With crowdfunding, anyone can help turn the craziest of dreams into a fully functional reality. From the innovative to the sustainable to the just plain wacky, these 10 successful campaigns give a taste of the great new tech coming out of crowdfunding.
1. WakaWaka Light and Power
This lamp is solar powered and super efficient, lasting for up to 80 hours. It can stand up on its own or attached to a bottle top. The WakaWaka Power, released in 2013, can also be used to charge a smartphone, MP3 player or tablet.
Even better, the profits from sales in the West are used to give WakaWakas to some of the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar light cuts down on CO2 emissions, reduces health problems like burns, and saves families money. That makes WakaWakas a win-win!
These nifty gadgets have had three crowdfunding campaigns – Kickstart and Symbid for the WakaWaka Light, and again on Kickstarter for WakaWaka Power. Or you can check out the website to buy the gadget yourself.
2. Glowing Plant
The boundaries between technology and nature are sometimes hard to define. No more so than with this crowdfunding project, which caused quite a stir last summer when campaigners offered to give away free glowing plants to their Kickstarter backers.
The project seeks to develop sustainable, natural lighting by genetically modifying plants to glow in the dark – but its wild popularity comes from its wacky, science fiction appeal.
The founders describe their crowdfunding success as an exciting new development for synthetic biology, but critics worry about the environmental risks when GMOs are freely distributed. In the wake of this controversy Kickstarter has banned GMOs as rewards, alongside guns and alcohol. Interested people in the US can still pre-order glow-in-the-dark seeds or plants on the Glowing Plant website, but distribution to Europe is illegal under EU law.
3. Wood. Head. Phones.
Except for the wire inside them, these headphones are made entirely of wood. The inventor, a 19-year-old product designer from Oslo, named them after the Norwegian word “treskalle” – literally meaning “wood head”, or “stupid” – because, as he says in his crowdfunding video, “this is, in a lot of ways, a stupid product”.
In spite of this modesty, the headphones supposedly have a sweet sound and are custom-made for each person in ash, oak, cherry, or walnut. It’s not clear if you can still buy your own Wood. Head. Phones., but the Facebook page is a good place to start looking.
If you’ve ever wanted the satisfaction of building your own computer, then look no further than Kano. For geeks and newbies of all ages, this cool kit comes with 11 components – including how-to guides – and is cute enough to give mainstream laptops a run for their money.
With Kano you can make games and learn code, and it’s open source, so using it can only get more fun. The smash hit Kickstarter campaign raised 15 times the original goal, and you can find out more or pre-order your own at the Kano website.
Do you use a helmet when you cycle? Many people don’t, and this British inventor thinks he’s found one reason why: helmets are too bulky, especially for people using a bike rental scheme. The solution? A folding helmet.
Morpher folds in half, making it easy to slip it into a rucksack or laptop bag. It should be as safe as an ordinary helmet – most of the crowdfunded money will be used to meet international safety standards – and even comes in pretty colours. Check out the Indiegogo campaign or Morpher website for more info.
Tired of boring furniture? Well, designers in Germany have developed modular shelving that is non-toxic, long lasting and completely recyclable. Beneath its funky shape lies a high-tech structure of polypropylene plastic foam that also makes it lightweight and shock-absorbent.
With BUILD you decide what shape you want, and can put it on a wall or use it to divide up a room. Plus if you move house or need an extra few chairs for that big dinner party, each block doubles up as a box, a seat, or even a cooler. Check out the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, or go straight for the product.
Relaxed yet? No? Well maybe it’s time to welcome ThePresent into your life. Its New York inventor touts this as the first 365-day clock – in one year the hand only rotates once around the face. With its colourful display to evoke the changing seasons, this clock is a reminder to stop and smell the roses.
Between walking and cycling lies a third choice for the eco-friendly commuter: the electric, folding scooter. JACK, as this Dutch prototype is called, weighs less than 20kg, can be charged in a car or home, and fits easily in a car boot or on public transport.
JACK can travel at speeds up to 25kph (15mph), but with a full battery it only lasts 20k (12.5 miles) so it’s more suited to a city spin than a road trip. All the specs are on the Symbid campaign page or the JACK website.
If you’re human, you’ve probably worried about what’s in your food at least once. Does that apple have pesticides on it? Are there nasty additives in my pre-packaged sandwich? How many calories are in that slice of cake?
Tellspec hopes to answer these questions. Through spectrometry, Tellspec uses a laser to scan the chemicals inside a piece of food, and then wirelessly sends the results to your smartphone. For anyone with a food allergy, watching their weight or just keen on good food, this is definitely a product to watch. The Indiegogo campaign finished in November, so stay tuned on the website for launch as early as August.
10. Emotiv Insight
It’s not a jetpack, but it comes pretty close. The Emotiv Insight will allow you to move objects with your mind. With previous models, people have used their thoughts to create music, drive a car, manipulate a robot, type on a keyboard, and operate a wheelchair. This new model, crowdfunded on Kickstart, should also be able to record emotions, stress levels, physical fitness and facial expressions.
Emotiv Insight works through electroencephalography (EEG) to interpret the neuron signals in the user’s brain. To make it more accessible, designers are making this gadget lightweight and cheaper, and adding dry sensors (so you don’t need to smear gel on your head every time you use it). Whether it’s helping people recover from injury, manage a disability, or just try out something awesome, this gadget screams “watch out, world”.
Is there a gadget we’ve left out? Which one would you choose?