is highly usable because it can be tucked into anything. Simplicity seems to always rule the day especially when it comes to electronic devices looking to shape or better the way we do things in a day to day basis. What the GoPro did for cameras, this gadget wants to do for microphones.

What the GoPro did for cameras, this gadget wants to do for microphones

Given its compact design and minimal setup, Instamic is the perfect accessory for filmmakers, journalists and musicians as they will no longer need to lug around all that bulky, obtrusive equipment. Eliminating the need for cables, the wearable unit connects to its accompanying app over Bluetooth and enables users to control it remotely within a 30-foot radius, as well as simultaneously record with multiple Instamics. What’s more, the mic has been designed with the latest Atmel | SMART SAM 70S MCU, comprising 2GB to 8GB internal memory.

Turning on the pocket-sized device requires a single tap of its logo, while another touch will begin the recording. From there, Instamic will automatically adjust the gain on its own in the first 10 seconds and will ensure that it remains at the optimal level. Tap and hold again for a second and it will stop. If paired with a smartphone, Instamic can also be controlled through its app. When a user needs to transfer a recording to their desktop, its microUSB charging port doubles as the file transfer system. Instamic comes in two models: Pro and Go. The Pro version’s waterproof, black shell makes it a suitable instrument for indoor filming sets, darker environments and even in five feet of water. Meanwhile, the splash-resistant, white Instamic exterior of the Go can remain inconspicuous in most bright, day-lit settings. Both can camouflage easily with custom design covers and handle the most windy conditions wearing Instamic Windshield.Easy USB Charging and 4 hour use and recording
How is this being done inside? Intrigued? You can head over to its Indiegogo page to delve a bit deeper. This Bay Area-based startup has already met its crowdfunding goals and now quickly developing their products with the Atmel SMART | SAM S70, a high-performance ARM Cortex-M7 core-based MCU running up to 300MHz. The MCU comes with analog capability, fitting 12-bit ADCs of up to 24 channels with analog front end, offering offset error correction and gain control, as well as hardware averaging up to 16-bit resolution. SAM S70 also includes 2-channel, 2Msps, 12-bit DAC.

But that’s not all. It’s combined with high-capacity memory with up to 2MB Flash and 384kB SRAM and DSP encoding capabilities (DSP functionality that can be further grown into its roadmap). DSP features can be broadly extended well into its product roadmap. Even more is to happen, inclusive in the roadmap is the SAM S70 MCU doing the encoding and decoding of the audio signals, enhanced with its ability to process deterministic code execution and truly expand on the stereo quality functionality packed with Omnidirectional polar pattern, providing the best quality mapping and single processing for an mcu, outputting workhorse processing power of an MPU.  This 32-bit ARM Cortex M7 processor also features a floating point unit (FPU).  Now with quality mapped to bit depth and bit sampling, the number crunching math required to compute an enormous layers of bits is astounding

The FPU further bolsters high quality audio by executing float point processing to render audio temporarily in a 32 bit floating point format. The recorders will render audio temporarily while the extra bits are added onto the file after recording to allow generous headroom for audio mathematics in the digital domain in memory.  Before the file is output it will go through the 24 bit converters. “Floating point” scales the decimal point in a calculation and processing even more so. Furthermore, having 32 rather than 24 registers for calculations is going to render increasingly accurate result. With strings of only 24 numbers, it would be theoretically impossible to allow for other extensive calculations. Yet, when the data hits the 24-bit converter 8 bits are “truncated” or cut off.  The said mathematical result is simply more accurate and as a result, we get high resolution output of the audio.

Instamic’s MEMS microphones offer a breakthrough innovation in sound sensing. Having sound recorded with an omnidirectional microphone response (similar to sound studio environments) is generally considered to be a perfect sphere in three dimensions. The smallest diameter gives the best omni-directional characteristics at high frequencies. Yes, indeed there’s always something new to learn. This is the compelling reason that makes the MEMS microphone the best mmni-directional microphone. Industry wise, MEMS microphones are entering new application areas such as voice-enabled gaming, automotive voice systems, acoustic sensors for industry and security applications, and medical telemetry. What was once unthinkable early on, the unique construction of the MEMs microphone combined with performance and form factor make it all possible.

