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.
Leif — Motorized drift board
Ever wished you could snowboard on asphalt? Well guess what, homeboy — you dreams just came true. Leif is essentially a motorized longboard that’s been modified to shred on pavement the same way a snowboard shreds down a snowy slope. Thanks to a set of casters located on the underside of the board, braking speed checking, and sliding around tight corners (things that typically take years of practice to master) can all be done the same way they’re done on a snowboard, using the same motions and muscles you already know intuitively. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a board like this, but unlike some of the others that came before it, Leif is completely motorized. Using a wireless controller that commands a pair of 2000W brushless electric motors, you can propel yourself forward at up to 20 mph without ever setting foot on the ground. They’re a little steep — early-bird backers can lock one down for about $1,300 — but damn if they don’t look fun!
Tiny Tesla — Tesla coil speaker
Tesla coils know how to put on a good show. You probably already know that they can provide quite an electrifying visual display, but did you know they can also sing? The electrical arcs the coil puts off heat up the surrounding air and create pressure waves that we can pick up with our ears. If you modulate the frequency at which the lightning pulses, you can effectively modify the sound it creates. In other words, with the right hardware, you can turn a Tesla coil into a low-fi speaker. Tiny Tesla is basically a special kit designed to help you make one of these coil speakers on your own. The company behind it, oneTesla, designed the kit to be a sort of educational tool to teach people about electronics. If you back the project now, you can snag up a Tiny Tesla for about $150, or spring for the bigger, badder, and louder model, the oneTeslaTS, for $400. The project has already crushed its funding goal, and expects to ship the first kits as early as September.
Vyper — Vibrating foam roller
If you’ve never experienced the glory that is rolling on a foam cylinder after a workout, you’re missing out. On the list of most amazing feelings known to man, it’s right up there next to peeling the protective plastic off of new electronics, finishing a long book, and getting your skull scratched by somebody with long nails. It’s also really good for your muscles. By applying pressure to specific points on your body after a workout, you can accelerate the recovery of your muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Really, any old foam roller will probably do the trick, but if you want to spring for the Cadillac of rollers, check out Vyper. It’s a foam roller outfitted with a special vibrating core, which, in addition to probably feeling rather incredible, also helps to improve blood circulation. All the earlybird backer rewards have already been snagged up, but if you back the project now, you can still lock one down for about $200 bucks.
ProGo — Propane-powered scooter
Gas-powered scooters are probably the most horrible form of transportation ever invented. They’re loud, they’re horrible for the environment, and they make you look absolutely ridiculous while you ride them. But this one is different. Instead of running on gasoline, its 25cc four-stroke engine is powered by much more environmentally friendly propane gas. This means it burns much cleaner, and (more importantly) much quieter than any other gas-powered scooter in the game. To get it going, just screw in any standard Coleman-style 16.4 ounce propane tank and give the ripcord a good yank. The engine requires no pumping, priming, chokes, or carburetor cleanup, and can provide about 3 to 4 hours of riding time on a single canister. The scooter tops out at around 20 mph — just fast enough to propel you beyond earshot of judgmental bystanders, so you’ll never even hear all the giggling and ridicule that will undoubtedly ensue shortly after you zip by.
QuarterWave — Bluetooth speaker
Even if you’re not an audio geek, it’s difficult not to fall for the QuarterWave on sheer looks alone. We’ve seen wooden speakers aplenty, but even so, the rich finish and smooth curves that round out the center of the Quarterwave’s cabinet offer a fresh feast for the eyes. Don’t be fooled though — those rounded lines aren’t just for aesthetic value alone; they also serve a purpose. According to the the QuarterWave’s Kickstarter page, the twists and turns inside the box are designed as acoustic waveguides, which serve to delay the sound waves that resonate through the center of the cabinet to prevent interference and distortion (there’s even a sound wave diagram in the company’s logo). In fact, using the kind of sound principle lingo you’ll hear in a Bose infomercial, the site claims the speaker is able to leverage the interior resonance for “constructive interference” creating a “loud and undistorted live sound.”