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 there’s 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.
PocketLab — Simple, low-cost multisensor
Scientific experimentation is easy if you’ve got access to the right tools, but for those of us without keys to a lab full of equipment, collecting and analyzing data from the physical world is often a daunting task. Stanford grad student Clifton Roozeboom (for real) aims to change that, and put cheap, easy-to-use experimentation tools in the hands of anyone who wants them. To do this, he has developed a small multisensor called PocketLab. This durable little box is outfitted with all the necessary sensor tech to measure acceleration, force, angular velocity, magnetic field, pressure, altitude, and temperature.
Using the accompanying cloud software, you can easily analyze all the data you collect, create graphs, and integrate your data with other software. It’s everything you need to get out there and start gathering information about the world around you.
Wonder Cube — Eight-in-one keychain tool
I don’t care what you’ve got on your keychain. Bottle opener, screwdriver, maybe even a little flashlight/pocketknife combo — the Wonder Cube outclasses pretty much every other keychain tool we’ve ever seen. It boasts an impressive list of functions, doubling as a 3-inch long charge/sync cable when unfolded, a smartphone stand (thanks to a micro suction cup plate), an LED light, and a backup battery charger that juices up your phone by plugging it into a standard 9V battery.
It even functions as both a memory stick thanks to a Micro USB card reader built into its USB plug. All this tightly packed into a compact (only one cubic inch) little cube that weighs just 30 grams. The project has already blasted past its original $50K funding goal, and is currently sitting pretty at well over 90K from more than 1,800 backers.
Quell — Electronic pain-relieving device
This one sounds too good to be true, and we probably wouldn’t believe it if we hadn’t given it a quick try at CES back in January. Quell is a wearable device that attaches to your upper calf and promises to make chronic pain go away within 15 minutes of putting it on. Quell’s ‘OptiTherapy’ electrode-driven technology uses non-invasive nerve stimulation to make this possible, allowing it to provide “100 percent” prescription-free relief to anyone who uses it. Creator NeuroMetrix claims that Quell is capable of relieving different types of chronic aches, from nerve pain to lower back problems.
On a single charge, the device is able to provide up to 40 hours of relief, while Bluetooth connectivity allows it to pair with an iOS device and to track your therapy sessions. It’ll be available later this spring for $250 — and it’s already FDA approved, something that’s always a good sign for any medical gizmo.
eBumper4 — Obstacle avoidance for drones
It may not be as glamorous as building vehicles that go faster, fly higher, or shoot more beautiful images, but making drones less likely to crash into walls and people’s faces is pretty critical to advancing the technology as a whole. That’s exactly what the Panoptes team hopes to do with the eBumper4: an obstacle avoidance system that can be retrofitted onto some of the more popular consumer drones on the market to stop them from running into things. The system relies on four sonar sensors aimed to the front, top, left, and right. Once activated, the sensors then constantly monitor the drone’s surroundings.
When the system detects that the drone is approaching an obstacle and in danger of colliding with it, it takes over control and bounces it back to safety. If there happens to be objects on both sides of the drone, its self-centering feature sees the system position the drone midway between those obstacles.
Volvorii — Customizable E Ink heels
Good news ladies — thanks to a novel application of E Ink technology (the stuff that powers your Kindle), you might finally be able to use the same pair of heels for every outfit in your closet. Lithuanain startup Ishuu Technologies has created a new type of smart shoe called Volvorii that allows the wearer to customize its pattern whenever they want.
The bulk of the shoe is comprised of rubber and leather, but it also sports a strip of e-paper on either side, and a small Bluetooth LE module near the heel. To change the pattern, simply connect Volvorii to your iPhone or Android device, and use the accompanying app to set the pattern of your choice. Due to the nature of the technology, color options are limited to just black and white, but the number of patterns you can create are practically limitless.
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