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.
Waking up in the middle of night to pee is never a fun activity. When nature calls, you have to choose between flipping on the lights and blinding yourself, or skipping the switch and using the john in complete darkness. Or you could, you know, buy some nightlights.
If none of those options sound appealing to you, don’t worry — there’s an awesome alternative up on Kickstarter right now. It’s called the Illumibowl.
The company is back with a version that uses UV light.
You may have seen it on SharkTank. Rather than putting lights in your walls, IlumiBowl puts a light where you need it most: the toilet bowl. Using a set of motion-activated LEDs mounted just above the bowl, the contraption illuminates the toilet without actually being inside of it. This way, the gentlemen of the house have enough light to adjust their aim, and the ladies needn’t worry about falling in because the seat isn’t down.
The product has actually been on the market for over a year now, but now the company is back with a version that uses UV light to scramble the DNA of any bacteria living in your commode, and prevent them from reproducing.
Electric longboards are one of the best new forms of urban transport. They’re low maintenance, lightweight, easy to take on public transit, and great for getting around town. Over the past few years, as electric motors and lithium-ion batteries have steadily become cheaper and more powerful, electric skateboards have become highly sophisticated — but unfortunately most still suffer from one key drawback: an outrageously high price tag.
Whereas a high-end traditional longboard might cost you $400 at the high end, decent electric longboards often cost well over $1,000. You’d be hard pressed to find a decent one for under $500, and anything under $300 is damn near nonexistent.
But that’s starting to change. Thanks to platforms like Kickstarter, scrappy startups regularly pop up with more affordable alternatives which, in the long run, will force the bigger companies to drop prices to stay competitive. Longrunner is a prime example of this trend. Designed by a young upstart from Berlin, the board features all the trimmings you’d expect from a motorized longboard (belt-driven wheels, rechargeable batteries, handheld speed controls, etc.), but for a fraction of the usual cost. This bad boy can be had for about $160 on Kickstarter right now.
If you’re a fan of lightweight, minimalist survival gear, then this project is for you. The NanoSpark is a super rugged, ultracompact fire starting kit designed to help you start a fire no matter where you may be. The device has two main components: a waterproof tinder storage capsule and a flint wheel. To use it, you simply pull out your tinder flick the wheel until a spark lights up the tinder.
To be honest, we’re not entirely sure why you’d carry something like this instead of a regular lighter — but the best argument seems to be the size. NanoSpark is small and lightweight enough that you could presumably stick it on a keychain or zipper cord and just forget about it until you need it. It’s definitely not as convenient as a Bic when it comes to everyday use, but it’d certainly be nice to have in your gear bag if something goes awry and you find yourself stranded in the wilderness.
Standing desks are all the rage right now, and for good reason. There’s a growing body of research that suggests sitting all day is really bad for you. Incredibly bad, actually. Doing it for eight hours a day has been shown to cause a myriad of health problems, so over the past few years, the desk market has been flooded with a wide variety of innovative new designs that encourage you to get off your ass and onto your feet.
Staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle.
The latest addition to this growing trend is Deskview — an innovative new take on the traditional standing design. Instead of four legs, the desk employs a pair of suction cups, which allow the user to quickly affix it to a window. Really, it’s not so much a full-on “desk” as it is a suction-cup shelf for your window. It’s just big enough to fit a laptop coffee cup, and a book or two — but what it lacks in workspace real estate, it makes up for with a fantastic view.
No matter where you work, staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle any day.
Looking for a waterproof digital watch that’s not super bulky on your wrist? Look no further than the Papr Watch. As its name helpfully suggests, the watch looks and feels like paper — but its actually extremely durable. It’s made from Tyvek, a strong spunbonded olefin sheet product that’s much tougher than paper.
The material was developed many years ago by DuPont, you’ve probably already worn a Tyvek band around your wrist at some point, perhaps at a festival or some such event. It’s outrageously durable, but also lightweight, breathable, and waterproof.
And that’s the kicker. Tyvek has some really unique properties. It’s a nonwoven fabric that has zillions of tiny little holes in it. These holes are so small that they don’t let liquid water molecules through, but vapor can pass through with relative ease. This makes the watch breathable, but also waterproof enough to protect the electronic innards.
The digital watch face sits under the paper in the usual place but is clearly visible (that’s good), and the strap clicks firmly shut using magnets. And don’t worry about having to charge it every day — the Papr Watch uses a battery that will run for up to two years before it needs changing.