Instamic Pro Features and Functionality

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MEMS Microphone Specifications

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Recorder Specifications

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Frequency Response Specifications

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Comparison Specifications

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Comparisons at Scale

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Once again, Instamic originally stems from the well-funded pool of contributing patrons. The community has supported and validated this product’s potential for an ideal application to market fit. With this said, the demand is real. Shoot for the stars, right? Powered by Atmel’s latest Cortex-M7, Instamic is looking to become a household name when it comes to capturing high-quality sound anywhere, at anytime, on anything.

Cambits is like the littleBits of cameras


Developed at Columbia University, this modular imaging system can transform into many different cameras.


From littleBits and Microduino to BLOCKS and Nascent Objects, the concept of building your own devices has become incredibly popular over the last couple of years. Hoping to jump on the DIY bandwagon is a group of Columbia University professors with their new modular system Cambits

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Cambits is a reconfigurable platform comprised of colorful, 3D-printed blocks that enable its users to create a range of cameras with a variety of impressive computational capabilities. There are five types of plastic pieces, each with their own functionalities: sensors, light sources, actuators, lenses and optical attachments.

No different than many of the modular kits found throughout the Maker community, these blocks can easily be assembled to form different devices with all sorts of functionalities, such as high dynamic range imaging, capturing panoramic shots, refocusing, kaleidoscopic effects and microscopy, to name just a few. They are joined through magnets, and when brought together, are electrically connected by spring-loaded pins. Power is supplied through a host computer or mobile device, and travels between the via the pins. Data and control signals are transmitted the same way.

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“We wanted to redefine what we mean by a camera,” explains computer science professor Shree Nayar. “Traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image. We wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable, and able to capture all kinds of images. We see Cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us.”

What’s more, Cambits is completely scalable so new blocks can be added to an existing set at anytime. Each block has its own ID and when combined, the host computer recognizes the current configuration and provides a menu of options for what the user might want to do. Housed inside every Cambit lies a circuit board made up of an MCU, an upstream interface and a downstream interface.

“There are so many exciting advances in computational photography these days,” Nayar adds. “We hope this reconfigurable system will open the door to new avenues of creativity, bringing new dimensions to an art form we all enjoy.”

 

 

This may be the most elegant e-bike ever


Faraday Cortland is the ultimate electric bike to power your commute in style.


Biking to work has its perks. It helps reduce gas emissions in the environment, sometimes it’s faster than public transportation and it’s cost effective. The only downside is arriving to the office dripping in sweat. A small San Francisco-based team has created a solution to your commute with a bike that lets you ride in style and with ease — sweat-free.

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All familiar to the hills of San Francisco, Adam Vollmer and his team wanted to build a bike that is fast and easy to ride in dense urban areas without riders breaking a sweat. With that in mind, they created Faraday Cortland, an elegant electric bicycle that doesn’t sacrifice the looks, feel and experience of bike riding.

The Faraday Cortland builds on the team’s award-winning design of the classic Porteur. This step-through bike has a higher capacity battery for 25 miles of assisted riding, updated software and a more efficient motor. Despite it being an electric bike, the Cortland maintains the look of a classically designed bike and weighs only 40 pounds, making it easy to mount and dismount. Cortland has a built-in LED headlight and taillight, perfect for riding at night especially after a long day at work. This bike is great for leisure riding on the weekends and is family-friendly with its child-seat compatible rear rack and front rack for groceries.

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Like its namesake Michael Faraday, inventor of the electric motor, the Faraday Cortland operates on a powerful 250W motor, with a 350W peak. With an ATxmega32A4U at its heart, this set of wheels runs on a custom 43V, 290Wh removable Panasonic lithium-ion battery pack and the handle bar has a display to show battery life. It boasts a maintenance free drive train, consisting of a Shimano Alfine internally eight-speed geared hub and Gates carbon fiber belt drive, eliminating the possibility of getting grease stains on your clothes. The Cortland is an elegant bike, but tough. The body is a durable steel frame and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes for a smooth ride and bamboo fenders to keep the rider dry.

