Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of February 9, 2014

Awesome Tech 02_09_2014

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.

Ototo – MIDI instrument kit

Ototo MIDI instrument kitOtoto isn’t a musical instrument itself, but rather a kit that allows you to transform just about anything into a digital music-making machine. It’s a small synthesizer that allows you to build instruments using nothing more than conductive materials and a few electronic sensors. Straight out of the box, you can make synth noises just by touching the keys to the trigger notes, but if you feel like getting a little crazier, you can connect different objects to the keys and make them react to touch. As long an object is relatively conductive, it can easily be made into a touch-activated instrument. Eggplants, forks, soda cans – they’re all fair game. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Sixense MakeVR – 3D-modeling environment

Sixense MakeVRAfter demoing this tech at CES last month, we’re convinced that Sixense’s Make VR sofware will be to 3D printing what Adobe is to photography. It’s essentially an uber-simple 3D modeling environment designed to work with the company’s STEM system – a dual controller system for VR environtments that was successfully kickstarted last October. It’s definitely not the only 3D-modeling software in existence, but it’s far more user-friendly and easy to learn than Blender, and only costs a fraction of what you’d pay for software like 3DS Max. If you back the project now, you can lock down a copy of the software for around $170.

Xensr+ – Action sports tracker

Xensr+There are dozens of different gizmos that track the steps you take, the rate your heart beats, and the approximate number of calories you burn in a day, but not so many that can track your turns, spins, elevation, airtime, or speed. That’s where Xensr+ comes in. This little Oreo-sized device is filled with an array of different sensors – accelerometers, GPS, and others – that allow it to record three-dimensional location down to the millimeter. It’s not on the market yet, but the company is currently taking pre-orders on its website. No word yet on when it’ll ship though.

OBDlink MX WiFi – OBD-II dongle

OBDlink MX WiFiFor those of you who might be unfamiliar with the acronym, OBD-II 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 80s, 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. OBDlink MX WiFi is basically the same thing as Automatic, but cheaper (for now), and compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.

TouchBase Business Cards – Smart business cards

TouchBase Business CardsIf you’re prone to getting that American Psycho business-card envy, then don’t watch the pitch video for this project. It’ll make your business cards look grossly inadequate by comparison, and we don’t want you to flip out and drop a chainsaw on somebody in a stairwell. TouchBase business cards are embedded with digital content so that when you swipe the card across the app on your phone’s screen, it reads the pattern like a QR code and the content opens onscreen. No NFC, Bluetooth, or “bumping” required. 

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

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!
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

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

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

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

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

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

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
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

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.
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

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.