As we saw with NEMO Equipment's gear, clever design can enable air to play a significant structural role with camping gear. In NEMO's case, that air is provided by a pump.
Portland-based inventor Ryan Frayne is also experimenting with air, but he's zeroed in on a particular element of the user experience: How to get the air into the product. To that end, Frayne has focused on designing a special valve, and the results are pretty impressive. Frayne's Windcatcher design amplifies your exhalation, using physics I don't understand to multiply your air volume by a factor of 10 or 15—with the added benefit that you don't even have to put your mouth on the thing. Observe:
Frayne's Air Pad seems like a good entry-level product design, but we feel it's his valve that will be the killer app. An easy, pump-less way to inflate things could play a major role in everything from disaster relief to life-saving devices.