You can buy hardware store materials of the future from these folks: Translucent concrete, rubber glass, unwetable sand, suction cup tape, etc. They primarily sell small quantities of very innovative stuff, but will work with you if you like what you tried and want it in bulk. The materials and devices are so amazing you’ll invent things just to use them.
I have used Inventables a lot. I have found them to be responsive and helpful when I have a question about a product, or when I want to get larger quantities of a sampled product for a real application. For example, when I needed some Stretch Sensing Rubber in a different diameter for a toy I was designing, and they promptly got me the size and quantities that I needed for the prototypes. When we were designing a high-volume medical device that needed a piezoelectric actuator, they put me directly in contact with the manufacturer of the material.
– Danny Hillis
Talking tape makes it possible to mechanically create sound from various objects. With one hand, you hold the top of the tape. With the other, you slide your thumbnail down the ribbon against the grooves. Do this and you hear, “Congratulations!” The ribbon has grooves just like a traditional record. When your fingernail is pulled down the ribbon, it causes sound vibrations. The card works as the amplifier to make the sound louder. You can replace the card with a plastic cup, a balloon, a greeting card, or just about anything. The ribbons can be made to play any sound you can record; however, the manufacturer claims voices work better than music.
Incorporate this silver-plated nylon thread into fabric
This is a silver plated nylon thread that can conduct electricity. These types of threads are usually manufactured for anti-static electromagnetic shielding, intelligent textiles, wearable technology, and heating purposes. The particular type featured here is great for sewing resistors into fabric and for other general sewing applications.