iPhone Cases Are Getting Creepy and Kind of Absurd

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 10 2014 1:45 PM

iPhone Cases Are Getting Creepy and Kind of Absurd

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The iZZi Slim, FLIR ONE, and Yellow Jacket (left to right) are three iPhone cases from CES 2014 that are on the sketchy side.

Remember when the biggest decision you had to make about an iPhone case was choosing between hard plastic and soft rubber?

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

The cases on display at CES this year may make you long for those simpler days, because some of them, at least, boast invasive and kind of sketchy functionality.

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1. FLIR ONE

The next time you see someone who looks like she's taking a panorama, be aware that she might actually be surveying the scene for living things—like playing an elaborate game of hide-and-seek or hunting snowy owls—thanks to the FLIR ONE thermal imaging case.

FLIR sells thermal imaging technology to the military and law enforcement groups, and now it's crammed that tech into a $350 iPhone 5/5S case that’s coming out early this summer. The case has a built-in battery that powers its two cameras for two hours or can be used as backup power for the iPhone itself.

The two cameras work together to create a clear image. One creates the thermal image itself, while the other is a normal camera that overlays on the thermal data so civilians who may not have prior experience with thermal imaging can really tell what’s going on. FLIR is even developing Android versions for prominent handsets so more people can join the (somewhat sketchy) fun.

2. Yellow Jacket

With all of the single-use gadgets out there, like fitness monitors and rice cookers, a person gets to wishing that she could just have her stun gun baked right into her smartphone. Convenience is king. And the Yellow Jacket iPhone case is the next best thing to a completely integrated stun gun.

The rubber case holds a battery that, like the FLIR ONE, can be used for extra iPhone juice, but its real purpose, of course, is giving baddies what-for. The stun gun can be used 50 times on one charge. The battery even holds reserve charge if you’re using it as an iPhone power boost, so there’s still a zap left if something bad goes down.

Yellow Jackets were originally marketed for the iPhone 4/4S at $99, and this year’s iPhone 5/5S version (shipping next month) is $149 with 950,000 volts and 1.3 milliamps, an improvement from the old 650,000 volts and 0.8 milliamps. But for savvy shoppers, iPhone 4/4S Yellow Jackets can currently be ordered in “Family Packs” of 3 or more cases that take 20 percent off the order total. A safety-oriented and appropriate gift for the whole family. Yup.

3. iZZi Slim

When the hide-and-seek and self-defense parts of the day are over, people may just want to relax with a little bit of recreational photography. And the four lenses of the iZZi Slim iPhone 5/5S case can help make that happen. There’s a fish-eye lens, a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, and a twist-on macro lens.

But think about it. Why does the big-game tracking or surveillance have to stop? The iZZi Slim’s 0.67X wide-angle or 2x telephoto power can help keep any type of hunt going. The Slim’s maker, iZZi Gadgets, has created a bigger, more powerful set of iPhone lenses called the Orbit Pro. But the Slim is a lighter option, plus cheaper at $100 vs. $240 for the Pro. The Slim doesn’t have a tripod mount like the Pro does, which could make long stakeouts tougher. But at least the Slim’s case is made of polycarbonate, so it’s durable no matter what it’s being used for.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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