In Pictures: 10 obscure technologies that could change the world

Technology breakthroughs that many people don't even know exist.

  • Get to know these technologies In the world of tech, there is no shortage of well-known products that make our lives easier and more enjoyable. At the same time, there are also a number of fascinating and groundbreaking technologies and products that remain somewhat under the radar. Here are a few examples of cool products you might not have heard of.

  • LifeStraw LifeStraw is an ingenious product capable of immediately filtering contaminated water and rendering it safe and drinkable. While the device cannot filter out viruses, it is nonetheless extremely helpful in areas where access to safe and clean drinking water isn't readily available. There are many variants of LifeStraw products, including a "pipe" that can filter out worm larvae from contaminated water. Some of the waterborne diseases it combats includes hepatitis E, typhoid fever, dysentery, and cholera.

  • SCiO Pocket Molecular Sensor A successful Kickstarter project with over $2.76 million in funding, the SCiO pocket molecular sensor lets users scan and obtain information about the chemical makeup of materials and physical objects. Once an item is scanned, the chemical makeup is compared against items in a cloud-based database, and the information about the item is sent back to a smartphone. The device is capable of scanning food (for nutritional information), medicines, plants (for health purposes), oils, plastics, wood and more. The device works by shining a light on an object and using a spectrometer to analyze the properties of the light reflected back.

  • Sugru Suguru is like Play-Doh on steroids, which is to say you can mold it, manipulate it, and stick it to things. What makes Sugru so uniquely interesting is that it can actually be used to build, seal, and bind objects together. Twenty-four hours after it is applied, Suguru becomes an extremely durable, flexible, and waterproof silicone rubber capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions. In 2010, it was listed as one of TIME Magazine's top inventions of the year. It's not terribly well known, but it's incredibly useful.

  • Liftware Liftware (now owned by Google) comprises a series of products which operate to counteract hand tremors some individuals might experience while eating. Simply attach a Liftware device to an eating utensil and the "stabilizing handle" uses a series of motion sensors that can distinguish between unwanted hand tremors and intended movements. When a tremor is detected, motors inside the handle move it in the opposite direction, thereby reducing the incidence of food spillage while eating. The product works best for individuals with mild to moderate tremors.

  • Kevo Bluetooth Lock Touted as an advanced e-key, Kevo is a smart lock system that syncs with an iOS or Android device. Instead of fumbling around reaching for keys, simply take out your phone and tap to unlock. What makes this particularly cool is that you can send access codes to friends so they can enter your home without a physical copy of the key. You can also set up access codes with predetermined time constraints, perfect for those times when you want to give a friend access to your apartment for a day, but not necessarily indefinitely. A Kevo Bluetooth deadbolt won't come cheap, however. You can pick one up for around $200 at Best Buy.

  • XStat syringe This innovative device provides a quicker way for soldiers to treat wounds on the battlefield. The device itself is essentially a syringe filled with dozens of tiny sponges. Once injected, the sponges expand, apply pressure, and ultimately plug a fresh wound, thereby preventing a victim from bleeding out. When applied properly, the device can plug a wound in less than 15 seconds, much faster than more traditional methods. The device was just recently approved by the FDA and, not surprisingly, has received upwards of $5 million in funding from the U.S. military.

  • Circuit Scribe A clever invention with over half a million dollars in Kickstarter funding, the Circuit Scribe is a pen that writes with conductive silver ink. The result? Creating and experimenting with functional circuit designs is as simple as can be.

  • Foldscope Developed by some smart folks at Stanford, the Foldscope, as the name somewhat implies, is a microscope crafted primarily out of paper. Via simple instructions, users can transform what otherwise seems like a flat sheet of paper into a usable microscope, a clever invention with important implications in education and global health.

  • Foldable bike helmet Unfortunately, not everyone opts to wear a bike helmet because it can be clumsy to travel with and hold. The solution? A foldable bike helmet. Invented by Jeff Woolf out of England, the product surpassed its fundraising goal and has received coverage from a who’s who in the tech media. As it stands now, the product is slated to go on sale in the U.S. in early 2015.

  • Virtual Keyboard This nifty product uses a laser projection system to turn any flat surface into a virtual keyboard. As you type, the device’s advanced optics system tracks your finger movements and registers your keystrokes. From there, it transmits what you’re typing to either your smartphone or tablet device via Bluetooth. This isn’t just some prototype; it can be purchased today for just $119.

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