The new and amazing stuff of the world is our bread and butter here at
Popular Science. In each month’s magazine and online, we bring together a list of all our favorite things hitting shelves, app stores, and big screens. Now, all the gadgets, games, movies, and other gizmos we loved in 2014 are together in one place.
Bosse Tools Ergonomic Snow Shovel
A second, rotating handle provides better leverage, taking stress off the wrists and back.
The perfect accessory for your beaker—um, mug.
The Breath is the first humidifier to automatically maintain optimal humidity in a room. Sensors detect ambient moisture levels, and the three-liter device changes its vapor output accordingly, keeping humidity at 40 to 55 percent.
Parrot Flower Power
With Flower Power, a user can monitor a plant’s health from afar. The battery-powered sensor records light, moisture, temperature, and other stats. It sends the data to a smartphone, where an app compares the info with the optimal conditions for that species and suggests how to provide care.
The Protect is a smart smoke alarm. Instead of immediately squealing when smoke levels increase, it first gives a vocal warning. If the source isn’t dangerous—say, a boisterous stir-fry—a user can wave a hand under the device to hush the alarm.
Wireless Sports Hoop Tracker
With the Hoop Tracker watch, a basketball player can tally stats during training sessions. The watch receives data wirelessly from a paddle on the rim that registers successful shots and an accelerometer that senses the vibrations of misses.
High-speed video cameras typically cost $25,000 or more. The Edgertronic costs one-fifth that price and is capable of shooting nearly 18,000 frames per second. To reduce costs, engineers stripped the components down to the essentials: image sensor, chip set, memory, and processor.
Rubber Band Machine Gun
Our favorite specs this month come from a fully automatic rubber band shooter. We’ll let them do the talking. Barrels: 16. Shots: 672. Speed: 14 shots per second. Range: 26 feet.
The Monsieur artificially intelligent robotic bartender makes a Manhattan perfectly every time: It mixes drinks to within a milliliter of accuracy. The mini-fridge-size device has eight 30-ounce bottles controlled by pumps and a microprocessor. Monsieur also makes recommendations based on drink habits.
HP Chromebook 11
The Chromebook 11 charges via micro-USB, so users can carry one charger for multiple devices. Because the laptop uses so little power—it’s fanless and has an ARM processor—a 5.25V micro-USB charger is enough to do the job.
The Zeus combination snow shovel and brush reduces trunk clutter. The two-foot-long brush serves as the polycarbonate shovel’s handle. It can also be detached and used on its own.
Micro Phone Lens
The six-millimeter Micro Phone Lens can magnify an object up to 60 times on a smartphone. It’s made from a silicone variation that is optically identical to glass and naturally sticky, so it self-adheres to a phone’s camera lens.
OMG Life Autographer
The Autographer wearable camera records daily life automatically. It takes cues from sensors that measure temperature, motion, light, orientation, and location to register when surroundings change and then triggers the shutter button to capture key moments.
The Libra scale doesn’t stop at displaying weight: It also calculates body fat, muscle mass, water content, and bone mass. Four areas on the scale’s glass plate generate electric current—the resistance it encounters from the body informs the results.
As a user types on the Android Dynamic Keyboard, the letters change size to make composing texts easier. After hitting a particular letter, the letters that most frequently follow grow larger. The size difference reduces the chance of hitting a wrong letter, which helps increase typing speed.
Polaris Sportsman WV850 H.O. ATV
Meet the first consumer ATV with airless tires. The non-pneumatic tires will never go flat, even when shot with bullets (they were developed for the military, naturally).
The Art of Rube Goldberg
Efficiency? Where’s the fun in that? Compiled by Goldberg’s granddaughter, this collection of overly complex machines also contains hundreds of his photos, letters, and cartoons—a third of them published for the first time.
The LEGO Movie
In the LEGO universe, there’s a word no one utters:
glue. So when an evil CEO (Will Ferrell) threatens to glue all the bricks together, an average guy (Chris Pratt) must join a wizard (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett) to save the world.
Light & Motion GoBe
The GoBe flashlight has six swappable heads—each suited to a particular situation. There’s a spotlight for a bike, red focus for night vision, and even a blue light for scuba diving.
