Awesome tech you can’t buy yet, for the week of December 7, 2014

COBI Connected Bike System
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.

Rescue Me Balloon — Airborne rescue beacon

Rescue-Me-BalloonFlares are all well and good, but a rescue device that only increases your visibility for a few minutes isn’t ideal. To remedy some of the problems faced by traditional flares, the RescueMe Balloon takes a different approach. Rather than relying on combustible chemicals that burn out after a while, the RescueMe system deploys a large helium balloon into the air. The bright orange balloon can stay aloft for up to seven days, and is outfitted with flashing LED lights for extra visibility at night.  The amazing part is that this whole system fits inside a pocket-sized capsule, so it takes up just as much (if not less) room as normal flare gun would. Inside the capsule you’ll find a canister of pressurized helium, a compressed SOS balloon, a small LED/battery assembly, and a length of lightweight cordage you can use to anchor the balloon to yourself.

Plan V — Emergency phone charger

Plan VWe’ve all experienced it at least once: You’re on the go, your phone is dead, and you need to urgently call your friend or navigate to a meeting — or even worse, get out of a dangerous situation. Plan V is a failsafe device you don’t need to charge and is so small you can take it everywhere (on your keyring). It works much like a car jumper cable. You simply connect a 9-volt battery to Plan V and then hook it up to your phone. And since 9 volts are the square batteries you find in smoke alarms, they’re about as widely available as chocolate bars. The project has already blasted past its funding goal, gathering up over $50,000 (and counting) from more than 1,800 backers. Back the project now during the early stages and you can get one of these gizmos on your keyring for just $15. If everything goes as planned, the creators expect to ship the first units to backers as early as February 2015.

Brewie — Automated homebrew machine

BrewieSometimes your latest batch of homebrew turns out great, and other times it’s absolutely disgusting. When you screw it up, you just pour your concoction down the drain and head back to the drawing board. But when you nail the recipe, it’s a whole different game. Instead of just starting over, the new challenge is recreating the chaos that resulted in your award-winning brew — a feat easier said than done. Hungarian startup Brewie aims to change all that. The company’s eponymous contraption, which just recently surfaced on Indiegogo, is designed to make homebrewing easier and more consistent than ever by automating the entire process. Users are given full control over 23 different brewing parameters — everything from when ingredients are added to what temperature they’re kept at. As you brew, all of your settings are recorded, so if you ever want to make that exact same brew again, Brewie knows the recipe.

Chips — Adaptive Bluetooth headphones

CHIPSAn icy whirlwind threatens to throw you off the lift as the chair swings back and forth. The temperature has just dropped below zero. You’re thanking your sweet stars for remembering to bring your industrial mittens when … your mom calls. Do you answer and risk frostbite, or ignore the woman that put you on this Earth? With Chips you won’t have to choose. Chips are a Wireless Bluetooth Helmet Audio system that fits inside any helmet with an audio liner. Each headphone sports a large button easily pressed from outside the helmet. These buttons can answer a call from your Bluetooth device; pause, play, raise, or lower the volume; and skip tracks of your music. Able to operate in -4 degrees, these wireless monsters go up to 120 decibels and feature A2DP transmission for high-quality stereo sound. A USB charger, back-up cable, and carrying pouch are included as well. In addition to freezing temperatures, Chips can handle sweat and water without flinching. Warm hands, warm head, music control, and talking to your mama.

Cobi — All-in-one bicycle dashboard

COBI Connected Bike SystemThere’s no shortage of bike tech in the world right now. Take a look at cyclist’s handlebars these days and your eyes will be met with a slew of different gizmos — smartphone mounts, distance trackers, headlights, turn signals, navigation systems, and just about everything in between. That’s all well and good, but with a different control interface for each device, managing all your bike tech can be a pain. Cobi aims to fix that. How? By mashing all those gizmos together and integrating them into a single device. Cobi is an all-in-one dashboard for your bike that uses your smartphone as a brain, so all the information you’d ever want — navigation info, performance data, music, phone calls, and more — are all right at your fingertips. It also functions as a headlight, brake light, and turn signal system, making you more visible to cars while you ride.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

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!
Smart Home

LG is rolling out the barrels at CES 2019 with a craft beer machine

Looking to get into the beer making game? With the help of LG, you can become a brewmaster at home. The electronics maker is rolling out the LG HomeBrew, an at-home beer making machine at CES 2019.
Smart Home

The SmartCup lets you make the perfect cup of coffee or baby formula

Have you ever struggled to find the perfect temperature for your drink — and then struggled to keep it at that temperature while you're drinking it? If you have, the SmartCup might be the solution you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.