Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of September 7, 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.

Digitsole — Interactive insoles for your shoes

DigitsoleWith brisk autumn nights steadily approaching, the thought of wool socks and a roaring fire is never far from our minds. However, what if you could instantly conjure heat at your feet no matter where you were? Digitsoles are designed to do exactly that, allowing you to conveniently control the temperature of each insole using an accompanying mobile app that’s available for Android and iOS devices. Not only do the cushioned devices function much like any other insoles, providing flexible arch support and reducing shock to the heel with Neotech molding, but they can automatically adjust your feet to a predetermined temperature using a set of built-in thermostats. Moreover, you can slip the devices into nearly any pair of shoes, or simply use them to track your steps and the amount of calories you’ve burned throughout the day.

Related: ThermaCell heated insoles make cold feet a thing of the past

PLAYBULB — Flameless, color LED candles

PLAYBULB candleWe admit a LED candle isn’t the most exciting invention in the world, but PLAYBULB’s latest offering looks to combine the flameless offerings of yesterday with the smartphone-connect lightbulbs of tomorrow. The Kickstarter project blew past its modest funding goal in a matter of days, garnering more than $30,000 and selling out of a number of rewards. Once you install three AA batteries into the cylindrical devices, you can connect to the candles to your iOS or Android device using the accompanying mobile app. Then, simply change the color and adjust the brightness as you see fit using the interface sliders. You can even shake your phone to select a random color, or blow out the flameless candles like you would normally using the built-in sensor. Hell, it even comes equipped with a normal candle holder on the bottom and moonlights as a scent diffuser. I’d say it’s high time to bid farewell to Febreeze.

Related: Philips Hue BR30 review and our favorite Hue lightbulb apps

MOTA SmartRing — Smartphone-connected ring

MOTA SmartRingWith the rumored iWatch possibly set to debut next week and IFC 2014 well underway, there’s been no lack of smartphone talk among the tech community. The MOTA SmartRing isn’t a premium wristwatch built to seamlessly integrate with your smartphone, though. It’s a simple ring that uses Bluetooth 4.0 to wirelessly connect with your Android or iOS device, allowing you to view text messages and email notifications without having to fumble through your backpack for your smartphone. The water-resistant, touchscreen device supports a limited number of gesture controls as well — meaning you can quickly swipe the sleek LED display to bring up the next notification — along with wireless charging via the bundled dock. The jet-black and pearl models may not be as stunning as your engagement ring, but then again, your engagement ring can’t notify you of Facebook pokes via a set of customized vibrations.

Related: Fashionable smart ring Ringly gets a new, trendier design for winter

DrinkMate — Pint-sized breathalyzer

DrinkMateFor most of us, refraining from driving under the influence is a no-brainer — as is gloating about how sloshed you are on Facebook when you’re already under probation for doing it once before. Nonetheless, sometimes the line between sobriety and intoxication is blurry, especially after indulging in a happy-hour drink (or four). Fortunately, Edge Tech Labs’ DrinkMate is designed to alleviate any doubt when it comes to your blood-alcohol content level. Touted as as the world’s smallest breathalyzer, the 1.8-inch device lets you test your BAC level using a semiconductor-based sensor located on the end of the lightweight capsule. The DrinkMate also utilizes the micro-USB on your Android device for power, and moreover, comes bundled with an accompanying mobile app so you can view your results whenever you feel the need to do so. After all, drinking and driving don’t mix quite as well as that Jack and Coke at your local watering hole.

Related: A new laser device can remotely detect alcohol vapors in cars

Jaha — Affordable fuel band

jaha bandGiven the average cost of fitness tracker hovers around $80, it’s was only a matter of time before someone decided to craft a budget-based option for the masses. Like many fitness enthusiasts, the Jaha founders were fed up with the steep offerings from the likes of Nike and Fitbit, so they set out to design a device that capitalizes on the hallmarks of other fitness trackers without the high price. The Jaha and its accompany mobile app keeps track of your daily steps, calories, and sleep activity much like other fitness offers, yet it also provides a social component not offered elsewhere. For instance, Jaha users can quickly locate nearby workout partners, or take on specific individuals or teams in competitive challenges. The waterproof bands are set to launch in November with iOS connectivity if funded, with an Android app coming some time next year.

Related: DT’s fitness apparel reviews and our favorite fitness trackers

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After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

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With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

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

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

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Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

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Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

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

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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.