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.
OK, before we get into anything else: How did the creators totally miss the mark with the name of this thing? It’s a wearable designed to track swimming metrics, so “Swimmetrix” seems like a logical name for it — but for some reason these guys chose to forego the T and call it “Swimmerix.” The name definitely isn’t a big deal, but seriously? Swimmerix? It sounds like a new cereal brand created by Michael Phelps.
Anywho, if you can get past the name, this is actually a unique little device. There reason you don’t see a lot of swim-focused wearables on the market right now is because designing them poses a bunch of different challenges. They suffer all the requirements of a general tracker – light weight, long battery life, and most importantly, high accuracy – but they also need to fit in a waterproof package that’s easy to use in the water. That’s all pretty difficult to achieve, but Swimmerix has some pretty clever ways of meeting those goals. Most notably, it uses a two-part design. There’s a module on your wrist, and a base that sits outside of the pool — a configuration that helps the system provide far more accurate distance and speed measurements.
Tired of stuffing your suitcases into the little space you have available in your apartment? This sweet new collapsible suitcase might be just what you need. Premium luggage brand Neit has recently taken to Kickstarter with a new line of suitcases that can be broken down into a flat-pack form when they’re not in use. Suitcases can be collapsed down to a height of just 3 inches, so they can be stowed pretty much anywhere — under your bed, couch, or hanging in your closet, thanks to its carabiner-style hanger.
And that’s not all. To sweeten the deal, Neit also built a boatload of smart features into the luggage as well. Each suitcase also comes with a built-in GPS tracking system. By downloading their Travel App, you’ll be able to locate your luggage with the tracker, store your boarding pass, check your flight status, book additional flights or hotels, and even map your way to a hotel from the airport.
Ever needed to get a look at something in a tight, hard-to-access space? What about something that’s too small to see with the naked eye, but in a location that’s ill-suited for a magnifying glass? Chances are you probably don’t encounter these situations all that often, but for those rare occasions that you do, Scopearound is the tool you’ll wish you had.
The device is basically just a slim, lightweight handheld camera that comes with with three interchangeable lens heads. There’s a macro lens for looking at small stuff, a micro lens for looking at even smaller stuff, and flexible “snake cam” attachment that can slither its way into all those tricky nooks and crannies you might encounter. The cool part is that all the images it collects are beamed wirelessly to your mobile device in real time, so you don’t have to don any special glasses or look into a viewfinder to see what the camera sees. It kind of makes you wonder why this kind of thing didn’t exist until now.
Paying with your smartphone via services like Apple Pay and Android Pay is still a relatively new feature, but what about paying with your watch — without even needing your phone? Recently launched on Kickstarter, and fully backed by Pebble, Pagaré is an NFC-enabled strap for the Pebble smartwatch, so all you have to do is place the side of your wrist to a payment terminal to make a payment.
Because it uses NFC, there are more than 9 million terminals in the world where you can use the Pagaré to make a payment. Once you get the strap, download the Pagaré app on the Pebble Appstore and add your credit cards. You can switch between cards with the up and down buttons on the watch, and you can set a default card in the app. What’s especially neat is that once you set up your cards, you won’t need your phone to make contactless payments with your watch.
3D printers have come a long way in the past few years, but the materials they print with have also been progressing in leaps and bounds. It’s not just ABS and PLA anymore. Nowadays we’ve got 3D printing filament made from dozens of different materials. Wood, bronze, nylon, carbon fiber, water-soluble plastic, flexible rubber — you name it and there’s probably a printing material made of it. And the list just keeps on growing.
The latest addition to the ever-expanding category isn’t actually a filament at all; it’s a new kind of resin designed for SLA printers — the kind that use UV light to “grow” objects out of a pool of liquid. This particular resin is called Porcelite, and it’s totally freaking amazing. It’s basically liquid ceramic that partially hardens and becomes something like firm clay when it comes out of the printer. From there, it can be sculpted and manipulated to a certain degree, before finally being fired in a kiln and fully transformed into solid porcelain.