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Everpurse // Kate Spade New York
Everpurse // Kate Spade New York

The Handbag That Charges Your Phone

Everpurse // Kate Spade New York
Everpurse // Kate Spade New York

Like many women on the go, Liz Salcedo had problems keeping her phone charged. As the Chicago-based social worker drove around the city meeting with clients, she'd often reach for her phone—only to find its battery drained. “I am terrible about remembering to keep my devices charged,” she tells mental_floss. “I realized, I always carry my bag with me. If I could have a way to charge my phone in my bag, that would be fantastic.”

That kernel of an idea grew into Everpurse, a charging device that is now built into certain models of Kate Spade New York bags. But when Salcedo began, she wasn’t setting out to start a company. “It started just as a personal project,” Salcedo says. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘Wow, can I make this into a company?’ It was just, ‘I want to make the awesomest bag ever for myself.’”

She started by buying a bag she didn’t mind tearing apart, and purchasing parts to create the battery and charging pocket. “I’ve always loved tech, but I'm not an engineer,” she says. “My husband, and he is definitely a hacker, but he didn't know anything about bags. So we kind of hacked it together.”

After about a year of work, Salcedo had a functional prototype, which included both a bag—which had the device, its wiring, and the battery hidden in its lining—and a charging mat capable of wirelessly charging the bag's battery. Salcedo plugged the mat in where she normally set her purse down at night, so she could charge her bag while she slept without actually having to think about it. An interior pocket contained a lightning connector; all she had to do was slip her iPhone into the pocket, as she would normally do, and it would charge. Finally, a dead cell phone on the road was no longer an issue.

It certainly made her own life a lot easier, but Salcedo didn’t realize she was onto something until her friends started asking to borrow the bag—and bringing her their own bags to be outfitted with her device. Those friends became Everpurse’s first customers.

When Salcedo and her husband decided to take the next step and create a company, scaling up was a process of trial and error. “Making sure that it was invisible inside of the bag so the bag looked just like a regular handbag was all really, really important,” Salcedo says. Keeping the system's weight low was key, too (Everpurse weighs only as much as an iPhone). Figuring out manufacturing was an issue: “We had to develop all that methodology ourselves, particularly for integrating tech and textiles,” she says, “because factories either know one, or they know the other.”

After sourcing the components, the Salcedos built the first run of bags by hand. “We made about 3000 ourselves,” Salcedo says, “before we then felt like we knew enough that we could build manufacturing relationships and teach a factory how to do it and take the product to the next level.”

That next level was a partnership with Kate Spade New York, which currently has three styles that contain Everpurse technology (they range in price from $198 to $698). The partnership was a good fit not only because KSNY is “one of the most tech-forward brands,” Salcedo says, but because the company is “all about women on the go living colorful lives, and that really jives with what matters to us.” 

The key to the Everpurse experience, according to Salcedo, is that it revolves around what women do naturally. “There’s no wires or cables to pull out and physically have to plug in and think about connecting,” she says. “You naturally put your phone inside of your bag’s pocket. You naturally put your bag down generally in the same place. Those habits can connect with the tech and, like magic, recharge your phone.”

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REM-Fit
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Live Smarter
Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
REM-Fit
REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Design
Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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iStock

In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animals that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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