Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of June 15, 2014

Petal fan

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.

Sun Juicer — ultralight solar cooker

Sun JuicerHarnessing the power of the sun and concentrating its energy to generate heat is something that humans have been doing for millennia. Back in the second century AD, it’s said that Archimedes used a giant parabolic mirror array to set approaching warships on fire, and people were likely experimenting with solar energy long before that, too. But still, 2000 years down the road, we’re still doing it the same way. Our equipment, however, has gotten considerably more advanced in recent times. The Sun Juicer, for example, is a fully-functioning solar cooking rig that weighs less than a can of soda, and packs down flatter than an average-sized notebook. The entire apparatus consists of a set of lightweight reflective sheets that snap together to form a parabolic mirror, which can be directed at a small skillet or cook pot to heat up food. It requires absolutely zero electricity to work, making it ideal for summertime camping/backpacking trips.  

Petal — fan for virtual reality

Petal fanEver since Oculus Rift reignited the world’s interest in virtual reality, designers, engineers, and developers have been pushing to make virtual reality more realistic and more immersive than ever before. Oculus figured out the visual element, so now other people are tackling your remaining senses. Virtuix omni, for example, aims to make walking around in virtual environments feel more realistic, and devices like Kor FX (see below) hope to add realistic tactile feedback to the experience. Petal definitely isn’t quite as advanced as these gizmos, but even so, it aims to bring one of the most fundamental real-world sensations into the virtual realm — the feeling of wind blowing in your face as you move. It’s basically just a variable-speed fan that’s programmed to speed up or slow down in relation to how you’re moving in a virtual environment, which is a pretty brilliant idea if you ask us.

Kor-FX — haptic feedback gaming vest

Kor-FX gaming vestMuch like Petal, Kor FX is all about adding an extra layer of realism to virtual gaming experiences. It’s essentially a tactical vest that’s rigged up with a number of specially-engineered “Acousto-Haptic Transducers” that create vibrations and other haptic feedback cues. With one of these badboys strapped to your body, you can feel things in your environment — things like your enemy’s vehicles approaching, or which direction a sniper is firing from. So not only does it make virtual spaces considerably more immersive, it can also give you a bit of leg up and take your competitive gameplay to the next level. The vest is particularly ideal for first-person shooters like CoD or Battlefield, but depending on how its programmed, it could add an extra layer of realism to pretty much any type of game.

Vessyl — liquid-recognizing smart cup

VessylThe past few years alone, we’ve seen the rise of a zillion different wearable fitness devices, all of which are capable of tracking everything from the number of steps you take each day, to the number of calories you burn. But in spite of all these clever ways we’ve dreamt up to track the energy you expend, we still haven’t quite locked down an equally simple way to track the calories you take in. Sure, there are apps that help you track what you eat, and food scales that can guesstimate the calories in your food, but most of these thigns still require a lot of input from the user, which makes them relatively cumbersome and inconvenient to use. Vessyl is different. Using some kind of magical technology that the inventors are keeping a highly-guarded secret, it can recognize and identify any kind of liquid you pour into it. It can tell Coke from Pepsi,  whether orange juice has pulp or not, and a myriad of other cool tricks. And of course, it all syncs with your smartphone so you can keep track of the calories/nutrients you’re drinking.

360 Cam — 360-degree HD camera 

Full HD 360 CameraYou know those giant spherical cameras that Google straps on top of self-driving Priuses in order to take its street view pictures? 360 cam is essentially the same idea, just packed into a much smaller, much simpler form factor. The tiny handheld device uses three 185-degree fish-eye lenses arranged in a triangle to deliver a massive field of view. Each of these lenses is synchronized to simultaneously capture and stitch images in real time inside the camera, and thereby produce a breath-taking all-around view in real time. As an added bonus, it also happens to be waterproof, so you can pack it along on your next outdoor excursion or strap it to the underside of a drone without having to worry about ruining it. The project has already crushed its original funding goal, so if you back the project now, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll get one in a few months.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Bright idea: Keep your gadgets juiced up with these stellar solar chargers

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.

The Galaxy Watch will make you a better person

The newly unveiled Galaxy Watch pushes the edge of the wearable envelope: This smartwatch aims to improve not just your fitness but your overall wellness, explains Alanna Cotton, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Samsung.
Emerging Tech

Meet the Mantis Q: A drone you can control by yelling, waving, or even smiling

"Mantis, take a picture." Yuneec's new consumer drone, the Yuneec Mantis Q, responds to voice commands along with gestures and smiles. The 4K drone also integrates several different flight modes and safety features inside a one-pound…
Emerging Tech

This robot arm could soon recharge your electric car, no driver effort required

Researchers in Austria have developed a smart robotic charger that can automatically plug itself into any electric vehicle, no driver effort required whatsoever. What could be simpler?
Emerging Tech

Police body cams are scarily easy to hack into and manipulate, researcher finds

Nuix cybersecurity expert Josh Mitchell has demonstrated how it is possible to hack into and potentially manipulate footage from police body cams. The really scary part? It's shockingly easy.
Emerging Tech

Scientists try to trick brains of amputees with phantom limb syndrome

New research might help some amputees better mesh what they see with what they feel. In a recently published paper, researchers show how an amputee’s brain can be tricked into believing a prosthetic hand belongs to their own body.
Emerging Tech

Los Angeles subway to become first in the U.S. to use body scanners

Los Angeles is set to become the first city in the U.S. to use body scanners on its subway. The machines are portable and quick to set up, and can check around 2,000 people an hour without causing lines or delays for passengers.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

How to connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your PC

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.
Emerging Tech

Regular Wi-Fi can accurately detect bombs, chemicals, and weapons in bags

Surveillance cameras and bag searches have become commonplace when it comes to security in public venues. But researchers may have found a different way to detect suspicious items: regular Wi-Fi.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Emerging Tech

Science says waste beer could help us live on Mars

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new super-insulating gel, created from beer waste, which could one day be used for building greenhouse-like habitats on Mars.