Natalie Keir explores 4 unique and innovative inventions backed by the public.

oculus

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of Kickstarter, it is pretty much the difference between an amazing idea and a legitimate business venture. It allows you to pitch your idea to millions of potential investors, but not just the office-dwelling, high-rolling investors you might be imagining. It allows ordinary people from all over the globe to invest in extraordinary ideas. In doing so, the world of product development is opened up to the underdog, and some fantastic products have emerged. We are going to take a look at four of the coolest and most original Kickstarter projects that could soon be taking over the tech markets.

 

1)     Glowing Plants – Natural lighting with no electricity                 Raised $484,013 from 8,433 backers

In April, two scientists from Stanford University appealed to Kickstarter’s audience for funding for a glowing plant project. With a little help from some Genome Compiler software, they had developed a process that could apply a firefly’s glowing gene to a plant, however they lacked sufficient funding to commercialise the idea. To raise funds, they offered incentives such as t-shirts, glowing plants seeds and the chance to have your name written into a plant’s DNA. 44 days later, they had attracted nearly half a million dollars of investment, and now hope to go commercial by May 2014.

2)     Oculus Rift – Step into the game                  Raised $2,437,429 from 9,522 backers

Oculus Rift is probably the coolest and most creative advancement we have seen in virtual reality in recent years. I don’t play video games, but even I can tell that this one is something special. It is a lightweight headset that completely immerses you in your game of choice, to the point where you are no longer looking at a screen. Unlike its predecessors, this headset has a diagonal field of view of 110 degrees. If you look from left to right, the image will correspond in real time, making the experience incredibly life-like. In a mere 30 days, the project raised just under 3 million dollars, thanks to some pretty tempting rewards. Top investors, who donated over $5,000, bagged the best prize and were flown out to the Oculus lab to meet the team, try the Rift themselves, and receive developer versions to keep.

3)     Omni – Move naturally in your favourite game             Raised $1,109,341 from 3,249 Backers
This one goes hand in hand with the Oculus Rift. Imagine if you could physically move around your favourite video game, rather than continuously jabbing at tiny buttons from your armchair. Omni is a platform that allows you to do exactly that. Its base is shaped like an inverse dome, so if you step forward, your feet slide back down and you end up running on the spot. It is probably most comparable to trying to run up an extremely slippery hill. Your character in the game will follow your motions exactly, allowing you to jump, run and swivel as the game requires. It’s small enough to fit in an average size bedroom or living room, and they should be available from Jan 2014.

4)     Mycestro – The next generation 3D mouse                          Raised $354,115 from 4,010 backers
When you think ‘next generation’ or ‘3D’, the certainly don’t think ‘computer mouse’, but one Kickstarter campaigner hopes to change that. Nick Mastandrea, of Chesterland, Ohio, has developed a mouse that wraps around your index finger, almost like a plaster. The design looks pretty slick, and makes the transition from typing to scrolling or clicking faster and more intuitive. The mouse is able to track the movement of your fingertip, and a touch sensitive panel serves as the left and right click buttons. By moving your finger, or swiping the panel with your thumb, you can control your cursor as intricately as with a standard mouse.

Natalie Keir

 

Image by Ian Hughes