Concepts get some ambivalence around here at GadgetCrave. On the one hand, they provide a look into what the future could look like. I mean, who wasn’t psyched when the 7-year-old version of himself watched Back to the Future II and saw the notorious hoverboard and power laces. And who didn’t think “Wow, I can’t wait for 2015!” On the other hand, concepts can be frustrating–so awesome, so perfect yet with no discernible path to production anytime in the near future, perhaps ever.
I think the former feeling wins out in the end. As frustrating as it is not having the product in the now, a present in which we can’t conceptualize what the future might look like isn’t a place we want to be. So in honor of this great introspective discovery, we present some of the coolest gadget concepts we’ve seen over the past year or so. These are the type of ideas that make us love and hate concepts.

LG Razor-Thin OLED TV

More official than a lot of the concepts that come from independent designers, but not official enough for a release date, this LG OLED TV is 31-inch set that measures a paper-like 1/10 of an inch front to back. LG showed a working prototype of the TV at the IFA show last month, and really made us hungry for big, thin, beautiful OLED technology. I’m pretty sure my Hulk Hogan poster will be the thickest thing on my wall when I finally get to hang something like this in the living room (yes, Hulk will still be around then). (Brother.)
Sony Nextep Wristop Computer

Designed by Hiromi Kiriki, the Sony Nextep seems like it could be just that: the next logical step in portable computing. 2010 is all about the tablet. Yes, it’s small, thin and lightweight, but it still requires a large bag or backpack to carry it around. What if we could bend and shape our computers to fit into our luggage, rather than bending and shaping our luggage around our computers. Sounds like a next step, doesn’t it? I’m not sure I’d ever be down with wearing OLED bling on my wrist, but the idea of a flexible computer that goes anywhere is intriguing.
Smart Finger

A smidge. About an inch. *This* big. We’ve all done it. Fact is, it’s a lot easier denoting measurements in hand and finger gestures. Unfortunately, the accuracy just isn’t there, so if you need to get it right, you’re stuck digging around a desk drawer or tool shed for a ruler/tape measure. Not with Smart Fingers. Measure the way nature intended, only with accuracy. Designed by Choi Hyong-Suk, Jung Ji-hye and Yoo-Jin Park, Smart Fingers automatically calculate the distance in between and display it on an LED. Not only that, but they can store the information and calculate measurements like area and volume. So you’ve just replaced a tape measure, calculator, pencil and paper. Of course, you’ll have to be sure that what you’re measuring is within your wingspan. Still, for small jobs, this could be invaluable.
Scale Z

I don’t know how many times I go to the airport with my giant warehouse of a suitcase only to find that it weighs 55 lbs–5 lbs too heavy. So then it’s the airport-line shuffle of shame trying to get all my bags perfectly balanced to the point that I don’t have to pay any overweight fees. Sure, I could get one of those hanging luggage scales and weigh it at home before I leave, but I can’t hang myself on that scale. And I really have no use for a closet full of scales that I use once or twice a year.
Scale Z, a design from RenĂ© Woo-Ram Lee, solves a problem that should have been solved years ago: it adds a little scale tweakability so that you can use it to weigh your doughy body, your suitcase and even your golden retriever Buck. Not to mention all kinds of other oddly shaped gear that would never quite balance on a digital people scale. Just try shoving a stubborn 110-lb. rottweiler onto a regular scale and tell me this doesn’t improve life just a bit. It’s got some other BMI, Web-ready nonsense too, but I’m just happy with the simple multifunctional brilliance.
Synaptics Fuse
This concept phone shown at CES this year gave the tech world a glimpse of what the next level of multi-touch technology will look like. In a word, it’s boneragious. The phone features all kinds of sensors, making navigating through your mobile life easier. Hold the phone in one hand; run your finger on the back panel to scroll; tilt it to the side to move through different windows and squeeze the sides to reset–find something for your other hand to do because it need not apply here. This one demanded more than a picture, so check the video demo below for a look at just how cool a device a list of companies like Synaptics, TI, Immersion, TheAlloy and The Astonishing Tribe can deliver.

Empower Chair

Charging gadgets is a pain in the ass. Especially when you’re on the road. The Empower Chair brought to life by Ryan Klinger makes charging a little less of a pain in the ass by transforming your fidgety, kinetic energy into usable electricity. Tap your foot; rock back and forth like Rain Man; vigorously spank your dangle in a dark corner of the park–whatever gets you moving, the Empower will transform into electricity. Plug your device(s) in via USB or standard outlet and put all that energy to use.
Flex Display Phone

They now have just about ever possible size of personal computer available: 4.3-inch smartphones, 5-inch tablets, 10-inch tablets, 9-inch netbooks, 13-inch notebooks, 27-inch PCs, etc. And yet there is still no one-size-fits-all computer for most people. A smartphone is convenient for taking with you everywhere, but some things just require a bigger screen. Your tablet is great for multimedia and light work, but it’s just not small enough to take everywhere like a smartphone.
With a little bit of unspecified voodoo, the Flex Display Phone is all those devices in one. Its display stretches and contorts from tablet-size to smartphone size. Designer Hank Chen envisioned the phone sliding from somewhere around 3 inches to 5 inches, but I’d love to see a device that goes from a smartphone display to a full-size 7- or 9-inch tablet.