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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: folding canoes, cheap mobile VR, and more

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.

Nolo — motion-tracking system for mobile VR

Want a room-scale motion-tracking VR system without having to dish out big bucks on an HTC Vive and a VR-ready gaming PC? Nolo is a set of peripherals designed to work with lower end, smartphone-based VR headsets like Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, and even those cheap cardboard headsets that everyone makes these days. Just clip a sensor onto your headset, set up the sensor beacons, grab the controllers, and you’re off to the races.

Sure, the graphics processing abilities won’t be as robust as what you’d get with a full-fledged VR setup (you’re still using a smartphone, after all), but Nolo will definitely expand the range of games you can play — and also what you can do inside them. Room-scale motion tracking is quite literally a game changer. With the ability to move around freely inside your VR world and manipulate objects with your hands, you’ll be able to play games and use apps like Job Simulator, Tilt Brush, and dozens more. Early-bird backers can snag the kit for just $99, but even if you’re late to the party, you can still lock one down for $109. That’s pretty cheap when compared to HTC’s Vive.

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