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Crowdfunding Roundup: Smart bike locks, lighters, cat toys, and more


Every week, TUAW provides readers with an update on new or significant crowdfunded Apple-related projects in the news. While our policy is to not go into detail on items that haven't reached at least 80 percent of their funding goal, this update is designed to give readers a heads-up on projects they might find interesting enough to back.

  • Bicyclists are going to love this idea. Skylock does for bicycles what the Kwikset Kevo does for your home, providing a solar-powered smartphone-linked Bluetooth U-lock that uses encrypted electronic keys to let you (and others that you send keys to) unlock your bike. It's actually available for pre-order from the Skylock website for just $159, so get one now. And watch the video here while you're at it...

  • Here's one from Indiegogo this week that got our attention. GOkey is billed as "charger, cable, locater, memory -- all on your key chain", and that's exactly what it does. The project is 883 percent funded with two weeks to go, so it looks like GOkey is cleared for launch.

This week the rest of the interesting crowdfunding is all happening at Kickstarter. There are a ton of Apple-related projects that are all vying for your support. Let's get started!

  • It's a wallet! It's an easel! It's a WEZEL wallet easel! Designed by Utah-based Copper Urban, WEZEL is designed to protect your cards and money with luxurious leather while turning into a little easel stand when you want to look at your iPhone's display. With a little over four days to go, WEZEL has received funding so you know you'll be getting one soon. And hey, the WEZEL looks great! Just watch the video, which by the way should win some sort of award for best crowdfunding plea:

  • Take one part plastic Fisher Price camera, one part Raspberry Pi, and tack on an iPhone for settings, and what do you have? OTTO, the hackable and ridiculously overpriced GIF camera. Let's see, for a $199 pledge you can get one that actually comes with the Raspberry Pi built-in. Sorry, but I just don't get this one -- why not just use the really good camera that you already have in your smartphone to shoot GIFs? Maybe you can figure it out. About 50 percent funded with 24 days to go. Sigh.
  • If you have been intrigued by Google's idea of a modular smartphone (Project Ara) but don't want to be tied to Google and Android, well, there's hope -- at least for something that looks as blocky and LEGO-like as possible. It's Augment -- whoops, I mean AUGMENT, since the project guys had to get all upper-case on me -- a really sharp-cornered, rectangular-in-a-2001-monolith-kind-of-way case and battery pack. Other than being extremely rectangular, I still don't see what's so different about AUGMENT than any of the thousands of plug-on chargers for iPhone. But apparently somebody likes the look of the case and charger, as it is funded with about a month to go.

  • Now, finally, here's a project I can really get behind and may have to back. MBLOK (what is with the all-caps names, people?) is a tiny 128 GB or 256 GB Bluetooth-and-USB-equipped block that serves as storage for your favorite tablet or smartphone as well as providing a way to transfer stuff to and from your "real computers". There are a limited number of 128 GB pledges available at CAD$189 (about US$173). At this point MBLOK is 58 percent funded with just under a month to go. Let's get this one going, folks!
  • Friends of mine know that I love cats, probably more than I love most people. While my dear old 19+-year-old cat no longer has the spark to play, the next-generation cats are going to need a way for me to amuse them even when I'm away from home. That's the idea behind Kittyo, an Internet-connected device that will let you play with your cats via a steerable laser, provide snacks, and even talk to your furry buddies, all while watching them on your iPhone's screen. It's definitely funded -- almost 800 percent funded -- with just over two days to go. There's still a chance to get a slight discount on a Kittyo, so get out there now. The cats demand it.

  • You may not be a lumberjack, and that's OK. You can get Timbrr, a cedar wood stylus for your iPad! It has a copper core for some heft and of course a capacitive tip that works with your iPad. But it won't work unless you back the Timbrr project, which is only about 26 percent funded with just over a month to go.

  • We're almost done, folks. Thanks for sticking with us this far... Now, for those of you who are trying to kick the nicotine habit, you're going to love Quitbit, billed as the first smart lighter and app to track your smoking habits and hopefully give you the information you need to quit. Linked to an iPhone app, Quitbit tells you just when and how often you're lighting up, hopefully pointing out addiction habits you weren't previously aware of. It's almost 77 percent funded with about three weeks to go.

  • Stand-up desks are all the rage -- hey, even I have one that I use to force me to get off my butt every once in a while. But what happens when you're not at home or your office? Pillar is a very lightweight (150 grams) portable and foldable computer stand that you can take anywhere for that stand-up work you need to do. Pillar is about 45 percent funded with just over three weeks to go. I'm personally holding out for the one wrapped in Icelandic reindeer leather...

  • While my personal experience with the Narrative Clip lifelogging camera wasn't that great, others may find that logging every little bit of their life in video or high-resolution photography is more rewarding. Lifelogger is a wearable point-of-view camera that sits aside your head offering exactly the view that you normally see. It's loaded with 32 GB of storage, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, H.264 encoding, and a good-sized battery. It will come with a companion app, naturally, to let you view the video you're shooting. Only one issue -- it makes people look even more Borg-like than Google Glass does.
  • And now we're at the last project for this week; thanks for sticking with it, folks! STAGE 5 is a smart dock for your iPhone or whatever phone you happen to use. Yes, it's app-controlled and does more than just charge your device, including a big-ass vibration speaker in the base. They're even thinking of a tablet version. It's already funded with over three weeks to go, so join the fun!

Many thanks to reader Hal Sherman for providing tips on the Quitbit, Mblok, Augment, Otto and Skylock projects.

Be sure to join us next week for even more great projects that could use your funding dollars. If you're aware of any other crowdfunded Apple-related projects, be sure to let us know about them through the Tip Us button at the upper right of the TUAW home page for future listing on the site. Just make sure that they actually have a valid reason for existing, OK?

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