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.
If you needed more evidence that we’re living in the future, look no further than Skarp. Instead of a traditional razor blade, this gizmo uses a low-power laser beam to zap all the hair off your face. That means no more razor burn, no more putting toilet paper on cuts, and no more buying new blades over and over again.
It might sound gimmicky, but laser shaving isn’t just a superficial upgrade from a good ol’ fashioned blade. According to the Kickstarter page, a laser razor might actually be better for troubled skin. It burns the hairs it passes over instead of cutting it off, and apparently doesn’t irritate the skin at all. When you laser the hairs instead of cutting them, hair follicles are left with a rounded edge at skin level — as opposed to the usual sharp pricklies left by a traditional razor. This means a smoother feel with less risk of ingrown hairs, which can be particularly troubling for those with curly hair.
Generally speaking, motion capture technology has historically been one of those things that only deep-pocketed animation studios have had access to. To do it properly, you needed all manner of special suits, camera equipment, studio space, and processing software — but soon that might not be the case. A startup from Denmark named Rokoko Electronics has built a suit called the Salto DK1 that makes motion capture easier and more affordable than ever before.
The system is comprised of an array of tiny inertial measurement units (IMUs) that you can strap to your body. Because it doesn’t rely on optical detection like earlier mo-cap suits, the DK1 doesn’t suffer from line-of-sight restrictions and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Furthermore, in addition to motion capture, could be used for things like game interaction, virtual reality, sport analysis, medical analysis, and more.
Imagine having a football game, Netflix, YouTube, and a video game on your TV all at once, and being able to switch between them at will, like picture-in-picture on steroids. Boston-based startup Skreens has recently announced two new devices that would allow TV viewers to watch up to four different sources on one screen. The little boxes, dubbed the NexusTwo and NexusFour, are designed to blend together streaming TV, broadcast TV, game consoles, and pretty much any other HDMI video source, all into one interface.
The boxes run a 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor, with 4GB RAM, but it’s the unique video processor that supposedly makes it possible to view multiple content sources with zero lag. Skreens says the two small Nexus boxes are powered by “patent-pending innovation at the silicon layer.”
Let’s not kid ourselves here – it’s pretty easy to deduce that consumers care about the appearance of things they wear on their wrists. Yet the vast majority of smart watches produced each year — even high-end ones — tend to be gaudy, glossy, and unattractive. It’s a shame, but smart watch designers generally seem to go for a futuristic look rather than a timeless one.
Unique takes a different approach. Rather than redesigning the watch face itself, this gizmo tucks away all the tech into a classy leather watchband. This way, you still get the timeless aestheic appeal of your regular old wristwatch, but also with a slew of high-tech functions. The strap’s built-in NFC chip connects to your phone, allowing you to receive alerts when you get a call, message, or leave your phone behind.
Forward-thinking designers all over the world are finding inventive ways to produce clean, renewable energy: Plugs that allow you to use solar power without owning panels, digestion machines that turn food scraps into electricity, oceanic thermal energy harvesters — the list goes on and on. We’re truly living in a renaissance for renewable energy.
The latest entry into this booming category comes from Minnesota-based investment firm Janulus, which has developed a line of portable wind turbine prototypes, dubbed Trinity. Available in four different sizes, the Trinity lets users store generated power and sell off any energy they don’t use, and it even works where wind speed isn’t particularly high. The team behind the project also developed a companion smartphone application allowing users to turn the Trinity on or off while also providing details on how much energy the device generates each day.