Wise Owl Shopper Discounts

kickstarter

Zwim goggles integrate a near-eye display for underwater tracking

Why it matters to you

Now you can be like Iron Man in the pool. Zwim allows you to monitor your essential swimming data with an integrated near-eye display while underwater. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take more of your devices underwater[1] without worrying about any damage?

If you’re looking for more smart and wearable tech to take for a swim[2], Palo Alto company Fiscally Inc. just may have the perfect device for you. Its newest project, Zwim[3], recently went live on Kickstarter[4]. These goggles allow swimmers to see and monitor real-time data while underwater, functioning much like a head-up display.

Ceo/Founder and triathlete Taegoo Kang believes that waterproof watches simply do not work to track swims. The main reason for this is you have to stop in the middle of your swim in order to check the data on the watch, interrupting the flow of your workout. This obstacle led Kang to develop Zwim.

The goggles are designed to detect and calculate things like your time, laps, heart rate, and even how many calories you’re burning, all while swimming. The display module inside the Zwim goggles gives the wearer a high-resolution and full-color visual output. It provides high clarity even when you are in a bright environment, and you’re able to switch screens by simply pushing a button.

You can configure the number of sections per screen between 1 to 4 through the settings option. You can switch from the screen displaying your lap time, to your distance, heart rate, or calorie count. Following your extensive training session, you can open up your phone and use the mobile app to sync your data, check out your results, and even share with friends.

The connection between the Zwim goggles and your smartphone is going to be made through Bluetooth, and the app will be available for both iOS and Android phones. The goggles are even replaceable. If they begin to feel worn out or if they are accidentally damaged, you can simply separate the goggles from the main device So you don’t have to buy brand the Zwim tech again; just replace the goggles with a new pair.

The Zwim project has a funding goal of £50,000 by Saturday, December 2 of this year.

It currently has more than 45 backers and has raised over £15,000.

Editor’s Recommendations

References

  1. ^ devices underwater (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ wearable tech to take for a swim (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ Zwim (www.zwim.com)
  4. ^ Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com)

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Ultra-grippy Socks and Dirt-cheap 3D Printers

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[1] 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.

Wiral — cable slider for GoPro[2]

Cable cam systems are awesome. When used properly, they allow filmmakers to capture jaw-dropping shots that would otherwise be impossible. The only problem is that, more often than not, these rigs are cumbersome, complex, and extremely expensive, so they’re generally out of reach for amateurs and casual videographers.

But thanks to a startup called Wiral, that might soon change. The California-based company has recently taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund the development of an affordable, compact, and simple-to-use cable cam system designed for compact cameras. Wiral Lite, as it’s called, is a complete cable cam rig that fits in a backpack, sets up in three minutes, and accommodates a number of different lightweight cameras, including GoPros and smartphones.

Oh, and did we mention it’s motorized? Once you’ve set the cable and pulled it taut, Wiral Lite allows filmmakers to drive the dolly from a snail’s pace 0.006 mph all the way up to 28 mph, shooting for up to three hours on the built-in battery. A time-lapse mode also allows for moving time-lapses at three different speeds.

If you’re looking to take your GoPro[3] footage to the next level, look no further.

NewMatter Mod-t 2.0 — affordable 3D printer[4]

Back in 2014, there weren’t many sub-£500 3D printers floating around — but then NewMatter burst onto the scene with the Mod-t[5], a unique new printer with a simple design and an affordable (£399) price tag. The machine was a resounding success on Indiegogo, but like many first-generation products that are brought to life via crowdfuding, it had some problems that needed to be fixed. Fast forward to the present, and NewMatter is finally back with the new-and-improved version that addresses those issues: the Mod-t 2.0.

In place of belts and gears, the Mod-t uses a toothed build plate placed atop two perpendicular pinion rods. As these grooved rods spin, they catch the teeth on the bottom of the build plate and move it in a given direction. This configuration doesn’t boost accuracy or precision in any major way, but what it does do is simplify the overall design of the printer.

Because the pinion rod setup combines the driving force of one axis with the guiding force of another, the Mod-t requires far fewer parts than it otherwise would. This makes it cheaper and easier to manufacture than most other 3D printers, and allows NewMatter to sell the printer for such a low price. You can get one one Kickstarter right now for less than £200!

SpeedGrip Socks — high-traction athletic socks[6]

Ever since the dawn of athletic footwear, shoe manufacturers have been trying to out-do each other.

