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Inventing Outside of the Box

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By Adrienne Burke

Steven Norris, an editor at Gearburn--a Cape Town, South Africa website chronicling "the latest gadget news from around the world"--admits to being endlessly amused by "staggeringly cool technology videos" that reveal how designers transform ugly tech devices into "eye-pleasing shapes." As a favor to those who share his fascination, yesterday Norris shared 13 videos "of incredible inventions that show off their makers' insane intelligence."

His picks? We agree they're all staggeringly cool, but suggest that their inventors are likely quite sane geniuses and, perhaps with the exception of number 8, practical people:

1. A 3D shape-shifting display from the MIT Media Lab called inForm lets users physically interact with digital information.

2. Word Lens, a mobile app from Quest Visual, now part of Google, uses your phone camera to translate the written text of any language.

3. AirDog, a $1,300 "auto-follow action sports drone," takes the selfie to entirely new levels. One of its inventors says the device "changes how action sports enthusiasts capture their most epic moments."

4. RAY, a sensor-guided robotic forklift from Serva Transport Systems, automates car parking.

5. CreoPop, an Indiegogo-funded pen developed at Singapore's National Design Center, lets users draw 3D objects using elastic, magnetic, aromatic, and color-changing cool ink instead of melted plastic.

6. The Shot View app and wearable technology from Austin-based Tracking Point brings Google-glass to guns to let a gunman hit a target from around a corner.

7. The Zuta Pocket Printer, funded with half a million dollars on Kickstarter, fits in a purse and prints from any device onto any sized page.

8. LEGO obsessed JK Brickworks has developed a functional computer keyboard retrofitted with LEGO pieces.

9. Mythbusters' Adam Savage demonstrates a remote controlled robotic spider, made from 3D printed parts, by the Hong Kong company Robugtix.

10. A $490 silver sphere for your desktop looks like a work of art while functioning as a 1 terabyte wireless hard drive. From LaCie, designed by Christophle.

11. Wouter Scheublin's Walking Table just needs a human push to get moving.

12. An intelligent toothbrush from Kolibree communicates with your smartphone to track duration, frequency, and neglected zones in your daily brushing performance.

13. And last, but not least, a robotic bee developed at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences could be the future of plant pollination, traffic monitoring, and more.

Original article published on Techonomy.com.

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