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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: AWD electric skateboards and anti-surveillance shades

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.

Taybles B-Side — Cassette tape coffee table

Ever wanted a coffee table that looks like a giant cassette tape? No? Well, once you see these retro tables from Taybles, you might change your tune. Whereas the original Cassette Tape Table (the A-Side) typically sold for around $1,700 to $2,300, the LA-based startup’s new model (the B-Side) goes for just $250. When the original table first went on sale, frugal fans gave feedback, asking Taybles to offer a more affordable model. The company obliged, and is now up on Kickstarter with a much more affordable version.

“The easiest way to describe the difference between the A-Side table and the B-Side table is with this analogy,” the creators told Digital Trends. “Think of the A-Side as an original masterpiece painting and the B-Side as a more mass-produced print of that same painting.” Both tables are scaled 10.5 to 1 of a cassette tape. While the A-Side is handcrafted in Los Angeles and completely customizable, with options like LED lights and bar-top epoxy, the B-Side is built overseas with fewer features, though it still includes a whiteboard top and hidden storage drawer.

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Carvon — AWD electric skateboards

For the past few years, electric motors have steadily become smaller and more powerful, while batteries have become drastically more power-dense and long-lasting.  That might not sound particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary, since most technology tends to become smaller and more powerful over time. In this case however, these two trends have coalesced and blended together to create a sort of renaissance in personal mobility devices.  Now more than ever, there are all manner of cool little wheeled gizmos hitting the market. Electric scooters, gyroscopically-stabilized unicycles, and motorized skates that strap onto your shoes are just some examples, and Carvon just dropped two more on us this week.

The Evo (aka “The Cruiser”) packs dual V3 motors positioned next to its wheels, rather than inside, which the company says allows for thicker urethane wheels, a smoother ride, and improved performance. The board can exceed 30 mph, and boasts with a 14-mile range. The flagship Revo (aka “The Climber”) goes one step further, with dual V3 motors up front and a single X Motor in the back, totaling 3,000 watts of output for what the company calls “a gearbox on wheels.” While excelling at climbing hills, the Revo 4WD also boasts an impressive 35 mph top speed and 20-mile range.

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TriboTex CarBoss — nanoparticles for engine repair

Nanotechnology is a textbook example of an overhyped technology. Despite the fact that tech pundits have been singing its praises for decades, nanotech hasn’t really impacted the lives of everyday people in a big way. But that’s slowly starting to change, as it seems that our technology is finally catching up with our imaginations. Case in point? This crazy new material from nanotech company TriboTex. It’s one of a small handful of nanotech-based products that are not only practical, but actually available to average consumers.

CarBoss, as it’s called, is designed to extend the operational life-span of your car’s engine by improving efficiency where lubricated friction takes place. To make this possible, CarBoss uses a self-assembling nanostructured coating that not only lubricates your engine’s moving parts, but also provides regenerative effects to frictional surfaces. The company’s patented nanotech employs tiny particles that have one smooth side and one sticky side. The particles bond to frictional surfaces in your engine, with their sticky sides down and lubricated sides up, and make everything run smoother.

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Wheel — ultraminimalist record player

Looking at the Wheel turntable from Miniot, you’ll quickly notice something strange. No, not the fact that it looks like a flying saucer, but that at first glance, it doesn’t appear to have a tonearm. But don’t let your eyes fool you. Instead of using the standard layout used by the vast majority of turntables — with the tonearm mounted in the top right corner — the Wheel uses a tonearm hidden within the platter, playing the record from below instead of from above. This has practical advantages — you don’t have to worry about dropping the needle on the record improperly, for example — but it also results in one of the coolest-looking turntables we’ve seen in some time.

The placement isn’t the only unique thing about the tonearm used in the Wheel. The tonearm is machined out of a single piece of laminated mahogany, and features a built-in infrared sensor for accurate movement and placement. It is is fine-tuned for damping, resonance, and weight distribution, which Miniot says makes for excellent sound. The unique build also adds another curious feature to the Wheel: it can play records while standing vertically, which means you could theoretically hang it on your wall like a clock.

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Eko glasses — Anti-surveillance sunglasses

Whether you like it or not, we live in a state of surveillance. Cameras are everywhere nowadays, and to make matters worse, advancements in facial-recognition tech could soon give governments and private corporations the power to not only recognize us, but also cross-reference our faces to other personal data found online. But not to worry — there’s a new set of spectacles on Kickstarter that might help you bamboozle even the most sophisticated facial recognition tech.

The Eko shades, as they’re called, are rimmed with a type of retro-reflective material that bounces light back to exactly where it came from. Most surfaces reflect light by diffusing or scattering it in all directions, but this material is specially designed to reflect light back at the exact same angle as it arrived. If caught in flash photography, retro-reflective material will send most of the light back to the camera’s sensor. This will put the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor to the test, and likely result in an image that’s underexposed for everything but the rims of your glasses. Of course, this won’t help much for any camera that doesn’t require a flash, but it’s still a pretty interesting concept.

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