Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of September 14, 2014

Equil 2
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.

Know Your Numbers — Memory-enhancing app

Know Your NumbersThink fast: How many of your friends’ phone numbers do you know off the top of you head? One? Two? Three if you count your mom’s landline number that hasn’t changed since you left home? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that, now that we have the means to store information on the Internet and on our devices, our brains are slowly being trained to retrieve information in a different way. Instead of pulling from the information it has stored in itself, it simply remembers how to access the information that’s stored elsewhere. In other words, nobody remembers phone numbers anymore. We just remember how to access that information when we need it. But inevitably, there will come a time when you can’t just open up your contacts and tap a name. So to help you start memorizing them before it’s too late, Know Your Numbers presents you with a fun little game that helps you commit important numbers to memory — moving them from cloud storage to local storage, in a sense.

FOBO Tire — Bluetooth tire pressure gauge

FOBO TireCommon wisdom says that drivers should check their tire pressure at least once a month, but how many of us actually do? Most people are well aware that low-pressure tires make cars more dangerous and considerably less efficient, but for some reason the risk doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble of bending over and inspecting all four tires. To help remedy this problem and make the road a safer place for everyone, a small team of inventors from Malaysia have invented FOBO Tire: a clever valve stem cap that pulls double duty as a wireless tire-pressure monitoring system. As you drive and your tires slowly depressurize over time, the caps will send a message to your phone via Bluetooth LE to let you know your tire is low – eliminating the need to dig your pressure gauge out of the glovebox and hunker down around each of your wheels. The accompanying app makes it easy to check your pressure whenever you want.

CANBus Triple — Car-hacking platform

CANBus TripleYou might not realize it, but your car has a lot of data whipping around its innards. Most of this data, however, is hidden from the driver, which forces tinkerers and automotive enthusiasts to install secondary sensors to receive this data that their cars produce. CANBus Triple aims to change that, and make tapping into your car’s data easier than ever before. Think of it like an Arduino microcontroller for your car. It essentially gives you an easy way to interact with CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus, a message-based protocol found in most modern automobiles. With the proper programming, it allows allows you to apply all manner of nifty tweaks and customizations to your car. Want to roll your windows down with a text message? Make your heated seats come on automatically when the temperature drops below a certain point? Just want to monitor your tire pressure? It’s all possible with CANBus Triple.

Equil 2 — Note-digitizing smart pen

Equil 2Taking notes the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper, has been proven to be more effective for committing things to memory compared to typing them out on a keyboard. There’s something about the process that establishes stronger neural pathways so you can absorb and recall information more effectively. The only problem, however, is that if you take a lot of notes by hand, it can often be difficult to find the relevant sections when it comes time to study — not to mention it’s not nearly as easy to draw diagrams, graphs, and random doodles on a computer. But not to worry, Equil 2 provides a solution to this problem. With the help of embedded sensors, it logs and digitizes every stroke of your pen, and beams it instantly to your computer or tablet, thereby allowing you store and access it later on in digital form. And that’s just the beginning — check out the device’s Kickstarter page to get the full scoop.

Vest — Sensory substitution project

VestSo this one isn’t necessarily a product that you can buy, but it’s pretty damn interesting, and could very well change the lives of deaf people around the world if it’s funded. Here’s what it is, and how it will supposedly work. This vest, which doesn’t really have a snappy name just yet, is built around the concept of sensory substitution — that is, the idea of taking one sense (in this case, hearing) and feeding it into another sense (like touch, for example). The vest is designed to collect all incoming audio much like a working ear would, and then translate those sounds into specific vibrations the wearer can feel on the skin of their lower back. In theory, after a wearing the vest for a few days/weeks, the wearer’s brain will acclimate to this new sensory input and, in effect, learn how to process sound by feeling it instead of hearing it. Now here’s the kicker — when it’s all said and done, the vest’s creators hope to sell it for under $2,000 — drastically less than the cost of a cochlear implant, and also without any invasive surgery. Let’s hope it works!

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

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!

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Product Review

Yuneec’s Mantis Q will make you wish you bought a DJI drone

Yuneec’s high-end drones are arguably the ones to beat in terms of flight control, design, and their photographic capabilities. But the company has struggled to make a low-end drone that’s worth buying, and the Mantis Q is proof of that…
Emerging Tech

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

Airbus announced this week that it will stop building the world's biggest passenger plane in 2021. The maker of the double-decker A380 said a changing market and lack of orders gave it little choice but to end production.
Emerging Tech

Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

A vape pen battery caused a fire in an overhead bin on a SkyWest Airlines flight on Wednesday. It's the latest in a string of incidents where faulty or poorly made lithium-ion batteries have caused gadgets to catch fire.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.