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.
SipaBoard — Self-inflating stand up paddleboard
Have you ever used a stand-up paddle board? It’s crazy fun. It’s all the best parts of kayaking or canoeing, mixed with the freedom and portability of a surfboard. The only downside? Inflating them is a pain in the ass. They need to be rigid in order to evently distribute your weight, you you’ve got to put a lot of air into ’em. So much, in fact, that doing it with a hand pump is sometimes out of the question – you need a motorized pump to get the job done.
But not with SipaBoard. Designed by a group of Slovenian engineers, this stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is completely self inflating — and also sports a small inboard electric motor to propel you along the water when you get tired of paddling. While it inflates the SUP, the electric motor actaully becomes part of the board, nestling into the middle and holding itself in place once the board gets stiff. Once its done pumping in air, the excess power can be used to spin a small propellor underneath the board — the speed of which is controlled wirelessly via controls on the paddle handle. Pretty cool, right?
LucidBrake — Motion-sensing brake light
LucidBrake isn’t the first active brake light system for cyclists, but unlike most currently available products, this one requires no special wiring to install on your bike. Instead, the LucidBrake uses an array of accelerometers to determine when you’re slowing down, and will automatically light up when you decelerate. To avoid accidental signals, the device’s sensors are programmed to tune out road conditions like bumps, grades, angles, and normal cycling movement, so LucidBrake will only light up when you intentionally hit the brakes.
When you slow down, it fires up eight high-visibility LEDs that can be seen from a maximum of one-half mile away at night and one-quarter mile during the day. The beauty of this system is that it’s completely wireless, so you can mount the light anywhere you want — below your seat, on your helmet, or even on your backpack. And it’s not just for cyclists either. LucidBrake will work in the same way regardless of what it’s attached to, so it can be used on skateboards, motorcycles, trailers, and even stuff that’s sticking out of your truck bed.
Endless — Affordable computer for the developing world
Across the globe, there are almost 5 billion people who do not have computers. Sounds crazy, right? It’s easy to take for granted here in the developed world, but computers are a rare luxury for most people, which is a shame. Owning a computer opens up a whole new world, and can mean access to information, health, livelihood, and jobs in our global economy. It is opportunity, if you can only access it. The problem right now is that desktop computers just aren’t affordable enough for most people.
Enter Endless — a computer, operating system, and ecosystem of applications tailored specifically to users in developing countries. It is meant to be connected to a user’s existing television (something most households in the developing world do have), thus removing the need to have a separate monitor. It also comes pre-loaded with more than 100 apps, increasing its usefulness for people who don’t have an Internet connection to download them. Best of all? It’s under 200 bucks. The basic model sells for about $170.
Camlet Mount — Phone/tablet DSLR display
If you can get past the horrible pitch video, this is actually a pretty nifty idea. The Camlet Mount clips onto your camera through the flash/accessory hot shoe. You then link a smartphone or tablet to the camera through Wi-Fi (either built-in or through an Eye-Fi memory card) or a provided cable. Once connected, this allows you to control your camera comfortably from a larger screen via a third-party app. Users can control everything — shutter speed, aperture, white balance; the whole shabang — all from the convenience and comfort of a touchscreen interface.
When attached, the smartphone or tablet can be positioned several ways: above the camera, lowered to a position that covers the back of the camera (covering the camera’s screen in most cases), or swiveled toward the front so that the mount can be used for video blogging or selfies (users can see themselves in front of the camera if they are photographing or filming themselves). When reviewing or editing images, the mount and camera can be used as a handy stand.
Prank Card — Nonstop musical birthday card
Ever seen one of those musical greeting cards? You know– the ones that have tiny speakers hidden inside and will play a little jingle one time when you open them up? Well this is exactly the same thing, except instead of playing a funny song once through, this one will play a super annoying song on a loop — continuously. Once you open it up, it’ll play a god awful “happy birthday” song over and over again until the battery runs out or you destroy the speaker.
Destroying the speaker is easier said than done though. One of the videos on the Kickstarter page shows the card’s creators drowning it in a bucket of water, which only serves to make the speaker a bit quieter. In order to get it to stop, you’ve apparently got to smash it with a hammer or burn it. Otherwise it’ll just keep on jamming until it runs out of juice, which, according to the creators, can take anywhere from three to five hours. Forget glitter — this is the perfect gift for your enemies.