Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

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.”

January 13

Matrix Powerwatch 2 — bodyheat-powered smart watch

Here’s a quick excerpt from our hands-on review, which ran earlier in the week: “Matrix, a California-based company, is known to use body heat to charge its Indiegogo-funded smartwatches, the PowerWatch and the PowerWatch X. At CES 2019, the company took things a step further with its latest device, the PowerWatch 2, which comes with aesthetic upgrades, along with the ability to juice up with solar power.

The PowerWatch 2 retails for $500 and is now available for pre-order through Indiegogo. As a part of an early-bird promotion, those who do pre-order the device can snag it for $200.  One of our main gripes with the original PowerWatch is that it simply didn’t do enough. That has been remedied with the PowerWatch 2, and the work Matrix has done to limit the need to take the watch off to charge it continues to impress.

Zumi — A.I. teaching robot

Robots that teach you how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Zumi is special. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen, it’s arguably one of the most intriguing. Why? Well, instead of simply teaching you how to code, this little robot teaches you the fundamentals of A.I. and autonomous cars — two things that will soon become an integral skill in tomorrow’s workforce.

“Zümi is the first educational self-driving car kit that will teach you about the concept of artificial intelligence and self-driving car technology in a fun and engaging way.” the creators explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “With our friendly step-by-step tutorials, you will be able to train her on how to navigate through a miniature map in less than an hour. The more she learns, the better she’ll get.”

Waan — high-end lightsaber

Ever since it first debuted in the original Star Wars films, the light saber has been coveted by pretty much everyone — geek or otherwise. The only problem is, unlike most weapons born in the realm of science fiction, lightsabers still don’t exist. We’ve got lasers, electromagnetic pulse cannons, rail guns, and basically every other sci-fi weapon you could ever imagine, but the technology to create a real, working lightsabers doesn’t exist yet. We’re sure it’ll happen eventually, but for now, we’ve got to settle for the next best thing: Waan.

According to its creators, this lightsaber was “designed in France by a team of passionate researchers and designers, with every detail having been studied and scrupulously validated. The handle design, blade strength, easy and quick blade change, all without any tools. But WAAN’s biggest innovation is how its sounds and the perfect responsiveness we achieved whether through its built-in speaker or via Bluetooth. We don’t use embedded pre-recorded sound banks, but a complex algorithm and a powerful DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to generate the audio flow in real time. WAAN is, without a doubt, a truly exceptional lightsaber.”

ADCase — drop-detecting smartphone case

Here’s a quick cut from our full article: “While most phone cases do a stellar job of protecting handsets when they hit the deck, some drops prove too much, leaving you with a damaged handset and a costly repair bill.  To alleviate this issue, an engineering student at Aalen University in Germany has taken it upon himself to design a fully working phone protector that springs into action just before the handset hits the ground.

The German Mechatronics Society was so taken by the design that it awarded the student, Philip Frenzel, a national prize for his efforts.  Frenzel’s device comprises a slim case with four prongs located inside each corner. When the sensor detects the phone is falling, the prongs automatically deploy, preventing any part of the phone from hitting the ground.  One notable advantage over airbag systems is that the device can be quickly reset by pushing the prongs back inside the case.”

Volo — cordless hair dryer

Here’s Jenny McGrath with the scoop: “After we went to check out a new cordless hair dryer at CES 2019, a few of our colleagues were surprised: “Doesn’t that already exist?” It seems like it should. After all, there are cordless curling irons, shavers, and other bathroom appliances — convenient for a room with often limited outlets. But Volo claims its Go Cordless Dryer is the first of its kind.

The Go debuted at last year’s CES, but now it’s live on Kickstarter.. You probably don’t want to turn on the device if your hair is sopping wet, as the cordless dryer only has about 14 minutes of battery life on full power. On medium, it lasts for 24 minutes, but it can run for over an hour on its cool setting.  Unlike your typical hair dryer, the Go uses infrared heat. That makes it faster and makes the results less frizzy, according to Jonathan Friedman, co-founder and president of Volo.”

Photography

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.
Cars

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.
Music

The best new music this week: Angelo De Augustine and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: New albums from Angelo De Augustine and Miss Grit.
Smart Home

Suvie smart cooler and cooker is on display at CES 2019, ready for pre-orders

It was almost one year ago when we had our first look at Suvie, the cooling and cooking countertop robot. This week Suvie's creators had the clever cooker on display at CES 2019. Suvie is ready now for pre-orders with shipping in June 2019.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
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