Looking for something a bit different this holiday season? We round up 10 of the most interesting and innovative hi-tech items that found their way onto the market thanks to successful crowd funding campaigns via Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Selfstarter.
This little object finder attaches to anything from a keyring to the back of a computer in order to track its whereabouts. Just launch the smartphone app and if a tile is within range -- i.e. up to 45 meters -- its location will pop up on a map. However, what sets this tracker apart from the competition is that if a missing device is within range of any smartphone, anywhere in the world, that is running the Tile app, it can be found again. Each tile is good for one year before the battery dies but before it does, the company will mail out a new Tile and offer to recycle the old one. All for a subscription fee of course. Tiles cost $19.95 each and can be bought direct from the Tile website, and the app can manage up to 10 tiles at once.
The Tile object finder. Photo: AFP
The device that made Kickstarter famous and has done as much as any Apple iWatch rumors to get consumers excited about smartwatches, the Pebble is a very basic but good looking smartwatch that uses the same e-ink technology in its screen that's found in e-readers such as the original Kindle. The result is a timepiece that tethers, via Bluetooth, to a smartphone and displays notifications, such as text messages, missed calls and emails. It also has a host of specially developed apps for tracking activity and fitness and is good for five days between battery charges. However its best features are that it is cheap -- $150 -- pretty much waterproof, and works with both the iPhone and Android handsets.
The ultimate in portable 3D printing, this fan-cooled pen allows users to ‘sculpt' in colored ink, meaning that sketching doesn't have to be confined to two dimensions. Although it is great fun to use, getting the most out of the Doodler will take some practice, but that's all part of its appeal. Start on a sheet of paper, create something. The $150 gadget is already shipping to its initial Kickstarter backers but others may have to wait until February to get their hands on one, even if they pre-order now.
This crowd-funded games console managed to rake in almost $9 million in funding (its creators only needed $950,000) and just over a year later it is on general sale for just $99 and boasts 550 games titles to download, all of which can be tested for free before committing to a purchase.
The Misfit Shine
This rather elegant activity tracker is milled from aluminum, was designed to last a lifetime and can be worn as a pendant, clipped to a lapel or dropped into a pocket. Thanks to its combination of sensors and algorithms, it's just as good at tracking cycling and swimming as it is walking, running or stair climbing and can be ordered direct from Misfit's site or from the Apple Store for $119.95.
Meenova Mini MicroSD Card Reader for Android
A great idea and a great hi-tech stocking filler, the Meenova plugs into the base of a number of Android phones, including the HTC One, Moto X and a host of Samsung Galaxy S models, and immediately boosts storage by up to 64GB. Thanks to some nifty design it can be closed up to protect from dust, will fit on to a keychain and has a full-sized USB adaptor so that it can be plugged into a computer to retrieve files for loading onto a phone. Best of all, it costs just $12 (plus $3 shipping).
The ‘internet of things' in a smartly designed little box, Twine can be programmed to monitor specific changes in the home and then alert you if something happens -- for instance, if the door opens or if the basement floods. Out of the box, it can sense vibration, motion and temperature, and for those willing to pay more than the initial $125, there are also options for monitoring moisture and the ability to add magnetic switches. A great idea, and the Twine's uses are only limited by the owner's imagination.
Twine. Photo: AFP
The Narrative Clip
Originally called the Memoto when it appeared on Kickstarter last October, this $279 lifelogging camera clips to the wearer's clothing and automatically takes a photograph every 30 seconds. Once the device's 8GB of internal storage has reached its limit, the images can be uploaded (via a computer) to the company's cloud server, where they are displayed on a timeline with geo-tagging info, essentially giving each owner a photographic memory. A supporting smartphone app for both the iPhone and Android is currently in the works.
Described as the doorbell for smartphones, it uses a home's wi-fi network to connect to a smartphone and show who's at the door. The smartphone app can also control the Doorbot's visitor-facing camera for a better view and means that you can see, hear and speak to whoever is standing outside your home anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection. The same company also builds the Lockitron (another crowd-funded hit), which allows the user to lock or unlock a door remotely and the two devices are designed to work in unison when installed together. The Doorbot costs $199 and the Lockitron $179.