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.
Mousr — Robotic cat toy
There’s certainly no shortage of motorized cat toys in the world, but even the most sophisticated ones pale in comparison to real prey. They’re just too predictable, and don’t react to attacks — but fledgling startup Petronics aims to change that. The company has designed a robotic cat toy that’s outfitted with spatial awareness and artificial intelligence, so it moves around and evades your cat similar to how a real mouse would. Under its mouse-shaped hull, Mousr sports a small electric motor, a set of wheels, a speaker that makes noises to attract your furry friend, and multicolored eyes that change color when the battery is running low. It’s also equipped with a 360-degree infrared camera for detecting and navigating around obstacles, as well as a inertial measurement unit that tells the robot when it’s been caught. The toy can either run autonomously, or be controlled remotely via smartphone.
Cocoon — Infrasonic home security system
Infrasonics (the study of low-frequency sound waves, around 20Hz or below) has been used by seismologists for decades to detect shockwaves caused by earthquakes, and now Cocoon brings it into your home. The device listens for infrasonic disturbances, and with the help of machine learning, can apparently discern normal activity from suspicious activity, pushing alerts to your smartphone when anything fishy is detected. According to Cocoon’s creators, this technique allows the device to monitor your entire house from a single point. Infrasound detection makes it possible to sense intruders through walls and closed doors, which –if the technology actually works– would effectively solve many of the problems faced by traditional security systems, which are generally limited to a single room, or require multiple sensors to be installed throughout your home.
BeON — Smart light bulb
Under the hood, the bulb is equipped with Bluetooth LE connectivity, a built-in processor, and a microphone — as well as a set of 800-lumen soft white LEDs. All this tech allows the bulb to capture and memorize your family’s lighting patterns — when they turn on, when they turn off, the order in which they’re turned on, what rooms are lit during certain times of the day, and so on. Using this information, BeON can begin to replicate your behavior while you’re away and make it seem like your home is always occupied. The bulbs can also use their embedded microphones to “listen” for the sound of your doorbell. If the system hears somebody at your doorstep while you’re away, it can turn on your lights in sequence to give the illusion that somebody is home. BeON can even detect the sound of your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, pushing an alert to your phone if you’re away, and switching on to light your exit if you’re home.
Lumera — Smart camera retrofit
Today’s camera manufacturers create products with amazing sensors and stunning lenses which give users high-quality images, but most of them don’t provide a connection to the cloud and social networks. Conversely, smartphone manufacturers create amazing devices completely immersed in the cloud, but with poor optics which give users comparatively low-quality images. Lumera aims to bridge that gap. It comes in the form of a DSLR camera attachment that clips into your camera’s hot shoe. Once its snapped in, it eseentially gives your DSLR all the same functionality your smartphone has — Wi-Fi connectivity, social media sharing, and more. With the help of an accompanying smartphone app, it also allows you to control your camera remotely, and even access photos you just took on your phone. The coolest part? It’s built with open-source hardware and software.
Freedom Chair — Adaptive all-terrain wheelchair
If a mountain bike an a wheelchair ever got together and squeezed out a baby, it’d probably look a lot like the Freedom Chair. Originally designed for disabled folks in developing countries where roads and sidewalks aren’t as wheelchair-friendly, the chair is equipped with all-terrain wheels, gears, and ratcheting levers that provide more power in each push. This design allows the chair to go places that a traditional wheelchair wouldn’t be able to — grassy lawns, sandy beaches, rocky hiking trails, and everywhere in between. The ingenious lever drive system allows the user to apply more torque to the wheels than a push-rim system, enabling users to power through tough terrain and charge up hills more easily than ever before. And the best part? Every moving part of the Freedom Chair is an off-the-shelf bicycle component, making repairs easy and inexpensive. You’ll be able to take the Freedom Chair into any bike shop and the mechanic will know just what to do.