10 fascinating tech projects that crowdfunding has made possible

10 fascinating tech projects that crowdfunding has made possible

Summary: A look at some of the most promising and novel tech projects to come out of crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

TOPICS: Hardware

 |  Image 4 of 10

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Narrative

    Another famous project to come out of Kickstarter is life-logging camera Narrative, formerly known as Memoto.

    The Narrative Clip is a one-inch square camera, that snaps and stores a five megapixel photo every 30 seconds. The camera only takes pictures when clipped to a person and a built-in GPS geotags each image.

    The camera can store 4,000 images, and includes a free one-year subscription to Narrative's cloud-based storage service, with a maximum of 1.4TB storage.

    Images can be accessed and shared through an Android or iOS app, which organises photos into groups of "moments".

    The clip can be ordered for $279, with delivery promised after 1 November. The firm behind the camera has said it expects to sell 10,000 this year.

    The current fixed-focus lens has 70-degree viewing angle but a snap-on lens that is being developed will give it a 135-degree view and a fish-eye perspective.

    The company is also developing a waterproof case and planning on releasing an API to allow others to build further software and services for Narrative.

    Although the company asked for $50,000 to build Narrative, it ended up raising more than $550,000 last November. Narrative also recently received $3M in a funding round led by San Francisco-based True Ventures.


  • Open Hand Project

    The Open Hand Project is a project to build a robotic hand that offers much of the functionality of a human hand for less than $1,000 (£630) — up to 100 times cheaper than commercial alternatives.

    The project is building the Dextrus hand, a robotic hands that uses electric motors instead of muscles and steel cables instead of tendons. 3D-printed plastic parts work like bones and a rubber coating acts as the skin. These parts are controlled by electronics that allow the user to handle a variety of objects.

    The user controls the fingers by flexing muscles in the forearm. Electrodes attached to the user's arm capture electomyographical signals transmitted in the muscles and use those to control the device.

    As well as the Dextrus being made for amputees, the hand is also being pitched at researchers looking into control systems for telepresence robots or hobbyists making humanoid robots.

    A full working prototype of the Dextrus hand has been built, with the core electronics running on a breadboard — a board for prototyping electronics — and the software on PC.

    The next step in the project is to design and prototype electronics and build printed circuit boards.

    Project backers need to pledge £460 to receive a Dextrus, although to receive a Dextrus plus power supply, batteries, charger, electrodes, cables and EMG board a pledge of £700 is required.

    The £39,000 target for the project is less than the cost of one hand from commercial manufacturers of robotic prosthetic hands and with five days to go before its funding drive runs out on Indiegogo, the project has raised £40,950.

  • Fuel3D

    With 3D printing on the cusp of becoming mainstream, finding a way to scan real-world objects for printing is increasingly desirable.

    The Fuel3D is a handheld 3D scanning system capable of capturing high resolutions images of items, which, according to its makers, accurately reproduce both colour and fine details like the rivulets in a flower petal.

    To capture a 3D image with the system a small tag is first attached to the person or object that is to be scanned. The Fuel3D can then be used to capture images by pointing and clicking the scanner, in a manner similar to a taking a photo with a camera.

    Once scans are captured they can be viewed from any direction, edited and used as the basis for 3D printing. The image can then be exported into a variety of formats.

    As well as generating models for 3D printers the scanner will help capture 3D models for use by game developers, artists and for use in industrial applications — say the system's makers.

    Commercial 3D scanners can cost more than $15,000, whereas the Fuel3D is priced around $1,000. Backers of the Kickstart could get a scanner for $990, while the scanners can be ordered from Fuel3D for $1,250.

    The system can scan objects to capture high resolution mesh images and maps of the colour of objects. Fuel3D can capture a variety of textures, including: skin, fabrics, organic matter, stone and masonry. According to the product's technical specs the finest resolution captured by Fuel3D is a 250 microns sampling.

    The Kickstarter for the project raised more than $325,000, far more than the project's $75,000 goal. Scanners are now available for order through the Fuel3D website. The first devices will be delivered to Kickstarter backers in May next year.

    The Fuel3D scanner technology was originally developed at Oxford University for use in a 3D medical imaging system.

Topic: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The Narrative Clip

    The stupid thing is $280! That's more than a 32GB Nexus 7 tablet!
    I am really into tech and love to buy new stuff. I expect the new tech to be expensive since it takes a lot to get things off ground. But the price point of $280 is ridiculous. At half that, it may make sense to get one or two.
  • Crowd funding open hardware

    The latest campaign I'm finding interesting is to create an open source GPU: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/725991125/open-source-graphics-processor-gpu