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Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robot arms and keychain-sized hard drives

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 fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even those with the best intentions — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams. 

December 8

Space 3D — affordable SLA printer

It used to be that SLA 3D printers were expensive and out-of-reach for the average consumer,  but that’s now beginning to change. Thanks in large part to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, these kinds of printers have become drastically more affordable and available in the past couple years. Nowadays there are a bunch of them that you can get for less than $1,000, and there’s a boatload more currently in development.

The latest one to hit the crowdfunding scene is Space 3D — a highly affordable SLA/DLP printer that, despite costing just $600 on Kickstarter, comes with a range of high-end features that you typically only see on machines that cost upward of $1,500. Most notably, it has an absolutely massive build envelope that allows you to print bigger parts and pump out more stuff

Gluon — programmable robotic arm

If you’ve ever dreamed of having an automated assistant similar to Tony Stark’s JARVIS robot, you should probably stop whatever you’re doing right now and go check out Gluon on Kickstarter. In contrast to robotic assistant devices geared specifically towards makers and designers, Gluon is a robot arm that can serve virtually any purpose that you need it to. It’s equipped with high-precision servo motors, and even comes with an easy-to-use “training” mode where you can move the arm manually, without any coding, and then have it repeat that exact motion at the press of a button. In other words, while coding experience will help you get the most out of this contraption, it’s also not necessarily required.

Diveroid — universal smartphone case for diving

If you’re going on a vacation and plan to do some diving or snorkeling while you’re there, chances are you probably want to take some pictures in the water. For most people, this means you’ll get a special waterproof case for your phone, use it once or twice, and then toss it out a year later when you get a new phone. Diveroid offers a more sustainable alternative. It’s a universal diving case that’ll work with any smartphone — even the one you might own a few years from now.

Diple — 1,000x smartphone microscope

Smartphone microscopes aren’t exactly a new idea at this point, but this one is slightly different than the ones out there right now. Diple, as it’s called, is capable of 1,000x magnification. Functionally speaking that means it’s powerful enough to let you look at individual bacteriums, blood cells, and more — all through your big, bright smartphone screen. You can even pinch and zoom to make the image bigger or smaller. Pretty neat, right?

Bullet SSD — keychain-sized SSD

You know that tattered old USB drive you probably keep on your keychain right now? Imagine if it was smaller, faster, tougher, and had way more storage space. That’s pretty much what the Bullet SSD is. It’s a tiny storage device that, in addition to boasting up to 2TB of storage space, is also IP67 certified — meaning it’s water resistant and dust proof. It’s also encased in metal, so it’ll survive being tossed around for years to come.

December 2

Unocup — lid-equipped paper cup

Disposable, single use paper cups aren’t all that bad for the environment — but the plastic lids that accompany them? They’re not so great. So, as part of the ongoing movement to phase out single use plastic, a startup called Unocup has developed a solution: a cleverly designed paper cup that, thanks to its unique shape, is capable of folding up to create a lid. It basically eliminates the need to top your coffee (or whatever) with a piece of plastic you’ll only use once.

Hyper minimal calendar — redesigned full-year calendar

This is the most low-tech entry on this week’s picks, but it’s just too clever to skip. It’s a full-year calendar with a very practical and human-centric layout. Instead of displaying each month via a series of weeks that don’t line up nicely, months are broken up into four five-day weeks, with two-day weekends between them. Additionally, the first and last days of each month are underlined, so you can easily spot when one month ends and another begins.

Artiphon Orba — palm-sized multi-instrument

Artiphon broke onto the scene a couple years ago when it released the Instrument — a vaguely guitar-shaped electronic musical instrument that allowed users to play practically any sound imaginable via the familiar form of a guitar neck. It was a huge hit, and now the company is back with yet another electronic instrument dubbed Orba. This one is basically the same idea, but squeezed into a much smaller, more open-ended form factor.

