10 Crowdfunding Projects That Take the ‘Fiction’ out of ‘Science-Fiction’

By July 26, 2013No Comments

Web crowdfunding has shortened launch times for innovative, exciting and helpful products. Recently, a method allowing plants to glow was funded on Kickstarter. And medical device Scanadu outdid its $100,000 funding goal by reaching close to $1.5M.

As you’re reading this, a team is trying to raise money for a pen that reads what it writes and alerts when there is a mistake.

Remember Marty McFly form the movie Back to the Future? In fictive 2015, he traveled on a floating deck, the Hoverboard. People want to have this in the not-so-far-away 2015, and they want to do it by raising $1M.

If this sounds as amazing to you as it does to us, read on. These are 10 jaw-dropping crowdfunded projects that seem like futuristic ideas, but are in fact real.

10. Network-free mobile phones

There are almost seven billion mobile phones worldwide – even in many poorly developed countries, they are widely owned. Wars, natural disasters or simply things like remote areas can render mobile phones useless.

By programming phones to connect with one another – between independent and supraregional networks – this  project by Adelaide aims to help.

The technology, which the Australian team developed with the New Zealand Red Cross, allows one phone to call another.These phones don’t necessarily have software installed; rather, they provide a simple and useful means of communication in war and natural disaster scenarios. When long distances come into play, the Speak Freely project has prototyped signal extenders for your pocket. Combined with solar chargers, this technology combines the reliability of radios and the usability of smartphones.

Speak Freely still has more than one month to raise its set goal of $300,000.

9. Flying bicycle gets you where you want

Attaching a propeller and a wing, Virginia’s Dexter Industries is building the most flexible vehicle ever. The inventors say they loved both bikes and aircraft, and they wanted to combine the benefits of both.

Imagine pedaling out of your driveway with a four-wheeled (yet looking kind of three-wheeled) bike that takes you where a bike can take you, then unpacking the wing from your backpack and unfolding it, powering the propeller and taking off.

The dream of flight comes true in the Flying bicycle, allowing you to easily take off on your own, and head for an island, the mountain cabin of your best friend, or the butcher’s.

8. Connecting the Raspberry Pi to Lego

Since the launch of the credit card-sized $25 computer Raspberry Pi, geniuses and nerds around the world have created amazing things from it. But, most of this was software-only.

This kit allows to connect not only Lego bricks to the circuit board, but also has several plugs for Lego (Mindstorms®) motors and sensors.

Giving well-known hands and feet to the fully hackable Raspberry Pi, this kit allows the craziest robotics ideas to come true.

The crowdfunding community has contributed a sum 67 times higher than BrickPi’s preset goal.

7. Crowd-controlled space telescope

ARKYD is a publicly available space telescope. Anyone will be able to take control of it and zoom into wherever their curiosity leads. Teachers might use it to discover things together with their students. Scientists will have a tool to carry their studies to places they wish.

In contrast to conventional telescopes, thanks to crowdfunding, ARKYD’s hardware is compact and the launch time is short.

Some of the ARKYD engineers have been involved in NASA‘s Mars landers. What emphasizes the reality of what ARKYD is doing? The incentive for a $25 funding contribution was having your own photo displayed on a screen in space, which in turn another camera would capture.

The ARKYD outdid its $1M goal by more than 1500% on 1 July.

6. 360 degrees of virtual reality

Forget Google Glass. The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality machine in the size of ski goggles, making the user “step into” artificial worlds.

The gaming community is already jumping for excitement. The Oculus Rift’s maker Palmer Luckey says, the team has worked together with world-class game developers.

Imagine exploring Hawken’s or Doom’s scenery and physically tilting your head to where you want to look. Or how about walking through a replication of actual Martian terrain?

The Oculus Rift’s crowdfunding goal was $250,000. They have reached close to $2.5M.

The Oculus Rift and some virtual scenery. © Flickr users Sergey Galyonkin, [WW]

The Oculus Rift and some virtual scenery. © Flickr users Sergey Galyonkin, [WW]

5. Life sized hologram projector

The company behind this project has brought hologram machines to events and expos. They show objects such as a softdrink bottle or a game controller virtually “above the screen”, no 3D glasses needed.

Most of us have grown up with futuristic hologram visions as suggested by Hollywood. Especially Lucasfilm (Star Wars) were good at making entire persons appear “projected” in the air. Now it’s time to make this happen.

The life size hologram projector is supposed to make huge objects appear in front of people‘s eyes: Cars, furniture and humans are potential outputs.

There is still a lot to fund before they reach their $950,000 goal.

4. Getting access to your own satellite

Sending things into space has always been exorbitantly expensive. A group of space and business experts is developing an Arduino-based, 10x10x10cm satellite, which everyone will be able to access.

Scientists, teachers, you and I will be able to send code to the satellite’s Arduino-brain. ArduSat (from Arduino satellite) can be taught to go places, take pictures, analyze data and make something out of it.

The project team names a few possible tasks: map the emitted spectrum of the sun; generate truly random numbers valuable to the financial, security and science community and; stare down the eye of a hurricane.

ArduSat outdid its set $35,000 goal by almost 300% on 15 July.

3. Star Trek’s Tricorder is here

Measuring blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate and other data linked to vital body functions, Scanadu adds the advantages of digitalism to preventative healthcare. While other processes, such as parcel delivery via DHL or the tracking of masses of website visitors, have long been at our fingertips (and smartphone screens), no device is measuring our bodies yet.

Scanadu captures data and keeps track of how it changes. If things are as they should be, Scanadu can reassure parents about their children’s health, for example. If things become abnormal, Scanadu alerts people or simply allows them to approach their physicians with relevant data to cite.

Third, and most of all: An early entrant to the $10M Tricorder X PRIZE competition, Scanadu‘s features and handiness come thrillingly close to what has been known as the Tricorder since Star Trek.

Scanadu has outdone its $100k funding goal by about 1500%.

2. Hoverboards: We want this in 2015

If you think this one sounds unrealistic, hold on: Who would have believed in sending humans to space and to the moon in the 1960s, at a time when the fastest trains on earth hardly reached 230 kilometers per hour?

The Hoverboard Project‘s initiators stated it clearly: “It‘s only about the money.” Thinking of existing Maglevs in Germany and Japan, or of quadrocopters becoming more lasting and autonomous than ever before, why not join forces for a hoverboard from mass production in 2015?

There is still $998,000 left to reach the Hoverboard‘s $1M goal.[/embed]

1. Making trees glow

A Californian team around including Antony Evans thought: Why put street lamps next to trees and not make it one thing? You do find glowing things in nature, remember?

Taking the glowing genes found in bacteria or fireflies and synthesizing (regenerating) them, this biolab is actually making plants glow under their control.

Glowing plants can completely change aesthetics and economics of public space by giving a new feature to something that’s there anyway.

The Glowing Plants project was successfully funded on 7 June.

NOTE: Antony Evans of Glowing Plant; Peter Platzer, CEO of NanoSatisfi, the makers of the ArduSat and Scanadu‘s CEO Walter de Brouwer are speaking at this year‘s Pioneers Festival.

Image courtesy of Flickr User Harald Hoyer