We may still be a long ways away from the flying car, and last year’s hover board by Mattel was a huge disappointment, but the truth is that the future is already here. New technologies, emerging every day will allow us to interact with our world in ways we have until now only ever imagined (or learned from Marty McFly). These five amazing new inventions, most of which you can get your hands on before the end of the year, are just the tip of the amazing technological iceberg emerging in response to what our society is demanding.

If these are any indication of where the world is going, even the smartest smartphone won’t be able to keep up.

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1. Lytro Camera

Let’s say you’re out with some friends. One of your friends does something ridiculously amusing and you pull out your camera and snap a photo. Super excited to get home and share the photo with your friends, you are heartbroken to realize that your shot, when viewed on a larger and clearer screen than your camera has, is actually out of focus. Enter the Lytro camera. This nifty little tubular device is in one way a camera, but calling it just that would be cheating it out of how impressive the little device really is.

Capturing the entire light field at once, Lytro allows you to refocus your photo after it has been shot on any object in the frame. This not only changes the way we take photos, but also the way we experience the finished product. The Lytro camera also features a responsive touch screen, hidden touch sensitive controls and is available now, starting at $399.

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2. Myo Writsband

Imagine controlling all the Bluetooth electronics in your life with your hands. Sure, you may look a bit wonky waving your hands in the air like a magician, but unlike the magician, you can make your machines do things. Turn up the volume on your computer, pause a video, control your Bluetooth skiing helmet, fly a toy helicopter, from the looks of it, there is very little the Myo wristband can’t control.

The Myo works by using the electronic signals sent by your muscle movements up your arm, activating individual commands off distinct gestures to perform an array of tasks. The Myo is currently in pre-order status, but is expected to begin shipping in Early 2014. For under $200 bucks, this new technology is not only incredibly convenient, but it is convenience that is accessible to almost anyone.

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3. Leap Motion

Because the world is a gross and dirty place, its not a far fetched thought to imagine that soon everything will be gesture based. From your ATM to payphones to just about anything else that requires a button to be pushed, gesture technology eliminates the need for physical contact with many “high traffic” areas that may reduce the spread of illness while being more efficient and responsive than traditional input methods.

Similar to the Myo, The Leap Motion controller takes advantage of your gestures to control actions on your computing devices. Unlike the Myo, however, the Leap sensor is not worn on the body and, perhaps most interesting, is aware of other leap devices in its range, making it possible to consider the possibility of creating an entirely responsive virtual environment in your own home. The Leap Motion sensor is going for just under $80 and is also taking pre-orders, but you won’t have to wait until next year to receive yours. Sensors will begin shipping out in May of this year.

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4. Oculus VR

Despite how crisp gaming graphics may get, gamers will always want for a more realistic experience, even if they are fighting on an alien planet. Which is why, for gamers, the Oculus could be as exciting as the second coming.

Offering an amazingly wide and immersive display, the Oculus is special because it makes the screen seem to completely disappear when you put the glasses on, giving the wearer the impression that he is actually in the world in which he is playing. The glasses are still currently in developer testing, with pre-orders available in May for those that want to contribute to testing the product for $300 a package.

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5. Google Glass

It’s no secret that Google has their hands in everything and aims to make life as unified and accessible as possible. Google Glass, which the company is currently producing aims to bridge the gap between technology and life by offering consumers a way to have the tech they need at their beck and call, but not in a way that distracts them from living their lives.

The glasses use voice commands to activate a vast array of features from taking a photo to shooting video to accessing Google’s amazing search engine capabilities to answer questions. While there is no set date for a consumer release yet, Google is aiming to have them in your hands by the end of the year and will be offering them in an array of colors to meet your (cyborg-eque) style.

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Category: Spotlight