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In Depth: 10 brilliant new gadgets and apps you've never heard of

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In Depth: 10 brilliant new gadgets and apps you've never heard of

Think you know all the cool gadgets that are coming out soon? Think again. Thanks to crowd-funding, 3D printing and cheap manufacturing in China, we're seeing a lot more hardware start-ups coming up with interesting new devices.

Several of our favourite products at the DEMO conference in Silicon Valley this month were the kind of hardware you used to need to be an established company to tackle, only coming from tiny new companies.

The hardware will take a few months to make it to the market, but some of these intriguing apps and services should be available much sooner.

1. NuRoast


The freshest coffee is made with the beans you roast yourself. But that's tricky to do right - and anyway, where do you get good green coffee beans?

NuRoast is going to make an induction coffee roaster that you pop a sealed can of selected coffee beans into. The can has internal fins that heat and stir the beans in the digitally-controlled roaster.

Each can comes with a list of flavour profiles to get different styles of roast: just tap in the one you like the sound of and the same beans will come out with a different flavor.

Do we want it?

We taste-tested the prototype and you can taste the difference between profiles, but $175 on Indiegogo makes this one for coffee afficionados

2. Picrition


Need some encouragement to eat more healthily? Snap a photo of everything you eat and let this social network rate you (anonymously) as a junk food junkie or a smart snacker.

Do we want it?

Food diaries are a great tool, but unless you pay extra, the people looking at your photos won't be nutrition experts (and a photo doesn't give you a calorie count). You'll have to do most of the work yourself, but Pictrition could still give you a boost.

3. Skully


This Android-powered motorcycle helmet has a rear-view camera that you see in a transparent heads-up display courtesy of the prism in the helmet. It can also show you a navigation and let you answer the phone or choose music to play using voice control.

Do we want it?

Yes! Getting approval for something potentially distracting might be tricky but one of the team used to design heads-up displays for fighter pilots, so there's experience of dealing with safety concerns.

4. SnoopWall


There are plenty of antivirus tools for Android, but SnoopWall aims to protect your devices from the threats you let in yourself.

When it launches, SnoopWall will tell you whether the app you've downloaded and given permissions to really needs to have access to your camera, microphone and address book when it's just a flashlight. (Yes, we know you know you should check permissions every time, but who really does that?)

Do we want it?

With so much malware about for Android, SnoopWall could be a quick way of getting better protection. We don't think you'll need the iOS or Windows Phone versions as much.

5. Proximity Platform

Proximity Platform

The easiest way of sharing a file with someone sitting next to you is still sticking it on a USB drive. The NewAer Share app will let you share a file from Android, iOS, Mac OS and Windows so anyone in the same place can grab it.

NewAer built Share and its Android ToothTag app (which saves your location when the Bluetooth in your car turns off, because that usually means you've parked it) to demonstrate their Proximity Platform, which uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC to find devices in the same place as you but it's still useful.

Do we want it?

There's no security but for getting a file to a friend, Share will be easier than uploading to a cloud service and having to remember to delete it later.

6. Huetunes


Painting music sounds like synaesthesia, but it's addictively fun in practice. You pick an instrument from the HueTunes "keyboard" and draw lines and shapes with it. When the "tracker" dots bouncing across the screen hit what you've drawn, the instrument plays.

You can draw in multiple instruments and create your own tracks across the picture to play the instruments in the right order at the right time.

Do we want it?

Fun music for people who can't play an instrument (though perhaps not enough control for those who can). The first five instruments are free - and enough to get you hooked.

7. Magisto


Turn all those photos and videos you've taken into a stylish short video with music and fun transitions that you can share with friends.

There are dozens of editing tools but the nice thing about Magisto is that it uses some clever artificial intelligence to find the interesting bits and skip the boring stuff.

It runs in the cloud so you can do it from your phone: just pick some content and a style, and wait about five minutes. By the end of 2013, the Magisto apps for iOS and Android will automatically create video clips for all your content.

Do we want it?

You can't tweak the results but Magisto is pretty good at picking the good bits and turning your content into something your friends will want to watch without much effort on your part. You take all those photos and videos on your phone, so why not do something with them?

8. BedScales

If you don't like wearing a sleep tracker on your wrist and you hate weighing yourself, but you'd like to sleep better and maybe lose a few pounds, BedTracker is a gadget from the UK that will be on Kickstarter soon for $250.

You put the four pads under the legs of your bed and it weighs you every night (deducting the weight of the bed) and keeps track of your sleep patterns. Eventually it will be able to track two people at once and mail you advice like "you sleep better when the room isn't too warm and you've been for a long walk."

Do we want it?

This is a clever two-in-one idea that will work best when you hook up other information like your FitBit data, your food diary and a NetAtmo sensor that checks temperature and air quality - so it's quite a commitment.

9. Signtologin


Forget about hard-to-remember, easy-to-hack passwords. How about signing in to your email or Amazon account with something you can't forget, that's uniquely yours - and that no one is going to threaten to chop off?

You sign your name pretty much the same way every time, but it's never exactly the same, so it's both unique and hard to copy (because a too-perfect copy is likely to be a fake).

Signtologin is building a system to let you log in to your accounts with your real-world signature, which would be a very familiar balance of convenience and security.

Do we want it?

Nice idea, if they can get enough sites to sign on

10. Ve-Go hotel check-in


Instead of waiting in a queue at the hotel reception, how about being able to check in from your phone while you're still in the taxi from the airport - and picking your own room from what's available? And then checking out from your phone when you leave?

Ve-Go is building an iOS app that will work with hotel chains like Marriot and Four Seasons to check in, check out, see your hotel bill and book your next stay.

Do we want it?

Ve-Go only works with hotels that use the right property management system and until hotels switch to NFC (and Apple puts NFC in the iPhone) you'll still need to pick up your room key. It will take a while to happen, but hotel check-in by phone will get you enjoying your holiday faster by skipping the queue.

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