Climate neutral certified — environmental product certification

You know how certain things in the grocery store are labeled as “certified organic” or “cage free” or “non-GMO”? In order to get those labels, the company has to actually get certified by an independent organization that verifies the company’s product meets certain standards. Climate Neutral certification is a new one to add to the mix — but instead of signaling that a given product or service is gluten free or non-GMO, it shows that the company behind the product has actively taken steps to offset the carbon impact of its operation. Pretty neat!

Ever Ratchet — ratcheting EDC tool

EverRatchet Clip Ratcheting Keychain Multitool

EDC tools are a dime a dozen on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but this one is arguably one of the best I’ve seen. Thanks to an exceptionally clever design, it’s equipped with a ratcheting screwdriver/wrench setup — which means you don’t have to spin it in a full circle to tighten a bolt or screw a screw. And of course, it’s got a handful of other features stuffed into the tiny little frame — including a pry bar and a bottle opener.

November 24

Epilog — epilepsy tracking wearable

Epilog Final Pitch Video

This thing is brilliant. It’s basically a wearable, battery-powered EEG monitor that tracks your brainwaves throughout the day, beams that information to your smartphone, and then uses algorithms to analyze your brain activity and predict seizures. Obviously, it’s not a mass-market device designed for everyone — it’s specifically built to help people with epilepsy. Still, it’s an idea worth supporting even if you don’t have the condition.

Ebo — robotic cat toy

I’ve seen a LOT of so-called “smart” cat toys on Kickstarter and Indiegogo over the years, but this might be the most advanced one yet. In addition to standard features like the ability to drive around and encourage your cat to chase, it also has environmental awareness sensors that allow it to map out the room and avoid collisions, a return-to-home function that ensures it’s always charged, and even a built-in camera that allows you to watch as your cat gives chase. It’s nuts!

Mellow Duo — IoT sous vide machine

A few years back, Mello took the cooking world by storm with a groundbreaking idea: an internet-connected sous vide machine that could not only cook your food, but also keep it cool until you were ready to cook. That way, you could dunk a steak in the cooking chamber before you leave for work, keep it cool all day, and then tap a button on your phone to start cooking before you got home. It was nothing short of brilliant, and now they company is back with a bigger, badder version with two cooking chambers. That means you can cook two separate dishes at two separate temperatures, but have them come out at the same time. Genius!

Seesense Air — advanced bike tracker

Trackers and other anti-theft devices for bicycles are a dime a dozen these days, but this one is different. Unlike most existing trackers (which either rely on cellular/GPS connections that comes with a monthly subscription fee, or weird proprietary networks that only work if everyone around you has the exact same tracker app), this one communicates with your phone via Narrowband IoT, which basically allows it to work like apple’s Find My iPhone utility, but without any subscriptions or service costs.

Segway dirt ebike — electric dirt bike

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This one hasn’t actually launched yet, so we don’t know a lot about it — but based on the video footage available and the photos on the preview page, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this thing is going to be awesome. It’s certainly not the first electric dirt bike that’s ever been made, but the fact that it’s from Segway, one of the best rideable tech manufacturers in the world, is exciting. Fingers crossed they sell it for an affordable price!

November 17

Rumpl x Loki — travel dog bed

If you need a sleeping pad for your dog, you can find one quite easily online. Just head over to Amazon and you’ll discover no shortage of pads, bags, and other sleeping solutions designed to keep your furry friend comfy. However, if you intend to take your dog along on a trip, then you’ll likely have a bit more trouble finding a suitable canine sleeping pad. The issue is that very few (if any) dog sleeping systems are designed to be compact and portable. They’re typically made with thick padding that doesn’t compress very easily, so they don’t fit nicely into a backpack. Rumpl decided to change that.

HomeBiogas — backyard biodigester

Believe it or not, somewhere around 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. We put all kinds of time and energy into producing it, but we still end up throwing a huge amount of it away and sending it off to a landfill. It’s incredibly wasteful, but the folks behind HomeBiogas have a solution. Their cleverly designed biodigester (now in its 3rd generation) allows you to collect pretty much anything that’s biodegradable — dining room scraps, meat, grease, oil, eggshells, grass clippings, and even small sticks or bits of wood — and use bacteria to transform it into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. Pretty awesome, right?