$199 for body & Nightsea (extra heads sold separately)
Not all stadium food is created equal. This iOS app has the complete vendor menus from more than 60 sports arenas tagged to location. You’ll never end up with crappy fare again.
Developed by the creators of
Guitar Hero, the Singtrix karaoke machine transforms any voice into auto-tuned perfection. It has 350 effects and can even create five-part harmonies from a single voice—for the times when “Bohemian Rhapsody” seems like a good idea. $300
Powered by Texas Instruments’ 1GHz Sitara processor, the latest board is 100 times more powerful than its predecessor. The upgrade makes it possible to run advanced Linux- powered applications, such as high-speed communications.
Price not set
The new UP24 activity tracker now connects with other smart devices over Bluetooth, so you can set up tasks based on movements. For example, when the band registers that you’ve woken up, it could signal lightbulbs to turn on or a coffeepot to start brewing.
Leading up to the 75th anniversary of Batman, DC launched during the month of April featuring a wide cast of Gotham characters. The series will have the “nuttiest, craziest” Batman stories yet, according to the lead writer, Scott Snyder.
$2.99 per issue
LEM series by Daniel Becker
These lamps mimic the structures of quasicrystals, so-called “impossible crystals” because they have symmetries scientists didn’t think could exist. But they do! And you can hang a model of one on your wall.
Swanson Tool Savage GripLine
The GripLine is the first tape measure that can hold onto round objects. The extra-long tip gives it the reach to latch onto pipes up to two inches in diameter.
$24 for 30-foot tape
Nike Kobe 9 Elite
Kobe’s latest sneaker is all about agility: A one-piece upper and a carbon fiber heel reduce the weight typically associated with a high-top.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you want to create a universe. Well, with Orbit, an orbital simulator, you can build solar systems on any Android device. Choose the size and speed of each spatial body and let gravity do the rest.
This external battery can recharge your phone and jump-start your car. When full, it will bring a car battery back to life 20 times or charge a smartphone four times. That’s what we call “dual-purpose.”
Michelin Premier A/S
The Premier A/S tire doesn’t lose its traction as quickly as others do: As it wears, more than 150 new grooves appear along its shoulder to take up the job of directing rain away.
From $156 per tire
Philips SlimStyle 60W-equivalent
An act banning the production of 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs went into effect in January. So expect to see more LED bulbs hit stores, like the SlimStyle, which doesn’t need a heat sink. No heat sink means a lower price than other alternatives.
One World Futbol
When you buy a One World Futbol, another is donated to a nonprofit working with a disadvantaged community. Plus, it’s a great ball. Because of a special valve, it doesn’t need a pump and will never go flat. Score!
The Ryno looks like the love child of a motorcycle and a unicycle. But unlike either, there’s little balancing required: A gyroscope and accelerometers help keep a rider upright. Leaning forward accelerates the electric bike to speeds up to 10 mph. $5,300
In this movie, Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), an AI researcher, wants to create a machine that has both exceptional analytical power and real emotions. After a radical anti-technology group tries to kill him, his colleagues upload his consciousness as a test. And, well, all the power starts to go to his head.
A Year With Minecraft
In just three years, Minecraft has sold more than 33 million units; an indie video game has never been so popular. In his book, Thomas Arnroth documents the rise of its creators, the world of its fans, and the unexpected influence of a concept based on building blocks.
Nendo Cubic Rubber Band
Our favorite design this month is a cubic rubber band. The shape does two things: It makes the band easier to pick up and gives it a firmer grip. We still haven’t found the best way to shoot it, though.
Jelly Belly Draft Beer
Meet the world’s first beer-flavored jelly bean. It has wheat and sweet flavors, like the Hefeweizen it was inspired by—and while it doesn’t contain any alcohol, you can eat it with a Red Apple bean for a G-rated apple cider shandy.
This multi-tool has four interchangeable heads—three blades and a plier—for various activities, such as shingle work and cutting wires.
Hitting the right note on a theremin is surprisingly difficult. So Moog added pitch control to its latest model. With the control turned up, it’s impossible to play a wrong note. Lessen it, and there’s room for vibrato.
Put your name on a restaurant’s wait list from anywhere with this app. Then monitor your place in it in real time.
