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 fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even those with the best intentions — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the “gadget of your dreams.”
Here’s a quick excerpt from our hands-on review, which ran earlier in the week: “Matrix, a California-based company, is known to use body heat to charge its Indiegogo-funded smartwatches, the PowerWatch and the PowerWatch X. At CES 2019, the company took things a step further with its latest device, the PowerWatch 2, which comes with aesthetic upgrades, along with the ability to juice up with solar power.
The PowerWatch 2 retails for $500 and is now available for pre-order through Indiegogo. As a part of an early-bird promotion, those who do pre-order the device can snag it for $200. One of our main gripes with the original PowerWatch is that it simply didn’t do enough. That has been remedied with the PowerWatch 2, and the work Matrix has done to limit the need to take the watch off to charge it continues to impress.
Robots that teach you how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Zumi is special. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen, it’s arguably one of the most intriguing. Why? Well, instead of simply teaching you how to code, this little robot teaches you the fundamentals of A.I. and autonomous cars — two things that will soon become an integral skill in tomorrow’s workforce.
“Zümi is the first educational self-driving car kit that will teach you about the concept of artificial intelligence and self-driving car technology in a fun and engaging way.” the creators explain on their Kickstarter campaign page. “With our friendly step-by-step tutorials, you will be able to train her on how to navigate through a miniature map in less than an hour. The more she learns, the better she’ll get.”
Ever since it first debuted in the original Star Wars films, the light saber has been coveted by pretty much everyone — geek or otherwise. The only problem is, unlike most weapons born in the realm of science fiction, lightsabers still don’t exist. We’ve got lasers, electromagnetic pulse cannons, rail guns, and basically every other sci-fi weapon you could ever imagine, but the technology to create a real, working lightsabers doesn’t exist yet. We’re sure it’ll happen eventually, but for now, we’ve got to settle for the next best thing: Waan.
According to its creators, this lightsaber was “designed in France by a team of passionate researchers and designers, with every detail having been studied and scrupulously validated. The handle design, blade strength, easy and quick blade change, all without any tools. But WAAN’s biggest innovation is how its sounds and the perfect responsiveness we achieved whether through its built-in speaker or via Bluetooth. We don’t use embedded pre-recorded sound banks, but a complex algorithm and a powerful DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to generate the audio flow in real time. WAAN is, without a doubt, a truly exceptional lightsaber.”
Here’s a quick cut from our full article: “While most phone cases do a stellar job of protecting handsets when they hit the deck, some drops prove too much, leaving you with a damaged handset and a costly repair bill. To alleviate this issue, an engineering student at Aalen University in Germany has taken it upon himself to design a fully working phone protector that springs into action just before the handset hits the ground.
The German Mechatronics Society was so taken by the design that it awarded the student, Philip Frenzel, a national prize for his efforts. Frenzel’s device comprises a slim case with four prongs located inside each corner. When the sensor detects the phone is falling, the prongs automatically deploy, preventing any part of the phone from hitting the ground. One notable advantage over airbag systems is that the device can be quickly reset by pushing the prongs back inside the case.”
Here’s Jenny McGrath with the scoop: “After we went to check out a new cordless hair dryer at CES 2019, a few of our colleagues were surprised: “Doesn’t that already exist?” It seems like it should. After all, there are cordless curling irons, shavers, and other bathroom appliances — convenient for a room with often limited outlets. But Volo claims its Go Cordless Dryer is the first of its kind.
The Go debuted at last year’s CES, but now it’s live on Kickstarter.. You probably don’t want to turn on the device if your hair is sopping wet, as the cordless dryer only has about 14 minutes of battery life on full power. On medium, it lasts for 24 minutes, but it can run for over an hour on its cool setting. Unlike your typical hair dryer, the Go uses infrared heat. That makes it faster and makes the results less frizzy, according to Jonathan Friedman, co-founder and president of Volo.”