If it seems like shoes get more and more advanced with each passing year, its because they do. Just take a stroll through the nearest Nike[7] outlet and you’ll encounter everything from shock-absorbing foam to 3D printed insoles. But while the footwear industry has been so fixated on shoes, the other side of the equation — namely, socks — has largely been left behind.

But NY-based upstart Storelli Sports has a plan to change that. The company’s latest product — SpeedGrip Socks — are a clever new take on athletic socks. When paired with a set of specialized insoles (which Storelli crowdfunded on Kickstarter earlier this year), SpeedGrip socks provide outrageous amounts of traction — not between your foot and the ground, but between your foot and your shoe.

This, in turn, translates to better traction, more reliable grip, and better overall performance, since your foot doesn’t slide around as much inside your footwear. Why aren’t more companies doing this?

I’m Back — digital upgrade for analog cameras[8]

As you may or may not have noticed, film photography has enjoyed a resurgence as of late, and as it continues to claw back some of its former popularity, inventors are finding more ways to blend classic photography with digital convenience. I’m Back is the latest such invention to hit the crowdfunding scene.

After finding success with a 3D printed, Raspberry Pi-powered[9] film camera, the creators of the device are back with a clever new gizmo that transforms old film cameras into digital shooters. Here’s how it works. Instead of popping a roll of 35mm film into your old camera, you open up the back and attach the camera to I’m Back.

The device’s 16 megapixel sensor will then pick up light that passes through the cameras lens, and save it to an SD card. If you’d like you see the photo afterward, you can even connect your smartphone and use it as a display screen.

The Universe in a Sphere — Glorious desk ornament[10]

Remember that scene from Men In Black? The one that zooms out to reveal that our entire galaxy sits inside the marble on a cat’s leash?

Well if that scene stuck with you, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate this new desktop trinket that recently popped up on Kickstarter. The Universe in a Sphere is exactly what it sounds like: a desk ornament that contains a tiny scale model of the cosmic neighborhood that we live in. “What I did was is to take a catalog of galaxies, including our home supercluster called Laniakea, converted the XYZ coordinates and selected all of the 675,758 galaxies in a radius of 125 megaparsecs,” creator Clemens Steffin told Digital Trends in an interview[11]. “One megaparsec stands for about 3.2616 million light years, so the cloud in my glass sphere represents a diameter of 815,400,000 light years.” Steffin next searched for (and found) a company capable of lasering in each one of these 380,000 dots, each representing an entire galaxy, into a glass sphere.

After that, he launched his Kickstarter.

Editor’s Recommendations

References

  1. ^ iPhone (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ Wiral — cable slider for GoPro (www.kickstarter.com)
  3. ^ GoPro (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ NewMatter Mod-t 2.0 — affordable 3D printer (www.kickstarter.com)
  5. ^ Mod-t (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ SpeedGrip Socks — high-traction athletic socks (www.kickstarter.com)
  7. ^ Nike (www.digitaltrends.com)
  8. ^ I’m Back — digital upgrade for analog cameras (www.kickstarter.com)
  9. ^ Raspberry Pi-powered (www.digitaltrends.com)
  10. ^ The Universe in a Sphere — Glorious desk ornament (www.kickstarter.com)
  11. ^ interview (www.digitaltrends.com)

Crowdfunding conundrum: Why the magic device you backed may never show up

In recent months, I’ve gotten emails from backers of three different Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns. I wrote articles about all three products back in 2015, and none of them have shipped. They’re three very different pieces of hardware, but according to some of the creators, each product had a few hiccups in common.

While crowdfunding fails[1] get a lot of attention, even products that eventually make their way into backers’ hands often take longer than expected to arrive. Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter say they aim to ensure those giving money get satisfactory outcomes, but due to the nature of the business, things don’t always turn out that way. The first thing backers should know about Kickstarter and Indiegogo is how they handle manufactured products, which is the focus of this article (as opposed to art, film, and other such projects).

While the Kickstarter review process requires creators to show a working prototype, Indiegogo lets people launch products that are in the concept phase. In September, the platform made a change that requires projects to list what stage it’s in: concept, prototype, manufacturing, or shipping. Before that, entrepreneurs could submit a dream, a video, and some renderings without explaining that they didn’t really have any idea if their “Flamdoozler” would work.

Sometimes, even if a campaign has a convincing prototype, it doesn’t mean it’s not a scam[2].

