Stanford ingenuity on display at 2013 Cool Product Expo

Earlier this month, hundreds of people attended the Cool Product Expo, hosted annually by the Graduate School of Business (GSB). The event, held at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, showcased more than 40 companies and products at the cutting edge of technology and design.

“We selected these based on outstanding innovation in either technology, manufacturing or design,” said first-year MBA student DANIEL CHEN, one of six GSB students who organized the event. Chen and his classmates anticipate that these products, from foldable kayaks to electric skateboards to telepresence robots, are items that will top wish lists in 2013.

There were several clever gizmos from startups founded by Stanford students, graduates or faculty.

Boosted Boardsoffers the world’s lightest electric vehicle, a battery-powered skateboard that was born on campus by co-founders

JOHN ULMEN, SANJAY DASTOOR and MATTHEW TRAN. The battery-powered motor takes the board up to 20 mph and runs about 6 miles on a single charge. Regenerative brakes top off the battery as you go, or the plug-in battery recharges in about an hour. Supported in part by a strong KickStarter campaign, the company will ship out the first production boards in the coming months.

Another electric vehicle startup, Faraday Bicycles, was founded by Stanford grad ADAM VOLLMER. While working at IDEO, Vollmer began designing the vintage European courier-style electric bike as a way to attract people to commuting by bicycle. Vollmer refined the design with the help of ANDREW TAYLOR, a graduate of Stanford’s product design program and the company’s lead mechanical engineer. The plug-in bicycle provides 20 miles of pedal-assisted power, making climbing even San Francisco’s hills a breeze.

The booth for Instacube, a photo-sharing device from a company co-founded by BILL BURNETT, the executive director of the Stanford Design Program and a consulting assistant professor, and Stanford grad ANDY BUTLER, also drew a large crowd. The digital picture frame-like device displays a customizable photostream of content uploaded to various social networks by you or your friends. The touchscreen frame has potential outside of the home, too: Chef JAMIE OLIVER will soon be deploying the device on tabletops in his restaurants to serve as a sort of “digital sommelier” to help diners pair foods and wines.

Here’s a quick snapshot of other companies with strong ties to Stanford that were on hand at this year’s Cool Product Expo.

Freebord, another skateboard company, offers boards with wheels attached to swiveling axles, allowing for smooth free-ride steering.

Revolights has developed futuristic lighting solutions for bicycle wheels to make riders more visible at night, and to make bikes look incredibly cool.

Motrr offers a rotating platform designed to make video-conferencing with iPhones a smoother experience.

Clean Bottle, the company that launched a sports water bottle that opens on both ends for easier scrubbing, showed off the latest addition to its lineup, an aluminum bottle called The Square.

Artiphany shared a new augmented reality greeting card that can be programmed with personalized messages.

Radian, by Alpine Labs, is an iPhone- and Android-enabled tripod attachment that makes time-lapse photography a cinch.

Stealth HD presented a system that stitches together video from multiple cameras into a seamless high-resolution panoramic video.

Sifteo demonstrated its tiny intelligent videogame cubes, which have been a hit among the gaming community.

Tegu showcased the company’s children’s wooden building blocks, which are made from sustainable materials and snap together with magnets.