We love Kickstarter for its wild ideas that actually see the light of day—even if we have to wait till next year. Here are some Kickstarter deliveries that are right around the corner in 2014.
It might be the most obnoxiously cute model to channel the "get kids to code" cause célèbre, but this computer-in-a-box is well-thought out from box presentation to bright, distinct parts. With a Raspberry Pi model B and preprogrammed lessons to have tykes coding within the hour, the Kano box is a cool, cheap, preconstructed way to get kids off and running in the code game without stressing over lesson plans, device compatibility, part sourcing, shipping, instructions...
Sure, we’ll have to wait until June or July for the projected shipping date, but that’ll leave all summer for teachers to toy with their Kanos and get it ready for Fall 2014.
The chemistry set has become an antiquated toy—but it doesn’t have to be. Alongside the flashier "teach kids to code" projects, chemistry sets allow the young to learn about all the weird stuff they can do with microscopic nature, and the Heirloom Chemistry Set is the best we’ve seen in decades. While it’s a little pricey—full materials are $175, full equipment is $225, and the master set with lab book is a whopping $550—but judging by its over 400% funding level, lots of folks want to bring the chemistry magic into the home or classroom.
Sure, we’ll be impressed by DIY masters getting us simplified tech, but there’s something exceptionally badass about the Heirloom Chemistry Set’s founder offhandedly assuring us that he will "synthesize, purify, and/or formulate and package all of the chemicals" in the set. Further, his assurance that anything broken will be replaced and more benign chemicals can be swapped for the scarier ones assures us that this guy (and his awesomely named shop, H.M.S. Beagle) is all about his backers having a good time.
We’ll skip the trendy Kickstarter vid and go straight for the guts: ROCKI is a WiFi receiver that plugs into any speaker with 3.5mm or RCA cables—meaning your existing sound setup likely works just fine—and lets you control your tunes via their smartphone (both Android and iOS) or desktop apps. At $49, it’s inexpensive to network several systems (one ROCKI per, each operating as their own WiFi hotspot), and there’s even an $89 option to include TOSLink optical and HDMI audio connections.
Since they hit their stretch goals, the ROCKI app will feature Spotify and Deezer integration, but the coolest feature might be the API they’re releasing in January; while it isn’t open source, the conversation room they’ve opened is at least an area for dialogue between independent devs and ROCKI programmers. These guys are claiming a January ship date, which we’ll believe when we see it (but oh god please send soon).
Yeah, we’ve seen these "retro arcades" in SkyMall catalogs for years, but never one this cute—or this damned hacky. The full Porta Pi with all the buttons and whistles will run you $280, but for the more adventurous DIYers out there, the cabinet itself sells at the baseline $50 level and $155 gets you the cabinet an appropriately sized HD screen.
Which seems a bit much, especially since none of these price points includes a Raspberry Pi (the model B, recommended, costs about $40), but the guy behind the Porta Pi is all about the hacker spirit: you can stick almost any old console in there and it will fit.
We’ll believe you, Portable Arcade Hacker Guy, especially since his story (outlined in the Kickstarter) describes his Porta-Arcade hobbying all the way back to 2008. More impressively, his first Kickstarter campaign failed at ⅔ of his $36,000 goal, so he streamlined every part of the process and, wouldn’t you know it, is already at 150% of his $13,000 goal.
Take 360-degree videos with your DSLR? Awesome. Take 360-degree videos with a GoPro, even underwater? Phenomenal. Enter Eye Mirror. The secret is in the mirror, which is high-grade (read: not plastic) enough to capture spectacular quality that the software translates into movies you can pan around while you’re watching, adding a crazy dimension of immersion. Oh, and they have bonus software for £55/$89 to convert recordings into Oculus Rift-friendly video. Because of course.
The "Eye Mirror 1" is a 67mm lens that screws right on your DSLR threads and costs £235/$380 with a £40 optional mount for non-67mm cameras. The GoPro version, GP360, comes in two models (A and B, both £160/$260) respective to different GoPro editions, some of which require "lens loosening" to refocus and work with the GP360, while other editions require a replacement with their custom lens (increasing the price to £230/$373). (Eye Mirror promises to fix & replace if you bungle your GoPro in the process of these mods, though they haven’t lost a lens to date.) The "wet lens" underwater version runs £199/$322 and works with 67mm or a modded GoPro case. Whew!
Eye Mirror blew past its funding goals and will take pre-orders till Jan 4. Ideally, the Eye Mirror 1 will ship at the end of February and the GP360 at the end of March.
Some of us are outdoors folk. Some of us thrive in cities. All of us boil water. And while we’ve been enamored of USB-charging-by-fire for some time, the PowerPot X claims to charge at 10w—far above the 2w average of most fire chargers. That’s enough to charge a tablet, or two smartphones, or four GoPro cameras at once. We can probably trust them on this one since they already Kickstarted an earlier version, the PowerPot V, last year. Backpackers and stovetop chargers, consider this a dependable alternative to edgier Kickstarter campaigns. The PowerPot X is available for pre-order until Jan 15 and plans to ship in May 2014.
The Auug Motion Synthesizer is an odd duck. Lock your iPhone/iPod Touch into a handgrip that looks like the most attractive child of the Nintendo Power Glove, run another music app (like GarageBand) in the background, launch the Auug app, and you’ve turned your phone into an eight-key instrument with fancy effects when you wave it around. Poof, you’re a digital musician!
All right, it looks kind of silly waving around there—but consider the myriad music apps (like GarageBand) that customize the sound output your gripped phone can pump out. After all, the Auug app just translates your motions and button presses into sound, meaning it can be used as an instrument over WiFi to a laptop or MIDI cable to non-digital devices. And since the Auug app is essentially a translator of your button and motion presses...yeah. Game controller, baby. Or, uh, whatever Minority Report-style button/motion controls you want to set up.
The Auug was just successfully funded, but you can still pre-order an Auug system on their official site for $99 (regular $110), which is expected to ship in May 2014.
Virtual Retinal Display. Wait, what? "It means that there’s no screen. There’s no LCDs, OLEDs, or emissive panels in here. What Virtual Retinal Display does is project light right into your eye," said Avegant CEO Ed Tang about the Glyph audiovisual headset. Oculus Rift? Super yesteryear. The 3D goggles of tomorrow will beam images into your eyeballs.
When it’s not blowing your mind with future vision, the goggle portion sits upright like a headband for fairly pricey headphones. The Glyph is expected to hit Kickstarter on Jan 22 with a starting price of $499.