Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Ultra-grippy socks and dirt-cheap 3D printers

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 Pebble clones 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.

Wiral — cable slider for GoPro

Cable cam systems are awesome. When used properly, they allow filmmakers to capture jaw-dropping shots that would otherwise be impossible. The only problem is that, more often than not, these rigs are cumbersome, complex, and extremely expensive, so they’re generally out of reach for amateurs and casual videographers. But thanks to a startup called Wiral, that might soon change. The California-based company has recently taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund the development of an affordable, compact, and simple-to-use cable cam system designed for compact cameras.

Wiral Lite, as it’s called, is a complete cable cam rig that fits in a backpack, sets up in three minutes, and accommodates a number of different lightweight cameras, including GoPros and smartphones. Oh, and did we mention it’s motorized? Once you’ve set the cable and pulled it taut, Wiral Lite allows filmmakers to drive the dolly from a snail’s pace 0.006 mph all the way up to 28 mph, shooting for up to three hours on the built-in battery. A time-lapse mode also allows for moving time-lapses at three different speeds. If you’re looking to take your GoPro footage to the next level, look no further.

NewMatter Mod-t 2.0 — affordable 3D printer

Back in 2014, there weren’t many sub-$500 3D printers floating around — but then NewMatter burst onto the scene with the Mod-t, a unique new printer with a simple design and an affordable ($399) price tag. The machine was a resounding success on Indiegogo, but like many first-generation products that are brought to life via crowdfuding, it had some problems that needed to be fixed. Fast forward to the present, and NewMatter is finally back with the new-and-improved version that addresses those issues: the Mod-t 2.0.

In place of belts and gears, the Mod-t uses a toothed build plate placed atop two perpendicular pinion rods. As these grooved rods spin, they catch the teeth on the bottom of the build plate and move it in a given direction. This configuration doesn’t boost accuracy or precision in any major way, but what it does do is simplify the overall design of the printer. Because the pinion rod setup combines the driving force of one axis with the guiding force of another, the Mod-t requires far fewer parts than it otherwise would. This makes it cheaper and easier to manufacture than most other 3D printers, and allows NewMatter to sell the printer for such a low price. You can get one one Kickstarter right now for less than $200!

SpeedGrip Socks — high-traction athletic socks

Ever since the dawn of athletic footwear, shoe manufacturers have been trying to out-do each other. If it seems like shoes get more and more advanced with each passing year, its because they do. Just take a stroll through the nearest Nike outlet and you’ll encounter everything from shock-absorbing foam to 3D printed insoles. But while the footwear industry has been so fixated on shoes, the other side of the equation — namely, socks — has largely been left behind. But NY-based upstart Storelli Sports has a plan to change that.

The company’s latest product — SpeedGrip Socks — are a clever new take on athletic socks. When paired with a set of specialized insoles (which Storelli crowdfunded on Kickstarter earlier this year), SpeedGrip socks provide outrageous amounts of traction — not between your foot and the ground, but between your foot and your shoe. This, in turn, translates to better traction, more reliable grip, and better overall performance, since your foot doesn’t slide around as much inside your footwear. Why aren’t more companies doing this?

I’m Back — digital upgrade for analog cameras

As you may or may not have noticed, film photography has enjoyed a resurgence as of late, and as it continues to claw back some of its former popularity, inventors are finding more ways to blend classic photography with digital convenience. I’m Back is the latest such invention to hit the crowdfunding scene. After finding success with a 3D printed, Raspberry Pi-powered film camera, the creators of the device are back with a clever new gizmo that transforms old film cameras into digital shooters.

Here’s how it works. Instead of popping a roll of 35mm film into your old camera, you open up the back and attach the camera to I’m Back. The device’s 16 megapixel sensor will then pick up light that passes through the cameras lens, and save it to an SD card. If you’d like you see the photo afterward, you can even connect your smartphone and use it as a display screen.

The Universe in a Sphere — Glorious desk ornament

Remember that scene from Men In Black? The one that zooms out to reveal that our entire galaxy sits inside the marble on a cat’s leash? Well if that scene stuck with you, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate this new desktop trinket that recently popped up on Kickstarter. The Universe in a Sphere is exactly what it sounds like: a desk ornament that contains a tiny scale model of the cosmic neighborhood that we live in.

“What I did was is to take a catalog of galaxies, including our home supercluster called Laniakea, converted the XYZ coordinates and selected all of the 675,758 galaxies in a radius of 125 megaparsecs,” creator Clemens Steffin told Digital Trends in an interview. “One megaparsec stands for about 3.2616 million light years, so the cloud in my glass sphere represents a diameter of 815,400,000 light years.” Steffin next searched for (and found) a company capable of lasering in each one of these 380,000 dots, each representing an entire galaxy, into a glass sphere. After that, he launched his Kickstarter.

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