It’s that time again when we scour crowdfunding websites, looking for amazing, strange, and sometimes potentially life-changing kit.
We would have mentioned nine-dollar computer C.H.I.P. and the epic Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night action platformer, but they previously got full stories on this site (C.H.I.P. here and Bloodstained here) and so have already had enough attention.
Besides, this gives us room for dinosaurs, scratch-building a Wolverine claw, and actually being able to plug things into a new MacBook, which we’re sure you’ll appreciate.
1. Codie (from US$169)
You can barely swing a USB lead about a typical crowdfunding site without giving a good half-dozen tiny programmable computers a swift crack about the circuitboard.
Many are aimed at children, but Codie stands out, because it’s also a cute little robot. The idea is that kids can use an app to program Codie, dragging and dropping blocks to define behaviours; all the while, the system is sneakily teaching them about real coding patterns, such as variables, loops, conditionals and subroutines.
Out of the box, kids can create their first program within minutes and share it with friends. And by ‘kids’, we mean ‘us’, because, frankly, we want one. Codie looks like some kind of modern Pixar-style take on Big Trak, and if that doesn’t fill you with glee, you must be dead inside.
2. Neptune Suite (US$649)
This Android-based mobile suite hints at the future of computing.
Around your wrist, you wear Hub, a full-fledged Android device masquerading as a smartwatch. Everything else is framed as an accessory, so instead of a smartphone, there’s a 5in Pocket Screen; rather than a tablet, there’s the 10in Tab Screen and an optional keyboard, Neptune Keys.
There’s also an HDMI dongle to turn any telly into yet another screen for your Hub. The campaign’s already fully funded, but you can still grab yourself a set, and look forward early next year to firing content from your wrist to a bunch of screens peppered about your house, until someone very firmly tells you to stop.
3. Boneyard Pets V.3 (from US$25)
OK, so we’re straying a bit from tech at this point, since Boneyard Pets are almost as lo-fi as you can go — punch-out kits that turn into 3D puzzles.
But: dinosaurs! And, more to the point: HUGE dinosaurs.
Using Komatex (a brand of PVC similar to sintra), these retro-style model fossils come in a range of colours and sizes. We’d say they’d be ideal for any desk, but the 32-piece Spinosaurus set comes in at a whopping 16 inches (40cm) high and 24 inches (60cm) long. We’re gonna need a bigger boat! (No, hang on — that was a different film, wasn’t it?)
4. MyoWare (from US$25)
This little muscle sensor is the fourth-generation MyoWare, and there are three very good reasons for buying one.
First, it’s the best iteration of this device to date, incorporating modular piggybacking circuitboards to perform all kinds of operations; secondly, the company sponsors Limbitless Solutions, and will donate a sensor for every five backers of US$25 or more; and finally, the Kickstarter campaign includes step-by-step tutorials for creating a controllable ‘bionic blaster glove’ and ‘3D printer bionic claws’, so you can pretend to be some kind of weird fusion of superheroes while watching your Avengers Blu-Ray for the umpteenth time. Science!