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.
NEOH — Smart 3D audio headphones
Sporting a futuristic design that would look right at home in a scene from Minority Report, these octagonal headphones are outfitted with a serious stable of technology. The headphones use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to wirelessly connect to your mobile device, and incorporate a specialized app designed to “deliver a high quality stream of spatially reconstructed audio” — or in other words, create a three-dimensional soundscape. And that’s not all — In addition to software, the cans incorporate a 9-axis motion sensor system, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a magnetometer.
The system is designed to completely encapsulate your head inside a virtual sonic landscape, pinpointing your location as if you were surrounded by speakers. Move your head to the right, and the headphones adapt the algorithm to reconstruct the sound, virtually accounting for the movement and adjusting the sound accordingly.
Dimension Polymers — Sustainable 3D printing filament
3D printing has exploded in the past few years, and now that they’re fairly common, it’s high time that we start thinking about the environmental impact of all those spools of filament we’re using to print T-Rex showerheads with. Annual plastic consumption as a 3D printing material today is estimated at 30 million pounds, and it’s projected to reach 250 million pounds by 2020 (a 40 percent annual growth rate).
Because most 3D printing filaments are currently produced from virgin plastic, the industry will significantly burden the environment with toxins from petroleum-based production. The petroleum required to produce the amount of plastic (2.2 pounds) in a single standard 3D printer cartridge results in approximately 8lbs of carbon emissions. That’s precisely why Dimension Polymers set out to make a printing filament made and packaged from 100-percent recycled materials. And it prints just like normal PLA or ABS!
RideOn — Augmented reality ski goggles
You’ve probably seen Recon’s HUD goggles before, but these goggs are different. Instead of relying on a tiny LCD display positioned down in the lower corner of your vision, RideOn goggles are equipped with a thin transparent display positioned directly over your eye — sort of like Google Glass, but bigger, thinner, and far less dorky. This allows the goggles to deliver images directly to your eye without obstructing your vision.
RideOn also boasts a myriad of other sensors under the hood. Inertial sensors and GPS work together to determine where you’re looking, while an integrated camera and special computer-vision algorithms identify things that you’re looking at. With some clever programming, all this data is woven together to create helpful features, such as buddy tracking, navigation info, and even a hands-free user interface. To switch modes, all you need to do is look up, and hover over whatever virtual button you’d like to press.
Cubi — Wrist communicator for kids
Now before you lose your mind and go into an impassioned rant about how young kids shouldn’t have cell phones; take a deep breath, rub your earlobes, and hear me out. This is actually a pretty brilliant idea. I, too, agree that young children shouldn’t have cell phones — especially those of the “smart” variety. Spending so much time staring wide-eyed at an LED screen, texting and playing games all day removes kids from the real world, robs them of meaningful social interaction with other people, and screws them up developmentally. That being said, having a way to communicate with your kids no matter where they are is a huge plus, and can help keep them safe.
Cubi is a brilliant little wearable device that aims to reconcile these problems, but also keep your kids safe. It’s essentially ultraminimalist, wrist-borne smartphone for kids — giving you peace of mind, and keeping games/apps out of the equation so your kids can focus on being kids.
Trippy Clip — Prismatic camera lens clip
As good as they are, the fixed lenses in iPhones and other smartphones are limited in what they can do. This limitation has opened up a world of third-party lens accessories that do everything from adding special effects, to zooming up-close and far out. The new Trippy Clip is part of the former: It’s billed as the “world’s first color changing lens system” that gives your camera phone a 180-degree field-of-view and adds a unique effect to photos and videos.
Functionally, the system is similar to Olloclip, but its spring-loaded design allows the lens to fit onto a variety of mobile devices, whether it’s the corner lens of an iPhone or iPad, or the centered ones of Android devices. It can even be used over the camera of your laptop. Because it’s hardware, it doesn’t matter what type of camera app you like to use. Just clip on one of the two lenses (either fisheye or circular holographic prism), snap a pic, and trip out.