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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Levitating turntables, a tent-hammock hybrid

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Kammok Sunda — Convertible tent/hammock/shelter

Tired of researching every campsite you head to and wasting a bunch of time figuring out what gear to bring along? If so, Sunda system might be just what you’re looking for. Designed by the wildly innovative Texas-based outdoor gear company Kammok, the Hybrid is essentially an all-in-one camping solution that you can just toss in your pack before hitting the road — no matter where you’re headed. It’s built to adapt to practically any type of terrain, and can be used as a full-on ground tent, covered/uncovered hammock, or even an ultralight shelter with just a rain fly and footprint; depending on how you set it up.

Sure, it’s probably not as lightweight or compact as gear that’s specifically suited for the type of weather and terrain you’re likely to encounter, but what the Sunda system lacks in compactness, it makes up for with convenience and versatility. With this all-in-one option, you can just stuff everything in your pack, wander until you find a place that looks suitable, and then set up — without worrying about the presence of trees, even ground, or inclement weather.

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Mag-Lev Audio — Levitating turntable

Vinyl is currently in the midst of a major resurgence in popularity. In fact, revenue from vinyl record sales actually surpassed revenue from streaming services in 2015 —  but the technology hasn’t progressed all that much in the past couple decades. The Mag-Lev Audio is here to change that, and bring record players into the 21st century. How? by saying “screw you!” to gravity.

The Mag-Lev Audio electromagnetically levitates your record platter in thin air while while it spins. The turntable includes built-in feet that the platter rests on when not in use, but these retract while the turntable is operating, giving it a truly futuristic appearance. The floating platter does more than simply look cool, though it does indeed look impressive. Vibrations are the bane of any turntable’s existence, and physically decoupling the platter from the rest of the turntable effectively removes any trace of vibration from the platter. While we’d need some hands-on time with the Mag-Lev Audio in order to be sure, this could also make for super-accurate operation, removing minor variances in speed and reducing motor noise.

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Ding — A doorbell for the 21st century

The first electric doorbell sprang to life in 1831, comprised of a bell that could be rung at a distance using an electric wire. Nearly 200 years later, two U.K. entrepreneurs think they have come up with a suitable update, which they launched on Kickstarter this past Tuesday. The Ding Smart Doorbell, as it’s called, is basically the 21st century update that we’ve all been waiting for. It boasts an easy-to-install outdoor doorbell button, mountable indoor chime, and an accompanying smartphone app.

When a visitor presses the outdoor button — which is slim enough to fit most door frames with a straightforward click-in installation — the indoor chime will sound, while also placing a voice call through the Ding smartphone app.  “Most doorbells haven’t really changed over the years,” John Nussey, co-founder and CEO of Ding, told Digital Trends in an interview. “We didn’t want to overcomplicate things, but we went back to the original concept of a doorbell and looked at what we could add to give you quick, effective communication.”

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Voyager Golden Record — Earth’s iconic space probe recording, on vinyl

In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager I and II, on a grand tour of the solar system and beyond, into the mysteries of interstellar space. Mounted to each of these spacecraft is a stunning golden phonograph record — an interstellar message to introduce our civilization to extraterrestrials who might encounter the probes, perhaps billions of years from now. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of these probe launches, Ozma Records is releasing these records for you to enjoy in your own home.

“The Voyager Golden Record contains the story of Earth expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad cultures and eras, from Bach and Beethoven to Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry, Senegalese percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. Dozens of natural sounds of our planet — birds, a train, a baby’s cry — are collaged into a lovely audio poem called Sounds of Earth. There are spoken greetings in 55 human languages, and one whale language, and more than one hundred images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are.”

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Dyslexie — Typeface that helps Dyslexics read

You might not be aware of it, but one in every five people will have difficulty reading this sentence. It’s not because they don’t know how to read, either — it’s because somewhere around 20 percent of the population is affected by a reading disability known as dyslexia. This affliction  makes it tough to spell, read quickly, write words out, “sound out” words in your head, and even comprehend what you read — but a pair of designers from the Netherlands have come up with a clever new typeface that might help alleviate these problems.

Dyslexie, as it’s called, is a font that makes it harder for the brain to play tricks on people while they read. Normally, the dyslexic brain flips letters around and changes their orientation, so p’s can sometimes look like d’s or b’s, for example — which makes it rather difficult to read. Dyslexie circumvents this by using letters that are unique regardless of their position or orientation, so even when they’re flipped or reflected, the reader can still tell exactly what the letter is. It’s an ingenious solution to a widespread problem, and the creators are currently seeking funding to make the font more widely available and accessible.

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