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.
Like the idea of making music, but don’t want to be confined to a single instrument? Check out Mogees. This nifty little “appcessory” attaches to any surface – the hood of your car, a coffee mug, or even the Golden Gate Bridge – and picks up vibrations you create by banging on the surface in question. Then, using your smartphone as its brain, the device interprets those different vibrations and translates them into different sounds. You can even tweak the type of noises you make with the accompanying app, so the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen this before. This isn’t the first time that Mogees has been on Kickstarter. The device first popped up on our radar about two years ago — but it has come a long way since then. Now, the device’s vibration-sensing algorithm appear to be far more sophisticated, so you can actually make music with objects that Mogees isn’t directly connected to. For example, if you attach the device to a table, it can pick up sounds from every object that’s sitting on the table — not just the tabletop itself.
On the list of most germ-ridden objects you encounter on a daily basis, smartphones and tablets are probably the worst. They’re particularly problematic because, while lots of people use them them on a daily basis, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices generally don’t get cleaned as often as, say, your kitchen counter — or even your toilet seat for that matter. Seriously. That phone you play games with while you’re on the crapper has been statistically proven to harbor more germs than the bowl below. That’s pretty gross.
Luckily, the good folks at PhoneSoap have developed an ingenious system germs at bay — without any harsh chemicals or liquids that might damage your gear. Instead, PhoneSoap XL (the bigger, badder version of the original device) blasts your phone or tablet with a sustained blast of high-intensity UV-C light. These light waves penetrate the cell walls of bacteria and scramble its DNA, effectively killing it. It’s the same technique they use to sanitize stuff in hospitals — but designed for your gross, germ-ridden gadgets.
3D printers are getting more and more mainstream with each passing week, but while single-purpose machines are gaining ground, there’s also a rising tide of multipurpose fabricators hitting the crowdfunding scene lately. These machines do a lot more than just spit out plastic parts — many of them can pull double duty as CNC mills, laser cutters, engravers, and even drawing machines. While most only have a couple talents, MakerArm can do it all.
It’s basically a customizable robotic arm that can be outfitted with different attachments — allowing it to do just about everything a maker would need to do. Printing, cutting, milling, routing, engraving, burning, plotting — you name it and the MakerArm can probably do it. It can even pick up objects, move them around, and assemble things made of multiple parts. Yet, despite all these talents, the device is smaller and more mobile than most 3D printers — and it costs less too. You can get your hands on one for about $1,300 on Kickstarter right now.
If you’re into the whole wearable tech thing, but hate the idea of reading emails and text messages on a dinky little smartwatch screen, check out Eyecatcher. Instead of the usual smartwatch design, this bangle is pretty much all display, and features a 5-inch E-Ink screen that wraps around your wrist. With the help of the accompanying mobile app, you can customize the layout, design, and information displayed on the screen — and since it uses power-sipping E-Ink instead of a normal LED screen, the battery lasts considerably longer than it otherwise would.
The wristband’s creators at Looksee Labs say the battery will last up to a year on a single charge with the right settings, but that depends on how you use it, of course. If you’re constantly updating the watch’s display all day and night long, and have the notification settings coming through every few seconds, you’ll eat through the juice at a much quicker rate. Still, if the battery is anywhere close to what’s promised, the Eyecatcher will be a rare beast in today’s landscape of power-hungry mobile devices.
About a year ago, back before the current hoverboard zeitgeist had hit critical mass, a tinkerer by the name of Ryan Craven took the Internet by storm with a video of his own take on the idea. Instead of using fancy supercooled magnets and elaborate metal-covered skate ramps to levitate his board, Craven’s crazy DIY hovercraft — dubbed Mr. Hoverboard — employed four downward-facing leaf blowers. It was absolutely ridiculous, but it ended up working so well that he decided to mass produce it. Starting this week, you can actually preorder a kit to make your very own Mr. Hoverboard yourself — although you’ll have to supply the leaf blowers.
In case you missed the original video, here’s a quick rundown of how Craven’s hoverboard works. Once you’ve attached the four leaf blowers and flipped them on, the air they blast out is redirected out through a special PVC skirt attached to the underside of the board. When air escapes out of the skirts holes, it creates an air buffer between the board and the ground below — effectively allowing it to “hover” over just about any surface. To ride it around, you simply push in whatever direction you’d like to go. Because it’s basically floating, the board will move in the direction of the momentum you apply to it.