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Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Solar grills, smart pillows, levitating light bulbs

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 there’s 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.

Flyte — Levitating light bulb


Screwing lights into a socket is so 2015. In the future, all the cool kids will deck out their space apartments with LED bulbs that float in midair. That might sound a little far-fetched at first, but once you take a look at Flyte it suddenly doesn’t seem so unbelievable. Flyte is a wirelessly powered light that hovers in the air by way of magnetic levitation. It makes no physical contact and draws power wirelessly from the charger block it hovers above.

Here’s how it works. Tucked inside the snazzy wooden base, you’ll find two things: an array of electromagnets and a magnetic induction charger. When you lower the bulb onto the block, the the outermost electromagnets serve to attract the bulb’s base, while inner (and slightly stronger) magnets create a repelling force. This holds the bulb in place and causes it to hover a few centimeters above the block.  Once it’s within range, a receiver at the bulb’s base is able to pick up power from the charger block via magnetic induction, which supplies it with enough power to illuminate an array of LEDs.

Orbit1 — Compact electroplating machine


Additive manufacturing (aka 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, so if you want to make something out of metal or wood, your best bet is to go with a traditional CNC mill. The only downside, however, is that mills generally can’t make many of the exotic “impossible” shapes that 3D printers can. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a machine that could give you best of both worlds?

Enter: the Orbit1. It’s a tabletop electroplating machine that allows you to easily add a metal coating to the exterior of virtually any object. 3D printed models, handmade jewelry, circuit boards — you name it, and as long as you can fit it inside the machine, Orbit1 can put metal plating on it. Just think of all the gold-plated iPhone cases you could make with this contraption!

Chrona — Sleep-enhancing smart pillow


Just like Fitbit and other wearable fitness trackers, Chrona tracks sleep based on motion. But instead of being attached to your wrist, Chrona is placed in your pillowcase, where it measures the movements of your head and torso. Based on these movements, it can reliably tell where you are in your sleep cycle.  When Chrona detects that you’re in a deep sleep, it uses a set of small speakers to send out low-frequency sound waves.

Apparently, these waves complement and enhance those created by your brain. Sounds in the delta-frequency range synchronize and enhance deep sleep, which studies have shown to be beneficial for memory and cognition. As dawn approaches, Chrona can switch to playing higher-frequency sounds to help you enter a lighter state of sleep before your alarm plays in the morning. When you’re relaxed with your eyes closed, your brain expresses its highest activity in the alpha-frequency range (such as during meditation). Chrona’s “Perfect Wake-Up” feature uses sound in that same frequency range to prepare your mind to wake up.

The Palette — 3D print with multiple filaments

The Palette

Good news for all you early adopters who are stuck with a single-filament printer that can only make objects of a single color — the good folks at Mosaic Manufacuring have created a contraption called The Palette that will breathe new life into your monochrome machine

Basically, the Palette is a device that you can attach to your existing printer to give it the ability to print in multiple colors. It acts like a intermediary between your computer and printer; grabbing a filament, then cutting it and fusing it with another one — creating single strand of custom, multicolor filament on the fly. It can handle up to four separate filament strands at once, with varying colors and properties, and fuse them together as needed to print your object.

GoSun Grill — Compact solar cooker

GoSun Grill

Harnessing the power of the sun and concentrating its energy to generate heat is something that humans have been doing for millennia. Back in the second century AD, it’s said that Archimedes used a giant parabolic mirror array to set approaching warships on fire, and people were likely experimenting with solar energy long before that, too. But still, 2,000 years down the road, we’re still doing it the same way. Our equipment, however, has gotten considerably more advanced in recent times. GoSun Grill, for example, is a fully-functioning solar cooking rig that can roast, steam, or bake your food — and even work when the sun goes down.

Thanks to a set of internal batteries, the Grill is able to not only concentrate the sun’s rays on a single point, but also store some of that energy so it can continue cooking your food. Even if a cloud rolls up or the sun dips below the horizon, the GoSun Grill will keep on going, using the energy it’s already collected to heat your meal.

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