At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns 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. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
When you let your dog off its leash, do you get a little twinge of concern that he might run off and get lost? If unleashed pet worries are part of your world, the Findster Duo GPS pet tracker is definitely worth checking out. According to its creators, it’s the first GPS tracker with no monthly fees — which is practially unheard of. Dog collars with GPS and cellular connectivity, such as the Link AKC Smart Collar, typically have monthly service fees that range from around $7-$10 per month — but the Findster Duo has no GPS or cellular fees because it uses a proprietary local wireless technology called Maze. Once you buy the unit, that’s it — there are no ongoing access, cellular, or GPS fees.
The Findster system includes a pet module with a Velcro collar attachment, a guardian module you can carry or keep in your pocket, and a USB charger for both modules. The modules themselves communicate wirelessly for a range of up to 2 miles, so as long as you and your dog are within range of each other, the pet module’s GPS location will be viewable via the Findster mobile app.
Want a pair of glasses that can record video, but don’t want to suffer thrugh the inevitable chuckles and snike remarks you’ll get if you wear Google Glass? Not to worry — Orbi Prime has you covered. It’s basically a set of cameras that are discreetly tucked inside of a pair of normal-looking spectacles. Nevermind the fact that the device is equipped withfour HD cameras and automatic stitching software to create 360 video with a 4K resolution — the best part about these things is that you don’t look like a doofus while you wear them.
After you’ve caught some sweet video of your adventures, built-in Wi-Fi connects the glasses to an accompanying smartphone app for editing, browsing, and sharing. The glasses are charged using a Micro USB cord and can (allegedly) record up to 90 minutes of 360 video per charge. And since Orbi designed these things to be used in the great outdoors, the camera-glasses also feature a splashproof/rainproof (but not submersible) design.
Even with the zillions of smart home devices that are available these days, automating everything in your house is still a pain. Your options are either: A.) foot the bill for an expensive, professional whole-home automation system, or B.) install a bunch of individual smart gizmos for each thing you want to automate, then try your damndest to navigate through the laundry list of control apps scattered across your smart phone. Thus far, there hasn’t really been a simple solution that offers a way to automate all the things you want, but through a unified and affordable platform.
That’s where Switch Bot comes in. Touted as “the world’s smallest remote robot,” it’s basically a tiny internet-connected trigger for mechanically controlling the various switches and buttons in your home — all from the comfort of your phone or tablet. In essence, it makes dumb devices into smart(er) ones, no matter what they are or what kind of mechanical action they require to be activated. To use the device, download the app, attach Switch Bot to an appliance or light switch using 3M mounting tape, configure your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and then set any preferences you want in terms of automating the turning on and off process.
If you haven’t been following the progression of the Eve V, don’t worry — here’s a quick rundown. Basically, this company Eve has been crowdsourcing design ideas and specifications for the ideal 2-in-1 tablet, and then using those ideas to build the world’s best mobile PC. Virtually every aspect of the Eve V — from its basic shape to its components and features — were developed based on input from the community that the company built around the product. And now, after years of careful listening and development, Eve has released the final hardware specs for the device and opened up preorders on Indiegogo.
As you’d expect, the Eve V is an absolute beast (on paper). When it ships in late 2017, it will come equipped with your choice of 7th Gen Intel Core M3/i5/i7, 8 or 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, a 128/256/512 SSD, a 12.3-inch IGZO LCD with 2736X1824 resolution, 1:1400 contrast ratio, a Gorilla Glass touch panel with Anti-Fingerprint and Anti-Reflection coating, and all the inputs, outputs, and sensors you could ever want. Check out our full post for details — it’s basically a dream team of components, and will likely give the yet-to-be-released Microsoft Surface Pro 5 a run for its money.
Portable, rechargeable battery packs are as common as pigeons these days. They come in just about every shape, size, capacity, and color you could ever want — but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s not room for innovation. As the Long battery demonstrates, you can still stand out from the crowd with the right blend of features and functionality.
Designed by Kazakhstani inventor Amad Zhakov, Long is built to provide days (not hours) of charging for your devices — no matter how big or small they might be. But capacity alone isn’t the battery’s best feature. It’s also equipped with a myriad of sensors that help regulate voltage input, charging speed, and even battery heat. These sensors allow the battery to determine the optimal recharge rate for your devices, helping you juice up quicker and spend less time at the charger. As an added bonus, Long also comes with just about every input and output port you could ever need, so you’ll never have to fiddle with adapters ever again.