Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Treepods, robot cutters, Firefly flints

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 no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Colorspike — dynamic set lighting

A few years ago, a small NYC-based startup called BitBanger Labs released a gizmo called the PixelStick: a programmable LED rail designed to take light painting photography to the next level. It was a huge hit with the crowdfunding community, quickly gathering up over $620,000 from more than 2,000 backers. It’s been nearly four years since the project went live on Kickstarter, and now the creators are back with yet another device aimed at photographers and videographers.

The Colorspike is a lot like the PixelStick in terms of operation, but is intended for a completely different purpose. Just like the PixelStick, ColorSpike is essentially just a row of programmable LEDs. The difference, however, is that ColorSpike’s lights are more powerful and customizable, since they’re meant to light up sets with a splash of color during video shoots.

The idea is that, rather than swapping out films and gels on their set lights, filmmakers can just change the color (or brightness, or pattern) of the ColorSpike through an accompanying smartphone app. If you’re an indie filmmaker, this is for you.

Treepod — hanging lounge tent

You know those suspended tents from companies like Tentsile and Treez? They not only provide a super-comfortable platform to sleep on while you’re in the great outdoors, but also a superior view of your surroundings. The only downside is that they’re a bit cumbersome to transport, and their multi-strap setup is far more laborious than erecting your average ground tent. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could enjoy all the benefits of a hanging shelter, but without all the extra effort and setup they generally require?

Enter the Treepod. It’s a suspended tent that’s not only durable and easy to transport, but also outrageously easy to set up. The key here is that the Treepod is suspended by only a single line, rather than multiple tension straps like you’ll find on most other hanging shelters. On top of that, Treepod tents also break down and pack up into reasonably-sized packages for easy transport.

That means you don’t need a six-man crew and a flock of pack mules just to haul it out into the woods. You can easily toss it over your shoulder and bring it along on a solo adventure.

Firefly — fire-starting accessory for Swiss Army Knives

It’s tough to improve on an outdoor product as revered as the Swiss army knife. After all, this iconic multitool has been around for more than 120 years, and has achieved legendary status due to its simple, utilitarian design. But a new product called the Firefly, which recently launched on Kickstarter, delivers a handy new feature that does the impossible: it improves your Swiss army knife in a big way. How? By giving it the ability to start a fire! It’s a sparking tool that fits neatly into your existing pocketknife, so you’ll always have it handy when you need it.

Made from a custom sparking material developed by Tortoise Gear, the Firefly is essentially a flint/steel rod that fits snugly into the toothpick slot of your Swiss army knife. Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to ditch that flimsy plastic toothpick that you use so much in the backcountry — but we’re willing to bet that if you had to choose between freezing to death or having an annoying piece of beef jerky stuck between your molars, you’d probably choose the latter. Really, if you think about it, couldn’t you just use the corkscrew as a toothpick anyway? It’s a wonder that Victorinox didn’t think of this decades ago.

Goliath CNC — robotic milling machine

3D printers may hog the limelight, but CNC mills, which cut materials with extreme precision, have also come a long way in the past few years. It used to be that these devices could only be found in machine shops, but over the course of the past decade or so, the technology has largely been democratized. You can now get your hands on a user-friendly desktop CNC mill for less than $1,000, but size remains a major restraint. Unless you shell out a lot of money, you can’t really find a machine that will mill parts larger than a foot in any dimension, so you’re fairly limited in terms of what you can create.

Goliath CNC is one attempt to change that. This beast can mill shapes up to four feet wide and eight feet long — and it only costs a hair over $1,400. The machine’s creators at LA-based startup Springa designed it from the ground up to be simple and affordable, so it’s a complete reimagining of the concept of a CNC milling machine.

In place of rails, the Goliath CNC uses multidirectional wheels and sensor pylons that tell the robot precisely where it is on the cutting surface. Plus, since it’s really no bigger than a fat Roomba, Goliath won’t take up a ton of space in your garage like a traditional CNC machine would.

WT2 — real-time in-ear language translator

In the iconic Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, author Douglas Adams introduced the world to the Babel Fish: a “small, yellow, leech-like” creature that lives inside the ear of a host and “feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier, but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them.”

A Babel Fish allows the user to understand anything anyone says to them, no matter the language. While Adams’s creation was somewhat whimsical and far-flung when the book was released in 1979, the real world might soon be filled with devices that function much like the fictional creature. Case in point? The WT2 in-ear translator. Promising natural, hands-free communication, the WT2 seeks to enable conversations in two different languages via two earphone translators and one app.

Simply remove the earphones from their charging case, done one of them and give the other one to your friend. Speak in your language, and your interlocutor will hear it in their language. The earbuds will automatically pair with an iOS app, and begin listening for your communication. If you’re speaking in Spanish to an English speaker, your friend will hear your Spanish words in their native tongue after a short delay. And when your friend replies in English, you’ll hear said response in Spanish. Pretty cool, right?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

No strings attached: This levitating lamp uses science to defy gravity

Now on Kickstarter, the Levia lamp is a cool industrial-looking lamp which boasts a levitating bulb. Looking for a table light that will dazzle visitors? You've come to the right place.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (February 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Smart Home

Language barrier? Psh. Here's how to make your Google Home an ace translator

You can now use interpreter mode on your Google Home devices. This means, you can use your Google Home device to translate conversations in real-time. Here's how to use interpreter mode.
Web

Rid yourself of website notification requests in just a few easy steps

Wish you knew how to block browser and website notifications? You can do it on a case by case basis, but that can become dull after the 10th site has asked for your approval. Here's how to block them outright.
Computing

Don't take your provider's word for it. Here's how to test your internet speed

If you're worried that you aren't getting the most from your internet package, speed tests are a great way to find out what your real connection is capable of. Here are the best internet speed tests available today.
Computing

Decades-old Apple IIe computer found in dad’s attic, and it still works

A New York law professor went viral last weekend after he discovered an old Apple IIe computer sitting in his dad's attic. In a series of tweets, he showed that the vintage machine still works perfectly fine after 30 years.
Computing

Logitech’s G MX518 gaming mouse pairs classic looks with all-new tech

Logitech is relaunching one of its most popular classic gaming mice, the MX518. Now called the G MX518, it sports upgraded internals that give it a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and new and improved memory.
Computing

Microsoft could be planning a laptop with foldable screen, hints patent filing

Filed in late 2017 and titled "Bendable device with Display in Movable Connection With Body," the patent filing explains a new mechanism for laptops which can eliminate a hinge and allow the screen to fold shut from the inside,
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Deals

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in February 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…
Computing

RTX might be expensive, but the 16 series could have the best Nvidia Turing GPUs

Set to debut at a step below the RTX 2060 on the price and performance spectrums, the GTX 1660 Ti and its other 16-series brethren could be Nvidia's killer mid-range cards of 2019 — especially with Tensor Core-powered DLSS.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 chips will be powerful, and they might be launched as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far, based on both leaks and the recent…