It’s time for our regular round-up of crowdfunding kit that makes us want to spend all our Christmas money. As ever, it’s an eclectic mix of technology, but we reckon all of these could make your life better - and at the very least a bit more fun.
1. Mikme (from US$180/about £115)
Mikme is a smart microphone, in the sense of smart design. It was created to make it simple to capture inspiration, rather than faffing about with cables and complex hardware.
Tap to start recording and you can sing, play guitar or encourage nearby wildlife to below into the mic, which has 8GB of storage - enough for 180 hours of audio at studio-grade quality (24-bit/96kHz). The Mikme app provides further scope, capturing up to eight tracks, and enabling you to mix, edit and share.
2. Plan V (from AUD$15/about £8)
Smartphones have a habit of rapidly sucking their batteries dry, like crazed electricity vampires that, um, eat themselves. And while you might own dozens of charging cables and battery packs, they’ll likely be MIA or drained themselves when most needed.
Plan V takes a different and clever approach: it’s small enough to fit on a keychain, and opens to connect with a standard 9V battery, available from pretty much any high street or garage. It’s like jump leads for your phone, only tiny.
3. Sarvi Dock (from US$30/about £20)
At the last count, there were something like a billion smartphone docks, so why bother with another? Well, Sarvi Dock piqued our interest with these words: “The first dock with cases as the starting point for the design”. So regardless of your iPhone 6 lurking inside a bullet-proof case, or your Samsung Galaxy wearing a natty leather number, this dock should just work, and with a minimum of wobble.
4. Zano (from £150)
Drones are all the rage, it seems, and they’re getting smaller. Zano is a palm-sized example, designed to make aerial photo and video capture accessible and affordable. There’s a ton of tech packed into the tiny case, so it won’t crash into a cliff or accidentally fly into your face.
It’s all controlled by gestures, and like a good little robot, Zano will return to you if it feels it’s strayed too far. (Possibly after having first sneaked round the corner to plot humanity’s demise with Skynet, obv.)
5. Bitsbox (from US$20/about £13)
The Bitsbox creators rightly say we don’t teach kids to read and write just to be novelists, but to succeed in whatever they do. Similarly, they see coding as a basic foundation for creativity, enabling children to breathe life into their own creations through programming. The snag is keeping their interest.
The cunning plan: combine monthly mailed/digital gift boxes, varied themes, and virtual apps that can be ‘zapped’ to a device via a QR code. It’s initially digital-only outside of the US, but if funds allow, the team’s looking at EU and Australian shipping options.
6. Hemingwrite (from US$400/about £255)
Because the average writer or journo can only go approximately 11 seconds before ‘accidentally’ spending an hour watching Lolcats or arguing with people on Facebook, distraction-free full-screen writing tools have become all the rage.
Hemingwrite takes them further and to a logical conclusion, in a dedicated device that’s purely for writing. So, yep, it’s an electronic typewriter, albeit one with modern smarts: instant-on, an e-paper screen, cloud back-ups, document statuses, and printing to PDF.
7. KDJ-ONE (from US$395/about £255)
Even though it packs in a synth, sequencer and sampler, you might question the point in the KDJ-ONE, given that you can get an iPad mini 2 and some apps for the same outlay. But the KDJ-ONE has a kind of old-school 303-esque vibe, littering its tiny form with physical buttons and dials in addition to a touchscreen. It’ll happily communicate with PC and Mac DAWs and works for 10 hours on a single charge.
8. Plusberry Pi (from US$55/about £36)
The Raspberry Pi is fantastic but a little bit basic when it first arrives. The Plusberry Pi is all about turning it into something resembling a more standard piece of tech kit, quickly transforming it into a media box, games machine or miniature PC.
Of course, you could do all this yourself with some effort and time, but Plusberry Pi is a lovely little box with an integrated powered USB hub, HDD bay, and power switch. (If its ready-made nature makes your inner tinkerer glum, grab the US$55 pack - rather than a more expensive pre-assembled option - and fit everything yourself!)
9. Somabar (from US$400/about £255)
Imagine Tom Cruise from Cocktail merged with Eve from Wall•E and that’s more or less Somabar: a robot cocktail maker. You add ingredients to Soma Pods, connect your Somabar via Wi-Fi, select a concoction from an app, and before you can say “Give me alcoholic perfection, my sleek white cocktail dream machine” (i.e. after about five seconds), you’re served with a drink. No shakers! No measuring! Only a very slight chance the machine will start chanting about Xenu!
10. Skoog (from £125)
Finally, we couldn’t resist including this piece of cuboid bonkers from Scotland. Skoog is a squishy foam instrument that connects wirelessly to music apps. You then tap, twist and squeeze to ‘play what you feel’. We can’t imagine you’ll see people Skooging it up on stage at next year’s Glasto, but it looks like a fun and tactile addition to any studio, classroom or home tech collection.