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 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.
When you hear the word “drone,” your mind probably conjures up images of quadcopters and other UAVs — but despite those connotations, the term doesn’t exclusively refer to robots that can fly. As autonomous robotics technology continues to advance, drones are increasingly making their way onto land and sea as well. Case in point? This awesome six-legged spider drone from Spanish upstart Erle Robotics.
Rather than patrolling the skies and giving you a bird’s-eye view of the world, this beast scuttles along the ground and lets you to explore places that would typically be of reach for an airborne drone. It’s certainly not the first land-bound drone that’s ever been invented, but Erle-Spider does have a few things going for it that other drones don’t. By walking around instead of rolling on wheels, the drone can scramble over more complex and varied terrain without getting stuck, and can also carry more tech.
Generally speaking, if you want pro-level video stabilization, you’ve got to drop a bunch of cash on a Steadicam rig or a multi-axis gimbal. Not only are these things extremely expensive and complex — they’re also fairly big and bulky, which limits what you can do with them to a certain degree. SteadXP takes a completely different approach. Instead of sophisticated robotic stabilizers, this little box uses smart software and an array of accelerometers and gyroscopes to smooth out any jarring and instability in your handheld video.
You start by simply plugging SteadXP into your camera. It’s designed to fit a wide variety of digital cameras and camcorders, and comes with adapters that make it compatible with just about every camera on the market. Once you’ve attached it, you’re ready to start filming. Just go nuts, run around, and shoot handheld video like you would otherwise. As you move, the motion sensors record the camera’s motion. The raw video will be shaky and unstable, but the software program takes the motion data and basically cancels out all the shakiness — resulting in super smooth shots after post processing.
Brewing a perfect cup of coffee requires getting the right grind, filter, amount of water, and the temperature of that water. That’s not always the easiest proposition. But miss just one, and your coffee won’t be as good as it could or should be. That’s where the new Bruvelo coffeemaker comes in. It’s currently on Kickstarter, and you can snag one for just $299 right now — which is $130 off the planned retail price.
The Bruvelo makes 10 ounces of coffee at a time, precisely monitoring the process to prevent you from messing it up. It has a burr grinder built in, and can use either metal or paper 63mm disc filters. Once you add the beans into the hopper, the machine will tell you if you’ve added enough water for the amount of beans you have. It heats the water to a perfect temperature of 199 degrees Fahrenheit, begins brewing, and maintains that temp throughout the process. Users can even control the entire brewing process, including the time it starts, with an accompanying mobile app — which means you can wake up in the morning, grab your phone, and start your perfect cup without even getting out of bed.
Snooz is an “acoustic white noise machine” that produces just the right volume of background noise to help you drop off into the land of nod. Designed with airflow simulations run on supercomputers, Snooz uses a proprietary fan to generate live, natural white noise that is adjustable and doesn’t disturb the surrounding air. There’s no looping tracks of crashing waves or birds chirping on low-quality speakers — just the soothing sound of moving air. It’s basically a fan, without the fan.
The inventors behind Snooz point to a 2008 Consumer Reports analysis which said 70 percent of the 2,021 people surveyed found a sound machine helped them get to sleep more easily (that figure is just below prescription medication and way above over-the-counter drugs). As the Snooz team explains, white noise reduces the gap between your body’s baseline sound and containment noise. In other words, quiet sounds can’t be heard and loud sounds aren’t so jarring. It “literally smooths the bumps in the night” and you can adjust the speed and volume of the proprietary fan inside the enclosure very easily. It’s 98 percent more energy efficient than a box fan too.
If you drive a car that was made in the last 15 years, you probably have no trouble finding it in a crowded parking lot. You know the trick — just walk toward the general area where you think you may have parked, and hit the alarm button on your key fob. Finding your bike in a crowded lot is a whole different game though. The alarm trick doesn’t work with bikes. That’s where Pingbell comes in. The device acts like a bike locator; once you’ve linked Pingbell to its app on your phone, you can just park and walk away. Pingbell’s app records your bike’s location.
It doesn’t, however, provide real-time location data, which would drink battery both on your phone and in the device — it acts more like a location saver. If your bike is moved, though, you won’t know until you return to the scene of the crime. If you forget where you parked, just tap the iOS or Android app to remotely ping the bell and follow the sound. If pinging the bell would draw too much attention for your liking, you can just blink the light ring situated at the base of the bell. And if you can’t hear the ring or see the light, Pingbell uses Bluetooth Smart and a map to tell you if you’re getting hot or cold.
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