The Flir One is a thermal imaging device for an iPhone. It detects infrared energy from 32°F to 212°F. Uses include seeing in the dark, locating heat loss, and cheating at hide-and-seek.
Kings Island Banshee
The world’s longest inverted roller coaster opened in Mason, Ohio. In two minutes and 40 seconds, riders roar through seven inversions, including a “zero-G-roll,” and reach speeds of 68 mph. Ready for a road trip?
Philips Norelco BeardTrimmer 9100
Meet the first beard trimmer with a laser. You read that correctly. The laser serves as a guide to pre-align the razor for precision and symmetry.
128GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC
The original micro SD card, released in 2004, was 128MB. A decade later, the highest capacity is 128GB—providing 1,000 times more storage than its progenitor. Designed for Android devices, the removable card can hold 24 hours of HD video.
The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet
For better or worse,
eating insects for protein is a growing likelihood for us all. So why not develop a taste for them now? This book offers 32 recipes, from grasshopper kabobs to mealworm ravioli. $28
Contigo Autoseal Pitcher
This is the only pitcher that automatically seals its spout between pours. Margarita hour never went so smoothly.
Tribord Easybreath Snorkeling Mask
Unlike other snorkeling masks, the Easybreath won’t fog up. Both the mouth and the nose are connected to the breathing tube, which has separate channels for inhaling and exhaling. These channels help divers breathe normally, dissipating condensation.
Using your phone’s camera, this laser-based device can capture the height, width, and distance of any object within 2 percent accuracy. With those specs, an app can calculate the volume of the object and then model it in 3-D.
Hexbug Aquabot 2.0
The Aquabot aquarium doesn’t come with a
don’t tap the glass! sign. Tapping the bowl is what makes the fish swim; a motion sensor picks up the vibration and wakes the robot from sleep mode. $13
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha
The Big Bertha Alpha is the first driver with a center of gravity that is adjustable horizontally and vertically. That means a golfer can tweak a ball’s spin independently of launch angle—something never before possible.
Samsung Power Sleep
With this Android app, you can contribute to cancer research while sleeping. By taking advantage of the unused processing power of a smartphone or tablet, it decrypts protein sequences provided by scientists at the University of Vienna.
O-Grill Portable Gas Barbecue Grill
This über-portable grill has retractable legs and a larger grill area than most camping models of the same weight: 225 square inches.
A driver’s license may be years away for many toy-car owners, but that’s no reason why their vehicles shouldn’t handle like the real thing. Each Modarri car has an interchangeable suspension and front-wheel steering.
James Nestor’s book Deep begins above the ocean surface, steadily working down to researchers camped out at 60 feet below. It bottoms out at 28,700 feet, where autonomous bots comb deep trenches.
Whirlpool Microwave with AccuPop
Making popcorn is stressful: A few extra seconds and you have inedible charred chunks. Sound sensors in the new Whirlpool measure the duration between pops and adjust cooking time to ensure the perfect batch every time.
Black & Decker AutoSense Drill
This wireless drill is the first to stop itself before it strips heads or cracks surfaces. A microprocessor senses the changing torque of the screw as it bores into wood and signals the motor to stop in time.
SnapPower SnapRays Guidelight
Traditional nightlights can hog one or more outlets, so SnapPower embedded three LEDs into the Guidelight’s faceplate. The clever design keeps both outlets free.
Quirky + GE Aros
Until now, apartment dwellers have been mostly left out of the smart-home revolution. No longer. The Aros A/C window unit pairs with an app to learn a user’s behavior, power itself down when appropriate, and help keep energy bills in check.
Philips Hue Luminaire
Connected LED bulbs aren’t much to look at, which is why we tend to hide them beneath lampshades. But Philips’s
3-D–printed luminaires are bulb and shade in one high-design package. £1,999.00
Dinosaur Polo Club’s Mini Metro
Mini Metro is like The Sims for transit geeks with nerves of steel. In this multiplatform game, players satisfy demanding passengers by redesigning subway-system layouts to suit ever-changing needs. $5
HTC One (M8)
This smartphone could make you a better photographer. Two rear-facing lenses serve distinct purposes: one captures the image; the other, depth information. Users can refocus images even after they’ve taken the shot.
