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Tech of the Week: The super smart army knife for the geeky nature fiend

Billed as the smartest gadget for geeks venturing into the wild, the Fogo is a compact flashlight that manages to squeeze in almost every digital wizardry desk warriors need to survive nature (or going to Hamilton).

It’s been built to allow adventurers to get off the beaten path while still keeping safe, or at the very least, connected to the internet a little bit longer. GPS, battery charger, Bluetooth connectivity; there’s a whole list of things that have to be taken with us when we step out of mum’s basement, and Fogo has been designed to minimise the number of gadgets we need to take.

Currently on KickStarter with 19 days to go, it’s sitting at just under half of its pledging goals and has been slated for a September 2015 shipping date. Which means arriving on your doorstep just in time for the beginning of next year’s summer holidays.

The core device is a flashlight that looks far too much like a lightsabre hilt, with 1000 lumen’s worth of lighting power. But it’s the bits of incorporated technology that makes this device truly a geek’s paradise – GPS, backup battery, Bluetooth, motion sensors, pedometer, the list goes on. There’s enough packaged in that you won’t need to take anything else on a day trip trekking the Waitakere Ranges or an extended trip down to Dunedin.

Well, maybe a muesli bar and a woolly hat.

The device runs an upgradable app-based operating system, and the people behind Fogo are also releasing a developer’s kit so enthusiasts can customise and create their own apps. Written in C++, any coder worth their salt can create something unique to them.

Built-in Bluetooth capabilities mean it can easily connect to smart sensors such as a heart rate monitor, smartphones, and if required, can automatically detect crashes (when on a vehicle) and fire off an alert message using the digital walkie-talkie smartcap, if you’re unable to move.

The smartcap, which is an add-on, allows Fogo users to communicate with each other (and only each other) through voice and text messages, as well as live communication. The device has a range of just under 5km in clear line-of-sight; tests run by the creators have shown messages having a better range than live communication.

While the device won’t be able to connect to DOC or any emergency services, it does mean backers who’ve gone for the package deal can link up with the main party if they get lost. 

Fogo can also act as a full bicycle computer, tracking speed, elevation, and distance. Two bicycle mount adapters are available for pre-order using the Garmin or GoPro mounting systems.

It’s made of anodized aluminium and weighs 255g with batteries included, while the LCD edge will be made of a high strength polymer alloy come production time.

While of very little practical use for Bear Grylls and his ilk, Fogo is a neat little package for the weekend adventurer seeking some time away from the city.

The jack-of-all-trades minion who kind of does a bit of everything, he's also our former resident geek and Reddit fiend. He's now disappeared off somewhere in to the Matrix, but every now and then he resurfaces for a random guest article.

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