Bored by all the big brand products this summer?
Walk into most stores and you'll see an array of summer gadgets by Sony, sunglasses made by Oakley, and a full line of Nike sport fitness gear. Dullsville.
But hold on. Start-ups are adding their own summer sizzle to gear. A mosquito zapper that's not annoying? Shades with interchangeable lenses? How about a new Bluetooth speaker that doesn't suck? These start-ups are ready to take on the big names this summer.
1. Switch Vision AXO, $150
Launching in a few weeks, the Switch AXO sunglasses--made by a start-up called Liberty Sports in Fairfield, New Jersey--use interchangeable lenses. The idea is to use polarized shades to block UV light when the sun is glaring down on you. Then, you can switch over to non-polarized lenses that are designed for low-light conditions.
2. Zing Anything (prices vary)
This small company based in Akron, Ohio, is turning the water bottle market upside down. On one end of the bottle is a fruit juicer where you can add "zing" to water or other liquids with just a few twists. (A full citrus version lets you create fruit juices and there's one for making salad dressing. A sportier model is due in the next few weeks.) Then, you flip the bottle around, shake a few times, and you're ready to drink. Prices run about $17 to $25. The company provides some well-done instructional videos, too.
3. INADAYS InaTrap Electronic Insect Killer Mosquito Trap & Elegant Night Light, $89.90
For those late-night campfire chats or nights out on the deck, this unique mosquito zapper will do the trick. Instead of the annoying bright light and zapping sound, the trap uses a faint trail of carbon monoxide (imperceptible to humans) to lure in bugs. The zapper doesn't make any sound, either. Instead, it uses a fan to trap bugs inside the shell. The InaTrap also doubles as an LED night light, casting off a warm (but, for the bugs, highly dangerous) glow.
4. ECOROX Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, $130
This tiny Bluetooth speaker connects to your phone or tablet but pumps out plenty of sound. Made by a small San Diego company called Grace Digital, the Eco brand is a bit different from most small speakers. First, they sound much better with rich bass. The speaker is fully waterproof and submersible; if you drop it in the water, it will float back up. The design is fun and inventive, with three colors available including black, red, and orange.
5. Kiki Nation Towel Pants, $29.50
This company started on a whim. Eleni and Jeff McClung's daughters were swimming in a pool a few years ago and their mom wrapped them in colored towels. She thought, why not turn the towels into pants? The kids could wear them home. That idea spawned a company that has grown by 30 percent each year and now has many towel-based products, including tote bags and skirts.