Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of August 31, 2014

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At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the WebTake a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find there’s 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 projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Anymote — Use your smartphone as a universal remote

AnyMote HomeIf you’re like most of us living in the circuit-saturated screenage wasteland known as the 21st century, you’ve probably got anywhere from three to six different remote controls lying around your house. There’s one for the TV, one for your audio receiver, one for your cable box, another for your gaming console, and probably half a dozen more if you’re a real technophile. As you are no doubt well aware, fiddling with this many different remotes just to watch all the Golden Girls reruns on your TiVo is a pain in the hindquarters — as is digging through your couch cushions every time you lose one of them. AnyMote aims to solve this problem by allowing you to use your smartphone as a universal remote. And when we say universal, we mean universal. AnyMote can speak to over 800,000 different devices, so no matter if you’re rocking a shiny new Apple TV or a dusty old Bose receiver you had in college, this little gizmo will allow you to control it from your phone.

Jolt Sensor — Wearable concussion sensor

Jolt SensorThe Jolt Sensor is a small clip that can easily attach to any piece of head-worn athletic equipment. Whether you wear a helmet, a headband, goggles, or headgear, it’ll work. The sensor enclosure has a soft silicone-rubber exterior to prevent injury, and is fully waterproofed to stand up to dirt, dust, sweat, and rain. It has a multi-week battery life and is rechargeable via a standard micro USB port. When an athlete’s head accelerates in a potentially dangerous way, the sensor vibrates to alert the athlete. It also connects wirelessly to parents’ and coaches’ smartphones (Android & iOS), using Bluetooth Low Energy, to alert them on the sidelines. The project claims a range of “over a hundred yards,” so that you’ll be able to get alerts no matter how far across the field you are. If you back the project now, you can lock down a Jolt for a pledge of just 80 to 100 bucks.

Perception Neuron — Affordable motion-capture system

Perception NeuronGenerally speaking, motion capture technology has been one of those things that only deep-pocketed animation studios had access to. To do it properly, it used to be that you needed all manner of special suits, camera equipment, studio space, and processing software to make it work — but soon that might not be the case. A Japanese startup that goes by the name of Perception Motion Capture has built a suit called the Perception Neuron that makes motion capture easier and more affordable than ever before. The system is comprised of an array of tiny inertial measurement units (IMUs) that you can strap to your body. Because it doesn’t rely on optical detection like earlier mo-cap suits, Perception Neuron doesn’t suffer from any line-of-sight restrictions, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Furthermore, in addition to motion capture, could be used for things like game interaction, virtual reality, sport analysis, medical analysis, and more.

Fixd — Wireless OBD2 dongle

FIXDFor those of you who might be unfamiliar with the acronym, OBD2 stands for On Board Diagnostics, version two. It’s a system that’s been built into just about every car made in the US since the mid ’90s, and it basically allows you to tap into your car’s onboard computer and get detailed information on what’s going on with it at any given moment. These kinds of dongles have been around for ages, but it wasn’t until recently that people started making them wireless and accessible via smartphone apps. Fixd isn’t functionally much different from other wireless dongles, but it’s much cheaper (for now), and will be compatible with both iOS and Android-based smartphones when it’s finished. All the early bird backer rewards have been snatched up already, but if you act fast you can still lock one down for about $50. That’s roughly half of what you’d pay for the competing Automatic Link. Not bad, when you consider the Fixd platform looks almost exactly the same.

Invisaband — Mostquito-repelling bracelet

InvisabandEver wondered why people often plant geranium flowers outside their window sills? It’s not just because they look pretty. It turns out mosquitoes and other insects don’t like hanging around the geranium flower. One of the oils that can be extracted from the geranium flower is a substance called geraniol — a natural essential oil that, according to a handful of studies, has proven more effective at keeping mosquitoes away than citronella candles, and in some cases, even DEET. Ivisaband is a small microfiber wristband that’s imbued with this oil, so when you wear it, you supposedly become far less appealing to the blood-sucking bastards buzzing around your campfire. We haven’t had a chance to try them out for ourselves just yet, but the company is so confident that its product works that it offers a money-back guarantee. You can snag a pack of five for just $19.

Emerging Tech

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Smart Home

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Gaming

Break out the Wii: ‘Just Dance’ movie reportedly in the works

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Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

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Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

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Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

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Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

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Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

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