Where form meets function

Every month, Maxwell Barna rounds up the best new drops and innovations in the tech world. Check out last month’s installment here. 

Ahhh… another month has come and gone, and despite it only being a few weeks since the world was abuzz with news about virtual-reality goggles, potential iPhone design leaks and Hillary Clinton’s email servers, it all seems like forever ago.

The tech industry is rapidly and consistently changing and reinventing itself, so it seems only natural that there was a massive amount of technological developments in the past month.

Luckily for all of you, I have a lot time on my hands. Like, a lot. At the end of every month, I sift through the miles and miles of tech industry bullshit to bring Highsnobiety readers all the best updates in tech and gear that you may have missed out on.

And in terms of tech, the past month certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw the announcement of Amazon’s ultra-smart noise-cancelling headphones, learned about China’s new quantum-enabled satellite launch and looked on as Facebook officially hit 1.71 billion users. Crazy.

But those developments are just the tip of the iceberg:

‘Pokémon Go’ Breaks the Whole Damn Internet

The hands-down biggest piece of tech news to break this month was the release of the highly anticipated, long-awaited Pokémon Go. With over 20 million active users in the first couple of weeks, Pokémon Go positively smashed the record for the most highly played mobile game in the U.S.—a title previously held by Candy Crush.

The feat is impressive, but it hasn’t come without its growing pains: Pokémon Go is responsible for car accidents, getting people robbed at gunpoint, making people fall off cliffs and encouraging players to trespass an outlaw motorcycle club’s private property. It’s a shit show, and luckily, we’ve all had a front row seat to the shenanigans.

Amazon Files a Patent for the Noise Cancelling Headphones of the Future

United States Patent and Trademark Office

If you’ve ever owned a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you know just how game-changing of an accessory they really are. And as Amazon aims to take a larger stake in the production power of its company, consumers shouldn’t be as surprised to learn that on July 19, the e-commerce giant announced its plans to put out some of the most innovate headphones noise-cancelling headphones to date.

The headphones will be “smart” enough to click off when they hear certain sound patterns, frequencies and even keywords like “Hey, [name]!” Amazon anticipates it’ll make things safer, while keeping people in touch with the world around them. While the patent doesn’t ensure any kind of production dates, it’s a pretty massive step in a new and innovative direction.

This Solar Cell Captures CO2 and Produces Liquid Fuel

Probably the most groundbreaking tech development this month (and probably this lifetime), researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a solar cell that can convert atmospheric carbon dioxide (the harmful byproduct of mankind’s obsession with fossil fuels) to liquid hydrocarbon fuel, therefore rendering fossil fuels obsolete. This could literally change everything, but only time will tell what its real impact is.

The Superbook Turns Your Smartphone Into a Laptop for $99


This ingenious device, developed by Andrew Jiang and the team at Andromium, converts your smart phone into a full-on personal laptop. The Superbook laptop shell works seamlessly with any and all Android phones by utilizing a proprietary app from Andromium that allows Android to function like a common desktop operating system.

File management systems, keyboard shortcuts, a mouse track pad, and everything else you’d except from the average laptop, all at a price that starts at just $99. No, that’s not a typo.

These Guys Invented Colored Pavement Tiles to Help Idiots Looking at Their Phones While Walking

The Next Web

No matter how little sense it makes for us to mindlessly stare at our smartphones while navigating our daily commute, it doesn’t look like we’ll be dropping the terrible habit any time soon. It was this mentality that inspired Australian design firm Buro North to release their concept for colored pavement tiles that will flash and serve as warnings to distracted, iPhone-carrying ne’er-do-wells that it’s time to pay attention to the traffic light in front of them.

Am I pissed that technology like this needs to exist? Sure. But do I think it’s going to be wildly successful in the next couple of years? Absolutely.

Tesla Opened the Doors to Its Famed Gigafactory


In a move that is almost certain to cement Tesla as one of the most lucrative manufacturing companies in the U.S., CEO Elon Musk opened the doors to his highly anticipated Gigafactory this month.

The 10-million-square-foot facility, located smack-dab in the middle of the Nevada desert, is where Musk is going to begin production on lithium-ion batteries. It is estimated that the facility will have the capacity to double the world’s production of batteries, and will also produce 150 gigawatt hours of electricity every year—enough to power all of New York City for roughly three years.

The move is a huge win for American industry, and has the potential to revolutionize Tesla’s already-booming product line.

Edward Snowden Designed an iPhone Case That’ll Prevent Hacking

Andrew Huang & Edward Snowden

I’ve never met the guy, but if I truly had to render a guess, I’d say Edward Snowden is a pretty solid dude. A couple weeks ago, the American whistleblower living in exile announced that he designed a phone case that can actively prevent the government (or potential hackers) from stealing your info and eavesdropping on your conversations.

The case utilizes an “introspection engine,” which means it can detect the eavesdropping signals.

MIT Researchers Finally Banish Those Horrible 3D Glasses

Mike Powell via Getty Images

The absolute worst thing about going to see a movie in iMax 3D is knowing that you have to wear those goofy, oftentimes unhygienic glasses. They’re cumbersome, bulky and unless you’re head is perfectly straight, they don’t even work right half the time.

Luckily for all of us, the folks at MIT are solving the world’s realest real first-world problems, and have this month announced they’ve successfully created a new kind of display that flawlessly project large-scale, movie-quality, glasses-free 3D films.

Nintendo Announced the Release of The Amazing New Compact NES


Listen man, I won’t even front—it was a great month for Nintendo. Aside from literally driving people off cliffs in anticipation for Pokémon Go, the video game behemoth announced this month the scheduled release of the NES Classic Edition, a shrunken version of the classic NES system.

The version will come pre-loaded with 30 of the cult-status gaming system’s most famous titles, including Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Excitebike, Super Mario Bros (1, 2 and 3), The Legend of Zelda, Kirby’s Adventure and so, so much more. It won’t actually hit the shelves until November, but the recent announcement was enough to get me going.

You Can Now Have Sex With Real-life Performers Using VR Headsets

CamSoda via YouTube

Ever since the release of the Oculus Rift a couple months back, the internet is in a perpetual uproar over the potential of the VR porn industry—this isn’t news. However, moderately well known webcam website, CamSoda, is launching a new VR platform that will allow participants to interact personally with performers, using female- and male-designed masturbation stimulators from Kiiroo.

Yes, CamSoda is launching a VR service that will literally allow you to fuck yourselves via VR goggles. The simulators feed “pressure data” from a performer’s toy to a remote male masturbator, and the rest is history. Really, really seedy history.

In case you missed it, a whole raft of new LGBT-friendly emojis are arriving soon.

  • Words: Maxwell Barna
  • Lead image: Andromium
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