Everything is becoming increasingly democratized, especially technology. The opportunity exists for every citizen with disposable income to be a part of the march of progress, and sometimes the investment has — get this — actually paid off. From advances in gaming to the health industry, the ever-expanding impact of these advances will reach people from all walks of life. We’re in an exciting age where a momentous new trend is still its infancy, and we get to bear witness to its constant growth and maturation.
10. Piper Home Security
Amount Funded: $309,119
We start with a relatively modest amount, and yet the technology being invested in is of such sufficient importance, and the product produced was of such sufficient quality, that it deserves its place amongst such great projects. Piper’s home security system is basically a combination of different home monitoring devices (a camera, thermometer, humidity checker, etc.) that has an app for your mobile device that allows you to check up on it at all times. This allows the homeowner on vacation or elsewhere to better monitor for intruders, home damage, or other home maintenance issues.
9. Matterform 3D Scanner
Amount Funded: $471,082 Canadian
Greatly simplifying the process by which objects are rendered in 3D interfaces for easier or more tangible for online study and display, the Matterform 3D offers a consumer/hobbyist model at $599. The demand for such a device was such that the Matterform acquired over six times its goal during its fundraising period. While this product is entering what’s already a crowding market, it’s good that crowdfunded projects are forcing the market to create better products.
Amount Funded: $503,571
Between our stressful jobs, our flexible lifestyles, and the huge amount of daily information that occupies our nightly thoughts, many of us find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. While there are devices that help you monitor how well you’re sleeping, as Business Insider reported, they are all quite flawed. Their measurements are incomplete, or they can very likely interfere with your sleep. Beddit is a monitor placed under your mattress which monitors your movements, breathing, etc. to give you a more accurate impression of your quality of sleep. They are set to be priced at $149, which is well worth the value of getting better sleep.
7. Oculus Rift
Amount Funded: $2,437,429
This is a video game headset used to fill your vision and respond to your head movements, to better immerse you in the game environment. It’s certainly not an original idea, but it was only half as expensive as the next leading brand, and certainly did the most to get people interested in that type of gameplay again. This device was obviously much more funded than some ranked higher, especially if you include the $16,000,000 added in by private investors. Still, it is intended as a somewhat frivolous device and, at present, has significant limitations, such as problems with accessing menus to perform some of the gameplay.
Amount Funded: $1,314,542
The group LifX Labs was hoping for $100,000 for their LED lightbulb project. They finally reached their goal … after an hour. In fact, by the sixth day, they had to put a freeze on the page to keep up with their ability to send out all the preorders. In November, it was announced that Best Buy would distribute this product.
The appeal of this bulb is that its wi-fi connection allows you to use your smartphone to adjust its brightness and color, as well as preset when they will make those adjustments. Currently, the product has something of a rivalry with Phillips Hue, but the way crowdfunding is competing and getting something of a leg up on a major like this is quite something.
Amount Funded: $2,344,135
Another invention that more fun than useful, the 3Doodler is like an airbrush or hot glue gun, that creates strings of plastic that can be easily shaped into 3d art. The device produces some very cute pieces and is, according to Gigaom’s review, addictive to use. It also represents great advancement potential in the field of affordable 3-D printing. Although there is the concern that it is uncomfortable to draw with for prolonged periods, loud, and stinky (the last one a complaint you don’t hear so much about modern technology,) but it’s still a creative and fun new device.
4. Canary Home Security
Amount Funded: $1,961,663
Another product that crowdfunding created to advance the technology of home monitoring, Canary is in many ways a more tested version of the Piper Home System. They check essentially the same things with some advertised differences. For example, Canary will be able to monitor air quality to a greater degree than Piper, but Piper has the edge in detecting the size of a moving object. So if you have a pet at home, you’d probably prefer to pay the Piper. But making the Canary more significant is that it beat the Piper to the market by three months and had more resources to promote the product, and thus was able to make a stronger impression on consumers.
3. Pebble Smartwatch
Amount Funded: $10,266,845
As you can see, the Pebble was by far the most crowdfunded project on this list. But it didn’t quite overtake the top two in terms of utility and potential. Essentially, it’s a utilitarian mobile device. It has a small, grayscale monitor without any of the usual animations for when you change applications and whatnot. This is handy, as it allows the device to work faster and frees up space. You can check and send all the messages you ordinarily would with other mobile devices, at a lower price and with less lag. Hopefully this emphasis on interface function over frills will catch on.
2. Scanadu Scout
Amount Funded: $1,664,574
This device was rather ridiculously touted as a “medical tricorder” to give it more of a science fiction mystique, which is quite silly given the significance of its intended purpose. Nevertheless, it worked, as the device hit its target budget after one day, and has since received $10.5 million more in private funding. The device is a handheld monitor that detects a person’s vitals (blood pressure, temperature, etc.) Given the extreme expense of health care and the shortage of time that hospital workers have, anything that can expedite the process without sacrificing quality of service should be pursued. As of November 2013, the product was still undergoing clinical trials before it would be released commercially, with thousands already preordered.
1. Form 1
Amount Funded: $2,945,885
3D printers are proving to be a way for consumers to have access to previously unaffordable products. The most current high-profile example of this is Paul McCarthy printing out a prosthetic hand for his son Leon, saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process. While the FormLabs Form 1 3D printer is not the cheapest consumer grade 3D printer (it’s about $750 more than the leading brand Makerbot 2) it was found by Wired to be much better at doing detailed work, producing work quickly without losing quality, not making a racket, and not stinking up the joint. It thus represents represents a great step forward in the day when such useful products will be nearly as affordable as 2D printers.
Dustin Koski feels confident in saying his serial novel Please, God is the cultural achievement all this technology was created to make possible.