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.
For all the crazy technology we have at our disposal these days, the way we bathe every morning is still pretty archaic. We’ve got robots on Mars and computers in our pockets, but we still wash ourselves in the same way that people did a century ago — under a wasteful, inefficient shower head. Nebia, an up-and-coming Silicon Valley startup, aims to change that. The company’s cutting edge new shower head is designed with high-precision components, and allegedly uses 70 percent less water than the average shower head. That’s insane.
Nebia certainly isn’t the first water-shaving shower head on the market, but if those stats are legit, it’s probably the most resource-efficient one in existence. The key to the shower head’s crazy low water consumption is its nozzles. Nebia uses aerospace-grade spray nozzles deigned to atomize water under extreme pressure, causing the stream of water to be broken up into millions of tiny droplets. Atomized into tiny droplets like this, a given amount of water has somewhere around 10 times the surface area as it would as a normal water droplet — meaning the shower uses a drastically smaller volume of water, but still gets you just as wet.
Laser tag felt like the game of the future a decade ago, but now that we’re 10 years older and in need of a new form of fun, a couple guys from Milwaukee have stepped in to fill the void. Meet MagneTag. It’s electronic tag with magnets that leverages “an advanced system of wearable magnetic field sensors” to provide you with hours and hours of friendly fun, complete with an entire “arsenal of magnetically enhanced foam swords and ninja stars.”
Much like Laser Tag, the stystem’s magnetic sensor, which you wear on your chest like a breast plate, keeps track anytime you’re hit or you strike an opponent. If you’re the fist person to rack up three hits on your opponent, you win. But that’s just the most basic game mode. With an optional “Bluetooth wireless link between [MagneTag’s] hardware and your smartphone,” eager players are introduced to “a world of gameplay possibilities,” including “access to new game modes, find[ing] other players, track[ing] your stats, and more!”
The privilege of space travel is one that has only been experienced by 536 humans (literally). But now, SpaceVR is hoping that even if we can’t make it above the stratosphere, we can experience it through the magic of VR. As per their Kickstarter campaign, “SpaceVR is creating this experience for outer space by collecting actual footage from the space station (and beyond) with our camera, the Overview One,” and if you fund their efforts, you can help “bring space exploration within reach of everyone.”
The ultimate goal, SpaceVR says, is to “live-stream content from space to the VR headset of your choice.” Using their specially developed, 3D 360-degree camera, known as the Overview One, footage from miles above the Earth’s surface will be brought directly to your living room. Even the Overview One has components of outer space, as the camera combines “existing camera components from Earth with parts that will be 3D printed in space by our partner Made in Space. It will be assembled on the International Space Station (ISS).”
As the anti-shoe movement continues to gain steam, there’s been a corresponding flood of minimalist, barely-there footwear hitting the market lately. The latest entry into this burgeoning category is FYF — a unique new kind of footwear from Swiss Barefoot Company. Rather than lightweight shoes, FYF socks (short for Free Your Feet) are more like space-age wool socks with toughened soles. You know those cut-proof gloves that have stretchy sock-like material on the back, but texturized rubber on the fingers and palm? FYFs are almost the exactly same thing, but made for your feet instead of your hands.
Just like those aforementioned cut-proof gloves, FYFs are made from a specially-engineered type of wool that makes them much tougher than your average sock. The fibers of the sock are spun with a material called Dyneema (which you’ve likely used before whether or not you were aware of it). In addition to boasting a higher tensile strength than braided steel, it’s also abrasion-resistant, hydrophobic, flexible, and incredibly lightweight. This makes it ideal for use on your feet, as it can bend and flex like a sock, but still provide protection from things like sticks, thorns, and sharp rocks.
Imagine using your old plasma screen TV to play Angry Birds. That’s exactly what TouchJet aims to do with its upcoming television peripheral, the Wave. The device intends to bring the Android 4.4 Kitkat ecosystem to your living room while essentially turning your TV into a big touchscreen. In terms of specs, the Wave boasts 1GB of DDR3 RAM, 8GB of onboard flash storage, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 Touch-control will apparently work on any display sporting an HDMI port and measuring between 20 and 60 inches diagonally.
Better yet, setting things up is as easy as attaching the device to the top of your TV, plugging it into an HDMI port, and calibrating the system by tapping a few dots. It works using infrared technology, with the Wave tracking finger movements and taps as they bounce across the screen. That data is then redirected to the light processing unit, or LPU, thereby converting it to an input format recognized by Android. The built-in optical touch sensor supports up to four touch points, and you can get it bundled with an air mouse for just a bit extra.