It’s time to delve once more into the inventive and oddball world of crowdfunding.
Given that it’s summer (or what passes for it in the UK), some of this month’s choices involve — HORRORS — going outside. But don’t worry — there’s still plenty here for people who’d rather lock themselves in a darkened room with glowing LEDs and buttons to prod.
1. Lumos ($99, S$139)
If you’re a cyclist, you’ll know the roads aren’t always an especially safe place to be. Lumos is designed to help, integrating a series of lights into a helmet, making you more visible and cleverly warning drivers about your manoeuvres. By default, the lights make you look a bit like a Tron reject, which means you do stand out after dark; but the clever bit is built-in turn signalling and automatic brake lights, the latter triggered as you slow. If you’re too late to back Lumos, Livall has a broadly similar remit, and while we’re less keen on its lights, it offers smart ideas in sensing emergencies, and enabling you to communicate with others through a built-in mic and speaker system.
2. GrowBot ($500, S$700)
This one resembles a hobbyist project that’s raged out of all control. You get a large tray, decked out in wood and peppered with plant-sized holes and loads of lovely gadgets. Solar cells power everything, and a 5MP camera combines with ‘plant recognition technology’ to best determine how to keep your plants healthy. Assuming you’ve connected a hose to the soilless system and actually planted some seeds, you should be good to go.
If you’re a hobbyist yourself, you can order just the brains and guts of GrowBot — perfect for creating a terrifying eco-android that will roam the streets offering people tasty organic greens while simultaneously wrenching evil fast food from their stupid human mouths.
3. LifeDock (from $35, S$49)
If there’s one thing we’ve always thought when faced with a dock for a smartphone, it’s that they really don’t have enough space for plants. OK, so we’re lying, but having seen LifeDock, it’s clearly something we should have been thinking. LifeDock, then, is a dock into which you plonk a device to charge, and a little place behind that for housing a tiny plant. This means the dock on its own actually looks nice, your techno-office has something potentially alive in it, and if you carefully position everything, you can make it look like a tree’s growing out of your iPhone — all major plusses in our book.
4. trakkies (from €52, S$82)
There’s a whiff of sexism in the trakkies video. (Women: rubbish at technology and organisation! Men: amazing at being relaxed and actual tech gods! Hrrmm.) However, the concept is smarter than whoever deals with the product’s marketing. Individually, a trakkie is yet another location-aware tracker for ensuring anything it’s attached to doesn’t get lost. But multiple trakkies and your smartphone communicate, creating a geo-location web of sorts. You’re then helpfully informed if you drop something important or are about to leave your house with your wallet, smartphone and bag, but your keys are deviously hiding underneath the sofa, intent on ruining your day.
5. Saent ($39, S$55)
There are quite a few apps and bits of kit that aim to make you more productive through ‘sprint’ work sessions and website blocking. Saent combines both concepts, mostly by way of a minimalist orb on your desk. You give it a tap to start a session. User-defined websites are then blocked on your computer, a timer for the session is displayed, and Saent can help further by launching apps via gestures.
Given that people like a pat on the head for actually doing their work, Saent graphs everything and awards points for not getting distracted by Facebook 50 times per day. You can then compare notes with friends and, presumably, boast about your score on Facebook before realising you’ve just lost your winning streak. OH NO!
6. Remix Mini (from $30, S$42)
Remix Mini claims to be the “world’s first true Android PC”, which suggests all the others are somehow false. But it does look the business, augmenting Lollipop with PC-like productivity features such as multiple-window multitasking. We’re also smitten with the idea of a capacitive power button on the top of the device, rather than having to fish about for a switch.
In reality, the Remix Mini’s no more likely to replace your actual PC than a VIC-20, but for a piddling 30 bucks, it seems like a fun punt if you’ve a spare screen, keyboard and mouse knocking around and gagging to become useful once again.
7. Minim ($99, S$139)
We can’t resist a cute little music controller with loads of glowing lights, and Minim is very much that. The pocket-sized device has eight velocity-sensitive pads, a load of buttons, a touch-based fader, and will respond to 3D motion in order to apply weird effects to your music. At about the same size as an iPhone 6, it’s pocketable, and it appears to work with a whole bunch of iPhone, iPad, and Mac software. Just don’t get drunk and mix it up with your iPhone, or you’ll look like an idiot repeatedly trying to launch the Phone app and only getting jaunty guitar riffs in return.
Bringing Apple-like design to your armpits bonus: ClickStick+
There comes a point when we have to wonder whether the entire tech industry is trolling us. A case in point: ClickStick+, which has such glowing quotes on its crowdfunding page as: “It’s like owning an Apple product — perfectly engineered with perfected details” and “When you hold it, it's like a piece of jewellery”.
It turns out ClickStick+ is not, say, an Apple Watch rival, but “the first smart electric deodorant”, which has wrested the most baffling use of ‘smart’ away from cookers, necklaces and toothbrushes. But to give the inventors their dues, there is actual smartness here: in making deodorant “more fun and effective”, they’ve created a refillable unit that has a bundled light and even an app. Although the smartest aspect for them might be selling refills if enough people buy the thing.