Don’t Read the comments

Backers often feel they’ve been taken for a ride when outcomes don’t meet expectations. If a campaign promises to ship in April 2016, they’ll likely be given some leeway, but backers will definitely be looking for answers come May of the next year. (You can watch the comments go from excitement to impatience to name-calling with a quick scroll.) The Drumi foot-powered washer[3] launched an Indiegogo[4] campaign in November of 2015, with an expected ship date of July 2016.

By December of 2015, Yirego[5], the company behind the electricity-free device, had already made some design updates. It’s gone through version after version[6] (seven, according to the company), and the expected ship date came and went. Once Yirego finalized the design, it ran into other issues.

“No manufacturer has had any prior experience making a product like Drumi because it is so new and different,” Petal Wang of Yirego told Digital Trends in an email. “Our engineers worked around the clock with them to come up with different solutions to concur [sic] the technical challenges and figure out the specifications of the hundreds of unique parts that require their own custom build mold or tool.”

She sent an email to backers in late September saying the Drumi is finally in production but without an exact ship date. “We definitely push creators to communicate often” The last update on the Drumi Indiegogo page is from February 2017.

In September, Indiegogo made it a requirement that campaigners post monthly updates[7]. With that mandate, it seems like the platform is pushing creators to be up front about everything. It’s unlikely there will be new features to announce every month, but there are likely to be a good deal of problems and setbacks.

“We definitely push creators to communicate often,” Julio Terra, the director of Kickstarter’s Technology and Design Outreach program, told Digital Trends. “As you can imagine, our support team gets tons of support requests from backers of various products.” Campaigners should share the good and the bad with backers, he said. Often the people creating the products are part of very small teams, and it’s common for backers’ comments to go unanswered.

Wang of Yirego admitted that she has been focused on the product and is “little behind in providing updates to our customer and subscribers.”

Where’s my trash can?

Some creators seem to prefer emailing updates to backers as opposed to posting them on the crowdfunding sites. This leaves a lot of backers frustrated when they don’t seem to make it onto these email lists. That was the case with one backer who contacted me about the Bruno Smartcan.

The garbage can has built-in suction[8], and the idea is you sweep debris toward the Bruno, eliminating the need for a dust pan. Bruno launched on Kickstarter in April 2015 and reached its funding goal with shipping expected to start in October of the same year. Before the promised ship date, however, Poubelle, the company behind Bruno, also launched another fundraiser for the Smartcan on Indiegogo.

The company did not meet its crowdfunding goal there, but backers who did give money were told to expect their cans in February 2016. (Kickstarter’s rules won’t allow a creator to start a second project or get a second round of funding for the same project if they haven’t delivered to their first backers, which is why they also launched on Indiegogo.) In May of this year, Bruno creator Jim Howard said the company would announce a new manufacturer in the coming weeks and start shipping this fall.

In August, Howard sent another email saying they would be signing another manufacturing contract in two weeks and would update on Kickstarter when that happened. The company’s last Kickstarter post is from May – nothing since. The company is still taking pre-orders on its site, and now promises that the item will ship in December.

That doesn’t seem to satisfy backers, though. Your “website now says preorders expected delivery December 2017,” wrote Ryan Easton on Indiegogo’s website on August 23. “What does that mean for the Kickstarter backers? I am going to be shocked if retail preorders ship at the same time as ours… wait no I wont because you have not been updating the user base with actual time lines or progress reports.”

Help, please

Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter are trying to combat manufacturing issues in a few ways.

In May, Kickstarter announced Avnet[10] and Dragon Innovation[11], which develops manufacturing plans. The Hardware Studio Toolkit has webinars, tutorials, and case studies to help creators learn from past successes. If manufacturers are at a fairly advanced stage in the development process, creators can apply to work with engineers from Avnet and Dragon to get guidance on issues they’re having. The two companies each offer something different, Terra said.

Avnet has insight into the hardware side and can help a campaigner avoid choosing a chip that’s about to be discontinued or is low on stock at the moment. Even big-name campaigners can run into trouble. “All of a sudden you might be waiting six months just to receive delivery of a component that ends up holding up the entire manufacturing progress,” Terra said. “These are all things that first-time creators have a real struggle with.”

Indiegogo has similar partners[12], like electronics company Arrow[13], IBM for software solutions, and Riverwood Solutions[14] for manufacturing consultations. Brookstone can also get involved with products all the way through selling them at their stores. Indiegogo tends to invite creators whose products are at all different levels of production, including those are that are ready to ship.