Hyperjuice — 100W GAN charger block

Charger bricks are probably the least sexy technology of all time, but this one is actually pretty sweet. Despite being no bigger than a standard deck of cards, the Hyperjuice charger, as it’s called, is capable of channeling over 100W of power, and juicing up four devices at once. Thanks to the magical material known as gallium nitride, two of the brick’s USB-A ports support the latest quick-charging standard, and can therefore funnel power to your devices at a blistering pace. The only downside? It’ll cost you $70 bucks. That’s pretty steep for a wall charging station.

Zipbag — reusable food storage bag

As the movement to cut down on single-use plastic continues to pick up steam, there are dozens of startups clamoring to sell you reusable versions of common single-use items like straws, eating utensils, shopping bags, and even Q-tips. The latest piece of plastic in the crosshairs? Ziploc bags. You can already find silicon versions on Amazon for a few bucks, but this one from Twopillars takes things to a whole new level. It’s got a storage pouch, reusable utensils you can tuck inside, a reusable label, and best of all, a lifetime warranty. Get this thing and you’ll legitimately never have to buy storage bags ever again.

Tempest — advanced personal weather station

Home weather stations have been around for decades at this point, but Tempest might be the most advanced one yet. It measures just about everything you could ever imagine. Seriously. It’s not just the basic stuff like rain, temperature, and barometric pressure — it measures all that stuff and more using a variety of different methods, thereby giving you the most complete set of real-time weather data possible. Amazingly, it does all this without any moving parts, and also without wires. It’s 100% solar-powered and can transmit information via Wi-Fi to a base station in your house. It even shares all this data with the National Weather Service so it can make more accurate predictions for the general forecast. Pretty neat stuff!

November 10

Focusbuds — productivity-boosting earbuds

Potential X Indiegogo Video

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion things competing for your attention. With all the messages, alerts, emails, and notifications that bombard us throughout the day, it’s increasingly difficult to focus on anything for an extended period of time. That’s exactly what Focusbuds aim to fix. According to their creators, Focusbuds monitor users’ concentration levels using a process called electroencephalogram (EEG) neurofeedback. This is achieved by using embedded sensors capable of capturing this brain activity and proprietary software that analyzes it. The resulting data insights are then conveyed in real-time to the user via audio cues. In doing so, the promise is that the earbuds will help train your brain to concentrate and block out distractions over time.

Castaway — second screen for smartphones

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do you need a second screen for your smartphone? Probably not, but somebody made one anyway. It’s pretty straightforward. The Castaway, as it’s called, is basically a tiny chromium tablet that’s tucked into a smartphone case. Put your phone in the case, and it’ll be linked to the tablet, thereby allowing you to use two apps at the same time.

Fourneau Grande — artisan bread oven

Unfortunately, it’s damn near impossible to make bakery-quality bread in a standard kitchen oven — unless of course, you use something like Fourneau. It’s basically like a souped-up Dutch oven that creates the perfect environment for you to make artisan bread at home. This new version, the Fourneau Grande, is a larger version of the original, which gives you space to make specialty loaves that are longer, bigger, or oddly shaped.

The Big Sphere — Milky Way desk ornament

In 2016, designer Clemens Steffin launched his ‘Universe in a Sphere’ project on Kickstarter, creating a glass orb containing 380,000 perfectly lasered dots, each one representing an entire galaxy. His next project then aimed to re-create just our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, with every dot representing a different star. Now he’s back with a bigger version of that idea, and it’s even more painstakingly detailed than before!

Snowfeet 2 — skates for snow

Here’s DT’s Kraig Becker with the scoop: “At first glance, Snowfeet look an awful lot like a pair of sandals on steroids. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll soon notice that Snowfeet’s straps look a lot more like a ski binding than anything you’ve ever seen on a flip-flop. Those bindings allow Snowfeet to accommodate any type of shoe or boot, then contract down to hold the footwear squarely in place. Once attached, Snowfeet are effectively skates that you can use on snow.” Sounds pretty awesome, right?

