Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Unforgettable umbrellas, wooden speakers

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.

MIN7 — Multifunction wooden speaker

Wireless speakers are a dime a dozen these days, but as the space has become more crowded and competitive, it seems that the general level of quality has dropped a bit. Don’t get us wrong; cheap Bluetooth speakers are a great for beating up — but if you’re looking to buy a wireless speaker that can pull double duty as a portable device and a standalone home stereo, you might want something more on the premium side.

That’s where Minifort comes in. The company’s first product, dubbed the Min7, aims to provide the best of both worlds. Not only is the speaker handmade and built from wood, but it packs serious power alongside a ton of connectivity options, both wired and wireless. The speaker boasts 2.1-channel sound via dual 4-inch paper-cone woofers and 1-inch silk-dome tweeters with a 5.25-inch subwoofer on the bottom, offering up a frequency range of 45Hz to 20kHz. We haven’t heard them in person yet, but the drivers are powered by a 150-watt amplifier, which should make for impressive volume in a speaker this size.

Read more here.

Triton Scuba Mask — Artificial gills

Back in early 2014, tech enthusiasts across the globe went gaga over a conceptual product called the Triton Scuba Mask. The product — which is essentially a tankless scuba mask that works like a pair of artificial gills — generated a veritable boatload of hype for many months thereafter, but was eventually dismissed as a high-flying, unattainable concept that would probably never come to fruition as a living, breathing product. But apparently, it’s not completely bogus. Earlier this week Triton’s creators actually launched an Indiegogo campaign for the device. We’re still not completely convinced that the Triton mask is legit, but here’s a quick overview of the technology that supposedly makes it work.

Instead of a large tank of compressed air, the Triton mask allegedly uses two specialized filters to extract oxygen from liquid water molecules. These are composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to a single oxygen atom. Triton suggests that this extraction process is possible with the help of a material known as microporous hollow fiber: a real material that features billions super-small holes. According to Triton’s creators, these holes are “smaller than water molecules, [so] they keep water out and let oxygen in.” From there, a “micro compressor then extracts and stores the oxygen – allowing you to breathe naturally and revel in your underwater freedom.”

Read more here.

Nervana — Neurostimulation headphone

A lot of people like to get high and listen to music — but what if you could listen to music to get high? It might sound a little odd, but that’s exactly what Nervana’s crazy new neurostimulation headphones are designed to to. The headphones, which are earbuds, are equipped with tiny little electrodes that allegedly send a low power electrical signal to your brain and stimulate the release of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of happiness, enjoyment, and mild euphoria.

It’s more than just a jolt to your brain, too. Instead of just randomly sending these electrical signals to your noggin (via your Vagus nerve), the headphones actually sync up with the music you’re listening to and send out pulses that are modulated in relation to a song’s unique musical attributes. Considering how addictive music already is, this could turn out to be a slippery slope!

Read more here.

Oombrella — Unforgettable smart umbrella

In all honesty, you probably don’t need a smart umbrella. For most people, umbrellas of the “dumb” variety will likely work just fine. But if you’re prone to forgetting your umbrella and leaving it behind, Oombrella might actually be worth checking out. In addition to a brilliant Bluetooth-based anti-loss system, this umbrella boasts a boatload of cool features.

According to the Kickstarter campaign, Oombrella allegedly features Kevlar ribs so that the umbrella can withstand high winds and heavy rain without damage. Tucked inside the waterproof handle you’ll find a sensor capsule, which includes sensors that measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and light. Using Bluetooth, the capsule transmits data to the Oombrella mobile app — allowing users to receive weather notifications before rain even starts. The capsule also features a buzzer and LED light so you can get notifications when messages or calls come into your connected smart phone.

Read more here.

Lifepack — Solar powered, anti-theft backpack

Still lugging your stuff around in a raggedy old two-pocket Jansport? If so, it’s high time for an upgrade. Backpacks have come a long way in the past few years in terms of both design and technology, and the latest one to land on Kickstarter is arguably one of the craziest yet.

The Lifepack, as it’s called, is a super-functional, solar-powered backpack that managed to crush it’s modest $20K funding goal in less than eight hours — and with the feature list on this thing, that’s not surprising. In addition to a built-in solar charger and battery pack, the bag features an integrated locking cable (which doubles as a bottle opener) and a portable Bluetooth speaker. There are also four hidden pockets scattered across its exterior — including a passport-sized pocket in the strap that would allow you to safely conceal your travel documents. “I tried to put in every kind of feature that fits the digital nomad who is constantly on-the-go,” Lifepack founder Adrian Solgaard told Road Warrior Voices. “Really, it’s best-suited for people who travel a lot or work remotely.”

Read more here.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

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!
Apple

Beats Powerbeats Pro vs. Bose SoundSport Free: Which big buds are better?

Two of the world's biggest headphone manufacturers, Bose and Beats, have both taken aim at workout enthusiasts with their first true wireless in-ears. So who makes the better earbuds?
Gaming

Everything we know about Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima has revealed very little about his upcoming game Death Stranding, but we finally have a release date. Before you decide to pick it up, take a look at what we know so far.
Deals

Amazon cuts the cost of Sennheiser wireless headphones by up to 29%

If you're in the market for top-tiered headphones, the Sennheiser wireless headphones with a noise-canceling feature are just right for you. This is your best chance to get yours as Amazon cuts up to 29% on its price.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.
Emerging Tech

Wreckage, reefs, and robots: The high-tech quest to find Amelia Earhart’s plane

Over 80 years ago, American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappeared while trying to fly around the world. Now an autonomous water-based robot could help find some answers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

SpaceIL’s crashed lander may have sent thousands of tardigrades to the moon

When the SpaceIL craft Beresheet crashed into the moon earlier this year, it left more than just an impact mark. Thousands of micro-animals called tardigrades were along for the ride and may have survived the crash.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s satellite projects will study the sun using solar sailing

Small satellites can be used for all sorts of purposes, and NASA has been searching for ideas to push ahead the capabilities of the hardware. The agency has announced two new projects to demonstrate the potential of small satellites.
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures a beautiful cosmic jellyfish made of glowing gas

A new image from Hubble might look like a deep-space jellyfish, but it's not a sign of extraterrestrial life - in fact, it's a planetary nebula called NGC 2022, located in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter).
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe makes a second orbit of the sun, captures solar wind on video

The Parker Solar Probe, launched last year, has completed its second orbit around the sun. To celebrate, the team responsible for the probe has released a video showing solar winds in action.
Cars

Starman on Tesla Roadster makes first orbit around sun, braces for loneliness

Starman and his Tesla Roadster, sent by SpaceX to outer space last year, have completed their first orbit around the sun. The people on Earth may be able to catch a glimpse of the cherry-red electric vehicle on November 2020.
Emerging Tech

Bernie Sanders calls for a ban on police use of facial recognition

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for a complete ban on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement as part of the new criminal justice reform plan he introduced this weekend.
Emerging Tech

On the fence about buying solar panels? Tesla now offers them for rent

With solar rental Tesla says “customers get the best from solar power — clean, cheap energy to power homes and vehicles — without upfront costs or decades-long agreements. In fact, customers can get solar power with one click, instead…