$200 with contract
RoboReel Water Hose
Stop playing tug-of-war with your garden hose. RoboReel senses when you pull on the hose and starts a motor to help you unwind it. When you’re done watering, press a button to initiate retraction.
Eone Bradley Timepiece
Boring conversations often trigger the urge to check the time, but it’s hard to do without being rude. Designed with blind users in mind, the Bradley can be read with only the fingertips. Ball bearings on the face and rim indicate minutes and hours.
In this book, origami artist Mark Bolitho teaches those with a flair for folding how to craft their own wildlife refuge, complete with frogs, tropical fish, and more.
A game of memory and mimicry, Simon had its heyday in the seventies and eighties, so it’s due for an upgrade. On Simon Swipe, touchscreens swap for buttons. Players follow commands to tap and swipe their way to the toughest levels.
Craftsman Mach Series Driver
This new screwdriver gives DIYers more power and speed. An offset shaft allows users to crank rather than twist, which makes for swifter driving with more oomph in every turn.
Kingdom of the Apes
Nat Geo WILD documentary is a different sort of reality TV. The stars are chimps at Gombe Stream National Park, where Jane Goodall studies ape interactions; the chimps’ power struggles remind us we aren’t so different.
Don’t let jet lag spoil a vacation. Built by University of Michigan researchers, the Entrain iPhone app creates algorithmically optimal lighting schedules based on destination and planned activities. It helps users acclimate about three times faster.
littleBits Space Kit
LEGOs for the modern age, littleBits let you build electronics without any soldering or wiring. The new Space Kit, made in partnership with NASA, has parts to make working models of a satellite dish, a rover, and eight other space-themed objects.
Lensbaby LM-10 Sweet Spot
Forget Instagram; Lensbaby lets users snap stylized smartphone shots with an exaggerated focal point—no filter required. The lens attaches to the back of a smartphone with a magnetic mount.
Lawns don’t need watering if rain’s coming, but most sprinklers don’t know that. Droplet sources real-time data from more than 10,000 weather stations to determine where and when to water.
Gibson Memory Cable
You just improvised the perfect guitar solo, and now you can’t remember how it went. Gibson’s new cable will save your Clapton moment. It has an embedded 4-gigabyte solid-state recorder, which can capture up to 13 hours of uncompressed music.
Mission Bicycles Lumen
Biking at night means extra accessories—unless you’re riding the Lumen. Mission Bicycles worked with reflective-coating company Halo to turn an entire bike frame into a reflector. Like a cat’s eye, it looks dark gray until light hits it and bounces it back to its source.
Cooking is an art; baking, a science. To remove the guesswork, the Drop kitchen scale pairs with an app to take stock of ingredient quantities and adjust the recipe accordingly.
Merge a kite with a fishing rod and you’ve got Castakite, a device that eliminates snarl-prone spools of string. To launch, point the handle toward the sky, wait for the wind, and press the trigger to release the reel and let the kite fly.
Haiku with SenseME
Big Ass Fans is bringing the ceiling fixture into the 21st century. Temperature, humidity, and motion sensors on SenseME-equipped fans detect when someone enters the room and adjusts fan speed based on climate.
Developed at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, this waterproof wristband alerts wearers when they’re in danger of sunburn. An acid-release agent decomposes with sun exposure, changing the band’s color from yellow to pink.
$8 for 7
In his book, Dr. David Casarett chronicles the science of resuscitation. The eerie narrative wends from stories of drowned patients in 1700s Amsterdam to futuristic cryonics labs, with hints of humor in the retellings of extreme survival.
There’s a strange poetry in search-engine auto-complete. A new card game called Query gives players the task of predictive text writing. The group then guesses which phrases were created by other players and which came from a computer.
This app, developed by a cognitive-science professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, prompts you to visualize simple objects and scenes in random order, distracting your mind from thoughts that keep you up.
What if you could tap into every reservoir of your brain and develop superpowers? In director Luc Besson’s latest film, Scarlett Johansson plays a woman whose drug overdose allows her to absorb knowledge instantly, mentally move objects, and more.
Is it a wheelbarrow or a hand truck? The answer: yes. The AeroCart, in fact, does the job of eight carts in one. The two-wheel design adds stability, and a host of attachments lets you reconfigure it to carry propane tanks, yard debris, or planters.
