Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

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 24

Tombot — lifelike robotic dog

Here’s a quick cut from our full article: “Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot canine, and move over, Sony’s Aibo! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend. Their hyper-realistic Golden Labrador retriever promises to carry out many of the cuter functions of a real dog, from wagging its tail when stroked to responding realistically when its name is called. It’s not just a novelty bit of fun, either: Its creator hopes that Tombot could become an invaluable robotic emotional support animal for people with a range of mental health conditions.

“‘We are focused on filling the emotional void for those who cannot safely or practically care for a live animal,’ Tom Stevens, founder and CEO of Tombot, told Digital Trends. Stevens said that the path to developing Tombot began after his mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. ‘Of the many difficult days we had soon after her diagnosis, by far the worst was when I had to remove her dog,’ he said. Looking around for a substitute, Stevens couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. This ultimately led to him studying the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.”

Singtrix — computer-aided karaoke

Autotune and other voice-correction tech is certainly nothing new at this point, but it wasn’t until recently that you could get it built directly into your karaoke machine. Nowadays, there are a handful of home karaoke machines that can fix your voice on the fly.

Singtrix basically takes that idea and expands on it. In addition to correcting pitch and augmenting your voice with various effects, the machine also allows you to map your voice to different elements of the song you’re singing — meaning you can sing that sweet guitar solo, and the sounds will actually sound like guitar. Pretty sweet, right?

Dreampad — speaker for your pillow

Listening to music or white noise while you sleep is awesome. In addition to relaxing you, it also helps you drown out the outside world and sleep without interruption. The thing is, it’s also not for everyone. Some people just don’t like sleeping with ambient noise playing — and if you happen to share a bed with one of those people, your only option is to wear headphones all night.

Dreampad is a solution to this (admittedly very niche) problem. Instead of blasting music into the room or forcing you to don earbuds all night, it’s designed to deliver sound through your pillow. Just slip this sucker in your pillowcase and you’ll hear tunes whenever you lay your head down — but your bedfellow won’t hear a damn thing.

Active Puzzle — jigsaw puzzle robot

Robots that teach kids STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills are a dime a dozen these days. While most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, Active Puzzle is special. Of all the coding/STEM skill-building toys we’ve ever seen, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being super clever, Active Puzzle is also designed to teach kids STEM principles in a very hands-on and interactive way — one that doesn’t require them to gaze unblinkingly into a screen for hours on end.

Instead, Active Puzzle allows kids (and adults!) to learn the fundamentals of robotics and programming by simply snapping together various electronically augmented jigsaw puzzle pieces. Depending on the configuration of your creation, your robot will have different abilities and uses.

Simple Lasagna Pan — best lasagna pan in the universe

Here’s a quick excerpt clipped from the Kickstarter campaign page: “Nothing is more satisfying than a homemade, fresh-from-the-oven lasagna. But in a conventional pan, the dish sure can get sloppy in a hurry. After the first few servings are removed, the layers slump, the noodles slide, and that formerly picture-perfect lasagna usually begins to look … well, a lot less appetizing. (You’ll know you’re in trouble when your dinner guests put down their forks and reach for their spoons.)

“Our Simple Lasagna Pan offers a simple solution. The pan’s unique sidewalls keep the noodles and layers neatly stacked, regardless of how many portions are removed. Lasagna also bakes more consistently in the Simple Lasagna Pan because more heat is circulated to the pan’s middle, where food typically takes longer to bake. It’s a far more precise way to bake, and the last serving will always look (and taste) as good as the first.”

Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
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Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

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