This week in IoT crowdfunding: buds, bumpers, babies and bricks

If you’ve got big ideas, big dreams, big ambitions, crowdfunding has become one of the ways to bridge the gap between your world-saving concept and actually saving the world. We’re big fans of it ourselves.

Crowdfunding requires no loss of ownership in your business, offers virtually zero-cost publicity to your upcoming product, lets you test your market — and, critically, provides the funding required to initiate the first production run, especially for products requiring manufacturing design and capacity.

For us here at ReadWrite – with our focus on IoT and the connected world – we get a lot of crowdfunding pitches. A lot. Really. Sometimes they make us laugh. Or think. Or throw up a little in our mouths.

So we want to bring you an ongoing round-up of the next wave of IoT inventors and their potentially leading technology. We’re not going to hold our opinions, either – like New Coke or Jarts, not every idea is a good idea.

But you should feel free to disagree with us, however you feel. Comment below, send us email, mock us, praise us…it’s all ok. We want to start a discussion around these ideas. We want you to tell us what projects we overlooked, too. Oh, and you could also fund them if you want. (But just so we’re clear, we’re not your financial advisor…make your own choices.)

So let’s begin:

Neopenda: Wearable vital signs monitor for newborns

The first product on our list is less about leisure and more about life-saving. In fact, its successful funding could help save the newborns in developing countries where infant mortality rates are far too high.

neopenda

Neopenda is a wearable vital signs monitor in the form of a hat worn by newborns – it monitors and sends critical vital sign details, such as heart and respiratory rates, blood oxygen saturation, and temperature to an app.

If you want one of these devices yourself, you are out of luck in this particular campaign: The goal here is to raise the required funds to both develop and deploy the first batch of Neopenda devices to Uganda. This batch will be used to perform a study that the creators hope will prove their technology and make it possible for them to expand its reach out into the world.

What you do get is the satisfaction of knowing that your contribution goes to assisting in the lifesaving work done in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) facilities in developing countries. At $100, you can receive the photo and a story about how the unit you sponsored was used to care for a baby during the study. Additionally, you receive a commemorative Neopenda hat, sans the sensor, to keep.

PROS: Undeniably noble cause…if the technology is proven, could very well help save lives in developing countries where 98% of infant deaths occur.

CONS: Uganda has to approve the proposed study, and the device itself hasn’t been fully developed yet….but hard to debate the goal of this tech.

Brixo: Building blocks meet electricity and IoT

Brixo is a LEGO lover’s introduction to electric circuitry. These building bricks enable you to create complete circuits out of building bricks, including adding Bluetooth, sound, light, and proximity sensors that make it possible to control and trigger your creations’ functionality automatically.

brixo

You can do things like have your creation trigger when you reach your step goal in FitBit, or light up when you receive a tweet. It also integrates into existing building bricks so you don’t have to buy a whole new set to take advantage of Brixo’s range of features.

Backers at the $35 level receive a Brixo starting kit including a smart battery case, motor, 10 2×1 bricks, 2 2×2 bricks, 20 4×1 bricks, an LED light, and light switch. For a little more, you can increase your reward at various levels up to a Mad Scientist package including 243 parts at $159.

PROS: Well into the development phase….if we want more kids interested in STEM careers, these kinds of toys seem to be a great way to engage…one of the editors is an energy nerd, and he thinks any way to get people to think of electricity beyond their power bill is cool.

CONS: Kids, electricity, batteries, what could go wrong?…What sound does Brixo make when my Roomba sucks up one of the blocks? Will it call for help from inside my dog’s gut?….Macaulay Culkin had to hook up his flame throwers and giant swinging wooden beams manually while this generation of kids could just use Brixo and Amazon Echo….“Alexa, release the tarantula”…wait, is that a pro or con?

Nuheara IQbuds: Super-intelligent wireless earbuds

When we think of intelligence, we typically think of what’s between our ears. But what if you could have an intelligent object… IN your ears?

Enter the Nuheara IQbuds, a product that boasts the ability to enhance not only the way you hear audio from your smartphone, tablet, or PC, but also in your immediate area. You can use them like any other pair of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds, but when you’re not on a call, they enhance the sound around you to boost your hearing so you can better understand people talking to you in noisy environments.

They’re not hearing aids, but they do help improve the way you experience audio in your natural environment. This particular product would be most interesting to people that use their phone constantly throughout the day, and find themselves in loud environments where hearing the person in front of you can be difficult.

The entry price for a pair of these earbuds is roughly $190 on Indiegogo. This saves you about $80 off the retail price once they hit the shelves.

PROS: Slick design…Hard to find good, reliable Bluetooth earbuds without the battery-anchor, so these are great…hearing in crowded, noisy environments is annoying to everyone, and nothing says “Please, don’t engage with me” like noise-cancelling headphones, so these let you be more social….should be standard issue for every teenager frankly….awesome for planes.

CONS: At the high end of earbud pricing, but given what they can accomplish, maybe it’s not really a con.

eBumper: Smart vehicle display

Bumper stickers are a common sight on the roadways, but they don’t do much. What if your bumper sticker could do more than tell the person behind you what school your kid is an honor student in or express your political affiliation?

ebumper

Enter eBumper – an innovative and unique take on bumper displays. With eBumper, you can use your phone to control an e-paper display that lets you customize what appears on the back of your car, on the fly.

The device itself can be preordered through Kickstarter for $219 and has a built-in port for a steel security cable and suction cups. And it’s waterproof for rainy days.

This would be a cool solution for Uber drivers that want to get their customers’ attention, businesses that want to easily advertise their latest specials on fleet vehicles, and just about anyone that wants an easy way to tell the driver behind them to back off.

PROS: A cool solution to a problem everyone seems to think they need daily, at least on my commute…Like use of e-paper for low power output and light-less design to meet regulatory restrictions….beats cleaning the sticky bumper sticker residue off your car after that ill-thought-out political endorsement you made last year….price tag is higher but tolerable.

CONS: eBumper: because you’ve run out of space for redneck bumper stickers and need to advertise your 24/7 bail bonds business…I’d be worried this will degenerate into all kinds of content being flashed at you as you drive by, which could be a pro, too, I guess…I expected something a bit more integrated than a special tablet with suction cups or magnets and a steel security cable….how many accidents will happen will texting a middle finger emoticon to my eBumper at that jackass in the SUV?

If you see IoT crowdfunding ideas, let us know. We’ll take a look…or at least try not to look away.

(Disclaimer: We pick these ideas based on our editorial team’s interest or outrage. Some of our crowdfunding ideas were developed at Wearable IoT World Labs, a leading IoT accelerator, and ReadWrite is part of the Wearable IoT World family. We’re not shilling, but there will occasionally be coincidences. But feel free to vent at us. Nuheara is one of ours.)

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