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.
Face it; nobody is going to believe that you spotted a bay-breasted warbler or a golden-crested bushtit if you only bring your standard spotting scope. If you want to make all your birdwatching friends jealous at your next Thursday night bridge game, you’ll need hard evidence of all the rare avian species you’ve spotted. Only problem is, there’s not really an easy way to record stuff you see through your scope — until now. The plainly named Smarphone Scope Mount is a simple, cheap, and effective system that allows you to attach a smartphone to a spotter’s scope or rifle scope. Then, with the touch of a button, you can record what you see. It’s funny actually — there are dozens of things that allow you to affix a bigger lens to your smartphone, but this is the first one designed to affix your smartphone to a bigger lens. It’s brilliant. Now you can capture footage of all the wild and exotic birds you see and impress all your birdwatching friends. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and snap a picture of a baby weasel hitching a ride on the back of a woodpecker.
If you use a lot of candles in your house, it’s pretty easy to burn through a bunch of matches (or hell, even an entire lighter) in a relatively short span of time. Sure, buying replacements isn’t a huge financial burden by any means, but wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to worry about fuel refills or spare matches ever again? That’s the idea behind the ArcLighter, a freshly launched Kickstarter project from Canadian outfit Ignite Lighters.
Unlike fuel-based lighters, this unassuming little stick only needs electricity to function and runs on a long-lasting lithium-ion battery that can be recharged hundreds of times before it needs to be replaced. So how does it work? Rather than using the spark and fuel setup that most lighters use, ArcLighter creates a small electrical arc between two ceramic electrodes. This arc is smaller but drastically hotter than an open flame, so it lights the candle wick faster and more efficiently. Furthermore, because the device doesn’t use a flame, it can be used upside down without any risk of burning you.
When one person’s alarm goes off, the person sleeping next to them has no choice but to wake up, too. Most alarm clocks have no way to selectively wake up one person and leave the other person undisturbed. Until now, that is. Freshly launched on Kickstarter this week, Wakē is a new breed of alarm that can intelligently target individual users and wake up one sleeper without rousing the other.
Here’s how it works: After it’s mounted to the wall above the bed, the device uses an infrared camera and special body-tracking software to discern where each person is lying. When it’s time to wake one person up, Wakē silently takes aim, rotates into position, and then directs a tight burst of light and sound at their face. To keep from rousing the other sleeper, the device uses a set of parametric speakers capable of focusing sound into a narrow beam. Think of it as a spotlight for noise. If Wakē is pointed straight at your head you’ll hear it loud and clear, but if you’re outside of the beam’s small radius, the sound will be extremely faint.
Priced at just $179 on Kickstarter, Tiko is easily one of the most affordable 3D printers we’ve ever laid eyes on. The key to its ridiculously low price? The printer’s simple construction. Like many of the more affordable printers that have surfaced in the past couple years, Tiko is a delta-style 3D printer, meaning it uses three vertically moving parallel motors to change the position of the filament extruder. This configuration allows the machine to make accurate prints without any high-precision rails, linear bearings, or other crazy-expensive CNC components you’d find in cartesian-style printers.
Don’t let the low price tag and lack of precision parts fool you, though. Based on the specs listed on the Kickstarter page, it looks like Tiko would make a worthy competitor to a few printers that are 20 times as expensive. It sports a print resolution that goes down to 50 microns, as well as a maximum print volume that dwarfs that of most other printers this size (138 cubic inches). As if that wasn’t awesome enough, it’s also got a passively cooled extruder tip (which is unheard of), and a flexible build plate that requires no energy or special adhesives to function properly.
Silver is an amazing element. Not only is it great for stuff like slaying werewolves and making expensive forks, it also naturally kills bacteria. For this reason, it’s also extremely effective at resisting odors. Keeping this in mind, Y Athletics developed SilverAir – a line of high-performance sportswear with silver woven into the fabric to make it completely stink-proof. You might remember them from a couple years ago when they came to Kickstarter to fund the launch of their stink-proof shirt. Now, about a year and a half later, the company is back with another addition to its stink-proof gear lineup — a pair of wool socks.
These badboys are made from the same special fabric as before, and feature tiny threads of silver throughout to ward off pesky, odor-causing bacteria. The cool thing is that, as a result of harboring less bacteria, not only do these socks stink less, they also last a bit longer. The project has already annihilated its $35,000 funding goal, and expects to start shipping as early as August.