It also attracts big companies that want to try unique, untested ideas. It’s where GE Appliances’ FirstBuild[15] successfully raised money for its Paragon induction cooktop[16] and Opal nugget ice maker[17]. Sadly FirstBuild’s Prisma[18] cold-brew coffee maker fell just short of its goal, which proves that even big-name campaigners can run into trouble. Westinghouse[19] went to Indiegogo to launch its Nucli smart lock[20].

A sort of doorbell-lock combo you can open with your fingerprint, it certainly seemed like an ambitious project when it debuted in September 2015. Considering it was slated for delivery just three months later and Westinghouse has experience manufacturing locks, it seemed like a safe campaign to back. It’s been almost two years since the last campaign update.

I reached out to Westinghouse several times and didn’t hear back until I spoke with Indiegogo. At the end of September, Westinghouse CEO Trey Mosier sent the following email to backers (and me): “We appreciate your support and feedback regarding the NUCLI development.

The team is committed to moving this project forward with the development of a reliable product. At this point, NUCLI does not yet meet our quality expectations. We will continue to work towards the goal of developing a product that meets our standards and will provide you updates as we have them.

Thank you for your patience.” There are now more than 1,000 comments[21] on Nucli’s Indiegogo page, with most of the most recent ones expressing frustration with the lack of updates and availability of the product. “The Westinghouse name is what made me contribute to this project,” wrote Brian Hilbern a few weeks ago. “Their name is still associated with this product so I hope they will be willing to do something about it.”

1,000 percent funded

While both crowdfunding platforms are working to improve the success rate, it doesn’t seem like they’ll ever be foolproof.

With innovation comes risk. You’re not buying a product, you’re backing an idea, is the crowdfunders’ philosophy, but backers may not necessarily see it that way. Some people will never feel comfortable handing over their money for something they may never see, but there are ways to back projects that will have a higher chance of succeeding, Terra said.

Look at the creators’ experience. Ask questions about where they are in the terms of production, the process of creating the prototypes, and whether they’ve talked to factories about manufacturing. Terra said campaigners should be willing to answer.

“One of the things we do see is that products that embrace openness and are willing to talk about it, that’s a really strong sign of that creator’s preparedness,” he said. Yet even if the creator thinks they have their timeline nailed down, there are always what Terra calls wildcards. Products can actually be too successful.

If a device blows past its goal, selling 10,000 units instead of 1,000, the creator has some work to do. While they have more money, the factory they lined up may not be equipped for that volume. There may not be enough of a certain component to fulfill all the orders.

It won’t necessarily lead to disaster, but you probably shouldn’t expect to get your product sooner just because the creator now has 10 times the money he or she asked for. These sorts of issues are why I always include “backer beware” on any crowdfunding article I write. Most people with a brilliant idea and slick video probably aren’t out to scam you, but they may not know the ins and outs of manufacturing and production, either.

If something does catch your eye on a crowdfunding site, do some research but don’t necessarily dismiss it just because it’s not a guarantee.

Backing something from prototype to finished product does offer something unique.

“Once this thing shows up, you know an awful lot about where it came from and all the sweat that went into it, versus something an iPhone, which is just this magical device that drops from the sky,” said David Gallagher, Kickstarter’s director of communications.

Editor’s Recommendations

References

  1. ^ crowdfunding fails (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ not a scam (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ foot-powered washer (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com)
  5. ^ Yirego (www.yirego.com)
  6. ^ version after version (beta.theglobeandmail.com)
  7. ^ monthly updates (support.indiegogo.com)
  8. ^ built-in suction (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ Hardware Studio (www.kickstarter.com)
  10. Avnet (www.avnet.com)
  11. ^ Dragon Innovation (www.dragoninnovation.com)
  12. ^ similar partners (www.digitaltrends.com)
  13. ^ electronics company Arrow (www.arrow.com)
  14. ^ Riverwood Solutions (enterprise.indiegogo.com)
  15. ^ FirstBuild (firstbuild.com)
  16. ^ Paragon induction cooktop (www.digitaltrends.com)
  17. ^ Opal nugget ice maker (www.digitaltrends.com)
  18. ^ Prisma (www.indiegogo.com)
  19. ^ Westinghouse (www.westinghousesecurity.com)
  20. ^ Nucli smart lock (www.digitaltrends.com)
  21. ^ 1,000 comments (www.indiegogo.com)

Categories