Year in review: The best crowdfunding projects of 2017

best crowdfunding projects 2017 kickstarter store

2017 is almost in the history books, and with it another great year for crowdfunding campaigns. Whether you’re interested in e-bikes, 3D printers, D.I.Y. engineering projects or, erm, toilets for cats; you could find whatever you were searching for on the pages at Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

What were some of our favorite projects of the year? We’re glad you asked!

Ink made out of pollution

When you think about the year’s most innovative crowdfunding campaigns, chances are that you picture robots or futuristic vehicles long before you imagine a project involving ink. However, the folks behind Graviky Labs managed to win us over with their unique method for recycling air pollution by turning it into something you can actually write with.

The Air-Ink Kickstarter campaign promised five different types of ink — covering applications ranging from fabric and outdoor paints to screen printing, oil painting, and markers.

Lid helmet

Okay, we’ll admit it: referring to a cycling helmet as “collapsible” doesn’t fill you with a whole lot of confidence. But the Lid helmet is kind of awesome. While it offers the requisite amount of protection when it’s on your noggin, once you take it off, its unique design allows it to collapse down to easily fit into a backpack.

“Our research told us that ‘helmet hassle’ is the No. 1 reason why cyclists opt not to wear a helmet, and also that safety concerns prevent many commuters from cycling altogether,” creator Sam Terry told Digital Trends. The fact that it looks pretty nice too is just a bonus!

Catolet toilet for cats and small dogs

The idea of a flushable toilet for cats might sound ridiculous, but any feline owners who have spent far too long cleaning out litter boxes may well appreciate its subtle genius.

Called the Catolet (because of course it is), the device involves a smart porous conveyor belt system on which your beloved Fido sits. Urine passes through the belt, while solid waste are conveyed into the main basin after built-in motion sensors determine that business has been concluded. Solids are then run through a shredder, and launched into the sewer.

The only awkward thing you’ll have to do is explain it to visitors.

Rubbee X

Its name may sound faintly inappropriate, but Rubbee X promises to be among the year’s best Kickstarter campaigns for cyclists. It’s a lightweight conversion device which will give any regular bike an electric makeover.

“Rubbee X works by providing electric assist directly to the rear tire via an electric friction roller,” Gediminas Nemanis, CEO of Rubbee, told Digital Trends. “It has modular batteries to extend the rides, regenerative braking, and not a single wire. We track the pedaling pattern by attaching a small wireless sensor to the pedal crank. This way, we know when and how much additional support to provide to the rider in real time. There are no buttons to push; just pedal and your power will be multiplied 2 to 3 times. It’s a pure electric assist system.”

Suddenly your commute to work in the new year just got a whole lot easier.

Moai aquarium robot

new crowdfunding projects MAOI aquarium robot

Moai – Aquarium robot

Cleaning your fish tank is one of the less enjoyable parts of aquarium ownership. One possible solution to that problem may be Moai, a glass-cleaning robot which autonomously propels itself around your tank, scrubbing algae as it goes. It can also monitor tank pH levels, salinity, ORP, temperature, and more, as well as livestream 1080p videos of your fish doing… well, whatever it is that fish do when you’re not home.


Why buy a handheld video game device when you can build your own? That’s the philosophy behind Makerbuino, an open-source handheld eight-bit game device that you (or your kids) can make for themselves. Shipping in kit form, Makerbuino comes with all the electronic components and instructions you need to piece together and program a finished unit.

While it won’t be playing the latest Call of Duty game any time soon, it does come with an archive of vintage games — plus the ability to make your own games if you’re so inclined.

Atari Pong coffee table

No self-respecting gaming nerd should be able to resist a mechanical, coffee table-sized tribute to one of the world’s first video games. Recreating Atari’s classic Pong by way of magnets and metal bars for controlling the physical game pieces, this geeky masterpiece would be the center of attention in any games room it graced with its presence.

Heck, there was even a $5,000 Collector’s Edition, signed by none other than Atari legend Nolan Bushnell.

Vaquform smart vacuum former

We’re massive fans of 3D printing, but it’s not ideal for every scenario. One common pain point is how slow the process is. That’s one way vacuum forming can speed up your workflow — which is exactly what digital desktop vacuum former Vaquform set out to do.

The concept of the machine is to add digital smarts to regular vacuum forming, with an infrared probe that monitors the temperature of your plastic sheet down to 0.1-degree Celcius precision, various presets designed to make your job easier, and some extra smart features thrown in for good measure.

BioLite FirePit

It’s a fair question to ask just how smart a fire pit needs to be. BioLite’s FirePit answers that with a built-in fan, which funnels air through 51 individual jets, resulting in a fire that burns more efficiently, with reduced smoke, more warmth, and less fuel. You can even control the fan remotely, via an iOS or Android BioLite Energy app, which connects via Bluetooth.

Bean 3D printer

An entry level SLA 3D printer from the makers of the Titan 1 and Titan 2 DLP 3D printers, the Bean offers an affordable printer with an impressive accuracy of 0.05mm. For those keeping track at home, that’s an impressive ratio of price to performance. It’s not shipped yet, but provided that it does everything claimed, this could well be one of our recommended 3D printers of 2018.