Skip to main content

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Eye-tracking VR headsets, folding 3D printers

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.

Sprite — Ultraportable canister drone

Sprite
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Generally speaking, existing drones just aren’t that portable. You can’t put them in a backpack, and you can’t fold them up.  Sprite wants to change all that. It’s durable, water-resistant, and uses a coaxial rotor design (that’s two rotors stacked one atop the other), making it more compact than competitors. The entire cylindrical aircraft is just 3.8 inches in diameter, 13.2 inches long, and weighs 2.6 pounds.

The basic model Sprite will contain an onboard GPS, programmable autopilot controls, and a gimbal-stabilized HD camera capable of capturing 1080p video and still images (2,304 x 1,536 resolution). For those of you who already own action cams, the drone’s onboard camera can be interchanged for a GoPro or any compatible small camera purchased separately. The basic model doesn’t offer a video-audio transmitter for streaming live first-person video, but the platform is designed so that pilots can integrate their own transmitters if desired.

Electroloom — Clothing printer

Electroloom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ever since Electroloom popped up on Kickstarter, people have been calling it a “3D printer for clothing.” That’s a decent description, but it also doesn’t give you the full picture. Electroloom is unlike any 3D printer you’ve ever laid eyes on. Rather than creating garments with a series of snap-together plastic parts, the machine uses a process it calls Field Guided Fabrication — which looks less like 3D printing and more like a cotton candy machine that’s gone haywire.

Basically, the machine employs a technique called electrospinning to convert a liquid solution into fibers, which are squirted out of a nozzle and guided onto a 3D mold by the machine’s internal electric field. Once there, they bond together to form a non-woven fabric that can flex, drape, and fold just like the fabrics you’re wearing right now.  The process is still a little rough around the edges, but the team’s latest prototypes are already capable of producing things like tank tops, skirts, and beanies. The team is also working to develop new liquids that can be spun into fabric, so users will have more options on color and fabric type.

Fove — Eye-tracking VR headset

Fove
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though most devices haven’t actually hit shelves yet, no one would fault you for calling the head-mounted display market a bit “overcrowded” already. First, there was Oculus. Then came Samsung’s Gear VR. Not long after that we got a glimpse at Valve’s Vive, and now a new company on Kickstarter claims to have an even better device — one which will reportedly feature eye-tracking technology to incorporate a unique set of controls into upcoming games.

The Fove headset, as it’s called, will come equipped with a 2,560 x 1,400, 5.8-inch screen that runs at 60fps, with a 100+ degree field-of-view. On top of that, the addition of eye-tracking will supposedly allow you to aim at enemies, “make eye contact,” and shift the amount of focus on a particular object just by changing where you look. This is made possible by incorporating an array of tiny infrared sensors inside the headset. “These sensors bounce light off the retina to register how the eyes are angled,” the Kickstarter page explains. “Our unique algorithms can calculate the parallax between the eyes to track and measure depth-of-field focus.”

Focus — Foldable, portable 3D printer

Focus
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We have absolutely no idea why a 3D printer would ever need to be portable, but that doesn’t make Focus any less amazing. It’s basically a fully-functional, multi-material 3D printer that’s designed to fold flat and be carried around like a briefcase. And somehow, despite the fact that it’s completely collapsible, it’s actually more capable than most fused-filament fabrication printers currently available.

In addition to being portable, Focus features an interchangeable extruder system — which allows it to print in a massive range of different materials. It can handle standard ABS and PLA, bio-rubber, bronze, and even edible substances like chocolate or cream cheese. And as if that wasn’t crazy enough, the machine also doesn’t require any kind of calibration, since the print platform is stationary. Move over, MakerBot — there’s a new sheriff in town.

MyoWare — Muscle-reading sensors

MyoWare
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Last week, we were lucky enough to get our hands on this amazing muscle reading armband called Myo. Using a technique known as electromyography, the device is able to read electrical signals from the muscles in your forearm, map them to gestures made with your hand, and control other devices with those gestures. It’s an amazing piece of technology, and when it first surfaced a couple years ago, it was one of hte first consumer-oriented devices to use electromyography — but now it’s not the only gizmo on the block that can read your muscles.

MyoWare is basically a different application of the same technology. Just like Myo, MyoWare uses EMG sensors to detect muscle movement in your arm — the only difference is that, instead of being purpose-built for gesture control, MyoWare is designed to be open and programmable, so you can do whatever you want with it. To demonstrate what’s possible with such a kit, MyoWare’s creator used it to make an Iron Man “blaster glove” that lights up when you flex your forearm, and even a set of Wolverine claws that are triggered by muscle tenses.

Editors' Recommendations

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…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more