At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find there’s no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Noke — Bluetooth padlock
Noke (pronounced “no-key”) works exactly the same as all the other Bluetooth locks you’ve seen before, with one key difference: You can lock up anything with it. It works like a padlock, so you can use it secure your garage, your shed, the gate to your yard, or even your locker at the gym — not just your front door or bicycle. Aesthetically, the device bears a striking resemblance to the old-school Masterlock you know and love, just without any keyholes or combination dial. Instead, it uses its Bluetooth brains to communicate with your smartphone and detect when you’re close by. To open it, just click the lock shaft once and it’ll automatically look for a phone with a compatible Bluetooth key, and then unlock when it finds one. You don’t even need to take you phone out of your pocket.
PatchnRide — Flat tire repair device
Don’t worry, this isn’t another brand of fix-a-flat-style ooze. Instead, Patchnride is more like an oddly-shaped syringe that inserts a patch directly into your tire at the source of the leak. We haven’t had a chance to test it out for ourselves just yet, but according to the device’s creators, it can permanently patch a hole in just a minute or two, meaning repairs can be performed on the fly whenever they happen — no more walking your bike home when you get a flat. Here’s how it works: Once you’ve tracked down the puncture, the next step is to insert Patchnride’s spike directly into it and press the start button. This will release a small amount of quick-drying adhesive into the inner tube, at which point you push a slider forward to insert a special patch into the tire. After that, pull the tool out out and press down on the repair site for a few seconds to set the adhesive. When you’re finished, just pump the tire back up and continue on your way.
SharkStopper — Acoustic shark repeller
Unlike previous shark-repellent systems that rely on electricity, magnets, chemicals, and even special wetsuit patterns that make you look unappetizing, SharkStopper uses nothing more than a specially-designed acoustic emission to keep sharks at a safe distance. “The noise emitted by SharkStopper emulates the sounds of killer whales in conjunction with our patented frequency overlay,” the project’s Kickstarter page reads. Since killer whales are their main predators, sharks will (allegedly) swim in the opposite direction as soon as they hear the sound. The device has been reportedly been tested in a number of different locations with a wide variety of different sharks, and in every test, the SharkStopper was observed to consistently repel sharks between 5 and 20 yards away — even when sharks were first lured in with blood and bait.
Eve — Smart irrigation controller
Rather than relying solely on your local weather forecast to determine the best time to water your yard, Eve takes the connected sprinkler concept to a whole new level with an array of network-connected sensors. These little “Adam” spikes are designed to stick into your soil and measure moisture and temperature. Each one actually has sensors running along the entire length of the spike, so they can take readings from both above and below ground. In a nutshell, this allows Eve know exactly whats going on in your particular patch of land, rather than merely using the Web to pull information about the broader region you’re in. This increased accuracy presumably makes the system more accurate, and as an added bonus, it will be compatible with the Smart Things ecosystem right out of the box.
Ultrasonic Levitation Machine — Levitate small objects with sound
If you think that Newton’s Cradle physics toy you’ve got sitting on your desk is cool, just wait until you see this thing. Using nothing more than sound, this little gizmo is capable of suspending a wide variety of small objects in midair — seemingly defying the laws of gravity. Here’s how it works: A small transducer, located at the base of the device, beams a high-frequency ultrasonic sound wave upward, towards a reflector located above. This causes sound waves to bounce back toward the transducer. By manipulating the frequency of the sound (not the amplitude, which would make it louder), it’s possible to adjust the resulting waveform so that the outgoing and incoming sound waves are slightly out of sync, which creates “pockets” of high pressure and low pressure in the air. If you place a small, lightweight object inside of one of these pockets, it will stay suspended there until acted upon by outside forces. Pretty nifty, right!?