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10 Prototypes Your Money Can't Buy (Yet)

Tickers in this article: F GM MSFT NOK

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Money can't buy happiness. It also can't buy the latest and greatest cars and gizmos.

Before high-tech toys hit the market, they begin life as a prototype, a workable mock-up of the eventual product. These creations are often the source of breathless fanboy blog leaks or, in the case of Apple's(AAPL) iPhone 4, something an errant engineer can accidentally leave behind in a bar.

In many cases, these are nearly complete and polished forebears of what's on the way to store shelves and dealer lots. Others are more exotic, more forward-thinking and not ready for prime time.

Just as the fashions that prowl the catwalks of Paris are sometimes meant more for inspiration than to be wearable, the mock-ups of things to come are merely glimpses of what could be. The cars may not be road tested and the technologies may still be years away from being useful. Enjoy them from afar because, short of breaking the bank or breaking into R&D, there's no way to get your hands on these sneak peaks ahead of the shopping rabble.

We took a look at 10 prototypes and concepts we'll just have to wait for. For now, anyway, your money is no good:

Nissan Pivo 2M
The Nissan Pivo 2M is a concept car that, like many others, is intended to pair a unique look with a lessened impact on the environment.

Its solution is to replace the standard centralized motor with four smaller engines, each powering its own wheel -- a design that is practical as well as stylish. The car can rotate in a full circle and drive sideways, a boon to city dwellers who panic at the prospect of parallel parking into tight spaces.

The interior, three-person cabin rotates and "by-wire" technology substitutes electronic signals for the conventional, kinetic mechanics of steering, braking and drivetrain systems.

But wait, that's not all.

Nissan(NSANY) also boasts of its "Robotic Agent," a computerized car butler to help you with directions and car functions. We'll have to wait for an actual consumer version to find out if it can crack wise like KITT on the '80s TV series Knight Rider .

High-tech tattoos
The cool kids might have to wait just a little longer until they can head to the local mall for the latest in cutting-edge body modifications.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have created a computerized temporary tattoo of sorts that adheres to your skin, giving us carbon-based life forms a chance to go Borg.

The patches are mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, then laminated to the skin with water. Electronic components can be applied and even masked by a more traditional tattoo design. Among the applications -- aside from looking cool -- are "medical diagnostics, communications and human-machine interfaces," the researchers say. Among the components successfully mounted on the flexible patches are sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas and solar cells to power it.