Drones that put selfie sticks to shame, pollution zapping air filters, 3D printable airless tires and a malware detecting router for your smart home.
Drones that put Selfie Sticks to shame.
DJI Spark / $499
Airborne drones have exploded in popularity over the past few years, improving everything from mapmaking to search-and-rescue operations. The DJI Spark has a more down-to-earth goal: helping anyone take better photos, videos and “dronies,”a.k.a. drone selfies. To that end,it’s easier to operate( gesture recognition means you can control it with a wave of your hand), harder to crash (an array of sensors help prevent midair collisions) and relatively cheap ($499)—though its maximum flight time of 16 minutes is shorter than higher-end models. “We see Spark as the starting point of a whole new series of drones,” says Paul Pan, DJI senior product manager. So far, that strategy is working: thanks in part to the Spark, which launched in June, China-based DJI sells half of all drones bought in the U.S. —Alex Fitzpatrick
An Air Filter That Zaps Away Pollutants
Molekule / $799+
Most air filters improve air quality by trapping harmful pollutants in a filter. Molekule takes that idea one step further—by destroying them altogether. The key is its specially coated nanofilter, which is designed to react with light in a way that prevents toxins, including mold and bacteria particles, from growing back. It’s similar to “the way light shines on a solar cell and generates electricity,” says Jaya Rao, who co-founded the company alongside her brother, CEO Dilip Goswami, and father, Dr. Yogi Goswami, who heads the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida. Although the price—nearly $800, plus $99 per year for new filters—has raised some eyebrows, proponents argue that the improved air quality is worth it. Investors are making the same bet: Molekule has raised almost $15 million to date. —Lisa Eadicicco
Über-Adaptable Airless Tires
Michelin Vision Concept
In the future, our cars will be smart, and our tires will be smarter. Or so suggests Michelin. Its Vision concept—unveiled this year to demonstrate the potential of tire technology—certainly makes a compelling case. For starters, it’s airless, eliminating the need to worry about pounds per square inch. It’s also made from recycled materials in an effort to reduce waste. But the most impressive feature may be its 3D-printed treads, which can be swapped in and out to accommodate various road conditions—without changing the tire itself. The challenge will be figuring out a way to do it quickly, says Terry Gettys, who helped lead the project, “because consumers are going to want their tires [ready to go] in just a few minutes.” Michelin estimates that a tire this advanced may still be as far as 20 years away. But some of its features, like airless designs and sensors that flag drivers when treads are wearing down, could become mainstream over the next several years. —Lisa Eadicicco
A Wi-Fi Router That Safeguards Your Smart Home
Norton Core / $279.99
There are many benefits to owning gadgets that go online, not least of which is the ability to brew a pot of coffee while you’re lying in bed. But in this new reality almost any appliance we own, from toasters to washing machines, can be targeted by hackers. The Norton Core aims to neutralize that threat. Unlike most wi-fi routers, which merely enable connectivity, the Core is designed to detect abnormalities; if one device is showing signs of a virus, the Core cuts it off it from the rest of your home network, much like a hospital would quarantine a sick patient. It also regularly updates its software to stay on top of new threats and “keep homeowners safe and secure,” says Ameer Karim, Symantec’s VP of consumer IoT (Internet of Things) security. The fact that it looks like a Star Trek prop? That’s just a bonus. —Alex Fitzpatrick