The “first single-chip programmable microcontroller platform” is a technical way of saying this little piece of hardware could help add your household devices to the Internet of Things. Part of a family of Texas Instrument products, SimpleLink connects via Wi-Fi.
Randall Munroe, creator of popular Web comic xkcd and former NASA roboticist, answers some of his wildest reader questions (“How long could a nuclear submarine last in orbit?”) with science and amusing illustrations.
The latest synthesizer software from KORG turns the Nintendo DS into a handheld music-production device. Twelve monophonic synths feature a range of effects (such as delay or reverb), and a 3-D oscilloscope gives the music-making process an immersive feel.
Planet Series Beer
In the early 1900s, composer Gustav Holst wrote “The Planets,” so that each movement corresponded to one of Earth’s neighbors. Bell’s Brewery salutes that piece by releasing a new beer every two months starting in August. The first is Mars, a double IPA.
Parrot’s new rolling mini drone is piloted through an app with help from an onboard camera. Sumo can hop into your hand and kick over objects on the ground.
Garmin Approach S6
This watch could put your golf pro out of business. Garmin packed a group of sensors into its most advanced golf watch yet. It measures wannabe Phil Mickelsons’ upswings and downswings for strength and tempo.
Give your LEGO creations a digital home with this new game. Unlike similar hybrid games, Fusion was designed by the folks at LEGO to balance playtime between physical blocks and a tablet screen.
Craftsman 2-in-1 Pliers
Clear some space in that toolbox with a set of transforming pliers. After a 180-degree rotation, the long-nose pliers become diagonal, so users can cut wire, grip, and turn without switching tools.
Imagine, an app that almost makes you want to lose your phone. When your iPhone goes missing, call out “Marco,” and the phone—using one of 30 voice recordings—responds “Polo” until you locate the device.
Maui Jim’s Bamboo Forest Sunglasses
Nine layers in these lenses work to protect your eyes while enhancing the colors, contrast, and clarity of what you see—in comparison to what you’d get with most average sunglasses. Polarizing films reflect glare, bigradient mirrors deflect light from above, and two ultrathin layers absorb light at different wavelengths.
Blackout Buddy H2O
Ill-prepared for inclement weather? This emergency light can run for 72 hours without any batteries. Developed by Etón Corporation with the American Red Cross, the device needs just a few drops of water to activate it.
Civilization: Beyond Earth
Beyond Earth is the first game in the Civilization series to be set in the future (a departure from previous releases). Players can build and tear down societies and even explore maps inspired by real exoplanets.
Nike Vapor 360
Breaking in a new baseball glove is tough. The Vapor 360 makes it easier. Built with a perforated and nearly seamless construction into the palm, Nike designers made the Vapor 360 ready to use right out of the box—no need to perform feats of strength trying to cool, warm, and stretch it into submission.
The size of a key chain, the Vio is one of the smallest breathalyzers available. It measures blood alcohol content, and even estimates when the level will drop low enough to safely drive.
Your heart rate monitor has a new home, and it’s in your ears. Jabra’s wireless headphones can measure heart rate (more accurately than on your wrist), step count and pace, and can record a given route. And because it includes a microphone, you can still field calls mid-workout.
Nerf Combat Creatures
The company’s first remote-controlled dart blaster has six legs, walks like an insect, and can shoot darts 360 degrees and up to 45 feet. Plus, it will almost assuredly scare any opponent into submission.
Climendo aggregates data from popular forecasters including Wunderground, Forecast.io, and NOAA, and then compares it with weather outcomes to show which is the most accurate for your area.
Sometimes, animals just defy logic. Mara Grunbaum asks evolution to answer for those odd quirks—such as a weevil with a long neck, a primate with venomous elbow pits, and plenty more bizarre creatures—in her new book.
Milwaukee Jobsite Scissors
Thanks to cutting edges made from iron carbide, the Jobsite scissors are 10 times more durable than ones made from standard stainless steel. Cut through tough materials with abandon.
At first blush, a cooler made of fabric sounds dicey. But Yeti made its crushable, packable one from DryHide material (borrowed from whitewater rafts) and reinforced it with fully sealing zippers (borrowed from hazmat suits). Then they lined it with up to 1.5 inches of insulation, ensuring that everything in the 6.5-gallon cooler stays ice cold.
