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 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.
A smartphone or GoPro are convenient ways to take video and pictures, but they have their limitations. Glare on the screen, poor audio, limited performance in low-light situations, just a few lens options, poor stability, and the constant need to use both hands make it tough to get professional shots. For this reason, Canadian upstart IndieVice set out to create a single gizmo that would replace all of your old gear and maximize the potential of the smartphone in your pocket. The company’s eponymous device is a revolutionary new approach to shooting professional videos and photographs with your smartphone or GoPro.
IndieVice can adapt to any size and shape phone. It sports a universal smartphone adapter, which can reportedly fit all iPhone models (including the 6+) as well as smartphones from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and Sony. Once your phone is clipped in, you can attach a myriad of different lenses, flashes, handles, and other camera peripherals. The system essentially uses your phone as the brain, and provides all the other parts of the camera. Pretty nifty, right?
Additive manufacturing – also known as 3D printing – gets all the attention these days. But despite the feverish pace at which the technology is advancing, traditional manufacturing processes still carry certain advantages — namely, the ability to work with materials other than plastic. They’re coming along, but 3D printers that print anything other than PLA or ABS are ridiculously expensive at the moment, so if you want to make something out of metal or wood, your best bet is to go with a traditional CNC mill. Pocket NC is basically a miniaturized version of the mills you’d find in a full-fledged machine shop, but with a much simpler interface, a far more compact form factor, and 5 different axes of motion.
Thanks to uber-simplified software controls, Pocket NC essentially combines the simplicity of 3D printing with the precision, speed, and versatility of a CNC mill. It can move your raw material along five different axes, and sports an array of interchangeable tools, so it can make parts that would otherwise require multiple machines. At roughly $3,500, it’s definitely a bit more expensive than even the most high-end 3D printers, but if your desktop fabrication needs to go beyond simple plastic parts, this might be worth looking in to.
3D printing pens are nothing new at this point, but 3DSimo Mini is more than just that. In addition to squirting out thermoplastic to create gorgeous freehand sculptures and 3D drawings, it can also burn designs into wood, cut foam cleanly, and even solder metal. It’s the ultimate creator’s tool, and it fits in the palm of your hand like an oddly shaped carpenter’s pencil. Oddly enough, it’s actually the second-generation model, and as you’d expect, it’s also much smaller than it’s predecessor, the 3DSimo, which could only work with plastics.
In addition to being less than half the size of the original, the 3DSimo Mini has changeable tips and is much more versatile. One tip burns wood, and others solder metal, melt plastic, or shear through foam — like a Dremel tool with a hot end. The first 3DSimo sported a small display and a series of buttons on the side for adjusting temperature. It also had a fan. But in the interest of slimming the device down, the pen’s creators took out the fan and the display. Now, there are only a few buttons on the device to make the material flow. Thanks to Bluetooth support on the Mini, a mobile app gives you control over the temperature and speed so you can work with different materials to create specific kinds of projects.
There’s something mesmerizing about watching a vinyl record spin around on a turntable, but unfortunately the vast majority of record players spin horizontally, and aren’t really designed for easy viewing. If you took your average record player and propped it up on its side, you’d end up with all sorts of problems. For starters, you’d have a hell of a time keeping the record from falling off, and the tonearm probably wouldn’t go where you want it to, so your tunes wouldn’t play back correctly.
Gramovox’s “Floating Record” solves these problems with a few simple innovations. In addition to a clamp that holds your albums in place vertically, the player’s carbon-fiber tonearm uses a small spring to apply the force that keeps it in touch with the record’s surface. According to the company’s Kickstarter page, the player’s tonearm is also precisely balanced so that it doesn’t skew and head for the center of your record. On top of that, the Floating Record does not require cartridge set-up or any additional outboard gear like phono pre-amps, amplifiers, or speakers. Everything you’ll need is incorporated directly into the design of the player.
Now that we’ve got all these crazy VR headsets floating around, ready to help us experience totally rad immersive videos, we have a content gap. Even the most wide-angle cameras on the market right now only boast a field of view that’s about 170 degrees or so — which isn’t exactly ideal for shooting crazy all-around-you video content. What we need is 360 degree video cameras — kinda like the ones that Google straps on the top of its Street View cars; just smaller and more user-friendly.
Luckily, there are a handful of 360 degree cameras on the market right now, and more are popping up with each passing week. Sphericam 2 is the latest entry into this burgeoning category, and it also happens to boast some of the most impressive shooting specs we’ve seen. Unlike some of its low-res competitors, this badboy shoots 360 degrees of video in 4K, at 60 frames per second. This is captured by six different lenses, and stitched together with Sphericam’s accompanying software. It also captures audio (with 4 microphones) and can beam video directly to Oculus Rift.