Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: high-tech Spandex, butter blasters, 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.

Enflux — Smart workout gear

Wearables are more than gadgets you slap on your wrist — we’ve seen the tech move to the ear, our shoes, and even our clothing. The only downside is that most of these gizmos merely to track your biometric fitness data, which can only tell you so much. But Enflux’s Smart Clothing is different. This gear also tracks the position of your body, allowing you to see where you need improvement to fix your form.

Like most fitness wear, Enflux’s product is skin-tight and made of a flexible polyester/Spandex blend. Tucked inside that fabric, it has 10 embedded motion sensors that track your movement in three dimensional space, and beam that data via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Enflux’s accompanying smartphone app then compiles this data to create a 3D avatar that helps you see your form in real time — thereby allowing you to make adjustments and improvements. Users can also enable an audio assistant to provide real-time feedback during a workout.

Read more here.

Tovala — Smart countertop oven

If you’re a busy person, cooking healthy meals for yourself isn’t always high on your list of priorities, so when you’re running short on time, convenience usually trumps health. But not to worry, there’s a new bit of kitchen tech on Kickstarter that aims to fix that. Tovala, as it’s called, hopes to change your poor eating habits by offering the best of both worlds: a subscription meal plan that delivers fresh, healthy food to your door, and a special high-end oven that’s tailor-made to cook those exact meals to perfection.

Here’s how it works: the 26 lb smart, counter-top conventional oven can thoroughly cook balanced meals in just under 30 minutes by broiling, steaming, baking, and heating Tovala brand meals — all of which are cooked by five star chefs and delivered to your door. These meals come in a tray that has a scannable bar code. The oven will scan the code and then know precisely how to cook the meal to perfection.

“It communicates to the cloud, authenticates the recipe, and it tells the appliance how to cook the meal,” David Rabie, co-founder of Tovala, explained to Digital Trends. “Every meal has s own unique recipe profile, with temperatures, timings, and different cooking techniques. As the user, scan the barcode, put the food in, hit the button and you’re done.”

Read more here.

WebEye VR — Virtual reality webcam

Standalone webcams are a relic of the recent past, but a couple enterprising inventors from Slovenia think they’ve found a way to breathe life back into them. How? With stereoscopic vision, a wider field of view, and virtual reality, of course! The team has created a device called WebEye VR that allows you to live stream video directly to anyone with a VR headset.

“Featuring full stereoscopy with 160° viewing in Full HD at 30 fps, WebEye VR allows you to look up, down, left, or right and view everything in 3D with full depth perception by pulling people and objects into your metaverse so you can interact with them,” the team’s Kickstarter page reads. “WebEye VR was designed with the average consumer in mind. We want to bring this technology to anyone who wishes to use it and plan to offer our Consumer Version of the camera at $300.”

Read more here.

Biem — Butter sprayer

Like the convenience of sprayable butter, but hate all the fake compounds and chemical propellants found in sprayable products? If so, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a new kitchen gadget in the works that gives you the best of both worlds, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of butter mist without compromising on taste.

Biem, as it’s called, is the first-ever butter sprayer that transforms a real stick of butter into liquid spray in just a matter of seconds. To use the sprayer, you simply insert a stick of real butter in the top of the device. While holding the sprayer by its silicon handle, aim onto the food of choice, and in just seconds, butter transforms into spray thanks to heat and air. The biēm melts the butter at just 95 degrees without overheating, and even boasts a special patent-pending nozzle that prevents clogging. This allows for proper portion control, and helps reduce the number of calories you consume.

Read more here.

MovieSwap — Crowdsourced (and legal) online movie streaming

Do you have a lot of old DVDs hanging around somewhere? If that’s the case, then we’re willing to bet you’re not really watching them anymore, but also don’t know what to do with them. But not to worry — there’s a brilliant new startup on Kickstarter that’s happy to take them off your hands — and what it plans to do with your old discs is ingenious. MovieSwap, as it’s called, wants to crowdsource old DVDs and create a sort of digital lending library, but in practice, it’s basically looking to create a movie streaming service that will be free for its backers.

“To make such a dream come true, we worked on a collaborative and crowdsourced approach,” the project’s Kickstarter campaign page reads. “Why? Because during the last 15 years, over 25 billion DVDs were sold worldwide. Those movies are now waiting for a second life and MovieSwap is the solution.” The service (if it every gets off the ground) probably isn’t going to oust Netflix to become the king of streaming, but it’s definitely a sweet idea. And for five bucks, how can you say no?

Read more here.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Peloton’s tech lets truckers play follow the leader to boost fuel economy

Peloton Technology can help semi trucks save fuel by running close together on the highway. Using short-range wireless communications, the trucks get a kind of super cruise control.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

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!
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.