Six Holiday Gifts From the Exotic Land of Crowdfunding
Instead of fighting through crowds at the mall or scouring the Web for a Cyber Monday deal on beard trimmers, consider the oddities of crowdfunding. Websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Betabrand contain vast arrays of clever gadgets, home appliances, and geeky apparel you won't find anywhere else.
Crowdfunding also provides the feel-good benefit of helping budding entrepreneurs who may not be able to pursue their passion projects without your contribution. At least, you can tell yourself that if your holiday gift doesn't arrive on time, as is often the case with crowdfunded products.
Whether you're shopping for an aspiring Silicon Valley luminary or a geek who covets all sorts of quirky hipster gear, you might find some inspiration from this list.
Pugz wireless earbuds
If your loved one still relies on Apple's stock earbuds, perhaps it's time for an upgrade. The future will have fewer wires in it, and Pugz says it has "the world's smallest wireless earbuds charged through your phone." The project raised $1.43 million through Kickstarter and is now taking pre-orders on buds in a variety of colors for $149. While that costs less than a pair of Apple's Powerbeats2 wireless earbuds, Pugz estimates that orders through Indiegogo won't ship until March 2016. For the gadget lover who doesn't mind waiting, this could be worth a listen.
C.H.I.P.'s $9 computer
Once upon a time, Silicon Valley was populated by entrepreneurs tinkering with semiconductors and computer hardware. For those who want to indulge in retro tech chic, C.H.I.P. provides components that will teach you what innovation was about at the beginning of time—or before the iPhone debuted eight years ago. The Oakland startup, which raised $2.07 million on Kickstarter, is hosting a Cyber Monday sale that knocks $1 off the price of a C.H.I.P.
Nebia shower head
Shower-head technology is naturally ripe for disruption, and startup Nebia has created a new innovation that promises to change the way water is transferred to your body. The device atomizes water into small droplets, which creates 10 times the surface area of H2O coming out of a regular head. That supposedly provides a wetter, more refreshing experience, while saving water and energy. In addition to the $3.13 million raised through Kickstarter, Nebia has attracted backers such as Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Pre-orders cost $349 per shower head, and the estimated ship date is next summer.
This brilliantly daft invention should help ease the pain of something many entrepreneurs dread: fundraising meetings. This all-in-one takes the place of a jacket, trousers, and shirt, "like the lovechild of a business suit and a onesie." All you need to do is zip it up. If you're shopping for a dude who hates dressing up, this bizarre Betabrand onesie sells for $378 and is expected to ship in December.
Flashback Photobomber Hoodie
Once you've reached the Mark Zuckerberg level of success, a lot of people will want to take your picture, and that's going to get old. Encrusted with glass nanospheres, this garment will go "thermonuclear" when someone fires their flash in your direction by reflecting light. Alternatively, it could save your life as you cycle through the traffic on a dark winter evening. The hoodie costs $228 on Betabrand and ships in January.
HeLi-On compact solar charger
On the next trip to Burning Man, no techie should ever have to worry about finding a power outlet. Danish startup InfinityPV says the HeLi-On solar-powered battery can fit in your pocket and charge a smartphone in two to three hours. The project has received more than 645,000 krone ($92,000) through a Kickstarter campaign that runs until Jan. 8, and backers are expected to receive their $85 solar chargers by July.