November 3

Gosun Flatware — flat-pack reusable utensils

As the movement to cut down on single-use plastic continues to pick up steam, there are dozens of startups clamoring to sell you collapsible/reusable straws and eating utensils — especially on Kickstarter. However, while these products are undeniably useful, they also aren’t particularly convenient. You have to remember to bring them along wherever you go in order for them to be useful. That’s what makes GoSun’s new reusable utensils so neat. They’re designed to pack up into a wallet-sized carrying case, so you can easily slip them inside a purse or wallet and have them with you at all times.

Ember — heated midlayer

Earlier in 2019, up-and-coming outdoor gear startup Sierra Madre launched a Kickstarter to fund the development of an innovative new insulated stuff sack called the Hot Pocket. To bring that product to life, the company developed a cutting-edge thermal panel that’s both lightweight and highly efficient — and now it wants to bake that same technology into a heated midlayer. The Ember, as it’s called is allegedly “10X more powerful than its competitors.” If that claim holds up, it’ll be well worth the $259 its currently going for on Kickstarter.

Pillowdy — hoodie with inflatable neck pillow

Neck pillows have been a staple for air travelers for decades — but why do we only use them when we’re flying? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have one at your disposal wherever you went, so you could catch a quick nap on the bus home? That’s precisely the idea behind Pillowdy. It’s a hoodie with a hidden inflatable neck pillow built into the hood. Whenever you need a quick siesta, just bust out the stowable blow tube and give it a couple of puffs. With less than a lungful of air, your neck pillow will spring to life and provide a place to rest your head.

Square off Neo — automatic chessboard

Here’s a quick cut from our full article, which ran earlier in the week: “Measuring 14.72 inches by 14.72 inches and weighing just 3.3 pounds, the Neo is designed to be a cheaper entryway to Square Off’s smart chess experience. It’s controlled through an app on your phone, which connects to the board via a Bluetooth connection. From there, you can play against Square Off’s built-in A.I. with 30 different difficulty levels. You don’t just have to play against the computer though — the app also connects you to a world of real opponents. Send a challenge and the board handles the rest, transmitting your moves to their chessboard, while theirs are sent to yours.”

Owly Pack — modular backpack

Modular backpacks aren’t necessarily a new thing at this point, but Owly Pack seems pretty remarkable. Thanks to its unique set of swappable modules, you can easily add or remove features as necessary to build out the perfect pack for your particular adventure. For example, if you’re going on a quick and easy day hike and want to keep some drinks cold, you can zip in the cooler module. If you plan on camping where you’re headed, there’s a shelter module that contains a tent/hammock hybrid. And best of all? It’s completely waterproof to boot.

October 27

Skytrek — smarter smart suitcase

Smart suitcases are all the rage these days. They come in a massive range of different shapes, sizes, and configurations, and each one addresses a different pain point that travelers often encounter. The latest addition to this burgeoning category is Skytrek — a unique smart suitcase that’s equipped with some of the simplest and most ingenious features I’ve ever seen. In addition to an innovative vertical packing configuration, it’s also designed to have a flat top when closed, so you can use it as a desk when you’re sitting in the terminal.

Ilumee — short-throw 4K LED projector

Giant TVs are great and all, but they also tend to dominate whatever room you put them in. Even if they’re not on, the big black mass of blank space practically begs you to hit the power button and fill the screen with some moving pictures. Projectors don’t have that problem though. When they’re off, they just chill there, minding their own business until you feel like watching something. The only problem? They’re a pain to set up since they need dedicated mounting space multiple feet back from your viewing screen. The solution? Short-throw projectors like Ilumee. Check out the video — this thing looks amazing.

Incharge 6 — keychain multi-charger

inCharge 6 - The Swiss Army Knife of Cables

If you’re anything like me, you probably keep a bunch of charging cables at your house, at your workplace, and probably even a couple in your backpack or purse just in case. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to fiddle with all those cords, and could just keep one with you for every occasion? Well, that’s exactly what the Incharge 6 is designed for. It’s a 6-in-1 charging cable designed to fit neatly on your keychain, so you always have it with you. It’s equipped with USB, USB-C, MicroUSB, and Lightning connectors, and is designed in such a way that you can swap those ends to create six different configurations.

