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.
Lyra — handheld, Raspberry-Pi-powered gaming console
You know how you can load up a Raspberry Pi with emulation software and use it to play oldschool Nintendo and Atari games? Well this is that same exact idea, but stuffed into a handheld console that’s mildly reminiscent of a Nintendo Switch. “Lyra can virtually emulate any game console of the classic era,” the creators explain on Kickstarter, “making it possible for you to carry hundreds of them in your pocket. You can play your all-time favourite video games whenever you want, wherever you want.”
Solidmaker — affordable true SLA 3D printer
It used to be that SLA 3D printers were expensive and out-of-reach for the average consumer, but that’s now beginning to change. Thanks in large part to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, these kinds of printers have become drastically more affordable and available in the past year or so. The latest one to hit the crowdfunding scene is Solidmaker — a highly affordable true (laser-based) SLA printer that, despite costing just $499 on Kickstarter, comes with a range of high-end features that you typically only see on machines that cost upward of $1,500. Most notably, it has an automatic resin pump that keeps the vat full at all times, a touchscreen interface, a large print volume, and automatic bed leveling. What more could you want?
Mirobot — multipurpose robotic arm
If you’ve ever dreamed of having an automated assistant similar to Tony Stark’s JARVIS robot, you should probably stop whatever you’re doing right now and go check out Mirobot on Kickstarter. In contrast to robotic assistant devices geared specifically towards makers and designers, Mirobot is a robot arm that can serve virtually any purpose around the home, from artistic projects to 3D printing to stirring your coffee. It’s equipped with computer vision and visual processing technologies, as well as a huge array of swappable end effectors, so it can be used for an absolutely massive range of different tasks.
Voyager kettle — collapsible, portable kettle
Why does the world need a collapsible kettle? I don’t know, but it seems like it might come in handy from time to time — especially if you’re the kind of person who can’t survive without coffee or tea. The Voyager Kettle, as its called, features a design that’s seemingly borrowed from those collapsible silicon-sided cups that you’ve probably seen at REI. To use it, you just lift up the accordion-style top to expand the kettle’s walls, and pivot the handle/spout assembly 90 degrees. Best of all, all of the Voyager’s heating tech is contained in the base of the unit, so you don’t even have to plug it in.
Sight Extended — Augmented reality short film
I don’t usually include video game and film projects in this roundup, but this one is a special case. About 7 years ago, a fantastic sci-fi short film called Sight took Vimeo by storm. The story revolves around a guy named Patrick, and explores what life might be like in a world where augmented reality is the norm and nearly every facet of human life is gamified. It was essentially an indie Black Mirror episode, but before Black Mirror was on anybody’s radar. Now, the filmmakers who created it are raising funds to make a full-length version of the film. Definitely watch the original if you haven’t already — you’ll be pining for more as soon as the credits roll.