There was a time, a few months ago, when I would check Kickstarter and Indiegogo every couple of days for new projects. I was fascinated by the ingenuity of entrepreneurs and creators and I wanted to keep an eye on all the new ideas that were just ripe for production. I haven't lost that interest, but after investing in dozens of crowd-funded projects — most of which resulted in really great products that I use and love, thankfully — I'm a bit less obsessed and more selective in my choices.
Sometimes crowd funding campaigns get a little carried away making promises in an effort to attract contributors. As problematic as these projects are, they aren't usually complete nonsense. The Dragonfly Futurefön, on the other hand, looks impossible. For $400 you get a phone that docks to a computer running Windows for a dual-screen mobile computing experience. Sound crazy? Well it already has over half a million dollars on Indiegogo. Yeah, I'm worried for humanity too.
As a frequent swimmer and a gadget lover, I have spent a lot of time researching activity trackers geared towards those of us who spend more than a couple of hours per week in the pool. The problem is that I never found anything priced acceptably, capable of monitoring the factors that are important for swimmers, and that would sync this data with my Android devices. The Garmin Fenix 2 might be the closest thing to what I want, but it costs at least 4 times as much as a Fitbit One.
Update: Portal has been removed from IndieGoGo after a patent troll issued a DMCA takedown notice. Organizer and creator Arubixs is fighting back. This should be entertaining.
Over the past year or so, we've seen project after project overpromise and under-deliver on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There's a deep and cruel streak of cynicism running through the world of hardware crowdfunding, but you can't say that it's undeserved: look at the travesty that is the Kreyos smartwatch, the disappointment of the iMpulse controller and the Pressy, and almost laughable vaporware like the Smarty Ring, now six months overdue without even a working prototype to show for it.
Google's Photosphere feature is really cool, but all that spinning in circles and pressing buttons – yuck. Panono is a nifty little gadget that promises to capture a super high-resolution 360-degree image when it's thrown in the air. Sounds fanciful, doesn't it? Well, it's going to be a real product now that the Indiegogo campaign has reached its lofty $900,000 funding goal.
Panono has a total resolution of 108MP, making it the highest resolution available on a consumer camera.
If you buy a Fitbit, Jawbone Up, or one of the other fitness sensors out there, you're committing to a single software ecosystem. That can be a problem if you want to use your hardware with third-party apps. Plenty of Android users know the pain of being unable to wirelessly sync a Fitbit with most Android devices. The Angel fitness and health sensor is an attempt to build a completely open device that app developers can plug into and create new experiences for users.
There have been products like the Fitbit and Nike Fuelband for a number of years, but these devices are mainly interested in how far you're walking, running, or biking. Strength training is harder to track, but the new Push band on Indiegogo promises to deliver the same quality stats direct to your phone that professional athletes get with high price laboratory equipment.
The Push contains an accelerometer and orientation sensor that follow the motion of your body with a high degree of accuracy.
Kickstarter backers have pushed the Nix Color Sensor past its $35,000 (Canadian) goal in hopes of finally figuring out what color stuff is. Well, it's more complicated than that. Nix tells you more than red or blue – it finds the exact RGB value for any surface you press it to, then sends the data to your phone over Bluetooth. Sound cool? Apparently you are not alone.
The Nix is a small gem-shaped device with its own calibrated light source.
Relying on crowd funding is inherently risky. Regardless of whether a project's on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, some never get a fraction of the funding they aim for. Others fall slightly short or, if they're lucky, barely manage to crawl over the finish line. Still, a select few completely blow the doors off. The Canary, pitched as the first smart home security device for everyone, has now successfully acquired just shy of two million dollars in funding, far exceeding its goal of $100,000.