Remember when dreaming about modular electronics was all the rage? Even Google got caught up in the fantasy for a little while. Project Ara's notion of a modular smartphone might be dead for now, but there's still a smartwatch with interchangeable components to capture our attention in 2018. Blocks raised $1.6M in a Kickstarter campaign that ended way back in 2015, and there must have been concerns that the product would never make it into production. Some of its backers are thankfully starting to receive their watches now, as the company announces the official launch at CES.
PayPal has launched a new crowdfunding-type service called Money Pools, which enables users to set a fundraising goal, and share a page describing the nature of the fundraiser with friends. PayPal suggests using money pools for group gifts, planning trips, special events like baby showers, or collecting money for someone in need. Chances are it will be used predominately for the latter, as almost half of the $2 billion raised on GoFundMe has been for medical expense fundraisers. Pages can be shared through email, social media, or messaging apps.
The payment processing is handled securely, as is to be expected from PayPal.
We've seen levitating Bluetooth speakers and connected smart cameras before, but the Moon, a fully funded Indiegogo project, melds those technologies in a $209 ($330 at retail) floating robotic eyeball and base that can also act as a smart hub for your home. That is, if it ever ships. The typical crowdfunding caveats apply. Some Indiegogo projects don't have much of a future, and this is 1-Ring's first.
The Moon, which comes from 1-Ring Inc., comprises a wide-angle lens embedded in a sphere made of plastic, aluminum, and rubber. When the smart camera is levitating above its base unit, it can give its owner a 360-degree scan of whatever room it's placed in.
Sleep as Android is a hugely popular app in the Play Store with more than 10 million downloads. The app uses sensors in your phone or certain wearables to analyze your sleep, but the team behind Sleep as Android is now looking to make a dedicated piece of tracking hardware, and it's a bit unusual. The Sleep Phaser on Indigogo is a bedside sensor that tracks your sleep without any direct contact.
Earlier this month, two entrepreneurs from Ottawa, Canada launched a crowdfunding campaign for the "frank." phone. The main premise was that smartphones are too expensive, and there needs to be a phone priced competitively that does everything you need it to. The project had a very edgy tone, using phrases like, "It’s just another fucking phone but it’ll only cost you $180," and, "It’s about time to disrupt the shit out of the North American smartphone industry."
Unfortunately for the Frank team (and anyone who wanted the phone), Indiegogo has now suspended the project's crowdfunding campaign and automatically refunded all contributions.
ZTE had an interesting idea a while back. What if consumers got to design a phone? I mean, there's no chance it would end up like The Homer, right? People made some unusual suggestions like eye-tracking technology and a case that sticks to things. ZTE's attempt to bring this phone to life as the Hawkeye have hit a snag. It's cancelling the Kickstarter campaign and going back to the drawing board.
If you've been a smartphone user for any length of time, you've probably thought that you could design a smartphone better than those hacks who had the gall to put the headphone jack on the top/bottom (delete whichever is inappropriate). Well now you can! Sort of. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is putting out press for "Project CSX," a program that will design products based on input from a community of users. The home of the project is over on the company's official forums.
Have you ever been part of a crowdfunding campaign gone wrong? No doubt some of you have, and some of you may well have contributed to such campaigns through PayPal for a reason that, until now, made it quite handy in the event of such a misfortune: purchase (formerly buyer) protection. PayPal's purchase protection basically is a "guarantee" that if you buy something through PayPal and never receive it, PayPal will reimburse you the cost of your purchase. So, instead of making you play a never-ending dispute resolution game of cat and mouse with an unresponsive - or in this case, likely non-liquid-asset-possessing - seller, you just get the money back, and PayPal can choose to go after the merchant.
What would you say if I told you a smartphone Kickstarter is experiencing a delay? Would you be shocked? I bet not. It's really just par for the course. Nextbit has announced that the CDMA version of its Robin smartphone won't ship next month after all. Instead, they're expecting it to be ready in April.
Kickstarter campaigns are not usually a good place to shop for your next phone. Hardware projects often end up massively delayed and the software becomes outdated before it even ships. However, Nextbit has updated its Kickstarter page with a new timeline for shipping the first finished Robin handsets—the first batch should go out on February 16th. Could it be a Kickstarter miracle?