Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Levitating cups, skateboard motors, and more

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns 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. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Eon — Modular electric skateboard drivetrain

Eon is the latest entry into the burgeoning category of “ridable tech” contraptions, but it’s different than most electric skateboards we’ve seen. In fact, it’s not actually a board at all, but rather an attachment designed to fit onto your existing board — which is a brilliant idea. Pop Eon onto the deck you’ve already got and it’ll transform your boring old push board into a motorized monster.

To use it, you basically just remove the rear trucks of your board, screw in Eon, and start riding. The retrofittable module includes dual in-wheel motors capable of zipping you around at 22 miles per hour, and a high-capacity lithium-ion battery that’ll keep you going for about 15 miles per charge. You might be able to squeeze some extra range out of it, too. Eon is equipped with a regenerative braking system that recharges your battery ever so slightly whenever you decelerate, which helps extend the board’s range. Eon’s batteries are also designed to be swappable, so you can just pop in a new cell and keep riding once your first pack runs dry.

Read more here

LevitatingCup — Magnetically suspended drinkware

This one is pretty straightforward. You know those little globes that float magnetically in midair? LevitatingCup is basically the exact same idea — but instead of a cute little miniature version of planet earth, this gizmo is designed to suspend a chalice full of booze. The kickstarter page sums it up perfectly in saying, “You may like your cocktails blended, mixed, or served straight up. Well, we want to introduce another option that will literally lift up your spirits. Working via a system of magnets and an electrical field, the Levitating CUP features a metallic base that enables the cup to float above the table at zero gravity, completely weightless, and remain that way uninterrupted indefinitely.”

Now to be fair, suspending a drink in midair doesn’t really do anything for the drink itself. It doesn’t keep it much cooler, it doesn’t aerate it, and it doesn’t improve the flavor in any noticeable way. All it really does it look cool — but the device’s inventors are up front about that. The Kickstarter campaign readily admits that LevitatingCup serves no utilitarian purpose, and exists only to appeal to your eyes. However, there is one practical benefit to a magnetically levitating drink holder — just think of all the money you’ll save on coasters!

Read more here

Mine Kafon Drone — Land mine exterminator drone

A few years back, a designer by the name of  Massoud Hassani gained worldwide fame when he unveiled the Mine Kafon — a simple, low-cost, wind-powered land mine removal device designed to blow across mine fields and detonate them with its weight. It was a brilliant invention, but for all its simplicity, the Mine Kafon’s uncontrollable nature also made it somewhat ineffective and imprecise — so Hassani went back to the drawing board to figure out a more immediate solution to the world’s land mine problem.

Four years later, he’s back on kickstarter to raise funds for the Mine Kafon Drone — an aerial de-mining system that, if deployed, could supposedly rid the world of land mines in just 10 years. This is achieved with two different fleets of drones. The first fleet is armed with metal detectors, and will map out the location of all land mines in a given area. The second fleet, which detonates the mines, then comes in to finish the job. It’s definitely not as simple as his first idea — but it’s certainly a worthy pursuit.

Read more here

Prey for the Gods — Badass action survival game

If you’ve been yearning for a game that follows in the massive footsteps of Team ICO’s PlayStation 2 classic, Shadow of the Colossus, then Prey for the Gods is the game for you. Developer No Matter Studios describes the indie game “as an action survival game” set on a wintry island, where players must “destroy the very gods you believe in” in order to survive the unforgiving climate, and solve a world-threatening mystery. The page lists titles like Deus Ex, DayZ, Bloodborne, and the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus as inspiration for the open-ended and action-heavy gameplay.

Now, if you’re tepid about tossing money at a crowdfunded game, that’s understandable — but No Matter Studios is going out of its way to instill faith in Prey for the Gods’ development. The development team is made up by a small core of industry veterans with a combined 30 years of experience in such games as Titan Quest and Dawn of War. Digital Trends actually got a sneak preview of the game this past week, and we can confirm that its every bit as awesome as the trailer makes it look.

Read our hands-on review here

Aus-Iron — Lightweight cast iron cookware

Any chef worth his paprika will tell you that cast iron cookware is essential for gourmet cooking. Cast iron always cooks food at an even temperature, and can be used over any heat source — including a campfire. Furthermore, cast iron cookware can last for 100 years or more if you take care of it properly — which means that if you buy a cast iron skillet tomorrow, your great-great-grandchildren may one day use it to sear their space beef.

But for all the advantages of cast iron cookware, it also has its fair share of drawbacks. Not only is it a needy material that needs to be cared for regularly, it’s also heavy as hell. Aus-Iron, however, is a bit different. This new line of cookware is designed to carry all the same properties as traditional cast iron, but without all the heft and fussiness. With these suckers on your stovetop, you’ll get the same even heat and natural non-stick abilities, but none of the sore wrists, hot handles, and constant care.

Read more here

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