Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of April 20, 2014

Awesome tech 042014

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.

Greenplay — Putting Green Mapper

GreenplayYou know that “TigerVision” grid thing you can use on golf simulators and video games to help you better judge a putt? Greenplay is a clever little device that lets you do that in real life. It’s designed to be placed on the green, pointing toward the cup, to collect multi-dimensional slope information and beam it wirelessly back to your smartphone. Using an array of accelerometers and other sensors, it can generate a detailed map of the putting green — complete with those handy little grid lines, and even a spot where you should aim. We’re not sure if it can account for things like grass height, grain variation, or moisture; but even if all it does it measure slope, it’d still be a helpful tool to have at your disposal from time to time.

BrewJacket — Homebrew Refrigeration Unit 

BrewJacketThe homebrewing scene in the US has absolutely exploded in the past few years, and now that there are millions of people across the country brewing beer on their own, innovators are beginning to develop high-tech tools aimed specifically at small, backyard brew operations. The latest one to hit Kickstarter is BrewJacket, and it’s designed to alleviate a problem that’s been plaguing home brewers since the beginning: the fact that you need refrigerated storage space in order to make lagers. Ales are one thing, but lagers require near sub-zero temperatures to slow down the metabolism of the yeast and change the way it digests sugars. BrewJacket lets you cool down a single carboy of beer to lagering temperatures without spending a fortune on a high-capacity fridge or freezer.

Prototypo — Intuitive Typeface Design Program

Fontmaking software has been around for decades at this point, and there are dozens of different programs out there these days –both free and paid– that allow you to design your own custom typefaces. The only problem is that, generally speaking, many of them are clunky, difficult to use, and expensive. Prototypo is the answer to this problem. The program’s creators designed it to be a super-intuitive, and enable both novice and expert users alike to create their own custom typefaces quickly and easily. You start by choosing a predesigned font, and then use an array of different sliders to tweak the attributes and make it different. Not only can you adjust parameters like height, width, and spacing, but also things like serif shape, optic thickness, and slant. And best of all, it’s open source! 

Gramofon — WiFi Router/Streaming Box

GramofonUndoubtedly realizing that there’s no shortage of set-top boxes and smart speakers capable of streaming music around your home, global WiFi provider Fon decided it wants to do things a bit differently. Earlier last week the company introduced a new “modern cloud jukebox” called Gramofon — a stylish little box that’s part music streamer and part WiFi router. You start by wiring up Gramofon to your stereo system or speaker system, and then connecting the box to the net via its built-in ethernet port or piggybacking on your existing WiFi connection. From there, simply connect your iOS or Android device to the Gramofon’s new WiFi network, and you’ll be able to stream Spotify or listen to Fon’s own free radio service. 

Dart — Super Compact Laptop Adapter

DartTired of lugging around the bulky adapter cable that came with your laptop when you bought it? Check out Dart. The device’s creators are billing it as “the world’s smallest, lightest laptop adapter,” and as far as we can tell, they’re right. This little bugger looks to be about the same size as two USB wall plug adapters stacked on top of each other, but is somehow still powerful enough charge up your laptop and cellphone at the same time. The project has already blasted past its initial 200K funding goal, and it’s still got the better part of a month remaining in the campaign. All the early bird spots have already been snatched up, but if you back the project now you can lock down a Dart of your own for about $90 bucks.

Emerging Tech

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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!

The Naseka electric snowmobile is built for kids, but you’ll likely want one too

The Naseka electric snowmobile is a vehicle built for kids, allowing them to have a safe and efficient ride on snow, with the ability to trade out the ski for a wheel for use in the summer too.
Smart Home

Eight Sleep’s Pod bed keeps you cool (or warm) and tells you how you’re sleeping

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Emerging Tech

Atomo’s ‘molecular coffee’ is brewed without needing to harvest coffee beans

Coffee beans, huh? Who needs ‘em? Apparently not the folks behind Seattle-based startup Atomo, who claim to have created a cup of "molecular coffee" that requires no beans to be harvested.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

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Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.