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.
GoPro action cams are awesome — but they’re definitely not without their flaws and shortcomings. Despite all the great improvements that they’ve gotten over the years, there’s one issue that GoPro has yet to solve: How do you capture only the action you want when your hands are otherwise occupied by the actual action? That’s where GoHawk comes in.
Developed by POA Labs, GoHawk is a remote shutter release for the GoPro that users can operate with their mouth, either with their tongue or by biting the mouthpiece. There’s also a handlebar mount that can be used with the thumb, and the device is designed to work with just about any other kind of 3rd party remote shutter setup you can throw at it. Basically, it’s an add-on that gives you more control over your GoPro, but without compromising the control you have over your bike, board, or whatever crazy contraption you like to ride.
Galaxy Photography –a company that’s helped bring back sheet film and 120 format– has launched a new project to resurrect glass-plate negatives. The use of dry glass plates in photography stretches all the way back to 1871, when doctor and photo enthusiast Richard Leach Maddox found a new recipe that increased the sensitivity of wet plates. Prior to that? Wet glass plates had to be developed on the spot, which meant not only bringing a camera with you, but an entire darkroom. Dry plates were a huge improvement — but ultimately died out after the advent of film.
But that’s not to say that the medium didn’t have any benefits. Compared to film, images shot on glass provide a smoother transition from shadows to highlights because the glass diffuses the light, the company says. That quality helps create a realistic large-format image with a lot of depth. The orthochromatic plates are not sensitive to red light, which makes them ideal for shooting portraits without having to cover up acne and redness.
Lets say you have a cool idea for a pattern that you’d like to have on fabric. You have it all worked out in your head, and even have a couple design mock-ups on your computer — but how do you go about actually transforming that idea into a real textile? Unless you know a printmaker or have access to an industrial loom, your only option is to get a sheet of white fabric and figure out how to do it with dye.
But what if making a custom textile was as easy as uploading your design to a website? That’s precisely the idea behind WOVNS — a web-based platform that allows you to create textiles on demand. It’s not quite up and running yet (that’s what the Kickstarter is for), but if the service gets off the ground, you’ll be able to upload your pattern to the WOVNS platform, then have it sent to an industrial textile manufacturer, where the pattern is then made transformed into a woven fabric on a Jacquard loom.
You know nixie tubes? Those little cold-cathode vacuum tubes filled with glowing wires that can display numbers and letters? Kickstarter absolutely loves them. Take a stroll through the site on any given day and you’re bound to encounter some sort of nixie-based project. There’s no shortage of alarm clocks, radios, and other gizmos that use the tubes — but Nixin is a bit different.
Designer Nelio Barros wasn’t interested in making yet another tube-studded gadget. He was more excited about the unique shape of the letters and numbers inside the tubes — so he decided to make them into a typeface. Nixin, as its called, is a full suite of characters that you’ll eventually be able to download as an .otf file and use on your computer. When its released, it’ll come in three different weights and include a large number of characters that don’t actually appear inside traditional nixie tubes.
As the anti-shoe movement continues to gain steam, there’s been a corresponding flood of minimalist, barely-there footwear hitting the market lately. Those dorky Vibram toe shoes are everywhere these days, Nike’s new running shoes weigh practically nothing anymore, and there are dozens of other brands with their own take on the idea. The latest entry into this burgeoning category is Skinners — a unique new kind of footwear from a company of the same name. Rather than lightweight shoes, Skinners are more like space-age wool socks with toughened soles.
Because they don’t have rigid soles, the socks can easily be rolled up and stuffed in a backpack or pocket. And don’t worry about stink either. Skinners are designed with tiny strands of silver woven into the fabric, which is basically means that they’ve got a built-in bacteria killing system. The silver strands help kill microbes, which cuts down on odors — even if you’re tromping through mud and muck with these things.