Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

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.”

March 17

Dubler Studio Kit — voice-based MIDI controller

If you’ve ever used a program like Ableton, Logic, or ProTools, you know first-hand just how difficult they can be. They’re just too feature-rich for the average person to use, so without extensive training, taking the song in your head and recreating it with software is a hugely difficult process.

Dubler is an attempt to alleviate that. Rather than forcing you to learn how to navigate through complex digital audio workstation interfaces, it allows you to create music naturally and intuitively with your voice. By mapping various mouth noises to the sounds you want, you can build a track just by beatboxing and talking into the microphone. Check out the video to see what we mean.

Formaggio — fully automatic cheese-making machine

Good cheese is hard to find in the US. We just don’t have the cheesemaking culture (pun intended) that places like France and Switzerland do, so we typically settle for crappy processed cheese made by Kraft or some other giant corporation. We do have good cheese too, but it’s often outrageously expensive.

That’s the problem that Formaggio is here to solve. It’s a countertop cheesemaking machine that completely automates the process, allowing you to make fresh cheese at home for a fraction of what it costs to buy in the store. It does come with a pretty hefty upfront cost, but if you eat a lot of cheese this thing could easily pay for itself in under a year.

Fluxbag 3.0 — quick inflation bag

Inflating things is arguably one of the most tedious activities you can possibly engage in. it doesn’t matter if its a bag of balloons, an air mattress, or a float tube — regardless of the vessel, inflating it blows both literally and figuratively.

Fluxbag aims to make the process less annoying. The idea is pretty simple — you inflate the bag by blowing into it once, then sealing off the end. Thanks to Bernouli’s Principle, one breath is all it takes. After that, you plug the bag’s release valve into whatever you’re trying to inflate, and squeeze the air into it. Apparently it’s faster than using a hand pump, and also requires less effort. Neat, right?

Udrone — mind-controlled drone

*UPDATE: as of 3/15/19, the Udrone project has been suspended by Kickstarter for unknown reasons. We’ll keep an eye on it, but for now, things aren’t looking good.

Gadgets you can control with your brainwaves have been around for ages, but due to the fact that brain-control interfaces are typically imprecise and inconsistent, they haven’t really caught on. However, the technology has come a long way in the past few years, and now it’s apparently reliable good enough to control a drone.

The Udrone, as it’s called, comes with an EEG headband that reads your brainwaves, so all you have to do is concentrate on what you want the drone to do, and it’ll happen. We’re a bit skeptical about this one, but if it works as well as they suggest it does, it’ll be awesome.

Travel Sax — portable electronic saxophone

You know those electronic drum sets that connect to your headphones so you can drum your heart out without waking the neighbors? Travel Sax is basically that exact same idea, but applied to the saxophone.

It’s essentially an ultra-compact electronic sax that has all the same keys as a traditional saxophone, but doesn’t make any noise. Instead, it sends an audio signal to your headphones, which means you can practice anywhere you go without annoying everyone around you.

March 10

Metafly — insect-inspired wing drone

Drones come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations these days. Quadcopters are certainly the most popular and widely available version, but thanks to the ever-evolving nature of technology, there’s a new category available to UAV enthusiasts: wing drones. Specifically, wing drones that flap and fly like birds, bats, and insects do. You might remember the Bionic Bird from a few years ago. Now, the creator of that device is back with a smaller, lighter, and more insect-like version of the same idea. Meet the Metafly.

“MetaFly is the result of more than 50 years of flight research and development,” the creator explains on Kickstarter. “It’s A biomimetic flying robot you can control in the air with a remote controller. Its advanced technology allows it to be as light and miniaturized as a big insect. It is flexible, light (less than 10 grams), flies with elegant and curves and trajectories, and can even glide.  It’s also silent and resistant against impacts. It is intended to enjoy flying like an animal, not to take pictures.”

