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.
Harnessing the power of the sun and concentrating its energy to generate heat is something that humans have been doing for millennia. Back in the second century AD, it’s said that Archimedes used a giant parabolic mirror array to set approaching warships on fire, and people were likely experimenting with solar energy long before that, too. But still, 2,000 years down the road, we’re still doing it the same way. Our equipment, however, has gotten considerably more advanced.
Take GoSun’s new solar cooker, for example. This little gizmo is basically a miniaturized version of the same parabolic mirror array — but designed for the sole purpose of cooking hot dogs. Rather than being forced to fiddle with charcoal briquettes or build a roaring fire, the Dogger, as its called, allows you to cook hot dogs quickly and completely with nothing but a few rays of sunshine. It is smaller than GoSun’s other devices too, which means you can easily pack it along on camping trips and short hikes.
The action cam bandwagon is pretty full these days. In an effort to steal some of GoPro’s thunder, most of the major camera manufacturers and outdoor companies have joined the fray. As a result, most action cameras are all pretty similar, and designed to be used in a variety of extreme sports or outdoor adventures. The Octospot Dive Camera is different, however. Instead of being okay for a few different sports, this one is purpose-built to be the ideal camera for one specific activity.
Here’s the deal: recording high quality video underwater is way more difficult than it might seem. The problem is that as you go deeper, you gradually begin to lose certain wavelengths of light, which is why most footage shot below 33 feet tends to look green. Some cameras offer filters and modes that attempt to fix this, but OctoSpot takes it a step further. The camera has a built-in pressure sensor that automatically adjusts the color balance for whatever depth you happen to be filming at. The result is perfectly balanced 4K video of your underwater adventures.
The computer mouse has come a long way since it was first invented, but even in a world full of crazy advanced computer peripherals, New Zealand-based startup Swiftpoint still managed to reinvent the wheel. The company’s new product, the Z, is arguably the most capable mouse that’s ever been invented. By combining new buttons and triggers with pivot and tilt gestures, the Z allows you to pull off 50 distinct actions — all without having to move your hand from its position on the device
These new actions can be mapped to a wide range of different functions on your computer. For example, mouse tilt can be used to control a video game character’s body position, while the pivot could be used to adjust camera angle. And it’s not just for games either — the Kickstarter video demonstrates how the mouse’s pressure-sensitive buttons can also streamline tasks in word processing software. Seriously, go watch the video — this thing is crazy.
What if instead of just using your keyboard as an input device, you could also use it as an output device? What if in addition to using to enter information, you could use it as a way of displaying information as well? It sounds odd, but that’s exactly the idea behind the new 5Q from Das Keyboard. Basically, this thing is a cloud-connected RGB LED-backlit mechanical keyboard that can be customized and controlled via the Internet.
In other words, that means that you can configure each individual key to display a different piece of information — or use multiple keys together to display more complex info. For example, you could link the color of your space bar to the outside temperature in your area so that it would glow blue when its cold, but glow orange or red when its hot. And that’s just the most simple example. If you want to get really crazy, you could even code your keys to represent a bar graph of stock values, or perhaps even set your whole keyboard to blink when you get an urgent email from your boss. It’s totally up to you how you use it.
If you’re going to keep a gun in your house, you damn well better keep it in a secure place where there’s little chance of it falling into the wrong hands. That being said, locking your firearm away in a safe isn’t exactly ideal since, on the off chance that you ever needed to use it for defense, you’re forced to fiddle with a combination lock or fish out a set of keys. The ideal solution would be a lockbox that offers both security and quick, reliable access.
Enter the Zore X: a cleverly-built gun lock that features an electro-mechanical dial designed to provide maximum security, but also quick unlocking even in the event of an emergency. The accompanying smartphone app, meanwhile, will receive gun-movement notifications, and can send you a message for any dial movement that takes place on the lock. In essence, it offers all the security of a safe, with the quick access of a biometric lock — and it’s more reliable than both.