We spend a lot of time here exposing you to the gadgets and technologies out there already making your life easier and more interesting "today." But the truth is, behind the scenes, our favorite pastime is actually sniffing around for those gadgets still in the idea phase. We're constantly searching for these electronic monstrosities so far ahead of their time that only concept designers dare tackle giving such products a face and a name. After the jump, take a peek into our future fetish and 10 nonexistent — but awesome — tech toys that take our gadget lust to a more advanced level.
10. Dattoos: Interactive Tattoos
No one brings concept design to reality like Frog Design. Winners of numerous design awards over the years, Frog has become synonymous with powerful technology meeting artistic design. So when we found Frog's Dattoo (interactive tattoo) concept, it was like finding futurist gold. Designed by Hartmut Esslinger, Dattoos would conceivably bring us to that final convergence of man and machine. The Dattoos would offer: DNA-reader and identification technology, nanosensors and interactive "touch reading," full voice interaction, bionic nano chips and various cybernetic components. While Dattoos would definitely look cool, what Esslinger is imagining here is nothing short of the Borg. But hey, who said being a mindless drone working within a hive mind had to be drab?
9. Astrium Spaceplane
The race to full-on space tourism is in full swing, but we're still in the early stages of the industry, so naturally style and comfort has taken a backseat to safety and practicality. The Astrium Spaceplane looks to up the ante and allow spacefaring travelers the opportunity to look into infinity whilst nestled in comfortable and familiar surroundings. Australian designer Marc Newson's concept vehicle doesn't propel passengers into a far-out science-fiction realm, but if the near term of space tourism really looks like this the spaceports will likely be jam-packed and delayed like your favorite local commercial airport in no time.
8. Custom Kicks
Sneaker culture has transcended the world of fashion and transformed into an art form unto itself. Brand loyalty and price-tag importance has fallen by the wayside as pure originality and exclusive design have become the mark of a true sneaker aficionado. But nowadays, finding one of those unseen designs has become even more difficult. Enter Custom Kicks, a concept designed by the Inventables studio. Custom Kicks would allow wearers to instantly change the design of their shoes on the fly with a mere push of a button. Using a tiny iPod-like device, sneaker fanatics would beam a new pre-designed pattern to their feet and immediately up the ante on the fashion wars. We want this yesterday.
7. Nikon 360
In Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine, characters used a holographic camera to snap instant three-dimensional replicas of certain moments in time. We're not quite there yet, but in the meantime the idea behind the Nikon 360 concept camera seems like a reasonable facsimile. According to Ye Chen, designer of the device, the camera would take an all-round picture using a built-in inclinometer indicating the horizontal position prior to execution. Sure, panoramic photos are already in existence, but they take a little more work. With the Nikon 360, capturing surround-vision images would become literally a snap.
6. Honda Cub Motocycle
Sam Jibert's Honda Cub Motocycle concept vehicle takes the macho out of the road hog and adds just enough clean design and geek friendliness to ensure a consumer hit. Looking like a cross between a 19th-century bicycle and a modern-day crotch rocket, the Honda Cub Motocycle is not only cute but enviro-friendly since it uses a hydrogen fuel cell. If Dean Kamen's Segway had been this cool-looking, maybe Steve Jobs' initial prediction that it would change the way cities were built would have come true.
5. Pills To Go
British designer Priestman Goode has envisioned a product so simple and practical, it's astounding to think that this isn't already available. Pills To Go combines two caplets of your favorite medicinal salve with a hearty gulp of water all in one package. So simple, so convenient, yet as of now, still a futuristic concept. When eventually brought to market by some company — and you can rest assured that it will definitely happen — Pills To Go is sure to be one of the biggest sellers of all time.
4. WPA Wearable Power Suit
Vlady Spetkovsky designed the WPA wearable power suit as a project for the Bezalel Academy of art and design in Israel. Although Spetkovsky doesn't offer much detail regarding what the suit would actually do, after watching his animated 3D movie showing the suit in action it's reasonable to assume that it would increase the strength and speed of the wearer via an accumulator-powered exoskeleton. That's right friends, with suits like this, one day we'll all get to live out our superhero fantasies.
3. B-Membrain Computer
The B-Membrain won't transport you into another dimension or suddenly become self-aware and declare that all humans are obsolete, but it does offer something we can all relate to: sexy hardware. Winner of Intel Korea's recent PC Design Contest (Challenger category), the B-Membrain does away with the computer monitor and instead beams images to any surface via a built-in projector. As for input, the keyboard is described by its designer Won-Suk Lee as a touchscreen interface. Sure, the B-Membrain looks weird and you'd probably have trouble figuring out where to put to the oddly shaped contraption, but never has a more sci-fi-ish computer been so within reach.
2. Credit Card of the Future
Paying bills will never be fun, but in the future there's a chance that you'll at least be able to pay the piper in style. To that end, designer Jacob Palmborg mocked up a universal payment device that simultaneously links to all of your banking and credit accounts. The unnamed device would keep a real-time accounting of just how much you've spent, and what your near-term financial forecast looks like based on recent purchase activity. And if that's not Big Brother enough for you, the device would only be accessible via biometric (think thumbprint, eyescan, etc.) verification. With RFID tap-and-pay bankcards already being used throughout the U.S., it seems like this little gadget's emergence is just a matter of time.
1. Timeflex Stick-On Watch
It's been awhile since a cross-demographic product has swept the country, but something like the Timeflex stick-on watch might just do the trick. Imagined as a non-permanent, self-gumming timepiece, the Timeflex would make the perfect accessory for style-conscious millennials (read: teens), on-the-go professionals, and athletes (swimmers, rock climbers, runners, etc.). The outlines of the device are meant to be fluorescent, with the interior sporting a transparent surface so you can show off your fashion-forward sensibility, and a little skin in process.