8 biggest tech Kickstarter projects


The Kickstarter website (https://www.kickstarter.com/) is a crowdfunding platform on a global scale and the aim of this online phenomenon is to help bring creative projects to life. It works on the premise that donors pledge money and in turn they get a reward once the project creator’s goal has been reached. There are a variety of categories like Art, Comics, Technology, Design, Crafts, Film and Video, Games and more that people can enter their project into.

Kickstarter has so far received $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund about 135,000 projects since its launch in 2009. The Technology section is no doubt one of the most prolific categories on Kickstarter and many of the projects that have been funded through the site have made headline news on tech sites. Take a look at the top 8 most successful technology projects funded through Kickstarter:

1. Pebble Smartwatch (by Pebble Technology Corporation)

In 2013 the Pebble Smartwatch raised about $10.3 million on Kickstarter, the most for a project at the time. It was officially put up for sale in July 2013 and sold out within 5 days.

The Pebble has a black-and-white e-paper (technology that mimics ink on paper) display, a vibrating motor, a magnetometer, light sensors and an accelerometer, all of which enables it to be used as an activity tracker.

It is compatible with Android and iOS operating systems. When connected to a smartphone, it can send a vibrating alert when text messages, emails, incoming calls and social media notifications are received. It is also a remote controller for one’s phone and cameras like the GoPro. There are currently over 1,000 applications in the Pebble app store.

2. Ouya micro video game console (by Ouya Inc.)

This project is the second-highest earning project in the history of Kickstarter and over $8.5 million was raised for it in 2012, the year it was founded and started raising funds. It was shipped to backers in March of 2013 and released to the general public in June of the same year.

Ouya is an eighth-generation game console which has rivals in Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Wii U. It is a 75mm cube that one uses with a TV as display via an HDMI connection. It comes with one wireless controller but it can be used with multiple controllers. It runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and can be opened with a screwdriver for easy “modding” and hardware add-ons. This means that any Ouya owner can also be a developer.

All games available on the Ouya store need to be free-to-play and no licensing fees are charged to players or app developers. The games and apps are available via digital distribution or can be side-loaded (with, for example, a USB stick). Its audience is mainly casual gamers.

The Ouya was met with lukewarm reception. There were serious flaws from the start but Ouya Inc. listened to feedback consistently and rectified most of these flaws. The overall consensus was that it has potential but it is nowhere near perfect.

3. Oculus Rift (by Oculus)

By now, the majority of people that follow tech news (and even those who don’t) have heard of the Oculus Rift (this Maxxor blog post may shed some more light). It is an immersive gaming experience created through a virtual reality head-mounted display that is designed for 3D gaming. It has a wide field of view (110 degrees diagonal/90 degrees horizontal), high resolution display (1280×800), ultra-low latency head tracking and weighs less than 0.22 kilograms.

It was placed on Kickstarter in 2012. The goal was to reach $250,000 in funds but that goal was completely surpassed and in the end nearly $3 million was collected for the project. The purpose of placing Oculus Rift on Kickstarter in the first place was to create development kits to allow developers to build apps for it.

A consumer version of the Oculus Rift is still in production and it is said that 2015 is the year it will be released but some say it might only happen in 2016 because of rumours. Games and game platforms need to be specifically designed to work correctly with the Oculus Rift. The first game to add support for the Oculus Rift was Team Fortress 2, and games like Museum of the Micostar, Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead Skyrim and so forth followed. The first game to be designed specifically for the Oculus Rift is The Gallery: Six Elements.

4. ArduSat (by ppl4world)

The creators of the ArduSat project aim to create affordable space exploration for everyone. This is the first open platform that allows the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, as well as steer onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand.

The name ArduSat comes from combining the words “satellite” and “Arduino”. Arduino is the software that inspired the project and is an open-source single board microcontroller that is intended to make building interactive objects or environment easier. Arduino has a USB interface, 6 analog input pins, 14 digital I/O pins with various extension boards.

Developers of the ArduSat project (which raised $106,330.00) have come up with many interesting application ideas. Some of these include using the cameras, light sensors and colour matrix to photograph clouds from above and geocaching from space. Here is a full list of the current app ideas: http://tinyurl.com/ArduSatAppIdeas

5. Project Eternity (by Obsidian Entertainment)

Project Eternity was funded by Kickstarter in 2012 and raised almost $4 million. It is an isometric, party-based computer RPG (role-playing game) set in a fantasy world. It has 10 playable classes (like Barbarian and Druid) and 6 playable races (like Elves and Dwarves). In the Eternity game the central hero and companions explore Baldur’s Gate, take part in combat and dungeon diving of the Icewind Dale, and discover of Planescape: Torment.

It will be made available to play on Mac, Windows and Linux (via Steam and GOG) but mobile devices and consoles are not supported. Unfortunately this project has not yet seen the light and will likely only be released in spring of 2015. The creators, Obsidian Entertainment, hope to bring back the magic, imagination, depth, and nostalgia of classic RPG’s that they have created and played before.

6. Delorean Hovercraft (by Matthew Riese)

Matthew Riese dreamt of owning a hovercraft when he was a child and in 2008 he decided to start building one of his own. Two years into his project, he had run out of money (with 3 months left until the craft was complete) and so he turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for building materials.

The hovercraft was based on blueprints of a popular kit hovercraft and then modified to look like a Delorean. Many people will know that the Delorean was made popular by Steven Spielberg’s “Back to the Future” movie trilogy.

To explain, a hovercraft does what it does with the use of a fan that pushes air out from underneath the middle of the craft. An inner tube or “skirt” around the perimeter of the craft traps the high-pressure air from the fan under the craft, which lifts it off the ground. It has the ability to hover on anything flat, including sand, water and asphalt. It had to be registered as a boat and it is not street legal. It can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour but has no brakes.

Want to see what it looks like in action? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLOrtyzmTWk

7. Emoji Dick (by Fred Benenson)

This is a very simplistic project in which Fred Benenson used Japanese emoticons (what we know as emojis) to translate Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby Dick.

The project involved using an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker to translate each sentence three times. For those who don’t know, Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing marketplace where individuals and businesses coordinate human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are unable to. Other Amazon Turk workers voted on the results and the most popular version of each sentence was then selected for inclusion in the book.

In total, over eight hundred people spent approximately 3,795,980 seconds working to create Emoji Dick. Each worker was paid five cents per translation and two cents per vote per translation. The funds that were raised over 30 days on the Kickstarter site were used to pay the Amazon Turk workers and to print the initial run of the book.

8. Atlas human-powered helicopter (by Cameron Robertson & Todd Reichert)

This project was attempted by Robertson and Reichert in order to win the coveted Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition (started in 1980). They had to build a helicopter that was entirely powered by a human. This craft also had to hover above the ground for one minute and be 3 meters from the ground.

To achieve the creation of the Atlas, Robertson and Reichert created AeroVelo, which comprised of engineering students and graduates from the University of Toronto. AeroVelo eventually, with the help of the money raised on Kickstarter (over $34,000), won the Sikorsky competition in 2012. They were the first ever team to do so in the 34 years that the competition has been running. The AeroVelo Atlas hovered for 64.11 seconds and reached a peak altitude of 3.3 meters.