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.
Petunia Circadia — Color-changing flower
Ever wanted to change the color of your flowers on demand? Well thanks to a pair of biologists in Colorado, you might soon be able to do just that. Nikolai Braun and Keira Havens of Revolution Bioengineering have figured out a way to hack the biology of certain flowers and cause them to transition from one color to another. Together, they’ve created a new breed of petunia that can change from white to red, and back again, whenever you want.
Most flower colors are the result of anthocyanins, small molecules naturally produced in large quantities by a biosynthetic pathway. In white flowers, this pathway is often broken; an enzyme doesn’t work as expected and the flower cannot produce anthocyanins. By fixing that broken pathway and using biotechnology to trick the plant into expressing that missing enzyme, it’s possible to make it change color. In this case, you can change it from red to white with a dilute ethanol solution (like stale beer).
Yerka — Theft-proof bike
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’ll find a way to break it and steal your wheels. But not to worry — there’s a startup from Chile that has devised a brilliant solution to this problem. Rather than outfitting the bike with a lock that can be compromised without consequence, Yerka has designed a bike that uses its own frame as a lock — the idea being that, if the thief were to cut the lock, they’d damage a crucial part of the bike and make it impossible to ride away. Basically, there’s a break in the bike frame’s downtube. If you remove the sleeve that holds it together, the two separate sides of the downtube can swing out. To complete the lock assembly, the bike’s seat tube is removed and inserted through both ends of the split downtube, forming a closed rectangle.
Artiphon Instrument 1 — Multi-function musical instrument
The digitization of instruments is epitomized in the Instrument 1 from Ariphon: a multi-instrument device that lets you can play an array of different sounds in one place. It can be transformed into a guitar, violin, bass, piano and more — all simply through plugging in and playing via your music app of choice. The unique and compact device is ergonomically designed to be ambidextrous and adaptable to play like the traditional instruments it emulates. Artiphon’s Instrument 1 even works with popular music apps such as GarageBand, Moog’s Animoog for synth sounds, as well as its own app, allowing the user to explore sounds they’ve never heard before. The project has already blasted past its modest $75,000 funding goal, and expects to begin shipping as early as January of 2016 — assuming everything goes as planned.
Podo — Stick-and-shoot camera
Like taking selfies, but don’t want to be that idiot who actually purchases and uses a selfie stick? Check out Podo. This tiny device, which takes 8-megapixel images and 720p video, can be stuck onto almost any flat surface (ceilings included!) and used to send images to iOS and Android mobile devices via Bluetooth. Its dedicated smartphone app lets you see what Podo sees, so you can get in exactly the right spot before you tap the shutter button. Not enough light? Podo’s built-in ring flash will see to that, so long as you’re not too far away from it. Once you’ve got the shot, sharing it on popular social media sites takes just a few quick taps. A cool design feature of Podo is its microsuction pad, which lets you attach it to an array of surfaces. “We like to compare it to gecko feet, or else having thousands of microscopic suction cups,” the team says on its Kickstarter site.
Monolith — Next-generation electric longboard
In the past few years, batteries and electric motors have both become drastically smaller and more powerful, and as a result, we’ve seen a boatload of different electric skateboard models pop up recently. Each model is slightly different than the last, but generally speaking, they call have the same big drawbacks — they’re bulky, heavy, and cant be ridden like a normal board would be. Inboard Sports- a startup from California, hopes to address these problems with it’s first product: the Monolith. Using custom-built in-wheel motors and an ultra slim battery pack, the board looks and feels like a regular longboard. Without any belts to slow you down, you’re free to push, slide, and bomb down hills just like you would on an analog board. It even has a swappable battery system, so when one pack runs out, you can just pop in another one and keep riding.