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If you’re looking for a little entrepreneurial inspiration, Kickstarter is a great place to find some of the most ingenious, wacky, and just plain cool ideas that you only wish you'd thought of first. In 2011, the site hosted 27,086 projects, ranging from a musician putting out his debut album to printers that can create 3D objects. Every Kickstarter project starts with a story, a video, rewards for early backers, and probably most crucially, a healthy dose of hope that like-minded supporters will make a donation.
The Kickstarter community has embraced this scrappy, hands-on approach to entrepreneurship, funneling through more than $99 million dollars in support last year alone. Nearly 30 million Kickstarter backers have successfully seeded 11,836 projects with enough money to meet—or in many cases, exceed—a project’s launch goals. (That’s a 46% success rate, if you’re counting).
There are lots of ways to find awesome projects (check out GOOD’s curated page for some of the recent projects we're in support of, including The Watt?, an energy awareness project from our former environmental editor). Here's some other stand-out projects on our radar that are still open for funding right now:
1) The $50 Computer
As any teacher knows, computers can be great tool in the classroom. But even if schools are able to secure the money needed for up-to-date computers, they’re not always equipped with the resources to maintain them (think tech support, new cables, accessories and software, just to start). One Kickstarter project is looking for your help to simplify this dilemma by reducing a classroom’s worth of computers—and all of its associated costs and problems—down to just one.
Using special software and a Plugable Multiseat Thin Client (a thin client is a computer device that relies on an outside server for most of its computational heavy-lifting), a teacher needs only one main PC computer from which to offshoot several others. By plugging in multiple monitors, keyboards, and mice into this $50 thin client, you can turn one PC into many that operate essentially independently.
The positive benefits for this device doesn’t just end with the classroom—think of developing countries, start-up businesses, and even families that can save money and resources without sacrificing technology access.
2) The Ultimate Bike Light
Sometimes the most brilliant technology solutions are the most simple. The Blink/Steady bike light has everything an urban biker needs, and not a thing more to weigh it down or make it clunky. Made from solid aluminum, two smart sensors (one for movement and one for darkness) provides button-free functionality. Just mount it securely to your seatpost and you can stay safe without having to think about it again. The light turns on automatically when you’re riding after dark and it turns itself off when it sense that you’ve stopped for more than 30 seconds.
3) Connecting Your Mobile Life
Graying the line between the web and your real life, tōd (pronounced “toad”) syncs up your daily real world habits with your smartphone. Using small, quarter-sized Smart Beacons enabled by Bluetooth, you can create alerts and actions that are triggered when your phone comes into their proximity. Slip one into your child’s pocket or on a pet collar and receive a text the instant they go out a of a predetermined perimeter. Put one in your glove compartment and when you step into your car, it can change your phone to hands-free mode or send a text home saying you’re on your way. The developers, Rowdy Robot, envision countless other uses for syncing up your life, from instantly beaming out your business card to a client to finding your car in a maze-like parking lot.
4) Preserving Today's News Tomorrow
It wasn’t so long ago when people saved newspaper front pages on historic days and that libraries painstakingly preserved and archived periodicals for posterity. (Anyone else remember microfilm?) Now that we’re in an age where news sites refresh with articles several times a day, it’s easy to let headlines disappear into the internet ether. But with PastPages, sites are monitored hourly and automatically archived into a database, capturing the front page of dozens of major media outlets from the New York Times and El Pais to Google News, TMZ, and Reddit. PastPages instantly creates a searchable database of all the major news sites from around the world, preserving moments in time that are an important resource for future research on news events, media studies, communication patterns, writing, and journalism.
5) Staying Aware of Your Surroundings
Who doesn't love ear buds? They let us take our music everywhere we go. And for all of us on the move, those places usually include buses and subway trains, streets and sidewalks, gyms and bikes, even snow slopes and beaches. The downside is that listening to music can sometimes block or impair awareness about the surroundings when we're out and about. Enter AIRbudz, a little attachment for ear buds that lets you listen to music without canceling out ambient noise. Small air channels in the attachment lets in outside sounds, so you can jam to your playlist without blocking out what's happening around you. It's handy when you're on a bus and need to hear if your stop is coming, but more than that, it's a safety precaution for the very real dangers around when you're crossing the street, biking, or walking at night.
Images via Kickstarter
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