Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Biometric locks, monocycles, and lightsabers

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.

Ola — Fingerprint-scanning smart lock

ola door lock

Most smart locks on the market use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to determine when your smartphone is within range of the door, then unlock themselves automatically. In theory you never need to carry keys again, but in practice, it leaves a bit to be desired. Wireless connections between lock and phone are often slow to establish, and sometimes just flat-out don’t work. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to fiddle with keys or phones at all?

Well good news — there’s a new smart lock in the works that does away with both keys and phones. Instead, the Ola lock uses something you’ll (hopefully) never lose: your finger. You simply tell it how many users there are, scan their fingerprints into the system, and start using it. Whenever somebody gets home and needs to open the door, all they’ve got to do is put their thumb on the scanner (convenintly located right on the door handle) and turn the handle. Ola’s state-of-the-art finterprint scanner will recognize your identity immediately, and deactivate the lock within seconds.

Farenheit 2451 — Nanoform data 

Farenheit 2451 — Nanoform data

Preserving information over a long span of time is a difficult task. Physical media like books, photographs, or microfilm can hold up for a couple centuries or more if they’re well preserved; but if you go too far beyond that the material starts to deteriorate on you. Digital storage mediums, such as CDs, USB keys and external hard drives, have a 30-year lifespan at best — assuming they’re not scratched, corrupted, demagnetized or rendered obsolete by new systems before that. And the Cloud? It’s out of your hands and of questionable security.

So how do you keep information safe and readable for thousands of years into the future? Apparently by laser engraving it into sapphire. “Nanoforms” are basically like a cross between stone tablets and microfilm. Your info is engraved in tiny detail in the sapphire — the second hardest material in the world, which can resist fire, water, acid, and corrosion of all kinds. To read it, you place it under pretty much any kind of magnifying device — a microscope, a slide projector, or even just a regular-old magnifying glass. Fahrenheit 2451 claims these nanoforms will last for millennia.

Adaptive Saber Parts — Customizable lightsabers


Ever since it first debuted in the original Star Wars films, the light saber has been coveted by pretty much everyone — geek or otherwise. The only problem is, unlike most weapons born in the realm of science fiction, lightsabers still don’t exist. We’ve got lasers, electromagnetic pulse cannons, rail guns, and basically every other sci-fi weapon, but the technology to create a real, working lightsabers doesn’t exist yet. We’re sure it’ll happen eventually, but for now, we’ve got to settle for the next best thing — Adaptive Saber Parts.

Basically, ASP is a system of modular, interchangeable light saber parts that make it easy to build/customize your own high-quality lightsaber. Creator Saber Forge offers more than 100 different metal parts in three different finishes, allowing users to design the badass hilt they’ve always wanted — complete with lights, motion detection, and sound. All the parts are designed to be completely plug-and-play, so they don’t require any soldering, welding, or electronics knowledge to assemble.

Lightcase Pro — Pop-up photography studio

lightcase pro

If you’re an avid online seller on sites like eBay and Craigslist, having your product shown in its best light can help you get a serious leg up on the competition. Unfortunately, not everybody has the time or resources to hire a professional to take magazine-quality photos. The solution? Lightcase Pro: a miniature photography studio that gives users a quick and affordable way to shoot professional-looking product images with just about any time of camera  — smartphone or otherwise. This is essentially a bigger, badder, but just-as-portable version of the original, which popped up on Kickstarter back in 2014.

For those of you who missed the first generation, the Lightcase and Lightcase Pro are made of a frosted polypropylene material that diffuses light to create a reflection-free, evenly lit background that’s ideal for top-down or front shooting. The top of the Lightcase has a small opening that can be used to focus your smartphone’s camera lens directly onto the subject, and an open front wall for shooting with a DSLR. Oh, and did we mention the whole thing folds down to the size of a notebook? Pretty rad!

MotoPogo — Self-balancing monocycle


Imagine for a moment that there exists an alternate universe where it’s possible for inanimate objects to not only reproduce, but also cross breed between species. Got it? OK, now imagine that inside of this universe, a unicycle somehow managed to bump uglies with a Segway. If this theoretical situation were real, I have absolutely no doubt that the resulting offspring would be MotoPogo.

Freshly launched on Kickstarter, this strange new rideable device is basically a perfect hybrid of the two devices. Seriously — go make yourself a Punnett Square. Put a regular pedal-powered unicycle on one axis, and a Segway on the other, and the predicted outcome will have pretty much all the same traits that MotoPogo has. It’s electric, it’s got one wheel, and it will most definitely be ridden by Kevin James in the next installment of Paul Blart: Mall Cop — but I’ll be damned if I don’t have an overwhelming urge to take it for a spin. Just lean forward or backward, and the MotoPogo’s 60V 500W hub motor will accelerate in you that direction — at a top speed of 25 mph, no less. Of course, as we learned when we took the very similar Ryno for a spin, riding one of these things can both make you look like an idiot and be trickier than expected.

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