Princube — handheld color printer

We covered this one earlier in the week, so here’s a quick cut from the full article: “PrinCube is a handheld printer — rather than feeding a sheet of paper into a printer, the user moves the PrinCube across the paper one line at a time. Because the printer sits on the surface instead of using a paper tray, the PrinCube can print on more surfaces than just paper, including cardboard, leather, metal, plastic, fabric, wood, textured surfaces, and even skin for a custom temporary tattoo.”

Switchbot curtain — curtain-opening robot

Automatic curtains have been around for ages, but the vast majority of them require relatively complex installation processes before you can start using them. Switchbot is different. Thanks to its exceptionally clever design, all you have to do is clip it on your curtain rod and hit the On button. Once attached, it’ll drive left or right along the curtain rod, pushing your curtains open or pulling them closed, depending on the direction. Pretty clever, right?

October 20

Eforge — 3D printer for electronics

Over the past several years, the number of materials it’s possible to 3D print with has exploded. Gone are the days of being stuck with PLA and ABS; makers today have access to a huge variety of filament and material types, including (but not limited to) nylon, glass, wood, and even conductive materials. However, even with such an abundance of available materials, it’s still fairly difficult to print ready-made objects — especially electronics. Eforge is an attempt to change that. With six different print heads and a range of electrically conductive materials, this beast is apparently capable of printing ready-to-use electronics — albeit fairly simple ones.

Mochi Robot — screenless coding for kids

Robots that teach kids how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Mochi is special. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen on Kickstarter, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being outrageously simple and intuitive to use (it’s designed for kids between 3 and 6 years old), it’s also designed to teach them the fundamentals of coding and computer logic without using any kind of screen. This way, they don’t have to stare dead-eyed into a tablet and can learn through a more tactile and hands-on process.

Tero — countertop composting device

It sounds crazy, but believe it or not, somewhere around 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. We put all kinds of time and energy into producing it, but we still end up throwing 40 percent of it away and sending it off to a landfill. It’s incredibly wasteful — but Canadian upstart Tero has developed something to help. The company’s eponymous product is essentially a countertop composting machine that takes all your food waste, breaks it down, and uses it to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. It even has stink filters to make sure your kitchen doesn’t end up smelling like rotten food. Pretty nifty, right?

Coolair — lightweight inflatable cooler

Coolers are arguably the most cumbersome piece of outdoor recreation gear in existence. Sure, they’re easy enough to toss in the trunk of your car and fill up with beer, but what if you want to take one with you on a longer hike, or perhaps just down a short trail to the lake? That’s where inflatable coolers come in. Coolair certainly isn’t the first entrant into this category, but it appears to be one of the best — at least in terms of design. Check out the video above to get a peek at some of the exceptionally clever features on this sucker.

Solidteknics Oz — wrought-iron skillet

Cast-iron skillets are, in many ways, the best cooking implement ever. They provide supremely even and consistent heat, you can put them in the oven, and if you care for them properly, they’ll last a lifetime. But they do have some downsides, too. In addition to being a pain to maintain, they’re also ridiculously heavy. Luckily, Solidteknics has devised an ingenious solution to this problem by using wrought iron instead of cast-iron. The company’s new line of pans is claimed to cook exactly like traditional cast-iron, but without being so heavy and unruly.

October 13

Adaptalux — flexible lighting for macro photography

If there’s one thing Kickstarter is good for, it’s super-creative photography accessories. The latest addition? Adaptalux Flash Arms — a hyper-specific yet totally ingenious lighting solution designed for macro photography. It’s basically a xenon bulb flash system that lives on the end of a set of gooseneck-style flexible arms, which allows you to position them closer to your subject and theoretically get better shots. Stuff like this — exceedingly clever but too niche for any big manufacturer to chase — is precisely the kind of stuff that probably wouldn’t be possible without crowdfunding.

