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, ambitious, and downright stupid projects out there – far too many for any reasonable person to keep up with. But here at DT we are not reasonable people. We spend an inordinate amount of time poring through crowdfunding sites and product blogs in search of the next Oculus Rift or Pebble Watch, so we’re here to bring you a quick roundup of the best projects that are currently up and running.
Backtracker — Rear-view bike radar
Backtracker is an upcoming bike accessory from South African startup iKubu that uses radar to detect objects coming up on your rear. It’s basically like having an extra pair of eyes in the back of your head. Using a special short-range radar technology, the device can detect cars and other approaching objects from up to 150 yards behind you.The device itself consists of two separate components: a rear-facing radar module that’s attached just beneath your seat, and a special LED indicator panel that communicates speed and distance data with an easy-to-understand visual display. It also works in reverse, so in addition to alerting you when there’s a car coming up on your rear, there’s also an intelligent backlighting system that blinks progressively faster as a car approaches from behind, thereby alerting drivers to your presence.
RocketSkates — Motorized smart skates
Designed by Los Angeles-based startup Acton, RocketSkates are basically like a pair of small Segways you strap to your feet. Each skate sports a pair of brushless motors that work together to zip you around town on a set of wheels. To move forward, you simply tilt your lead foot forward a bit. To slow down, just pull it back. And the best part? They’re completely hands-free. To get going, you just take a few steps to get the wheels spinning and the motors will automatically kick in. Unlike Acton’s first product, SpinKiX (which are admittedly quite similar), these skates are designed so that you can still walk in them … sort of. As you can see in the video below, the wheels are placed near the center of your foot, which leaves your toes completely open. This means you can still touch the ground if you need to, so doing things like running up a set of stairs, hopping over a sewer grate, or jumping onto a curb are easy to pull off.
Electric Objects — Networked digital art displayYou know those digital picture frames that were sort of popular like five years ago? The ones that everyone thought were a great idea until they actually brought one into their house and realized how gaudy, bright, and power-hungry they are? In theory, they were a great — but in practice? Not so much. But the good news is that, thanks to NYC startup Electric Objects, they just got a modern update. Instead of a cheap, low-resolution display that’s a pain to update with new images, the EO1 is a beautifully-designed, high-res screen that’s also network-enabled and app-controlled, so you can update it with new art whenever you feel like it via the accompanying mobile app. Once you’ve connected your Wi-Fi network and downloaded the Electric Objects app, you can send digital images of fine art, photography, and pretty much any other digital image (including GIFs!) to the device for display. The EO1 will then show the image and adjust to lighting conditions to optimize the display, so that it best showcases the image at any time of day or night.
FreeWavz — Fitness-Monitoring EarphonesDeveloped by ear, nose, and throat doctor Eric Hensen, FreeWavz are a set of wireless headphones that are fitted with special “medical-grade pulse oximeters and accelerometers” that allow them to track a variety of health stats from your . Monitoring includes heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled, and even the oxygen saturation in your blood — all of which is beamed wirelessly to an accompanying app on your smartphone, and then transmitted back to the earphones periodically to give you audible updates. But that’s really just the start of the wide feature set FreeWavz hopes to deliver to its backers. The earpieces also claim to offer a superior fit with a four-point system that’s ergonomically designed and layered with a rubberized shell to resist sweat and water, and it even sports dual sets of on-board microphones, one of which is dedicated to filter in ambient noise from your surroundings to keep you safe and environmentally aware.
Beast — Fitness tracker for weight training
There are a zillion different fitness trackers on the market these days — everything from wristbands that track the steps you take, to crazy next-gen shirts that keep track of your respiration. But despite their sophistication, most wearable fitness devices out there still aren’t that great at monitoring weight-training exercises. Beast aims to change that. Using nothing more than a set of accelerometers and special set of algorithms designed to recognize certain motions, this tiny little device can figure out exactly what kind of lift you’re doing and give you detailed metrics on your speed, explosiveness, power, and overall strength. And as per usual, it beams all this info straight to your smartphone in real time so you know exactly how much of a musclebound freakbeast you are. All of the data is also saved to the cloud after each workout, so you can track your progress over time.