Whether it's a life-size hologram or a smart garden, the latest start-ups and creative visionaries are placing their projects on Kickstarter to raise money. The online funding platform enables ordinary people to financially back projects through crowd sourcing.
Project creators set a funding goal and deadline, and if people like it, they can pledge money to make it happen. Many people pledge funds because they're inspired by new ideas. Others seek the rewards — a copy of what's being made, a limited-edition item or a custom experience related to the project.
Some projects, such as the C.24 Music Keyboard for iPad, gain thousands of supporters and millions of dollars in funding. Other projects don't reach their targets, and their would-be donors aren't charged.
Here's the latest batch of notable tech projects on Kickstarter.
Ivee Sleek: It looks like a regular alarm clock, but it's actually a hands-free voice-activated assistant. The company is calling it a "next-generation smart alarm clock." According to its makers, the device answers questions, obeys commands and controls other Internet-connected devices.
The Los Angeles makers of Ivee, whose name is short for "interactive voice," debuted a working ivee Sleek prototype at CES in Las Vegas and launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring the gadget to market.
In its monthlong Kickstarter campaign, which launched in June, Ivee surpassed its funding goal of $40,000 -- it brought in nearly $160,000. Early backers should expect to get the device sometime this October.
HoloVision hologram: Sci-fi fans remember the holodeck in "Star Trek" and the holographic shark in "Back to the Future II." Provision 3D Media wants to make life-sized holograms could eventually be a reality in your own living room.
The Los Angeles company's HoloVision device has commercialized the use of 3-D holographic displays in retail markets, ranging from 3 to 52 inches, and wants to make its holograms bigger.
The company is trying to raise $950,000 on Kickstarter in an effort to develop "new proprietary light source" technology. Chief Executive Curt Thornton said he turned to Kickstarter to get funds to tool, test and go through the trial-and-error process to achieve a working life-size hologram prototype.
The company is also integrating its smaller holographic displays at Rite Aid stores later this year, so customers can access promotional content, product samples and wellness information, as well as rewards and coupons. Provision 3D Media says backers of its Kickstarter project can get a static analog 3-inch HoloVision device for pledges of $299 (limited) and $349.
Bukito: 3-D printers are all the rage, and Bukito is trying to make its 3-D printer worth talking about with a portable feature that enables users to "take it everywhere," according to Diego Porqueras, who founded Deezmaker, the Pasadena company producing the Bukito 3-D printer.
The Bukito has a handle for carrying it from place to place, and apparently it can continue printing even when held upside down or at an angle (although its creators do advise against that).
The Bukito campaign, which has a week left, has already collected more than twice its original Kickstarter funding goal of $54,000.
There are still a few pledge options left through which donors can get a Bukito, but those pledge levels are $599 or more. It's definitely cheaper than high-end 3-D printers such as the Makerbot Replicator 2.0, which costs about $2,200, and more expensive than Pirate3D's Buccaneer 3-D printer, which has a price tag of about $350.
MicroPower Chips: It's not a secret that we waste a ridiculous amount of energy every day. The researchers at MicroPower say they have assembled an efficient semiconductor chip that converts that waste heat into electricity.
The private, Texas-based MicroPower is working in collaboration with Texas State University and has been in stealth research and development for four years.
The MicroPower Chip is three times more efficient than what is presently available, according to Mike Gardner, its vice president of engineering and former director of research and development for Motorola.
The company has set an ambitious goal of raising $250,000 by Aug. 14. As of Saturday, the campaign has raised nearly $18,000.
Smart Herb Garden: For those of us who have busy lives and lack a green thumb, Click and Grow says it has come up with a device that uses an electronic planting system to help you grow plants without soil or gardening talent.
According to the Kickstarter page, the backbone of the technology is a nanotech material engineered to supply plant roots with the right amount of oxygen, water and nutrients. Apparently, all a user has to do is plug the garden into an electrical outlet and add water to the reservoir.
The Kickstarter campaign for Click & Grow's smart garden system is over, and it has far surpassed its $75,000 goal. The Smart Garden is to retail for $79, and people who pledged $39 or more on Kickstarter should receive a garden with an estimated ship date of September.
Miselu C.24: There are countless music apps with attachments that are almost as good as playing a real instrument. The latest addition to the iPad music family is the Miselu C.24, which reached its campaign goal of $99,000 in less than a week.
The device is a two-octave music keyboard that wirelessly connects to the iPad and can function as a magnetic cover when stowed. The keyboard is less than half an inch thick and uses magnets instead of springs. Designed by former Apple product design team employees, the Miselu C.24 works with many apps that support CoreMIDI (GarageBand is one of those) and works through Bluetooth.
Infragram: Did you know that looking at a garden in near-infrared can help a gardener see areas of high growth versus low growth or decay? That is the idea behind the Infragram camera, created by Public Lab to help people better understand the health of the plants around them.
The campaign is fully funded, with more than 1,500 backers. The project fits existing, off-the-shelf cameras with a filter that enables the cameras to pick up near-infrared light. After a bit of post-processing via the Web, the result is a pair of images that can be used to check on the health of the garden or crops.
JuiceBox: There's no shortage of electric technology Kickstarter projects that aim to help the environment at a more affordable price. Juice Box, a DIY electric-car charger for the home-charging station, is one of them.
Electric Motor Werks, which specializes in electric-car conversions, claims that its charger could provide a faster charge for a range of top-selling electric cars, and for a lower price.
The Kickstarter campaign originally started with a $25,000 goal and then raised it to $40,000 to add Wi-Fi access, which would enable drivers to remotely monitor car charging. The campaign surpassed both goals, with 295 backers chipping in $57,141.
Rubbee electric drive: Wouldn't it be great to bike across town without pedaling? The Rubbee electric-bike kit is an electric friction drive for bicycles, which the Lithuanian company says can supply 15 miles of pedal-free riding on a single charge.
Rubbee is looking to raise funds via Kickstarter to expand production for a roller-like contraption that it says can be attached to any bike and raise its electric-only speed to as fast as 16 miles per hour. All a user has to do, it says, is mount it on a bike and connect the throttle. A friction wheel positioned at the back tire turns when the built-in electronic motor is powered on.
Although the Rubbee product is somewhat cheaper than most electric bikes, it still comes with a big price tag. Supporters can get the full Rubbee electric drive package with a minimum pledge of £699 (that's about $1,075.)
3Doodler pen: If you've ever wanted to doodle in 3-D, this product may be for you. Toy company Wobbleworks' 3Doodler pen, a 3-D printing pen, has far surpassed its funding goal. Its Kickstarter campaign raised $1.3 million in the first three days.
WobbleWorks expects to start shipping the pen, which it says enables people to draw plastic lines in midair, by September to people who have pledged to the Kickstarter campaign. The company is hoping to keep the price around $75.