The Faraday team is also offering add-ons such as an auxiliary battery pack to double the Cortland’s range to over 40 miles, a GPS tracking device and an app for ride track and route mapping.

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Ready to conquer your commute sweat-free? Head over to the Faraday Cortland’s Kickstarter page, where Adam and his crew are well above their $100,000 goal. In making things even more simple, bikes will be delivered fully assembled, no bike mechanic needed. Shipments are slated for July 2016, just in time for summer.

Monument is a personal cloud device for your photos and videos


This solution uses AI to analyze and organize your pictures like Google Photos, but on your own storage device.


People nowadays are taking more photos than ever before, whether it’s on their smartphones, their digital cameras or even their GoPros. This results in thousands of pieces of images and clips that need to be stored and organized, which of course, requires a computer and tons of time. And while cloud services offer a partial solution, these tend to cost money and sometimes your privacy.

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However, one Chicago-based startup has devised a solution capable of collecting and automatically managing your fondest memories. Currently live on Kickstarter, Monument is a personal cloud device that effortlessly syncs and arranges content from your phone and camera, alleviating the headache of doing it yourself.

Beyond just the storage gadget itself, Monument features an accompanying mobile app that is responsible for seamlessly relaying the images and footage in lightning speed. By default, syncing begins once your Monument is connected to your home’s wireless network; however, you can also enable your app’s settings for remote syncing. The system even supports SD cards for file transfers.

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What’s really interesting, though, is Monument’s advanced AI algorithms which sort through your photos using date, time, location and faces, as well as by camera. And since everything is organized, the app offers a variety of ways to view your memories including a ‘time machine’ tool (like Timehop) that shows you what you were doing on that day up to 10 years ago and ‘world map,’ which displays all your pics on a globe. Plus, you can search through results using keywords, such as beach or outdoor.

Monument is expandable, too. You can add your own external USB drives, as well as connect a pair of disk drives for RAID-1 backup.

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Interested? Head over to its crowdfunding campaign, where the Monument Labs team is currently seeking $60,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in September 2016.

This electric go-kart will make you wish you were still a kid


The Arrow Smart Kart is like a Tesla for five to nine year olds.


Kids of yesterday, prepare to be envious. If you thought your Power Wheels were awesome, wait until you see this smart, electric go-kart from Silicon Valley-based startup Actev Motors.

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The Arrow Smart Kart may look like an ordinary Formula1-inspired toy vehicle, but it’s anything but. This set of wheels is both GPS and Wi-Fi-enabled allowing for direct pairing with an accompanying smartphone app, with which parents can set a maximum speed and define a safe driving area. As a chid’s skills increase, so can the top speed (up to 12 mph).

The Arrow Smart Kart not only puts supervision at a parent’s fingertips, but features an emergency stop button as well as front and rear collision avoidance. What’s more, an adjustable inactivity timer helps keep tabs on the well-being of children that are out of sight, and the kart can be remotely disabled in the event of an emergency.

The Arrow Smart Kart is geared towards kids ages five to nine, although don’t be surprised to find some adults under the 200-pound weight limit trying to squeeze into its seat. Children can even personalize their driving experience by downloading synthesized engine sounds from an online library. The Arrow app lets kids monitor stats such as total driving time, total distance and maximum speed.

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On a full charge, the car will run for anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour, depending on where and how fast the kart is being driven. The Arrow Smart Kart is equipped with a pair of 250W motors powered by a 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack. A double-capacity 4,000 mAh battery is also optional, which charges in as few as three hours with the quick charger.

In the coming months, a growing list of accessories will become available for the Arrow Smart Kart, including custom body kits, drifting wheel rings, a F1-like steering wheel, distance-sensing ‘smart cones,’ laser tag sensors and gaming apps, to name just a few.

Ready to make the neighborhood kids jealous? The Arrow Smart Kart is now available for pre-order and is priced at $599.95. Delivery is slated for Summer 2016.