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.
Dig the idea of exploring the bottom of the ocean, but don’t have the money or expertise to strap on a bunch of scuba gear and do it yourself? Well good news — the folks at OpenROV have developed a new RC submarine that makes exploring the depths easy and accessible for pretty much anyone. The Trident, as it’s called, features a hydrodynamic design that’s incredibly efficient at flying through in the water in long, straight runs, yet maneuverable enough to slide in between underwater rocks and crevices. It’s also small enough to fit inside a backpack.
The Trident is packed to the max with features that make flying in the water fun. The ROV can fly in long, straight lines when surveying an area or perform delicate maneuvers when needed to navigate in tight spaces. The drone also includes LED lights for underwater viewing and a built-in HD camera capable of capturing images or videos that can be used to create a 3D model of the ocean floor. Similar to OpenROV’s earlier drone, the software that powers the Trident is open source, allowing enthusiasts to add new features.
This new “bone conduction” headphone from London-based StudioBananaThings doesn’t rest near your ear. While other bone-conduction headphones, like the Aftershokz, rest in front of your outer ear to transmit vibrations through a bone in your head, Batband achieves the same effect by placing two transducers above the ear on each temple and one on the back of the head. It’s certainly futuristic — conceivably a device that a sci-fi show could use to give characters special powers — and, well, it definitely looks nothing like a pair of headphones.
The devices, which run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, feature six hours of audio playback or eight hours of conversation. The company claims that the headphones give a better sound experience than its competitors as the transmitters actually surround your head in sound. It also advertises ‘minimum sound leakage,’ so that others don’t hear everything you’re listening to, and buttons that allow users to turn the device on and off, take and end calls, skip tracks, and adjust volume.
In spite of the breakneck speed at which smartphones and tablets seem to advance these days, accessory makers always manage to keep pace and enhance the mobile experience with clever new devices. Cases, for example, are no longer just for protection — many of them are designed to provide additional features that extend the device’s range of uses. HandyCase is one of these accessories. With the help of integrated touch-capacitive materials, the case is designed to let you operate a tablet with your fingers, which are behind the screen.
“The HandyCase was developed as a useful, ergonomic tool to access multiple touch points on a mobile device from the back panel. The smart case allows for one or two-handed interaction with games, maps and other next-generation applications,” the creators explain. “Being able to interact with a touch screen from the back vastly improves the user experience for many existing apps and opens the door for new applications that would otherwise be clunky and frustrating on a simple touch screen.”
Olafur Eliasson, the artist and designer behind the Little Sun solar LED light, and his engineer cofounder Frederik Ottesen, are back again with another solar gadget — but this time their focus isn’t just on creating light. For this round, they’ve tackled the issue of charging mobile devices, and providing light for off-grid applications. To do this they’ve created the Charge. Just like the original Little Sun product, it’s not only meant to provide light, but to also enable a better life for those living in energy poverty in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa.
The campaign page is a little light on details, but from what we can tell, the Charge is basically a combination solar charger, battery pack, and LED light. Little Sun says that the device has a 2W solar panel, an internal rechargeable LiFePO4 battery, and can deliver a full smartphone charge in about 5 hours of direct sun. The device has a single standard USB port, and a light with multiple brightness levels, all wrapped in a rugged weatherproof and water- and heat-resistant casing that’s small enough to go almost anywhere.
It sounds crazy, but believe it or not, somewhere around 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. We put all kinds of time and energy into producing it, but we still end up throwing 40 percent of it away and sending it off to a landfill. It’s incredibly wasteful — but Seattle-based upstart Impact Bioenergy has developed something to help. For the past few years, the company has developed a revolutionary new biodigester machine (dubbed the Horse) that takes raw food waste and transforms it into fertilizer and electricity.
Here’s how it works: You start by feeding the machine food waste, paper, grass clippings, and pretty much anything else that’s biodegradable. Next, you add in some special bacteria, hit a couple buttons, and let the machine mix everything up. After that, you just let the bacteria do its thing. These little buggers will break down the food and other organic materials, gobble it up, and fart out gases like methane and CO2, which The Horse can use to create usable electricity. And when all the energy has been extracted, the leftover material can be used as a fertilizer. Pretty cool, right?