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
“During my years in the ebike trading business, I learned that customers have their own unique idea of the perfect ebike design, and most cyclists have their own favorite bikes lying at home,” Eric Chow, UrbanX founder and CTO, told Digital Trends in an interview. “So I thought, ‘Why not make a kit that is easy enough for anyone to install without any skills needed, that would help customers save their money, help the planet saves resources, and help the customer get their very special ebike to their own best taste?’”
UrbanX boasts 350 watts of power, a 20 mph top speed, and 30 miles of range on a single battery, according to the company. All that can be found in a package that weighs just 15 lbs. Perhaps most impressive of all is the company’s claim that it takes just 60 seconds to attach the UrbanX. “Simplicity is one of the key features that we emphasize from the beginning,” Chow said.
You’ll need to detach your original wheel, attach the UrbanX in its place, secure the throttle to the handlebar, and then connect the wheel to the throttle cable — so one minute might be a bit optimistic, but the transition should still be quick. Once you’re all set up, the bike can function in three modes: full-electric, hybrid pedal assist, and as a traditional bike. An UrbanX app also offers distance, speed, and battery life tracking.
Plotters — aka, robotic machines that draw on a two-dimensional plane — aren’t exactly a new thing at this point. They’ve been around for decades, and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations — so normally, the announcement of yet another plotter wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy or exciting. But Joto (pronounced with a hard J) is different. It has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve that help it stand out from the rest of the pack.
First of all, it’s designed with a clean, minimalist aesthetic, and is designed to be hung vertically, like a picture on your wall. Secondly, it’s connected to the internet, and can be controlled remotely via an accompanying app. This configuration gives it a wide range of potential uses. You can treat it like a customizable picture frame and have it draw new artwork for you every day, or take a more utilitarian route and use it as a message board. Because Joto is connected to the web, your friends and family can send drawings, designs, and messages to you from anywhere in the world.
Is there anything more horrifying than the thought of having pipes burst while you’re away from home? One degree too cold, and you’ve got water damage everywhere. It’s a homeowner’s worst nightmare, and aside from insulating your pipes and leaving the faucets on a slow drip while you’re out, there’s not much you can do about it … until now. Osiris, a new device that’s recently launched on Kickstarter, is designed to autonomously monitor and control your home’s plumbing system
Once installed (all it takes is a zip tie) the device monitors water flow and alerts homeowners if there’s ever any unusual activity, like a leak or a pipe burst. This will allow you to turn off your water supply, and hopefully, prevent any major damage. The Osiris will also keep an eye on freezing pipes by monitoring pipe pressure, alerting you to any potentially hazardous situations and prompting you to turn on the heater to prevent a disaster. Similarly, Osiris will notice if you’ve accidentally left the water running, whether it’s from a hose in your backyard or the toilet in your bathroom. The smart water monitor is capable not only of finding the leak but letting you know that it’s happening so you can spring into action.
We’ve seen quite a few levitating gadgets and gizmos float through the doors of Digital Trends in recent months, but while many feature a single levitating object, this latest offering from Levitating Design Labs lets you choose from a variety of items to suspend in midair. Powered by electromagnetic suspension technology, the Levitating X collection features, for example, several 3D-printed decorative pieces, a drinking glass, a pot for your favorite plant, and a small pillow for your watch, jewelry, or other such diminutive item.
You have two different levitation bases to choose from. The larger one is wireless and incorporates a rechargeable battery, while the second, slimmer offering requires an AC power source. As the video below shows, it’s easy to set up the Levitating X. Simply slot in the proprietary levitation assist plate. Next, place the object you want to levitate onto the base before gently removing the plate. It’ll then float above the base, at which point you can give it a gentle tap to make it slowly rotate.
If duct tape and Lego bricks were somehow capable of reproducing, their offspring would probably look a lot like Numino Loops. Don’t let the name throw you off — this stuff is basically Lego tape — they just can’t call it that due to trademark issues. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a roll of single-sided adhesive tape designed with a series of bumps on the surface that are compatible with Lego, Mega Bloks, Kreo, and other toy brick building systems. This allows you to stick your bricks to your shoes, your bicycle or anywhere else your heart desires.
The crowdfunding campaign for this stuff has been incredibly successful. The creators originally set out with a goal of just $8,000 to cover the cost of production, but the campaign quickly went viral, and has now earned upwards of $1.1M in pledges from over 30K backers. The campaign page states that Numino Loops are expected to ship in July of this year, but don’t hold your breath. Overfunded projects are notoriously difficult to scale appropriately, so don’t be surprised if this one gets delayed by a few months.