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Awesome tech you can't buy yet: $15 computers, desktop CNC mills, and a smartphone microscope

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.

Evo-One — Desktop CNC milling machine

Additive manufacturing – also known as 3D printing – gets all the attention these days. But despite the feverish pace at which the technology is advancing, traditional manufacturing processes still carry certain advantages — namely, the ability to work with materials other than plastic. They’re coming along, but 3D printers that print anything other than PLA or ABS are ridiculously expensive at the moment, so if you want to make something out of metal or wood, your best bet is to go with a traditional CNC mill.

Evo-One is basically a miniaturized version of the mills you’d find in a full-fledged machine shop, but with a much simpler interface, a far more compact form factor, and a drastically smaller price tag. Thanks to uber-simplified software controls, Evo-One essentially combines the simplicity of 3D printing with the precision, speed, and versatility of a CNC mill. It can mill your raw material along three different axes, and sports an array of interchangeable tools, so it can make parts that would otherwise require multiple machines. At roughly $1,500, it’s also one of the first desktop CNC mills you can get your hands on for about the same price as a mid-level 3D printer, which is pretty incredible.

Read more here.

Enlaps Tikee — Self-contained, solar-powered time-lapse camera

It’s easy to take them for granted because they’re so common these days, but badass time-lapse shots are a pain to capture. Videographers go to great lengths to achieve the stunning shots you see in documentaries and TV shows – oftentimes spending multiple days just to get a 5- to 10-second sequence. Not to mention, if you want an amazing lapse, you typically need a lot of specialized camera gear to make it happen. But thanks to a French startup called Enlaps, you’ll soon be able to do it all with one simple device.

Described by its creators as the “GoPro for timelapse photography”, the Enlaps Tikee camera is a single, self-contained box with two built-in wide-angle cameras. The box pairs with your smartphone or computer for simple operation, and is even equipped with a small solar panel on its roof to recoup some of the power it uses up while capturing your shot. The best part? Tikee is also built for the outdoors, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside during periods of inclement weather.

Read more here.

uPeek — Pocket smartphone microscope

For all those moments when you wish you could examine an object in excruciating detail, it’s always a shame that you can’t just whip a microscope out of your pocket. But lament no longer, friends. With uPeek, you can have a professional microscope that fits in your wallet. The very niche (but very cool) device is about the size of a credit card, and connects wirelessly to your smartphone, allowing you to “discover the microcosm in all its facets wherever you are.”  If you’re ready to discover the tiny, creepy, crawly organisms that inhabit the world around you, uPeek is all you need.

Self-described as the first smartphone microscope that boasts the same abilities as a full-fledged one, the tiny uPeek microscope is paired with an Android or iOS app and lets you capture stunning pictures of things that would otherwise be invisible.  uPeek features a motorized four-element lens that allows for high-quality, undistorted images. And thanks to its sophisticated illumination optics, your “specimen” will be placed in the best possible light. Best of all, everything is controlled wirelessly by the connected app, making your inspections a breeze.

Read more here.

Pine64 — Ultra-cheap 64-bit computer

Microcomputers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi have given rise to something of an electronics renaissance in the past few years. Along with technologies like 3D printing, they’ve made it possible for inventors to develop electronic prototypes at an unprecedented pace. But they’re far from perfect. The reason many of them are so cheap is because their computing power is rather limited. That’s not a problem for simple projects, but for anything that requires a bit more power, they’re often inadequate.

That’s where Pine64 comes in. The Pine64 CPU is a quad-core ARM A53 64-bit processor that runs at 1.2GHz. The built-in GPU delivers graphics performance slightly better than the original X-Box. That means you can do a lot more than turn LEDs on and off with it.

Read more here.

The Right Cup — Flavor your water by tricking your brain

Take stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find a glut of smart cups and water bottles that promise to help you hydrate with notifications and reminders — but that might not help when you’re craving something with a little more zip.  Instead of making the water itself fruitier or filling it with artificial sweetener, the Right Cup takes a different approach to making H2O more flavorful: using “aromatic fruit flavor” and a “hint of sweet” from the cup itself to trick your brain into thinking you’re drinking something sugary and delicious.

According to the campaign video, what your brain perceives as “flavor” is the result of two different senses: smell and taste. In theory, if your nose smells a certain smell (like, say, a fresh orange) and your tongue tastes a certain flavor (sweet, bitter, etc), then your brain will fill in the blanks and tell you you’re drinking orange flavored liquid. The Right Cup’s patented inner lining material basically imbues your water with a bit of sweetness, and then fools your brain into thinking its not water by emitting a fruity smell to accompany the flavor.

Read more here.

Drew Prindle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
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