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.
The Origami — Folding-arm laser cutter
Why do you need a portable laser cutter? You probably don’t — but if for some reason you do, it totally exists now. Pittsburgh-based startup Red Ant Lasers has built one, and it’s unlike any laser cutter you’ve ever seen. The Origami, as they call it, is built with a special fold-out arm that allows it to be used in a variety of orientations (horizontal for tables, vertical for walls and windows, etc.) and also be packed up for easy transport. It has no limiting enclosure, so users can create virtually anything they want — laser-etched glass, intricate wood-burn designs, etc. — simply by indexing and moving the laser across the work area. It’s also equipped with a self-contained ventilation system, so it doesn’t require any giant hoses or special electrical hookups in order to run. Red Ant is hoping to raise $80,000 over the next month in order to fund the first production run, and if you back the project now, you can get your hands on an Origami for around $4,200.
Haven — Floor-anchored smart lock
Unlike traditional door locks and deadbolts that secure your door the to frame with a narrow bolt, Haven is anchored to the floor, and keeps your door from opening by way of a sturdy pop-up backstop that spans almost the entire width of the jamb. With this stronger anchor and broader stopping mechanism, this design is apparently far more difficult to break or bypass in any way. That being said, since Haven’s design doesn’t reach through to the outside of the door like a traditional lock, you also can’t open it like a normal lock — it doesn’t have any way to accept keys. Instead, Haven utilizes the extra space in its body to house both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios. By detecting the short-range Bluetooth signature of your phone, the lock can sense when you’re approaching the door and open automatically for you and your family, whereas the device’s constant Wi-Fi connection allows you to open and close the lock remotely using the accompanying Haven smartphone app.
Salt — Keyless entry for your smartphone
Generally speaking, if you want to secure your phone, you’ve only got one option: the lockscreen. Unless you have one of the nifty new phones with a built-in fingerprint scanner, you’re pretty much forced to enter a four-digit code, or swipe your thumb in a specific pattern. It’s not the most annoying thing in the world, but doing it dozens — if not hundreds — of times each day can start to get a little tedious. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way? Enter: Salt. It’s a little Bluetooth card that fits in your wallet, and syncs with your phone to give you security when you’re away, and easy access when you’re nearby. Whenever you’re near your phone and Salt is within range, your phone stays unlocked. When you leave, the connection breaks and your phone locks itself automatically. No more tedious unlocking process when you’re close by — or conversely, if you’re the type who doesn’t use a lockscreen, no more leaving your phone recklessly unsecured when you’re not nearby.
Kreweser — Ridable tricycle cooler
Move over Coolest Cooler, there’s a new cooler in town, and instead of boasting an integrated blender and a set of speakers, this badboy is built into the frame of a gahtdamn electric tricycle. Why? Because carrying coolers is not cool. Riding them, however, might be the most steezy thing you could do on a hot summer afternoon. I mean, most of us already use coolers like seats anyway, so why not put some motorized wheels on one of those summbitches and transform it into a rideable refrigerator? In addition to a 500W brushless electric motor that propels this badboy around at 18 mph, the cooler also comes with a set of speakers built into the sides, so you can blast your tunes over Bluetooth as you ride. Just think of what this is going to do for the ice-cream delivery business! Now, instead of taking out a loan to buy a creepy refrigerated van, you can just drop 7 hundo on a Krewser, lay down an extra $50 to load up up on ChocoTacos, and then cruise on down to the nearest cul-de-sac to start your hustle.
The Public Radio — Single-station radio in a mason jar
Let’s be honest here — in the era of smartphones, ubiquitous Internet, and music streaming services that allow you to play virtually any song in the world without interruption; how many FM radio stations do you actually listen to anymore? If you listen to traditional radio at all anymore, we’re willing to bet you probably just stick with one — that one good station that you listen to on your way to work because your car stereo doesn’t have a USB port, and you’re sick of the mix CD that’s been in your disc drive for the past four years. Designed with this in mind, The Public Radio is a simple single-station radio built inside of a mason jar. The lid of the jar is outfitted with all the tech it needs to function — all the circuitry, a pair of batteries, a speaker, antenna, and a single knob that functions as both an on/off switch and a volume knob. The glass jar apparently helps to amplify and direct the sound, while also acting as a safe, sturdy enclosure for the innards.