Legion Solar 4 — simplified solar panels

These aren’t your average solar panels. In addition to being completely plug-and-play (in other words, you don’t need professional help to install them), they also come with a super clever inverter system that allows you to use grid-tied solar energy without any special permission from your utility company. “We created SolarRegulator, an artificial intelligence computer to contain generated energy behind your meter where the utility company does not own,” the company explains. “Energy production of each micro-inverter is controlled so that energy production is less than or equal to energy consumption, allowing you to generate your own electricity unrestricted. [Your] utility company only sees less consumption from you, not a grid-tied solar system. As a result, it is not necessary to seek interconnection permission pertaining to utility company-approved grid-tied solar systems.”

Orbi Marine — waterproof, 360-degree video glasses

360-degree cameras are a dime a dozen these days, but just like most action cams, you still have to hold them or awkwardly mount them on your body somewhere. That’s less than ideal if you’re trying to film while doing something active. Furthermore, very few of them are waterproof — but Orbi Marine aims to solve both these problems in a single stroke. It’s basically a set of rugged, waterproof glasses with built-in cameras positioned at various points along their frame/body. So, in addition to allowing you to film totally hands-free, these spectacles can also go anywhere with you — including the lake. Just don’t try to wear them to a fashion show!

Whistler — self-healing windbreaker

High-performance textiles have come a long way in the past couple of decades, and now gear manufacturers have a veritable boatload of different materials to choose from when designing stuff. There’s super-lightweight stuff like Dyneema, insanely strong stuff like Spectra, and even waterproof stuff like GoreTex or Futurelight. But the material in Whistler windbreaker makes the aforementioned textiles seem like they’re from the Stone Age. This sucker is made from something called HiloTech nylon — a material that has self-healing abilities. If it ever gets punctured, all you need to do is pinch the fabric around the hole and rub it between your fingers. Due to the material’s unique construction, this slight bit of friction and heat will cause the fibers to bond with each other and fuse together again — thereby filling the puncture.

Zero Co — Low-waste household goods

Single-use plastic is going the way of the dodo. It started with plastic grocery bags, and then we moved on to plastic straws. More recently, there’s been a movement to eradicate plastic utensils. Next, if Zero Co has its way, we’ll ditch single-use containers for household goods. The company has developed a system of reusable containers paired with a subscription-based mail-in refill program. The idea is that instead of buying a new bottle of window cleaner, laundry detergent, or whatever, they send you new ones when you run out, and you simply mail in your empty containers.

October 6

Bijou — pocket-sized projector

Tiny projectors aren’t a new thing at this point, but this one is remarkably small. Like, so small that you can comfortably fit it in your pocket. Yet, despite the fact that it’s roughly the same dimensions as a deck of playing cards, it’s also equipped with some damn decent features. For example, it uses a MEMS laser beam scanning technology that allegedly allows it to project images at greater distances than DLP projection does, with better focus, and also with deeper blacks. I’m not sure how much I believe these claims, but if the creators deliver on their promises, this thing is practically guaranteed to be awesome.

Hunt23 — prybar flashlight

Flashlights are a handy thing to have with you at all times, but most people will agree that lugging around a full-sized flashlight is a bit of a pain. More often than not, it’s easier just to skip the flashlight altogether and just use an app on your smartphone. But what if there was a flashlight so small that you’d hardly even notice you’re carrying it? That’s where the Hunt23 comes in. In addition to being one of the smallest torches in the world, it’s also equipped with a fully functional prybar on the end. So now, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to pry staples out of hardwood flooring in the dark, you’ll be prepared!

Tetracube — sustainable smartphone

Smartphones are a crucial part of modern digital life, but unfortunately, they’re pretty awful for the environment. In addition to being filled with rare earth metals that can only be obtained through environmentally damaging mining operations, they also have relatively short lifespans and can leech toxic chemicals when discarded improperly. Tetracube aims to address all these issues. How? With a phone that’s guaranteed to last for at least 4 years.

