In recent years Kickstarter has made it possible for inventors with limited budgets to share their ideas with the world and acquire the funding necessary to make their inventions a reality.
Ideas are great, but they're worthless if they can't be used. Having the means to turn inventions into something that consumers can see and touch is what really counts. That's the purpose of Kickstarter. Got a great idea? Create a Kickstarter account and pitch the idea to the masses. If people are interested, they might donate money to the project. If you meet your set monetary target, you go through with it. If not, the backers--those contributing money--do not lose out, because the project is canned. The process also gives inventors a sense of whether their ideas are worth pursuing.
We've taken a look at some current Kickstarter projects, and present the six best ones here.
This is a very cool concept. It's an iPhone mount that you control with a second iOS device. The mount lets you pan and tilt the iPhone. The possibilities are endless. Swipe your iPad to pan the iPhone's camera a full 360 degrees while chatting on FaceTime. Use your iPhone as an iPad-controlled baby monitor.
This specially outfitted iPhone case removes the need to carry around a bunch of individual credit cards. Record the information from your Visa, MasterCard, and other cards by swiping each card through the case's reader. Then, when you want to use one of your credit cards, temporarily put its information on the blank card that comes with the Geode. The Geode has a few interesting safety features. For instance, only the user's fingerprint can activate the cards. The makers say the Geode eliminates the need to cancel credit cards if it's lost or stolen.
This is a simple iPhone and iPod dock. It lets you charge and sync or connect your iOS device to a stereo through the line out. This dock isn't anything out of the ordinary except for one cool feature: its ability to tilt to any viewing angle, which is useful for FaceTime.
The Juicetank case is one of the most interesting iPhone case ideas we've seen. It has a built-in plug that you can pop into an outlet to charge your iPhone on the go. It can entirely replace the need for your iPhone charger, especially now that iOS allows for Wi-Fi or iCloud syncing.
TouchFire is a soft physical keyboard that you can lay over the virtual iPad keyboard. Typing feels more natural, and if you want to be able to use your entire screen again, you just roll the pliable TouchFire keyboard up and out of the way.
The Pebble ePaper Watch for iPhone and Android is a pretty wicked little watch. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android phone, and allows for a variety of applications. The display is color epaper, so you can see it clearly during the day. It receives messages directly from your iPhone. This means that if someone sends you an important text, you can simply look down at your watch. This company met and exceeded its money-raising goal very quickly, so the ePaper Watch eventually should be available for purchase.
I gave fellow BYTE contributor Ben Gottesman a call. He's a Kickstarter backer for the Pebble ePaper Watch. I asked him what makes a person want to donate $100 to a project by a bunch of guys with an idea and very little of their own money.
"There is this element, the technology side of Kickstarter that appeals to the enthusiast that wants to get the coolest thing first," said Gottesman. Whereas gadgets such as the iPad are "available to everyone at once," backers of Kickstarter projects typically get products before anyone else does, as a thank you from the maker.
Gottesman said that there is also the "bargain appeal." For instance, he can get his ePaper watch for as little as $100. The product, which has already raised $3.6 million--well over the initial goal--will retail for over $150 when it hits the market. People who contribute to the project are getting a hefty discount.
Gottesman explained the feeling of being part of helping a concept become a reality. "You want to see something come into the market, and it's very cool."
Still, he added, "the flip side is that you have to be really, really patient on this." He said that many of the projects are not hitting deadlines. "I haven't heard of anyone not being to execute, but there are delays."