Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Universal cables, ultraloud speakers, cheap LiDAR

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.

Soundboks — Ultraloud battery powered speaker

Most portable speakers require an AC adapter if you really want to crank the volume. But this new crowdfunded speaker breaks that rule. Soundboks, as its called, is designed to deliver up to 30 hours of nightclub-level decibels off a single battery charge.

Soundboks uses custom-designed amplifiers that help to enhance battery life while optimizing sound for outdoor usage. Under the hood it boasts a pair each of 96 dB low-frequency drivers, 98 dB high-frequency dynamic drivers, and 42-Watt digital amps. With its dual-phase boost function, this speaker is designed to generate up to maximum 119 dB of sound. The volume dial – quite literally – turns to an 11 for an experience similar to that of a live concert.

Read more here.

Plastic bottle cutter — Turn plastic bottles into plastic cord

Instead of sending plastic bottles off to a recycling plant, why not figure out a way to “upcycle” them and make something useful with them?  That’s precisely the idea behind the aptly-named “plastic bottle cutter” — a brilliant, pocket-sized cutting tool that can turn any plastic bottle into a strong, versatile strand of rope. It’s incredibly simple too — the entire device consists of just three parts: a wooden handle, a razor blade, and an aluminum cutting guide.

To use the device, you start by grabbing an empty plastic bottle and cutting off the bottom portion. After that, you simply insert the bottle into the tool’s slot, and give a couple twists until the tip of a strand has formed. Just pull on the strand and watch the bottle magically unspool into a strip of plastic rope! The long, thin strand of plastic can be used for just about anything — lashing bits of wood together, hanging up clothes to dry, or even (as the video shows) towing your car. As it turns out, plastic is pretty damn strong.

Read more here.

Sweep — Easy, affordable LiDAR sensor

If you’ve heard of LiDAR before, chances are you heard about it being used as part of a big, expensive project like Daimler’s self-driving Inspiration truck, or the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics. It’s not a technology that you typically see in low-budget DIY projects — and for good reason. As far as sensor technologies go, LiDAR is typically one of the more expensive ones you can get, which means that the tech is largely inaccessible to the average joe.

Sweep aims to change that. Freshly launched on Kickstarter, Sweep is a scanning LiDAR sensor designed to bring powerful 360 degree sensing capabilities to everyone for an affordable price. “We wanted a scanning LiDAR for our projects and couldn’t find anything that was powerful enough and easy to use for a price we could afford,” the creators say. “Comparable sensors are $1,000 and up, so we set out to develop one ourselves. We’re raising money on Kickstarter to manufacture the Sweep so we can get them into the hands of makers, roboticists, drone enthusiasts, and students.”

Read more here.

Virtuali-Tee — Virtual-reality t-shirt

Everyone loves a cool t-shirt, but what if your funky new skeleton t-shirt were actually a VR anatomy lesson? A startup by the name of Curiscope has created just that: Virtualit-Tee aims to give kids a cool way to bring anatomy out of textbooks and into the real world. The t-shirt looks like a stylized skeleton design at first glance, but when viewed through the accompanying mobile app, the shirt displays everything from bones to organs and blood vessels.

The 3D anatomy experience can be viewed through the Virtuali-Tee app on a smartphone or tablet. Viewing is directionally programmed so that you can tilt, pan, and zoom just by moving your device, and dive into your friend’s virtual guts to see how the body works up close. Virtuali-Tee and the mobile app are also enabled for viewing with a VR headset to make the experience more immersive. “Too often we feel detached from learning”, said Ed Barton, CEO of Curiscope. “This kind of technology lets us interact with the anatomy and explore it in animated 3D, and this kind of learning can happen anywhere, at any time.”

Read more here.

LMcable — Universal charger for iPhone and Android

Although the video for LMCable makes it seem like more of a hassle in life than it really is, the fact that Apple and Android devices have different charge cables is a pain in the neck sometimes. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one cord that could work for both? Someone has finally come along to fix this minor inconvenience that plagues our lives. LMCable, as it’s called, lets you charge both types of devices with a single universal cable.

So how the hell is this possible? It’s all about the unique connector design, which has two-in-one functionality. Charging a device with a Micro USB connector means turning the cable header one way, and juicing up a device with a Lightning connector only requires you to flip the cable. That’s as simple and as complicated as it gets. The other end is just a standard USB Type-A connector, so it will work with just about every USB charger ever built.

Read more here.

Emerging Tech

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

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's fun to gawk!

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.

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.

The Unevn One is a portable desk that brings PC gaming on the road

Bringing a gaming PC outside your usual setup can be a challenge, but the Unevn One is the first all-in-one, portable gaming desk complete with a computer chassis and integrated monitor mount.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.