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From Buzzfeed to Co.Design, media outlets love to tease their readers with the latest and greatest tech. App-enabled spice racks. 3D-printed furniture. Invisible bike helmets. Most of these concepts are lauded as game-changers, but thanks to high price points and long development times, few are actually available for purchase—right here, right now. To help you gear up for 2014, here are ten exciting exceptions.
Tech blogs have long swooned over videos of NeverWet, a silicone nano-coating that can waterproof (really, truly waterproof) just about anything. The product's power is a wonder to behold: Chocolate syrup slides off cotton like rain off a force field. Now, after a painstaking wait, the magic has finally gone mass market in the form of a simple, versatile spray.
While the Lytro Light Field Camera wasn’t designed by Tony Stark, it does show all the telltale signs. Its compact aluminum frame is packed with high-tech features, including touchscreen controls, an 8x zoom, and a unique light field sensor, which allows you to refocus an image long after it was taken. If that sounds too good to be true, just see the results for yourself.
These days, we have sensors for just about anything—smoke, movement, sound—but what about a sensor for everything? Quirky’s app-enabled Spotter can track motion, sound, light, temperature, and humidity, and send tailored alerts to your mobile device. Since parameters can be customized, the applications are endless: You can use the sonic sensor as a baby monitor, or the motion sensor as a cookie security system, all at the push of a button.
Though groundbreaking in theory, most motion-capture devices are too unreliable for anything more than Dance Dance Revolution. The exception is Leap Motion, a sensor that can track your hands through 3D space with incredible pinpoint precision. This allows you to manipulate 3D models, navigate desktops, and play games by simply moving yours hands. For more potential use cases, browse their ever-growing app library.
Not all inventions are born of cutting-edge technology. Some are just simple, astounding ideas that change our lives forever. This Adjustable Heat Hot Sauce has won our hearts twenty times over, with a magic dial that adjusts the flavor from mild to megawatt. It’s like some mad genius condensed a vast hot sauce library into one, tear-jerking bottle.
As the first great success of the Kickstarter movement, the Pebble Watch set some high expectations. Now, nearly two years later, we’re pleased to find that it lives up to the hype. This $150 device features everything you could want in a futuristic wristwatch, including push notifications from your smartphone, a robust lineup of apps, and complete customization to suit your personal style.
Undergarments may not be glamorous, but they’re an everyday essential, so a great leap forward has the potential to change your life forever. To up the underwear ante, Tommy John crafted what might be the finest pair on Earth: It doesn’t ride, chafe, or retain moisture, and comes with a handy pocket for valuables. Heck, in a true testament to the details, they even designed a quick-draw fly.
Between the NSA, Google, and hacker groups like Anonymous, most Internet users assume they’re being watched—constantly. This may be the case, but the Pogoplug SafePlug offers an easy way to fight back. The $50 device connects directly to your router, and feeds your online activity through the privacy-protecting Tor network, which makes tracking all but impossible. No software downloads, no special browsers, and no fees: just sweet, sweet anonymity.
If you thought unmanned drones couldn’t get any more sci-fi, consider yourself corrected. The Puzzlebox Orbit is a digital flyer that’s controlled by your brainwaves. Your brainwaves. A headset tracks your neural activity, and translates the data into action signals for the drone. The controls are pretty rudimentary, but since the project is open-source, users will soon be churning out ideas for how to improve, use, and hopefully abuse this incredible tech.
We're fudging the rules for this last entry, since this product is still in preorder. That said, we’ll eat our ties if this demo video doesn’t make you crack a smile. Using extruder technology from a 3D printer, the 3Doodler superheats ABS plastic, which cools on contact with air, allowing you to draw objects and intricate designs in three-dimensional space. It’s like a 3D-printing pen. Or a magic wand. We honestly can’t decide.
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