Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of November 2, 2014

Awesome tech 110214
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.

MAID — Smart microwave and convection oven

maidWhile most big-name appliance manufacturers are busy making fridges that can send texts, washing machines that can wirelessly power your gadgets, and other appliances of questionable value; Palo Alto-based startup SectorCube was hard at work building a smart appliance with features that might actually be useful. The MAID oven functions as both a microwave and convection oven, so it can handle a bag of popcorn just as easily as it can cook a batch of cupcakes. it’s also hooked into the Web and comes loaded with a slew of different sensors, so you don’t even need to enter in temperature or duration — just tell MAID what you’re cooking (with verbal commands!) and it’ll automatically choose the optimal settings. It also recognizes gesture commands, can read recipes to you out loud as you cook, and can even be controlled from afar via an accompanying smartphone app. That’s just the tip of the iceberg — check out our full post to read about the rest of MAID’s next-gen features.

B4RM4N — Smart cocktail shaker

B4RM4NThe B4RM4N is a sensor-studded cocktail shaker that aims to streamline the process of mixing drinks. Under the hood, it’s equipped with a high-precision weight sensor, a set of accelerometers, and a Bluetooth radio that allows it to relay data to your smartphone. With the help of an accompanying smartphone app, this badboy can tap into a drink database to fetch recipes, and then guide you through the mixing procedure step by step.  Once you’ve connected the B4RM4N to your phone, you simply fire up the app and select the cocktail you’d like to make. As you pour booze into the shaker, the onboard weight sensor will determine in real time how much you’ve poured, and let you know when to stop with a colored LED indicator light. No messing with jiggers or other measuring gear; the B4RM4N takes care of all that for you. Dozens of people have taken a stab at the same idea, but as far as we can tell, the B4RM4N is the first device of its kind that incorporates all the weighing and sensing tech directly into a mixing vessel.

Dexmo — Force-feedback virtual-reality glove

Awesome tech 110214Instead of providing simple haptic feedback and vibrations like oldschool game controllers, the Dexmo exoskeleton glove is designed to provide your fingers with resistance; thereby enabling you to ‘feel’ the presence of virtual objects with your hands. This is made possible with the help of a cleverly-engineered braking system. When inactive, the brakes don’t impede the wearer’s finger movement at all, and allow for full freedom of motion. When switched on, however, individual braking mechanisms will prevent the user’s fingers from moving up or down when they come into contact with a ‘solid’ virtual object. If the wearer were to grab a virtual ball, for example, the brakes would stop the person’s fingers at a certain point, making it feel as if there’s a spherical object in their hand. And that’s not all — Dexmo can also be used as an input device for just about anything: a robotic hand, the arm of a virtual character, an RC car, or even the lamp on your desk. The possibilities are nothing short of staggering.

Warblr — Bird song identifier app

WarblrEver found yourself wondering what bird you just heard on your morning stroll through the park? There’s an app for that — or at least there likely will be soon. Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Warblr app can identify bird species by listening to their chirps. Similar to song-identifying apps like Shazam and SoundHound, Warblr uses your smartphone to record a nearby bird song and then analyze it in real time with sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to determine the species of the performer. That might sound fairly straightforward, but deciphering bird chirps is a bit more complicated than identifying a song. Unlike a song you hear on the radio, bird songs aren’t sung by just one artist. Tweets and chirps are sung with varying speeds and cadences, so even among birds of the exact same species, identifying a particular song can be tricky. Warblr’s algorithms have to account for all this — not to mention the fact that individual birds often have large repertoires of different songs and calls — which is quite an impressive feat.

MegaBots — Robot fighting league

MegabotsRemember Real Steel? That horrible movie where Hugh Jackman and some pre-pubescent brat join forces to enter a robot fighting league? Well if you can look past all the bad parts of that movie (the acting, writing, directing, cinematography — I could go on, but I won’t), and just focus on the underlying premise of the movie, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what MegaBots is all about. These guys are basically looking for 1.8 million dollars to start the world’s first giant robot fighting league. We’re not talking small-scale, remote-controlled bots like they had in that show Robot Wars back in 2001 — we’re talking full-on Hawken-style mechs with real people inside of them, duking it out in front of a live audience. Will the project succeed? Probably not — but we’d definitely be pretty pumped if it actually did. Giant robots fighting to the death in an arena would be part demolition derby, part science fair; so geeks and rednecks could finally find common ground and the world might finally achieve utopia.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Smart Home

These accessories take your already awesome Instant Pot to a whole new level

If you're familiar with the Instant Pot, you know that this bad boy acts as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, egg boiler, and a lot more. Here are some must-have accessories to make Instant Pot cooking even better.
Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Smart Home

LG is rolling out the barrels at CES 2019 with a craft beer machine

Looking to get into the beer making game? With the help of LG, you can become a brewmaster at home. The electronics maker is rolling out the LG HomeBrew, an at-home beer making machine at CES 2019.
Product Review

Putting on the grits with the Instant Pot pressure cooker

If you want to dip your toe into the low-temperature waters of sous vide, the Anova precision cooker is a good way to start. It has a robust app and an easy-to-use interface that just may convert you to a whole new way of cooking.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…