By Nick Heath | Innovation — every big tech company talks about it, but many of the new computers and gadgets that hit shelves are simply glossier versions of existing tech.
Today anyone looking for a piece of technology that dares to be different can turn to crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Anyone with an idea for a project can set up a page on these sites, outlining their vision and how much money they need to make it a reality.
Freed from corporate constraints crowdfunded projects are pushing into interesting areas of technology, from VR headsets to low-cost supercomputing boards.
Projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo have raised millions from individual backers, who pledge money to support projects in return for rewards, including the promise of receiving the finished product.
It’s arguable these crowdfunded projects are already influencing the behaviours of the tech giants, with Samsung launching a competitor to the Pebble soon after the crowdfunded smartwatch’s release.
Of course, anyone backing a project should be aware that projects can and have gone wrong, with various examples of teams burning through pledges and leaving backers without the finished product.
That said, here are some of the most interesting and successful projects to come through crowdfunding websites:
Crowdfunding Success Stories TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 San
Occipital’s Structure Sensor is a device that turns an iPad into a mobile 3D scanner.
Structure Sensor is an attachment that fits on the side of an iPad or Android tablet and combines with an app turns a tablet into a scanner for capturing real-world objects and turning them into 3D models.
Because Structure is a handheld scanner it can be used to scan objects of varying sizes, from a teddy bear to a living room. The sensor’s range is described as ranging from 40 cms to more than 3.5 metres.
The scanner works by using dual infrared (IR) LEDs to illuminate the outline of objects so that its IR sensors can capture the reflected outline of objects and transform them into 3D models.
3D models of objects and people captured by the device can be imported into CAD and used as a blueprint for 3D printing.
Despite only recently going live on Kickstarter, the project raised many times its funding goal of $100,000 within days of launching. With 25 days left before the funding period runs out the project has raised more than $870,000.
The Structure Sensor is available to order at $350 until November 1st, with an estimated shipping date of February 2014.