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.
In a lot of different ways, recent advances in materials science have sparked a revolution in bicycle tech. The bikes we have today (made from things like carbon fiber, titanium alloy, and aluminum) are not only lighter than ever before, but also stronger and more resilient than ever. But these advances come at a price. Unfortunately, high-performance lightweight bikes still cost an exorbitant amount of money, and are therefore typically only used by the most committed and deep-pocketed cyclists among us.
Pedal Forward wants to change that — and its come up with a pretty clever way to make it happen. Instead of spending big bucks and countless hours to develop a lightweight and cheap material, the company decided to build bikes from one of the lightest, strongest, and most readily available materials found in nature: bamboo. By using bamboo stalks to construct a bicycle’s frame instead of alloy metal or carbon fiber, Pedal Forward produces high-quality, super lightweight bikes that costs a fraction of what you’d typically pay.
Just because your old smartphone is a couple generations old doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use. When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech. So, instead of throwing it away or reselling it for less than what you paid originally, why not repurpose it? That’s the idea behind Olmose, an upcoming security device from a Belgian startup of the same name. The company’s device allows you to take an old smartphone and leverage its sensors, processing power, and networking capabilities to create a highly-capable home monitoring system on the cheap.
It’s certainly not the first device of its kind, but the idea is still pretty brilliant. Since Olmose is designed to leverage the existing tech that’s build into your dusty old smartphone, it eliminates the need for the creators to build more sensors directly into the device. This drives down the cost considerably — which is precisely why you can get your hands on the entire setup (app and accompanying “Dog Station”) for less than $70 on Kickstarter right now.
The phrase “3D knitting” might seem a little odd at first (like, isn’t knitting a three dimensional activity already?), but despite how ridiculous it might sound, it’s actually a pretty brilliant process. Essentially, 3D knitting machines take digital designs and turn them into a piece of clothing. It’s like 3D printing with yarn — you download a pattern from the Internet and size it digitally to fit the person it is intended for. You then feed the machine some yarn and let it get on with its job. When it’s all said and done, you’re left with a fully-formed, ready-to-wear garment — no cutting or sewing required.
The process itself has been around for quite some time, but only recently has the technology really begun to come of age. The machinery we have now is far more advanced and user friendly — and pretty soon, we’ll be able to 3D print totally customized clothing just like we can currently 3D print plastic parts. JS Shoe is one of the first manifestations of this tech, and because it’s made almost entirely through additive manufacturing processes, it can be custom-tailored to perfectly fit your foot.
If you work in an office environment and spend the majority of your life hunched over in front of a computer screen, we’re willing to bet that your posture is probably atrocious. But not to worry — thanks to an upcoming device from Korean startup Namu, you’ll soon have access to an innovative new tool that will help you straighten up. The Namu team has developed a small wearable gizmo called Alex that continuously monitors your posture, and gives you a gentle reminders when you’re slouching.
It’s definitely not the first posture-trainer wearable that’s ever been invented, but Alex takes a different approach than most others we’ve seen. Instead of sticking to your lower back, your clothes, or your chair, this gizmo actually hooks over your ears and hangs around the back of your neck. Even in this location, the device’s array of embedded sensors can tell when you’re slouching, and trigger the device, which gives you a little vibrating alert to remind you to posture up.
Still toiling away with a tape measure like some sort of carpentry-savvy caveman? It’s 2016 – get yourself a laser measure already. Not only are they faster, easier, and more accurate than tape, but some of the newer ones – like this upcoming ‘smart’ one called dTape – can interface with your smartphone to do all kinds of nifty next-gen stuff. In addition to all of the standard features you’d expect on a laser measure, dTape can sync via Bluetooth with your mobile device to collect measurement data on your phone or tablet. Then, with the help of dTape’s accompanying app, those measurements can be processed, stored, and even superimposed onto images of your job site to form a sort of augmented-reality schematic.
It’s even got a function that allows you to use your phone as a remote control to activate the measure in hard-to-reach spots. But smartphone pairing – despite being the device’s big selling point – isn’t the only feature it’s got. The creators have apparently outfitted dTape with a truckload of different measurement modes, including: length, area, volume, angle, single indirect height, single indirect length, combined indirect height, and even multi-surface area measurement. It’s definitely still in the early prototype stage though, so definitely do some research before you bust out your wallet.