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.
Sunlight changes throughout the day, so why shouldn’t your indoor lights? Using research from Harvard Medical School, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health, Ario has created what it calls “the world’s first healthy connected lamp.” Like the sun, the lighting system changes light color and direction as the day goes on. Since light influences our body clocks, energy level, and sleep, the Ario lamp is designed to monitor a person’s resting pattern and personalize its schedule. Once connected to a Wi-Fi network, the smart device can determine the geographic location, the time of day, the season, and even the local weather patterns.
It initially bases its lighting patterns and settings on that information, but as it learns about specific sleeping habits, it adjusts accordingly. In general, bright, blue-rich light, known for being energizing, is used in the morning, which is meant to put more pep in your step as you start your day. As evening hits, the lamp shifts to amber light, which encourages relaxation and melatonin production, so that you’ll sleep better. Additionally, light is cast up in the morning and down in the evening.
Designed by two MIT grads, the Grove Ecosystem is an indoor farming system that lets you grow fresh produce in the comfort of your home. The contraption, which is about the size of the average bookcase, uses a natural process called aquaponics, which harnesses the relationships between beneficial bacteria, fish, and plants to grow fresh, healthy produce.
Here’s a quick rundown of how it works. There’s a fish tank at the bottom of the Ecosystem, and a hydroponic garden above that. The fish process the food you feed them and produce ammonia-rich waste. Beneficial microbes then convert the ammonia in that waste into nitrates (organic plant fertilizer), simultaneously supplying the plants with nutrients and the fish with clean water. As a result of this natural process, users don’t have to clean the tank, wash their greens, or worry about the freshness of the produced food.
If we told you that you could buy a smartphone that you could easily upgrade or repair by simply swapping out a part that snaps into place, would that excite you? If so, you might want to check out the PuzzlePhone. It’s a modular smartphone very similar to Google’s Project Ara, and it’s being crowdfunded on Indiegogo. The PuzzlePhone is 100 percent upgradeable, repairable, and future-proof thanks to three easy-to-change modules: the Heart, Spine, and Brain. In other words, you don’t have to worry about buying a new phone every two years since you can simply upgrade or repair specific parts.
The PuzzlePhone includes a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1,080p (1,920 × 1,080). It’s powered by a 64-bit octa-core ARM processor and includes 3GB of RAM and 16, 32, or 64GB of internal storage. The rear camera is 12 megapixels along with LED flash, while the front-facer comes in at 5 megapixels. Additional specs include LTE, USB 3.0/2.0 Type-C, NFC, Bluetooth LE 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and a 2,800mAh battery.
Brain-control interface (BCI) technology has come a long way in the past few years, but conducting brain research is still a costly and complicated affair. OpenBCI wants to change that, and has developed a new, super-low-cost brainwave-reading headset to help make it happen. OpenBCI is an open-source platform of hardware and software tools that makes it possible to measure, analyze, and utilize the human body’s electrical signals. The open-source system can measure brain data (EEG), muscle data (EMG), heart activity (ECG), and more.
The Ultracortex Mark III is the latest working version of the OpenBCI headset — and because it’s completely open source, interested parties can find all of the 3D files, links to hardware, and assembly info online. The headset was designed for maximum adjustability and ease of use, so it’s made with dry electrodes, which significantly reduce the time needed for setup (no more sticky paste!) and make the overall experience of wearing the headset much more pleasant.
The Internet of Things aims to make your life pretty damn easy. With just the tap of a button, you should be able to order pizza, dim your lights, or even buy groceries. But the thing is, you can’t quite do anything at the push of a button yet. So to fill that gap, Japanese-upstart Cerevo has created Hackey: a fully connected switch device that lets the user program whatever action is most useful to them. At the turn of a key, the Wi-Fi-enabled device can trigger just about any pre-programmed action you want. IFTTT integration means you can use it to send a text, open your garage, tweet a picture, and a zillion other things. The sky’s the limit.
The thing is, this definitely isn’t the first Internet-enabled “Do” button that’s ever been created. There are dozens of others on the market right now; what sets Hackey apart from the rest is the fact that it requires a key to be activated. This novel architecture makes the device significantly more secure than an unprotected button that anyone can push. Users can control who has access to the device, which greatly expands its potential uses.