I think crowd funding is a great way to support independent developers and scientists, so I’m not ashamed to promote awesome technology projects when I see them especially on KickStarter.
Check out some of the previous projects I thought worthy of your investment (all of which were successfully funded), and here’s my picks for today from KickStarter – but remember – act quickly, as these projects will fail if they aren’t fully funded by their target date.
There’s something for everyone, from lasers in education, unblockable messaging apps, LED hats and plastic recycling for 3D printers!
Pew Pew! Lasers in Science Education
Alex Huang is a graduate student from Alabama who’s passionate about lasers, so much so that he’s spent a good deal of time researching cheap laser pointers and the unique fluorescence and phosphorescence (read: glowing) properties they induce when pointed at common household materials and certain rocks.
By supporting the project, Alex will send you a sample pack consisting of the lasers themselves, some vials of liquid they can react with, and even a little bit of calcite (the glowing rock stuff).
While I can’t particularly think of a practical use in the home, a set of these would be a fantastic tool to teach lasers to your children or donate to your school for science demonstrations. Apart from the obvious – lasers are cool!
The projects needs $2,500 of funding by January 20th, so I wish him all the luck and please get over there to support his efforts!
Jaja – Pressure Sensitive Stylus for the iPad
Drawing on the iPad has always been a bit sketchy (get it!?), but the Jaja promises to change that by offering full pressure sensitivity, akin to what a Wacom or similar professional drawing tablet might. Though no working prototype is currently available, it is purported to work using high frequency sounds to communicate with compatible apps – and whilst I personally think the theory behind it is sound enough, the comments on the project seem to have invited a lot of naysayers.
Even so, with a month go and currently sitting nicely with $7,000 of $25,000, this is definitely one to watch – if you’re a digital artist of any kind I would strongly encourage you to back this as it could be a real game changer for the iPad. Just $40 will net you one of the first batch of 500 devices.
Dovetail – Text Messaging That Can’t Be Shut Down
We’ve talked a lot about how revolutions are powered, or at least helped along, by smartphones; but increasingly we are seeing radio silence enforced by authorities in troubled times, some going so far as to simply shut off the entire network.
Dovetail promises to fix this by transmitting messages over Bluetooth or ad-hoc wifi connections, in a broadcast style fashion similar to how Blackberries do (but they can be shut down). Presumably you need the app to actually receive messages though, but they plan to release it for free. With just a short time to go and nowhere near their goal yet, this might be something you may want to support.
I’m in two minds about this myself. While I know that some despicable governments shut down mobile networks in order to curb legitimate protestors, I’m actually grateful that the UK government chose to disable the Blackberry broadcasting functionality here in London in order to prevent the criminal rioting from spreading any further.
The project was also recently covered by the SF Bay Guardian.
LED Side Glow Hats
While this project isn’t about to change the world, but you’ve got to admit they look awesome. As a gift, or something to really make you stand out at parties, or just as a convenient flashlight for those late night workshop sessions when the power is out. $18 including shipping, made right at home (for most of you) in the USA.
Though 3D printers are still entirely out of my price range, the Filabot is the next logical step in the print-anything universe. Put simply, the Filabot recycles plastic (such as PET bottles) and turns them into the filament needed for 3D printers, usually a fairly costly component of the process. If you print something wrong, you can just grind it up, melt it, and re-print.
Already fully funded, but still open to backers, this is a really promising product – another game changer for the 3D printers.
That’s it from me today, I do hope you pledge some support for some of these worthy Kickstarter project. Post in the comments if you’ve launched your own project and would like to me to check it out, or if you’ve chosen to fund one of these, or even if you have an opinion on KickStarter in general – we’d love to hear from you.