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.
There are countless dash cam options to choose from in 2015, but few are truly as smart as they claim. Boston-based startup Waylens is trying to change that with its new automotive camera system — a data-driven device that can record video, overlay performance data on top of it, and even seek out the most interesting clips to share with your friends via the free companion app. The camera was born from the MIT Media Lab, and thus the product features an impressive level of technology and engineering.
The camera itself appears to be very high quality, featuring a unibody aluminum enclosure and circular retina OLED display. Its 1080p 60fps footage is crisp and sharp — even in comparison to the latest GoPro— and its Bluetooth-enabled OBDII connector, GPS, and onboard motion sensor allow it to seamlessly display data like vehicle speed, engine speed, turbocharger boost, cornering g-force, and other info over the captured film. Furthermore, the companion app — available for iOS and Android — automatically cuts through hours of footage to find the juiciest shots, identifying the fastest 0 to 60 mph times or the most extreme cornering forces, for example.
Earlier this year, a small Australian company by the name of Forcite caught our attention with a teaser for an upcoming product. The Forcite Alpine helmet, as it was called, was pretty much everything you could ask for on the slopes. Under the safety-certified hull, this thing had a built-in action cam, walkie-talkie, headlights, GPS, and even a pair of bluetooth speakers for your music. Back then it was just a prototype, but now the company is gearing up for production, and has taken to Kickstarter with the new and improved device.
The helmet has come a long way in terms of specs. The camera, for instance, started out at simply 1080p, but has now been upgraded to 4K, and even comes with image stabilization. It will also do slow-mo 120fps shots at 720p, and you don’t need mounts or other hardware; it’s all bundled into one device. The accompanying Forcite Alpine app will include auto-footage editing and stat overlay for videos. In other words, it uses special software to skip past all that boring lift-line footage you caught, and jump straight to the parts where you’re hucking your meat off giant cliff drops.
For some people, having wires run down your neck is just too troublesome for enjoying your music, whether it’s during a morning run, while walking to lunch, or even on the long train or bus ride home. However, most wireless headphones and earbuds require a whole new set of cables and equipment to charge, or you end up losing the earbuds when you forget where you last put them. But there’s a new Kickstarter out there for Skybuds, and it might have the answer for those needing premium, wireless earbuds that are both charged and stored right in your smartphone case.
They’re pretty standard as far as the wireless headphone tech goes, but the really interesting part about Skybuds is how you charge and store them. Rather than bundle a separate charger and carrying case that you’ll probably end up losing or forgetting somewhere, Skybuds come with a proprietary iPhone case that charges and stores your buds safely. The case has two inductive charging ports (one for each earbud) below the case on each side. Inside the case is a 1,000mAh battery that not only charges the earbuds, but can charge your iPhone too. The earbuds only need 100mAh to fully charge, so your iPhone can take up some of the extra battery life to keep it going throughout the day.
What kind of robot would you build if you didn’t have to bother with soldering, chassis construction, or coding? What if you could take it apart and use the same pieces to build something else? Well CellRobot, a gizmo that recently popped up on Kickstarter this week, gives you exactly that kind of freedom. If you haven’t already guessed from the name, the device is essentially a collection of snap-together robotic cells that can be assembled in a variety of different ways — effectively allowing you to create a wide variety of different robot configurations with the same parts.
Each “cell” has a 360 degree angle sensor, servo motor, and microcontroller — and can connect to any other cell at practically any angle thanks to a round snap joint system. The powerhouse of the system is CellRobot’s “heart” cell — an all-in-one power supply and communication hub. It has a charge port, tiny six-hole speaker, power indicator, a small screen, and the standard round snap-twist connectors. In addition to the heart cell, the kit also includes a number of specialized parts, such as wheels, clamps, spotlights, and even a camera.
Heated jackets definitely aren’t a new idea at this point, but Ravean is different. Rather than making yet another run-of-the-mill product, the jacket’s designers wanted to create something that could fit every situation — from a mountain top, to the office, and everything in between. As such, they designed Ravean to be light enough to wear as a layer, yet tough enough to keep you warm in negative four degree weather. Tucked inside jacket’s panels, there are a set of ultrathin heating panels, powered by your choice of 12V, 7V, or 5V batteries. No matter what power level you choose, the jacket’s unique power-cycling feature allegedly gives it an impressive 10 hour battery life.
And that’s not all. The coat also features built-in charging ports that allow you to use excess battery power to juice up your mobile devices. Ravean’s battery can supposedly charge your devices up to six times on a full charge — assuming you don’t use any power to heat up your coat, of course. And finally, as if it didn’t have enough features already, the jacket also comes with a carrying case and a pair of heated gloves. The gloves are designed to draw power from the jacket, so they don’t need their own power source.