Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Leaf-blower hoverboards, PhoneSoap, robot arms

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.

Mogees — Vibration-sensing music maker

Like the idea of making music, but don’t want to be confined to a single instrument? Check out Mogees. This nifty little “appcessory” attaches to any surface – the hood of your car, a coffee mug, or even the Golden Gate Bridge – and picks up vibrations you create by banging on the surface in question. Then, using your smartphone as its brain, the device interprets those different vibrations and translates them into different sounds. You can even tweak the type of noises you make with the accompanying app, so the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen this before. This isn’t the first time that Mogees has been on Kickstarter. The device first popped up on our radar about two years ago — but it has come a long way since then. Now, the device’s vibration-sensing algorithm appear to be far more sophisticated, so you can actually make music with objects that Mogees isn’t directly connected to. For example, if you attach the device to a table, it can pick up sounds from every object that’s sitting on the table — not just the tabletop itself.

Read more here.

PhoneSoap XL — electronic device sanitizer

On the list of most germ-ridden objects you encounter on a daily basis, smartphones and tablets are probably the worst. They’re particularly problematic because, while lots of people use them them on a daily basis, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices generally don’t get cleaned as often as, say, your kitchen counter — or even your toilet seat for that matter. Seriously. That phone you play games with while you’re on the crapper has been statistically proven to harbor more germs than the bowl below. That’s pretty gross.

Luckily, the good folks at PhoneSoap have developed an ingenious system germs at bay — without any harsh chemicals or liquids that might damage your gear. Instead, PhoneSoap XL (the bigger, badder version of the original device) blasts your phone or tablet with a sustained blast of high-intensity UV-C light. These light waves penetrate the cell walls of bacteria and scramble its DNA, effectively killing it. It’s the same technique they use to sanitize stuff in hospitals — but designed for your gross, germ-ridden gadgets.

Read more here.

MakerArm — Multifunction fabricator

3D printers are getting more and more mainstream with each passing week, but while single-purpose machines are gaining ground, there’s also a rising tide of multipurpose fabricators hitting the crowdfunding scene lately. These machines do a lot more than just spit out plastic parts — many of them can pull double duty as CNC mills, laser cutters, engravers, and even drawing machines. While most only have a couple talents, MakerArm can do it all.

It’s basically a customizable robotic arm that can be outfitted with different attachments — allowing it to do just about everything a maker would need to do. Printing, cutting, milling, routing, engraving, burning, plotting — you name it and the MakerArm can probably do it. It can even pick up objects, move them around, and assemble things made of multiple parts. Yet, despite all these talents, the device is smaller and more mobile than most 3D printers — and it costs less too. You can get your hands on one for about $1,300 on Kickstarter right now.

Read more here.

Eyecatcher — E-Ink smart wristband

If you’re into the whole wearable tech thing, but hate the idea of reading emails and text messages on a dinky little smartwatch screen, check out Eyecatcher. Instead of the usual smartwatch design, this bangle is pretty much all display, and features a 5-inch E-Ink screen that wraps around your wrist. With the help of the accompanying mobile app, you can customize the layout, design, and information displayed on the screen — and since it uses power-sipping E-Ink instead of a normal LED screen, the battery lasts considerably longer than it otherwise would.

The wristband’s creators at Looksee Labs say the battery will last up to a year on a single charge with the right settings, but that depends on how you use it, of course. If you’re constantly updating the watch’s display all day and night long, and have the notification settings coming through every few seconds, you’ll eat through the juice at a much quicker rate. Still, if the battery is anywhere close to what’s promised, the Eyecatcher will be a rare beast in today’s landscape of power-hungry mobile devices.

Read more here.

Mr Hoverboard — Leaf-blower powered hoverboard

About a year ago, back before the current hoverboard zeitgeist had hit critical mass, a tinkerer by the name of Ryan Craven took the Internet by storm with a video of his own take on the idea. Instead of using fancy supercooled magnets and elaborate metal-covered skate ramps to levitate his board, Craven’s crazy DIY hovercraft — dubbed Mr. Hoverboard — employed four downward-facing leaf blowers. It was absolutely ridiculous, but it ended up working so well that he decided to mass produce it. Starting this week, you can actually preorder a kit to make your very own Mr. Hoverboard yourself — although you’ll have to supply the leaf blowers.

In case you missed the original video, here’s a quick rundown of how Craven’s hoverboard works. Once you’ve attached the four leaf blowers and flipped them on, the air they blast out is redirected out through a special PVC skirt attached to the underside of the board. When air escapes out of the skirts holes, it creates an air buffer between the board and the ground below — effectively allowing it to “hover” over just about any surface. To ride it around, you simply push in whatever direction you’d like to go. Because it’s basically floating, the board will move in the direction of the momentum you apply to it.

Read more here.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

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!
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
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.
Deals

This smart toothbrush will clean all your teeth in just 6 seconds

No more one-size-fits-all toothbrushes with bristles too soft for deep cleaning or too hard on your gums. The Unobrush ergonomic toothbrush is designed to fit every type of mouth - you just bite down and it forms to every tooth.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Emerging Tech

Frogs regrow ‘paddle-like’ limbs when placed in a bioreactor

Frogs have partially regrown amputated limbs thanks to a bioreactor at Tufts University. By jump-starting tissue repair, the bioreactor helped the amphibians regenerate a bigger, more complete appendages than they usually do.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.