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 there’s no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Sunn — Sun-synced wall light
Sunn is a fresh new take on the premise of a “smart” light fixture. It has a variety of functions, but the basic idea behind the device is simple. Using a smartphone app, the light can be synchronized to any timezone in the world so that it mirrors the natural rise and fall of the Sun in that particular area. In short, it gets brighter as dawn approaches, reaches peak brightness at high noon, and slowly begins soften as evening falls. By mimicking the natural cycle of the Sun, Sunn Light’s creators hope it will make it easier for people to stay in tune with what’s going on outside the walls of their homes, offices, and other indoor environments.
If synced with a timezone other than your own, the Sunn provides you with a passive way to stay connected with places you don’t physically inhabit. Let’s say you travel internationally a lot, and are gearing up for a trip on the other side of the globe. With this light, you could start to acclimate yourself to a new timezone before you actually depart.
Keyboard Waffle Iron — completely self explanatory
Do you need a waffle iron that makes waffles in the shape of a keyboard? No. Do you want a waffle iron that makes waffles in the shape of a keyboard? Absolutely. Nevermind the fact that the waffles probably won’t fit on small plates very well, or how much space it’ll take up in your cupboard when you’re not using it. Just think about how impressed your friends and family will be when you’re serving up stacks of fluffy, golden-hued keyboard waffles. You’ll officially be the geekiest person on the block, and people will tell tales of your geekery for generations to come.
If you’ve got young kids, or plan to have them soon, definitely pick one of these things up. Your young will grow up thinking this is the natural shape of waffles, so years down the road, when they come of age and eventually leave the house, they’ll be flabbergasted when the Denny’s waitress serves them a circular Belgian waffle. This is a prank that can last for years.
TZOA — wearable environmental tracker
Created by product designers at Woke Studio, TZOA is a smart wearable device that monitors the environment and delivers real-time air quality and UV metrics. It aims to reconnect people with their surroundings and also empowers them to improve their habits. The new technology offers a more immersive solution to the usual expensive and complex instruments that measure radiation and pollution.
The device –which attaches to your clothing– highlights clean and dirty areas in real-time to help you plan cycling routes, learn when pollen levels increase, and know when air quality is low and you should change scenery. All of this is displayed on the application that can also send notifications to deliver detailed break-downs of current environmental conditions. Just don’t buy it if you live anywhere near eastern China — otherwise TZOA will probably just ping you with notifications that say “move to a different part of the globe.”
Helios — Solar-powered headphones
What’s better than a pair of headphones you never have to plug into your phone? How about a pair you never have to plug in at all? That’s the idea behind the Helios, a pair of Bluetooth headphones equipped with a solar panel that allow them to harness that big bright ball in the sky as an unlimited power supply for up to 15 hours of playback at a time, totally off the grid. Other than their futuristic, yet decidedly tactful solar apparatus up top, the Helios are designed similarly to any other Bluetooth headphones we’ve seen on the market recently, right down to their convenient foldable design.
Controls and connection ports for the headphones rest on the right earpiece, including volume and power, a solar switch, a Mini USB port for charging, a microphone for fielding phone calls, and a 3.5mm jack for plugging in when the battery is low. The power key also doubles as a method for answering calls and play/pause, as per usual with wireless cans.
Water Hero — Smart water monitoring system
Water Hero is pretty straightforward. It’s designed to autonomously monitor and control your home’s plumbing system to prevent pipe bursts.
The system is comprised of two separate parts: a network-connected flow sensor that attaches to your water meter, and a motorized on/off module that affixes to your shutoff lever. The sensor module gauges how much water is flowing by listening to the magnetic pulses your water meter puts off, and also tracks temperature and humidity in the room with additional sensors. As soon as the sensor module detects a problem (temperature dips below the freezing point, or water usage levels surpass your preset limits), it can instantly beam an alert to your smartphone, or automatically tell the motor to shut off your water. Water Hero can also detect slow leaks and help you pinpoint where they’re coming from, so it can even help you save money on your water bill.