Lifestraw Home — advanced filter pitcher

You know Lifestraw? That outdoor water filter that lets you drink from streams and lakes, and filters while you suck? Well the company has been a one-trick pony for years, but now it’s back with its second product ever — a filter pitcher designed for your home. Here’s a quick cut from our full article:

“The company hopes to go far beyond what your average home water filter is capable of. LifeStraw claims the membrane microfilter is estimated to filter out nearly 100 percent of harmful bacteria like E. coli and more. It also filters out nearly 100 percent of parasites and microplastics. The pore size on the filter is just 0.2 microns — to put that in perspective, that’s two-millionths of a meter, or smaller than most bacteria.

Beyond the membrane microfilter lies the activated carbon and ion exchange filter. This serves a more practical purpose: Reducing that awful chlorine flavor and bad odors in water. Clean water should smell clean. It also reduces the amount of heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and others. It lasts for up to two months or about 40 gallons of water.”

Jasper Wool Eco Chukka — world’s most eco-friendly shoe

Here’s an excerpt from our full article: “Two companies that are known for their forward-thinking design and environmentally conscious approach to production have collaborated on a new shoe that is proving to be quite a hit on Kickstarter. Sole and United By Blue introduced the Jasper Wool Eco Chukka on Monday, March 4, and managed to hit their crowdfunding goal in less than 90 minutes.

What makes the Eco Chukka so enticing? Well for starters, its designers claim that it’s the most eco-friendly shoe on the planet, which is hard to argue with when you take a look at how it’s made. For example, the shoe’s sole is made from recycled cork leftover from wine bottles. This is a surprisingly durable and effective replacement for other materials used in footwear, most of which are typically petroleum-based or made from plastic.

Bamboo fabrics replace cotton as well, reducing the amount of water needed for production by as much as 65 percent. The Eco Chukka even uses rubber made from rice and a flexible foam created from algae, too. If that wasn’t enough, the shoe is lined with merino wool and insulated with bison fur, both of which score high marks in terms of performance and sustainability.

Optishokz Revves — bone conduction sunglasses

These suckers are made by a company called Aftershokz, which is arguably the world’s foremost producer of bone conduction headphones. For this product, the company went in a slightly different direction, though. Instead of simple headphones, they’ve built the same bone conduction tech into a pair of sunglasses, which provides a number of nifty benefits.

Unlike “traditional” smart glasses, Revves glasses have no display. Users interact with the device through taps on its touch capacitive arms, and receive auditory feedback via the built-in bone conduction headphones. This essentially means you can get information delivered to your ears without having to wear earbuds all day, so you’ll still be able to hear the world around you without issue. And that’s not all — Revves spectacles also boast a microphone, which allows you to make calls, and opens up the potential for voice commands

Vabroom — broom/vacuum hybrid

Here’s an excerpt from our full article: “The appropriately named Vabroom is essentially a vacuum cleaner and broom all in one, but don’t let its name deceive you: It’s more broom than vacuum.

The idea is simple: Sweep your floors like normal, but rather than reach for the dustpan, flip the broom nozzle-side down and apply pressure. This will activate the nozzle and turn on the power in the vacuum. In theory, you can suck up all the debris you swept up and never reach for a dustpan again.

The Vabroom can hold up to one cup of dirt and debris in its clear container before it needs to be emptied out. A rear-oriented quick-release button makes it easy to pop out the container, and the 30-ounce weight of the entire device makes it easy for anyone to use. The vacuum is powered by a 14,000 RPM motor that takes four AA batteries. According to Vabroom’s creator, the batteries should give it around 500 uses per charge.”

Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Podcasts

James Gunn Returns, Avengers: Endgame Trailer, Apple's Time Bandits TV show

On this week's show, we've got a colorful collection of topics, from the Avengers: Endgame trailer to a Time Bandits TV show to a possible Netflix/Spielberg truce regarding their reported Oscars war. Join us live or take our podcast with…
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
1 of 5