Shine — automatic toilet cleaner

Shine Bathroom: Automate Toilet Cleaning & Maintenance w/ Subtitles

Cleaning your toilet is arguably the worst household chore there is, and as such, there are tons of different cleaning products that aim to make it easier and less of a hassle. Shine is the latest entrant into this long-standing product category, and it’s got some neat tricks up its sleeve that help differentiate it from the rest of the pack. To clean your throne, it uses electrolyzed water — which sounds like total BS, but it’s actually legit, and was developed in Japan to sanitize high-bacteria environments like sushi restaurants, without introducing harmful chemicals. Best of all, Shine is also voice-activated, so you can shout commands at it just like you do with Alexa.

Transformer Table 3.0 — expanding table and bench

This thing is brilliant. It’s essentially an expanding table that, when fully extended, can accommodate 12 people — but that also collapses down small enough to be a table for two. The secret is a super clever rail system that’s hidden underneath, and not only provides support for table leaves but can also extend to whatever length you desire. This is actually the third iteration of the Transformer Table, and it now comes with a nifty coffee table that you can store unused leaves in, or use as a furniture piece in its own right. Be prepared though: this thing ain’t cheap!

September 29

Move — direct-to-consumer grocery service

You know how Warby Parker disrupted the eyeglass industry with a direct-to-consumer business model that cuts out the middleman (eyeglass retailers) and was, therefore, able to sell high-end glasses for drastically less than the competition? Remember how the same thing happened to the mattress industry when companies like Tuft & Needle and Casper figured out how to ship mattresses directly to your door? Well now, a company called Move wants to apply the same idea to grocery shopping. By cutting out the middleman, the company claims it can deliver groceries to your house for less than it costs you to buy them in a store. Now that’s an idea we can get behind!

Doer — compact, portable toolshed

This thing is nothing short of amazing. It’s basically a cross between a tool shed and a Swiss Army Knife. Inside, you’ll find a cordless drill, a drill press, a scroll saw, a circular saw, a table saw, two kinds of hot wire cutter, a table sander, a mini lathe, a work light, and a lantern. Best of all, though, thanks to either black magic or extremely advanced Tetris skills, all of these tools somehow pack up and fit into a box no bigger than an average-sized cooler — which is why its creators are calling it “the most compact toolshed ever.” Shut up and take my money!

Keychron K4 — optimized wireless mechanical keyboard

Kickstarter has hosted hundreds — maybe even thousands — of keyboard projects over the years, and of all those projects, Keychron was behind three of the best. Now, the company is back with its fourth project: The Keychron K4. In the words of its creators, it’s “ a 96% wireless mechanical keyboard. It has full-size functionality in a compact design with 100 necessary keys. It features two premium switch options enabling peak productivity, a great tactile typing experience, and a minimalist, unique, and sturdy design. With 15+ RGB backlights and a large battery capacity of 4000mAh, K4 is a power-packed keyboard for all keyboard enthusiasts.”

Mudita Pure — minimalist e-ink phone

At this point, it’s no secret that screens are bad for our health — both mentally and physically. The science is pretty definitive: Focusing on things at a fixed distance for prolonged periods of time weakens our eyeballs and make our eyesight deteriorate, while blasting blue light into our rods and cones disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. And don’t even get me started on how addicted we are to our phones. Mudita is an attempt to alleviate these problems. Instead of a bright, colorful screen, it uses an e-ink display that doesn’t emit any artificial light. In theory, this should help you avoid too much blue light exposure, and also avoid the irresistible urge to check all those colorful notification icons.

Tilt Five — holographic tabletop gaming system

When it comes to augmented reality, everyone in the consumer electronics industry seems to be racing toward the same goal: The creation of an all-powerful, all-purpose set of AR glasses. But the thing is, AR doesn’t need to be all-purpose. What if you applied augmented reality to a very specific use case? That’s the idea behind Tilt Five, an innovative and highly specialized take on AR that focuses on tabletop gaming. I won’t even try to explain any more than that — this is one where the pitch video paints a much more vivid picture than I ever could.

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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…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

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Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

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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."

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