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.
Smart lights are a dime a dozen these days. Take a quick stroll through amazon and you can find a myriad of different multicolor bulbs that can connect to your smartphone to perform all kinds of nifty tricks. They can switch on automatically at a certain time of day, change color, and even sync up with your music. In other words, they allow you to adjust when and how your lights shine at the tap of a button — yet most smart bulbs still don’t let you choose where the light shines.
That’s where Fluxxo comes in. The lamp’s innovative omnidirectional LED array allows you to move the light in any direction using simple paint gestures on your phone. So instead of dimming the light in your room, Fluxxo allows you adjust the direction of your light and place it where you need it. It can throw light upward when you need indirect light that doesn’t cause a glare, and can even toss light into a distant corner from the center of the room. The accompanying app even allows you to draw where you’d like the light to appear, so you don’t have to fiddle with preset scenes or settings.
If you’re a drone owner looking to get a little more fun and functionality from your flying machine, you should definitely check out the Mantis Drone Claw. Designed by British mechanical engineering graduate Ben Kardoosh, the exquisitely named “Mantis Drone Claw” is a more sophisticated version of the device used by those arcade grabber games. The story goes that he came up with the idea after deciding drones would be more fun if they incorporated an additional interactive element beyond just flying the machine and videoing the surroundings.
The Claw, which works without an external power source, consists of five hinged metal talons and hangs on the end of a supplied Kevlar cord. The talons automatically spread open as they touch a surface, and come together again as the drone regains height. Aim it accurately and you can grab any small object beneath the talons and transport them back to you – check out the video above to see it in action. You might use it to salvage something you dropped in a hard-to-reach location, or perhaps as the basis of a fetch-and-return racing game with friends. Heck, you could even use it to deal with those discarded underpants that’ve been decaying on the floor for weeks.
Over the past few years, there’s been something of a renaissance in booze-related glassware. Glassmakers are revisiting traditional vessel designs and using modern design techniques to optimize them for specific drinks. It’s a wonderful trend, but thus far, the unfortunate truth is that purpose-built, drink-specific glassware is still mostly confined to the realm of craft beer and wine. Nobody has really ventured too deep into the world of glassware that’s scientifically optimized for craft spirits — until now, that is.
For the past few years, New York-based upstart Norlan has developed a specialized glass tumbler specifically for high-end whiskey. Much like the new wave of hyper-specific beer glasses, Norlan’s whiskey glass is built from the ground up to accentuate the spirit’s complex flavors and aromatics, and employs a number of unique design elements to improve the overall drinking experience. The glass features a double-blown construction for better temperature stability, small fins on the bottom that help aerate the booze more effectively, and a brim designed to deliver the whiskey to specific parts of your palette.
If you’ve ever had your bike stolen, you know firsthand just how crafty bike thieves can be. No matter how tough your lock is, they find a way to break it and steal your wheels. But not to worry — there’s a startup from Boston that has designed a new bicycle platform that’s not only protected against theft, but also guaranteed. They’re so confident that your bike won’t get stolen that they offer a 100-percent guarantee. In the unlikely event that your bike does get stolen, they’ll replace it free of charge with a brand new one.
Here’s how it works: The first line of defense is the bike itself. Everything on it — the wheels, the tires, the chain, and everything in between — is held together with bolts that can only be removed with a special tool. This makes it harder for would-be thieves to steal parts, while an accompanying smart U-lock prevents them from stealing the whole thing. And if that doesn’t work, the company has an anti-theft division that will monitor secondary markets to search for your stolen ride. If all else fails, they’ll send you a replacement bike (or replacement parts) in 24 hours.
At roughtly the same dimensions as a pool ball, the Luna 360-degree camera is allegedly the smallest device of its kind. The compact little ball features two 190-degree fish-eye lenses for Full HD wraparound video and 5-megapixel stills, and helpfully incorporates gyro-stabilization to aid picture steadiness. Built-in Wi-Fi means you can send captured content to your devices, and social sites, in a snap. Live streaming is possible, too, though one of Luna’s biggest draws is the chance to watch content using VR viewers like Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and Samsung’s Gear VR.
At 6 centimeters in diameter and weighing just over 180 grams, Luna’s aluminum body and scratch-proof glass over its lenses suggest a sturdy design. It also incorporates 32GB of storage and a built-in microphone, and a battery that can keep the camera running for up to 30 minutes. While Luna’s built-in magnetic connector allows you to stick it securely on various metal surfaces, it’s also possible to attach it to a monopod and other devices using its accessory pack, though this costs about $100 extra on top of your main pledge.