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. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Despite the fact that virtual reality has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, gaming in VR still isn’t the most polished experience. Case in point? Locomotion. Save for a few notable exceptions, your in-game movement is typically activated with joysticks, while you actually sit still and swivel your head in the real world. This disconnect often makes virtual reality feel less realistic. But what if there was a way to change that?
Enter the Yaw VR gaming chair. It’s essentially a motorized bucket seat that syncs with your VR headset and attempts to replicate your in-game movements in the real world, thereby making the game more immersive and realistic. With three degrees of freedom, it’s best for replicating movement in games where the player sits in a cockpit of some sort — like Eve: Valkyrie, for example. The Yaw chair’s best feature, however, is its ability to collapse and fold up into a neat little dome when you’re done playing.
When it comes to outdoor gear, lights are a staple. Whether its headlamps, flashlights, or lanterns, having a rugged and reliable light source is a crucial part of your kit. Luckily, thanks to the rise of LEDs, you have no shortage of options in this category. There are lights that run on rechargeable batteries, lights that adapt to your environment, and even lights that run on saltwater. Now, we can add another one to the list: a lantern that’s powered by tea candles.
The lantern, called the Luminiser, collects thermal energy from a simple tea candle and converts it into electricity, which is then used to illuminate an array of LED bulbs. A single candle will allegedly create enough juice to keep the lantern going for five to six hours, while also creating 15 to 20 times more light than the candle could on its own. Better yet, the Luminiser tips the scales at less than one pound and measures 5.5 inches tall — meaning you could easily stash it away in a backpack.
Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers have become increasingly common over the past few years — and for good reason. Thanks to the unique way they work (shining light into a pool of light-reactive resin, selectively solidifying it layer by layer), they’re capable of producing extremely detailed objects. But they do have one downside: they’re not particularly fast. Why? Well, after each layer of the object is finished, the printer has to “peel” it from the build plate before starting on the next layer.
To circumvent this issue, California-based company Uniz has developed a clever new technique called “uni-directional peeling,” which drastically reduces the peel time of the SLA/DLP printing process. As its creators note, “by reducing the up-and-down peel to one-directional peel action, UDP sets a new world record of 3D printing speed to over 700mm/hour z-axis speed, without the necessity of pure oxygen or exotic separation materials.” In other words, these printers are blisteringly fast.
We covered this one last week during CES, so I’ll let my colleague Lulu Chang give you the rundown:
“Li-Fi, or Light Fidelity, is a new technology that connects mobile devices and other internet-enabled objects by way of LED lights. Li-Fi transmits data by modulating light signals emitted by an LED light bulb — in essence, providing the internet through light. Said to be far faster than traditional Wi-Fi, Li-Fi has no need for radio waves, and claims to be supremely secure due to its imperceptible signal.
While Li-Fi has apparently been around since 2005, it’s never been made widely available to the public. Instead, Li-Fi has been mainly applied in the public realm, helping blind people navigate transportation systems, transmitting medical information in hospitals, and even measuring wait times in supermarkets. But now, MyLiFi is bringing the technology to the home.”
If you have an SUV and you mount stuff on its roof, you know firsthand how awkward and annoying it can sometimes be to reach your gear and fiddle with tie-down straps — especially if you’re short. Oftentimes, the only way to make it happen is to pop open a door and use your car floor as a step, and sometimes that isn’t enough. If you keep a kayak or a skybox on top of your rig, you probably know what I’m talking about. Don’t you wish there was a solution to this minor inconvenience? Well lucky for you, there finally is.
The Moki Doorstep, as it’s called, is a compact, lightweight device designed to give you easier access to the top of your car. It’s essentially a metal step that hangs on the U-shaped slam latch on your vehicle’s door. Just hook it through the latch, and boom — you have a stable, reliable stepping platform somewhere between your car’s floor and ceiling. That extra step will presumably give you easier access to all the goodies and gear you’ve stashed up top.