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Take my money – Crowdfunding roundup – April 2017

We check out some of the most promising geeky crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other platforms for you to spend your hard earned money.

These crowdfunding projects are definitely worth checking out. And if you like what you see, feel free to contribute and back them.

Pebby

Pebby is robotic pet sitter that helps you track, monitor and even play with your pet remotely. We all love our pets, and they’re not just “pets”, they’re members of the family. If you don’t want to compromise on their well being, and have to leave them home alone for hours at a time (usually because of work), then you need this. Pebby is a smart collar and ball system that lets you monitor your pet using your mobile phone. You can capture images and videos with Pebby’s wide-angle fisheye lens as your pet plays with the ball that houses the camera. Other features include a bark/nudge notification, activity tracker, auto-play and auto-follow features, night view and more. All this is designed to keep your pet entertained and to give you peace of mind when away. Check out this robotic pet sitter on Kickstarter.

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MonsterBorg

MonsterBorg is, in the words of PiBorg, “The Ultimate Pi Robot”. This little monster truck has an aluminium chassis, off-road wheels, 4 x 300 RPM Zhengke 37mm motors, is designed for the Raspberry Pi 3, Pi 2, B+ or P Zero, and comes with a powerful controller that the makers call the ThunderBorg. The ThunderBorg and MonsterBorg have been built to suit any skill level. You can also control the MonsterBorg using game controllers or joysticks, just as you would any remote-controlled car, and can even use your web browser. If you’re hot in the circuits for AI, then the Borg can also drive itself! This bot comes with access to several code examples, so you can experiment and mess around with self-driving, robot racing, etc. With up to three hours of runtime, it’s sure to be as much fun as you need. Get assimilated by visiting MonsterBorg’s Kickstarter page.

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PLEN Cube

PLEN Cube is a personal, customisable, palm-sized assistant robot. This tiny cube is capable of a lot – it can take panoramic pictures, detect faces, and even set notifications and reminders for you. You can also share your photos and videos through the PLEN Cube and listen to music. This 3-inch cube packs a lot of hardware: you’ve got a full-HD action camera, a display, a microphone array and speakers, and of course Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for instant sharing to social media. There’s an accompanying app which helps you connect the PLEN Cube to web services which will allow you to send notifications to your phone. PLEN Cube can also notify you via it’s display, and by using movements and sounds. Interested? Look for PLEN Cube on Kickstarter.

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Titan Note

If you’re used to taking notes, such as in class or during lectures, then the Titan Note is a product worthy of selling a kidney for. All you do is place the Titan Note on the desk during a class or a lecture, and as if by magic, it will not just record the entire lecture, but also accurately convert it to text and (supposedly) even summarise the whole thing for you! Falling asleep during a lecture? That shouldn’t be a problem, so long as you have a Titan Note. Heck, it’s supposedly smart enough to know different voices and is capable of voice recognition, but that’s not all, because it’s even claiming to be able to translate into different languages! It’s also got some other boring features such as note sharing, editing, organising, etc., but those pale in comparison to what we’ve mentioned before. It’s tiny, easy to carry around, and has an app for both iOS and Android, so you get access to your lectures and notes on your phone. It’s not as if this gadget needed more features, but it has them anyway – you can also listen to music, and even use it as a power bank and charge your mobile devices via its USB port. We’ve already contributed, if you want to as well, check out the Titan Note on Indiegogo.

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Tesla’s Insight

For all you Nikola Tesla fans, Tesla’s Insight is a top that is capable of generating electricity by spinning. It’s a tiny top that’s meant to be fiddled with while at a desk, and is capable of producing between 1V to 6V of AC output. Of course, the output depends on how fast you can spin the top, and the orientation of its arch. A spinning magnet generates the power, and it gets its name from the fact that it was Tesla who first realised (over a 100 years ago) that a spinning magnet would generate Alternating Current (AC) in nearby coils. Don’t worry , it’s not going to shock you, because 6V AC is just not powerful enough for anything except lighting a few LEDs. For how long you can power said LEDs depends on your skill and how long you can get it to spin. If we had one, there’d already be a scoreboard up for most volts generated and longest spins… and of course no work would get done for at least a few days. If you have time to kill and don’t mind the loss of productivity, go to Tesla’s Insight’s page on Indiegogo.

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Smart Sleeper Travel Pillow

Some of us can sleep like babies wherever we are, and the rest of us are doomed to glare at them in jealousy as we struggle to get comfortable in spaces that just aren’t made for humans – aeroplanes especially! If you’re one of the latter (as most are) then the Smart Sleeper Travel Pillow might just be the answer to your woes. It comes with a built-in hoodie and sleep-mask, has pockets on the side for you to slide your phone into, and seems designed with music listening in mind. The removable cover of the travel pillow is machine washable so you don’t have to worry about it getting dirty. The base, or the “meat” of the travel pillow, is made out of memory foam, so it contours itself to your body, and looks like it might prevent pains in the neck. You can back the Smart Sleeper on Indiegogo.

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Makeblock Neuron

If you’re in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field of study, or have a family member just entering one, Makeblock Neuron is something you will want. Meant for kids of all ages Makeblock Neuron consists of 30 individual pieces with different functionalities that can be connected to one another in many permutations and combinations to form, well, pretty much anything electronic you can dream of. Each block is programmable, but at the same time are not software dependent, which makes them good for beginners to use right out of the box. However, paired with the Neuron App, the blocks can perform much more complicated functions. They connect to one another in a snap, have magnetised backs so you can stick them on the fridge, and are even compatible with Lego bricks so that you can start building Lego robots if you want. Neuron’s protocol and library are open-source and on GitHub, which means if you’re already a coder you can play around with it and invent new functionalities. Check out Makeblock Neuron on Kickstarter.

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This article was first published in the April 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read such articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Manish Rajesh

Manish Rajesh