Who decided blankets need to be flat? Design studio Oak Form took inspiration from origami (and tessellations). The result is a cashmere blanket that looks like it belongs in a geometry book.
This app aims to replace your phone’s built-in contacts list by remembering contacts as you would: based on how you met, where they live, and who your mutual friends are.
Things To Make And Do In The Fourth Dimension
What would it take to get you to try a math problem? A little humor could help. In his latest book, stand-up comedian and former math teacher Matt Parker shows the fun (and funnier) side of the much-maligned subject.
No matter how hi-fi your music player, if you’re listening on cruddy headphones, you’ll be disappointed. Blue Microphones’s first foray into the space includes a built-in amp that delivers powerful, smooth bass like no others can.
Thanks to a specially designed 8-volt max lithium-ion battery, the Dremel Micro 8050 packs the power of a large tool into a body small and light enough to hold like a pencil. Added bonus: An LED at the tip illuminates any project, making fine work easier.
GBatteries has figured out how to build an external battery pack that can add six hours to your laptop’s battery life or 80 hours to an iPhone 5S. The pack uses technology called BatteryOS, charging it to 100 percent capacity without draining performance.
This portable projector, the size of a smartphone, includes a stylus with an embedded infrared emitter. An IR camera captures the stylus’s image and maps it as it moves around the display, turning an 80-inch projection into a giant tablet screen.
There are still places without cell service or Wi-Fi. That’s where you need goTenna. With the device, you can share your location with other goTenna users via GPS and send text messages via Bluetooth and long-range radio waves.
Most fitness trackers look pretty much the same (not pretty). Withings’ latest, on the other hand, is a stylish watch with sensors inside. A small meter on the face shows steps or sleep progress. For data on distance traveled or calories burned, it connects to an app via Bluetooth.
Christopher Nolan glams up astrophysics for the most anticipated science-fiction movie this fall. It follows a group of explorers as they travel vast distances in space using a newly discovered wormhole—to save the future of humanity, of course.
Read our complete Interstellar package
Ryobi Phone Works Infrared Thermometer
Ryobi’s new tool plugs into a smartphone’s audio jack, allowing it to measure temperatures from -22°F to 662°F—in real time, no less.
Sure, it’s the kind of problem you’d see in a late-night infomercial, but spreading cold butter on toast isn’t easy. Struggle no more: Australian industrial design group Design Momentum embedded a grater into a butter knife, turning clumps into thin ribbons.
Filters improve photos only so much. Camera51 helps before the shutter snaps. The Android app analyzes the subject and surroundings, then guides users toward the ideal frame. It will even flag objects that might otherwise ruin a perfect image.
Wilson’s Blade series is the first set of tennis rackets to incorporate basalt, a natural
shock absorber, into the weave and the base. In tests, the Blade gave players better control over the ball, and it filtered and absorbed forces from impact.
EC Lync System
If there’s one thing closets and luggage always need, it’s more space. Eagle Creek solved that conundrum with a full-size rolling suitcase that can collapse—frame, wheels, and all—to a fraction of the size.
Most sleep trackers are mattress pads or wearable devices, which rely on your movement to tell if you’re asleep. They’re uncomfortable and can be inaccurate. S+ sits on a bedside table and uses
low-frequency radio waves to measure breathing and determine when you’re actually sleeping or lying awake.
“Things Come Apart”
January means it’s time for a fresh perspective. “Things Come Apart,” a calendar based on photographer Todd McLellan’s book of the same name, shows the inner workings of objects, like telephones and telescopes.
Uncharted Play Pulse
Soccket Ball inventor Uncharted Play has created a jump rope that turns rotational energy into electricity. Five minutes of jumping powers an LED lamp for an hour.
Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I
SanDisk has created the largest-capacity SD card available. To pack a half-terabyte (512 GB) of memory into an object the size of a postage stamp, SanDisk arranged two vertical 16-die stacks side by side.
In director Michael Mann’s latest thriller, the world’s cybersecurity lies in the hands of a convicted hacker (Chris Hemsworth). He’s part of an international team that tries to stop criminals threatening to undo networks, nuclear reactors, and more.