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.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture is the single biggest cause of environmental destruction on Earth. It causes more pollution than all types of transportation combined, and is incredibly unsustainable — but because the world isn’t showing any signs of kicking its animal product addiction, scientists are working on an alternative that’s far less damaging to the environment: lab grown meat.
In the past few years, dozens of startups have sprung up with the goal of creating lab-grown meat that’s indistinguishable from the real thing — and SuperMeat is the latest to hop on the bandwagon. The company working to develop a new technology would make it possible to grow convincingly realistic chicken breasts. To do this, the company would first take a small biopsy sample from a chicken, then separate cells to grow in culture. Once these cells are grown into full-size tissue, SuperMeat hopes it will “result in chicken meat indistinguishable from conventional meat in terms of flavor and texture.”
Remember 3Doodler? — the world’s first 3D-printing pen that took Kickstarter by storm a couple years ago? By using a special, quick-hardening filament, it allowed users to draw free-form three-dimensional objects by hand instead of drawing out designs on a computer and using a printer to bring them to life. It was a fantastic idea, and has since been copied by a number of other companies — but generally speaking, all the 3D printing pens you can buy right now still suffer from the same drawback: the fact that you have to pay for special filament in order to use them.
Renegade aims to solve that problem. Instead of proprietary filament sticks, this pen is designed to print with waste plastic gathered from discarded soda bottles and shopping bags. To make this possible, the pen comes with a special bottle cutter that allows you to easily slice old plastic bottles into strips. Once that’s done, you simply feed the strip into the pen and start drawing!
Normally, zapping your brain isn’t a great plan, but when it’s done right (with a purpose-built wearable — not by licking an electric fence), there are actually some benefits to it. That’s the idea behind the Elf Emmit — a new wearable device that recently launched on Indiegogo. The device, which takes the form of a headband, is designed to emit low frequency electromagnetic pulses that reportedly influence and change your brainwaves. Apparently, certain pulse frequencies can help you work harder, sleep better, and minimize the stress of everyday life.
The device itself is rather minimal. It’s basically just a small electromagnetic coil that you wear around the back of your head. When switched on, it sends EM pulses directly to your cerebellum — the region of your brain that plays an important role in motor control, and also plays a role in cognitive functions like regulating fear and pleasure responses. Using an app, you can choose the signal frequency that’s best suited to what you want to achieve.
It’s been over three decades after the original Tron movies hit theaters, but even after 30 years, the films’ influence on futuristic design aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. Case in point: the Cyclotron bicycle — a hubless carbon fiber bike modeled after the light-cycles that appear in the films.
It’s not all about visual appeal, though. In addition to its futuristic and eye-catching looks, the bike also boasts a number of smart features and functionality. For starters, the glowing ‘halo’ wheels are designed to automatically switch themselves on in low-light conditions — thereby serving as an additional safety measure that increases the rider’s visibility from every angle. The bike is also designed to project red laser lines onto the road to indicate where the bike lane is. And best of all, the hubless wheels also double as storage containers, letting you store cargo where there would otherwise be spokes.
Paying for replacement razor blades is one of those things that’s universally hated by practically everyone who shaves. Sure, you can always go the Dollar Shave Club route to save some money, but if you’d rather not burn a bunch of cash just to keep your fur at bay, you should definitely check out this brilliant new sapphire razor blade that just hit Kickstarter. It’s called Zafirro, and it’s built around the idea that metal isn’t necessarily the best material for a blade.
It’s generally accepted that razors get dull over time after coming in contact with your hair — but that’s not actually the reason it happens. Instead, razors lose their sharpness because their edges are so incredibly thin that reactions with water, air, and oxygen cause them to corrode. Constant exposure to water and moisture causes the paper-thin cutting edge of the metal blade to rust and flake away, which shortens the effective life and forces you to buy new blades. Zafirro doesn’t have any of those problems, because it’s made from sapphire instead of steel. Plus, in addition to being corrosion resistant, it’s also sharper than a traditional razor — so you get the best of both worlds.