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 Pebble clones 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.
Buzzbox — beehive monitoring device
Honeybees are having a rough time lately. In 2016 alone, more than 40 percent of colonies in the United States perished. To fight this troubling trend, many beekeepers have turned to technology for help, and they might soon have another high tech tool at their disposal. Say hello to BuzzBox: an innovative hive monitoring device designed to keep beekeepers more in touch with their buzzing broods.
Bees are finicky creatures, and a wide variety of factors can affect the health of a given hive. The BuzzBox system is based around a series of sensors that track factors such as ambient temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and more. As an added bonus, the entire unit is powered via a two-watt solar panel. The device also has a a built-in anti-theft accelerometer to monitor movement just in case someone tries to nab your kit and/or hive.
The BuzzBox is also capable of recording and analyzing the acoustics inside of a hive and recognize patterns over time. This allows the device to detect a panoply of diseases, parasites, and other health issues facing a colony — which gives beekeepers time to intercede before the issues spread to the entire hive.
Sonnet — backcountry mesh networking
Want to communicate over long distances in the wilderness without dishing out big bucks for a set of high-end walkie-talkies? Sonnet might just be what you’re after. It’s a mesh networking hub that allows you to send messages and make calls to other Sonnet users right from your smartphone — even when you’re outside your cell phone provider’s network. It doesn’t use cell towers or Wi-Fi at all, so it’ll work even if all other forms of communication are unavailable.
Much like similar products from GoTenna or Beartooth, Sonnet uses long-range radio signals to create a peer-to-peer network that allows smartphone users to communicate directly, regardless of whether or not there are any cell towers nearby. The gadget connects to an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth and uses a special app to send messages, photos, and GPS information to other Sonnet users who are nearby.
Sonnet reportedly has a range of about 3 miles, but can go as far as 9 if both parties have line-of-sight, such as when the sender and receiver are on top of two mountains. If there are more users in the area, however, the device can use mesh networking to connect people over even greater distances — up to 50 miles in some cases!
Neuroon — brainwave-reading sleep mask
A few years ago, an innovative new project popped up on Kickstarter and took the web by storm. Luci, as it was called, was an EEG headband that could read your brainwaves, detect when you were dreaming, and then automatically play sounds to help you enter a lucid dream state. It was a brilliant idea, and it gathered tons of support in just a few weeks … but unfortunately, it turned out to be a scam. The project was eventually cancelled after the internet debunked the creator’s bogus claims, and the product never made it past the conceptual phase.
But not to worry — the the idea of brainwave-scanning lucid dreaming gizmos hasn’t died out entirely. Now, thanks to a startup called Neuroon, the concept is back, and better than ever. Neuroon has recently taken to Kickstarter to help fund its eponymous sleep mask: an EEG-reading device that can perform a wide variety of different functions — including the potential to induce lucid dreams.
Neuroon scans your brainwaves while you sleep to determine when you’ve entered deep REM sleep, at which point a series of lights will flash over your closed eyelids. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to recognize this pattern, realize that you’re dreaming, and go lucid.
Rumpl Puffy Poncho — outdoor poncho/blanket combo
You know Rumpl? The company that makes those super rad outdoor blankets? Well, the founders are back with yet another brilliant idea: a high-performance outdoor blanket that doubles as a poncho. Think of it as a more versatile version of that mummy bag you probably lug around when you go camping or backpacking. It’s warm, lightweight, and packs down into a sack — but thanks to its clever design, you can use it for more than just sleeping in a tent. Slip your head through the top slit, and suddenly it becomes an ultra-warm poncho.
On the outside, the Puffy Poncho is constructed from super-premium 20D, rip-stop nylon with a water-resistant DWR shield. This not only makes it incredibly soft and breathable, but also rugged and tear-proof as well. The DWR coating makes Rumpl stain resistant, and also prevents odor and bacteria from building up. Inside, it’s filled with ultralight synthetic down that mimics natural down, but is lighter, extremely compressible, and completely washable.
Ohnana — heat-shielding festival tent
Ever tried to sleep in late while camping (at a festival or elsewhere), only to wake up just a couple hours after the sun comes up because the temperature inside your tent has skyrocketed? You’re not alone. Hot tents have plagued campers and festival goers for decades, but now there’s finally a solution. The Ohnana tent, as it’s called it’s designed with special materials that block out sunlight and prevent your tent from becoming an oven.
It is all thanks to two reflective coatings that are placed atop two separate layers of 170T polyester. That, the Ohnana team says, allows the tent to reflect infrared light, which in turn keeps the inside of the tent and its inhabitants cool. And not only does it block the heat, but it also blocks the harsh rays of the morning sun, so you will not be rudely awakened by light in your eyes.
The tent also comes with windows so that you can allow the breeze in when appropriate. And if there is no breeze to be had, rest assured that you can use the Ohnana tent’s built-in fans, which double in function as a source of light.