Awsome tech you can't buy yet: haptic VR suits, shape-memory 3D printing filament, and more

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 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.

Wiivv Base — Custom 3D printed insoles

When it comes to insoles, you have two choices. You can either visit a doctor and dish out $400+ for orthotics, or you can go the cheap route and snag a pair of pre-made Dr. Scholls ones that don’t fit the contours of your feet. There’s really no middle ground right now, but Wiiv is on a mission to change that. The company is at CES this week to launch its first product — fully customizable 3D printed insoles that are cheap AND perfectly formed to the unique shape of your foot.

Here’s how it works: You start by firing up the accompanying Wiiv smartphone app and snapping a few pictures of your feet. The company’s software will analyze these photos and use them to construct a model of the underside of your foot. Wiiv then takes this model and sends it to a 3D printer to create your insole. It’s pretty brilliant, because this kind of on-demand additive manufacturing is perfect for custom insoles, since no two feet are exactly the same.

Read more here.

CoDrone — Programmable quadcopter

Programmable robots that teach kids (and adults) how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of them. They come in practically every shape, size, and configuration you can imagine — but for some reason, nobody has built the same functionality into a quadcopter drone. Until now, that is.

CoDrone is essentially the exact same idea as all those “learn-to-code” robots — but instead of walking or rolling around on the ground, it flies. Using the accompanying app, you can program it to do practically anything you want — hover in place, fly in a certain pattern, follow you, or even navigate through a maze. The app supposedly makes it simple and intuitive to write code for the drone, even if you’ve never programmed anything before.

Read more here.

DokiWatch — Smartwatch for children

Now before you lose your mind and go into an impassioned rant about how young kids shouldn’t have smartwatches, take a deep breath, rub your earlobes, and hear me out. This is actually a pretty brilliant idea. I, too, agree that young children shouldn’t have smartwatches. Spending so much time staring wide-eyed at an LED screen, texting and playing games all day removes kids from the real world, robs them of meaningful social interaction with other people, and screws them up developmentally.

That being said, having a way to communicate with your kids no matter where they are is a huge plus, and can help keep them safe. DokiWatch is a brilliant little wearable device that aims to reconcile these problems, but also keep your kids safer. It’s essentially an ultraminimalist smartwatch designed to be worn on a child’s wrist, giving parents peace of mind, and keeping games out of the equation so your kids can focus on being kids.

Read more here.

Essemplex — Shape memory 3D printing filament

At this point, it’s no secret that 3D printing technology is progressing in leaps and bounds. But what you might not realize is that while the machines themselves have steadily gotten more advanced, the filaments they print with have also been experiencing a revolution. It’s not just ABS and PLA anymore. Nowadays we have 3D printing filament made from dozens of different materials. Wood, bronze, nylon, carbon fiber, water-soluble plastic, flexible rubber — you name it and there’s probably a filament made of it. And the list just keeps on expanding.

Essemplex is the latest addition to this ever-growing category. It’s basically a printer-friendly shape memory polymer (SMP). Once formed, the polymer can be heated to a temperature less than the melting point and reshaped repeatedly without loss of the memory shape or degradation of the material. Crazy!

Read more here.

Teslasuit — Full-body VR suit with haptic feedback

Virtual reality is a feast for the eyes and ears, but what about the rest of your body? That’s where the Teslasuit comes in. It’s designed to fully immerse people in virtual environments by providing (almost) every inch of your body haptic feedback. To achieve this, the suit uses an “electro-tactile haptic feedback system” to really put you inside the games you’re playing. It was demonstrated at CES with a virtual paintball game. If you’re shot in the game, you don’t just see where the paintball hit you — you feel where it hit you.

The haptic feedback system, which stimulates your nerves directly with electricity so you can “feel” things in the virtual environment, is already common in the world of physical therapy — so the creators have repackaged the technology and applied it to something more fun.

Read more here.

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