Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Secret key vaults, ice ballers, yogurt makers

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 no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Evscope — light amplifying telescope

Astronomers have been exploring the cosmos with telescopes for centuries, but despite the fact that the instruments have progressed in leaps and bounds, the stargazing tech available to amateurs hasn’t really changed that much. This may soon change if French startup Unistellar has its way. The company has developed a powerful new evolution in personal telescopes — one that makes the act of stargazing brighter, clearer, and more engaging.

Dubbed Unistellar eVscope, the new telescope enhances the image of objects in the sky by accumulating and amplifying the light they emit. The company unveiled the device at IFA 2017 in Berlin, and has now launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to jumpstart production.

Unistellar calls its product an Enhanced Vision Telescope (eVscope), which uses both electronics and optics to magnify a cosmic object’s brightness in real time. Flip on the enhanced mode, and distant galaxies suddenly go from faint and blurry to crisp and colorful.

“Apart from the four main planets — Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn — for which they are a great tool, classical telescopes, even high-end [ones], don’t really allow you to really see colors and details of other objects. So even if astronomy is a popular subject among the population, many people tend to be disappointed,” Arnaud Malvache, Unistellar president and co-founder, told Digital Trends’ Dyllan Furness in an interview. “Our first goal was to solve this problem. As scientists, we also wanted to foster more interest about astronomy and science in general, so we also focused on finding other ways to make astronomy easier and more exciting.”

Foxxvault — license plate vault

Ever had to leave your car keys somewhere unsafe? Maybe you hid them inside your gas hatch, or even in one of those “hide-a-key” vaults  —  but regardless of where you put them, you were probably a bit apprehensive about leaving your ride vulnerable to thieves. But what if you never had to feel that kind of stress ever again? What if there was a way to stow your keys outside of your car, safely and discreetly, without having to worry about thieves? Well, if you’ve been waiting for a solution to that problem, we have good news for you. That solution is finally here, and its name is Foxxvault.

Promising an impenetrable design and user-friendly interface, the Foxxvault allows you to stow your keys in a super-secure and  highly inconspicuous place: behind your license plate. The vault can be locked and unlocked with either your smartphone (via Bluetooth connection), or manually with a combination. Made of high carbon steel and featuring a weld-free unibody construction, Foxxvault is damn near indestructible, according to its creators.

Plus, thanks to shrouded exterior seams, anti-pry lap joints, and interior mounted hinges, even if someone sees you putting your keys (or other valuables) behind your plate, they won’t be able to penetrate the vault. And as for the smartphone app, thanks to dual-state data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and SSL certificate pinning, you won’t have to worry about getting hacked.

Be — kinetically powered toothbrush

Ever since the first toothbrush was invented, designers have been trying to re-invent it. And ever since the dawn of crowdfunding, this effort has ramped up considerably. Whether it’s crazy new bristle designs, sensor-studded brushes, or subscription-based oral care packs; we’ve seen a veritable boatload of new toothbrushes come out of Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the past few years — and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Case in point? This clever new toothbrush from Portland-based upstart Goodwell Co.

The Be brush, as it’s called, looks and behaves exactly like the your average electric toothbrush. It has a fat handle, a powered brushing motion, and bristles that can be swapped out when they get worn. But don’t let its relatively standard appearance fool you.

Be has a pretty nifty trick up its sleeve. Unlike virtually every other electric toothbrush on the market, Be doesn’t rely on batteries, or any other external power source. The device’s brushing mechanism is powered entirely by kinetic energy. Just twist the bottom a couple times before you start brushing, and it’ll oscillate for two full minutes, which is the brushing duration recommended by the American Dental Association.

Yomee — DIY yogurt maker

The world cant’ get enough pod-based products these days. Never mind the fact that we’re filling up our oceans with unfathomable amounts of plastic — we definitely need Keurig-style convenience for everything. But coffee is just the beginning. Nowadays, you can also get your beer from a single-serving pod, and if NY-based Lecker Labs has its way, you’ll soon be able to get your yogurt in the same fashion. The company has developed a new product called Yomee that’s been described as “the Keurig of yogurt.”

Here’s how it works. Simply pour in your milk of choice (whether it’s full-fat, nut-based, or something else entirely), insert a Yomee pod (filled with live cultures that come in both dairy and vegan options), and press start. The Yomee heats the milk to boiling temperature for 15 minutes before cooling the liquid to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which is said to be the ideal temperature for the yogurt cultures in the pod.

At this point, the pod is actually dropped into the solution, and in less than 10 minutes, the entire thing (pod and all) will be dissolved into your milk. That means that, unlike the case with Keurigs, you won’t have to dispose of a bunch of little plastic cups when you’re finished with the process.

Phantom ice maker — spherical ice cube machine

There are dozens of different ways to serve up a glass of whiskey — neat, on the rocks, on some whiskey stones, or even on those nifty little “balls of steel.” Each method has its merits, but if you enjoy just a slight bit of dilution (just a tiny bit!), we highly recommend you snag yourself an ice baller. Here’s why: Whiskey stones and steel balls work just fine for cooling down your drink, but they don’t give you that slight bit of dilution that many of us find desirable. They’re essentially just a cool-looking way to refrigerate your liquor without actually putting it in the fridge.

The other method is to go the old-fashioned route and simply pour your whiskey (or scotch, or whatever) over some regular ice cubes. This tried-and-true technique will simultaneously cool and dilute your hooch, but more often than not, regular rocks will melt too quickly and make it too watery. If you find yourself struggling to find that perfect Goldilocks level of dilution, ice balls are the answer.

Because they’ve got less surface area than a set of separate cubes, ice balls melt more gradually, leaving you with the ideal water/whiskey ratio. The only problem is they’re a bit of a pain to make — but this new contraption from Wintersmiths makes it a breeze.