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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of March 16, 2014

At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or IndieGoGo and you’ll find there’s no shortage of weird, ambitious, and downright stupid projects out there – far too many for any reasonable person to keep up with. But here at DT we are not reasonable people. We spend an inordinate amount of time poring through crowdfunding sites and product blogs in search of the next Oculus Rift or Pebble Watch, so we’re here to bring you a quick roundup of the best projects that are currently up and running.

Imitone – Voice-to-MIDI software

ImitoneDigital music-making software has come a long way in the past few years, but generally speaking, most programs still have a fairly steep learning curve. If you’re not deeply familiar with whatever software you’re using, taking the music in your head and reproducing it digitally can be a complicated and frustrating task. Imitone aims to change all that, and make it easier than ever before to compose electronic music from scratch. It basically allows you to sing out the notes and beats you want to make, and then tweak them to sound like different instruments. No ear for music?  Imitone has you covered.  It’s designed to help you sing in tune, providing constant feedback on the pitch of your voice.  Additional tools like scale-snapping help it to correct your errors.

Healbe GoBe – Fully automatic calorie tracker

Healbe GoBeThere’s no shortage of wearable health-trackers in the world right now, but despite their alleged convenience, they all require a certain degree of user input to function properly. Some trackers work by estimating the amount of calories you burn based on your physical activity, but most have no way of telling how many calories  you’re taking in. Generally speaking, most rely on you, the user, to manually enter in the things you eat. The GoBe from HealBe is different. In addition to an array of accelerometers to track your movement, it uses a combination of a pressure sensors and impedance sensors to look through your skin and estimate the amount of glucose in your cells. With the help of some carefully-crafted algorithms, this allows it to reliably track the calories you’re taking in, as well as the ones you’re burning. 

Insight – Lactic-threshold tracker

InsightWe’re entering a new era in wearables right now. After the initial surge of fitness trackers, companies are starting to think beyond simple wrist-borne activity tracking – and they’re all funding their creations on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Just look at our Awesome Tech roundups from the past few weeks – last week we came across a wearable device that tracks sunlight intake, and the week before that discovered one that tracks activity from your ankle. This week there’s yet another. Insight is designed to fit inside a compression sock, and records things like heart rate, cadence, pace, calories burned, and for the first time ever, your lactic threshold. Your lactic threshold is that moment during a workout where your body can’t flush lactic acid out of your bloodstream faster than it is being produced, and it’s an extremely useful measurement of exercise intensity for training and racing in endurance sports.

Pono – HD audio player

PonoAudiophiles have been murmuring about Neil Young’s PonoPlayer for over two years, and now it’s finally live on Kickstarter. If you haven’t already heard about it, Pono is essentially a high-quality music player designed to store and play music in a wide variety of lossless audio formats. According to the PonoMusic Kickstarter page, the PonoPlayer can handle any kind of music file, including high-resolution music available from already well-established services like HDtracks. But Young and the Pono team hope you’ll want to buy music it has secured in as high-resolution as 96 kHz/24 bit and 192 kHz/24 bit FLAC (free lossless audio codec) format from its PonoMusic app and online store. The project has already crushed its initial funding goal, and is currently sitting pretty at over $3 million in pledges.

MIDI Sprout – Biodata sonification device

MIDI SproutThis might be the most techno-hippie thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. MIDI Sprout is a geeky little kit that basically enables plants to play synthesizers in real time. Far out, right? Here’s how it supposedly works. Two probes are attached to a plant’s leaf, and send out a small electrical charge from a battery. These probes measure the plant’s resistance to this current. When applied to a human this is called the galvanic skin response (GSR). GSR readings provide insight into humans’ inner emotional states and are the basis of simple lie detector circuits. The MIDI Sprout converts these fluctuations into MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) notes and controls that can be read by synthesizers and computers. This information can then be scaled and played through synthesizers. That ficus in your living room can now be a DJ at parties.