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Coolest Home Tech Items on Kickstarter

Matthew Grocoff

October 28, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Electrical

Kickstarter makes it possible for entrepreneurs to gain access to customers and funding in unprecedented ways. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, Kickstarter has created over 300,000 jobs and created $5.3 billion in wealth for its creators and communities. The home improvement industry has been a significant beneficiary of crowdfunding tools such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Here's some of the home improvement products currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. You decide which of these will fly and which might (or should) die.

Open Building Institute: Eco-Building Toolkit

The Eco-Building Toolkit is one of the most ambitious products on Kickstarter. The goal is as simple as it is ambitious: create tools for building civilization from the ground up. No problem, right? Open Building Institute (OBI) intends to develop an open source eco-building toolkit to "make the construction of ecological housing easier, cheaper, faster--and put it within the reach of everyone." There's a lot of talk about sustainable building. The challenge is making these buildings accessible financially and practically.

The OBI toolkit is entirely open source--free to use and modify--and will enable users to:

  1. Design a house and/or greenhouse that respects the planet and can be expanded as your needs and family grow, using a library of modules that fit together like building blocks
  2. Learn how to build with instructionals and training programs
  3. Organize the rapid-build of a house loaded with ecological features

Explore the Eco-Building Toolkit for more information.

Grow.Bar: Managed Indoor Grow System for Your Home

Indoor grow stores are popping up everywhere and there is increasing recognition that producing food closer to home is essential to ensuring a safe, sustainable source of nutrition for our expanding population. I think the Grow.Bar has good intentions, but is likely a gadget that may appeal primarily to hipster homesteaders and is not necessarily a solution to the global food crisis.

On the other hand, if you're a fan of micro-greens or home grown herbs that you can grow and harvest year round, this gimmicky device might be for you. It may not deliver you contentment, peace and serenity. But, within a couple of weeks you might be able to enjoy delicious, nutritious microgreens of kale, cabbage or organic lettuce harvested right from your kitchen counter. You can't get more local or know your farmer more than that. Learn more about the Grow.Bar and assess whether or not it could take off.

Yardian: Your Yard Guardian

You know that slapstick comedy cliche of the person lurking in the dark on the lawn outside someone's home when suddenly the sprinkler goes off and chases the unwanted suitor or burglar away? Well, that seems to be the Yardian in a nutshell. This yard guardian, or Yardian, combines the benefits of an automated sprinkler system with a home security device. Yup. Another gadget you didn't know you need.

At it's core, the Yardian is a smart watering system for your lawn and guardian for your property. It combines your watering schedule, local weather data, and local water laws (i.e. odd/even watering days) to make optimum use of water. I like the use of smart algorithms for controlling water usage. However, a better solution would be to use the Yardian in conjunction with drip irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting, and only for food crops. By planting native grasses, flowers and trees that are adapted to the rain and drought cycle of your region you can avoid the need for watering things that need more water than the local environment can naturally sustain.

An infrared camera with motion sensor is added to the Yardian as a bonus gimmick. When it senses someone on your lawn, it triggers the sprinkler system. This may lead to great visual comedy in Hollywood, but I doubt it's an effective deterrent to would-be intruders.

Turn Fruit into Personalized Craft Cider

Craft cider. Cool eh!? Yes, home-brewed cider can be satisfying and delicious. But, I have to give a big thumbs down on this Kickstarter concept. It seems like this might be a high-tech way of making prison-yard hooch. Sure, this machine might give you alcohol, but would you want to give that alcohol to your friends? Good fruit cider takes skill, patience, and most of all, high-quality fresh organic fruit. Don't think that you can short-cut the process with a plastic bucket with an on-board computer.

Bagel: The World's Smartest Tape Measure

The Bagel might do for the tape measure what Ecobee and Nest have done for smart thermostats. The Bagel is the latest device to add smart technology in a useful way to basic home DIY products. It measures in three ways, allows you to voice record notes, it sends measurements to an app in your smart phone and organizes all of your data in the app.

Old school tape measures have unwieldy metal strips. The Bagel offers three ways to measure:

  1. A string that pulls out and withstands 112 pounds of pressure
  2. A wheel like those used in traffic construction
  3. A remote laser pointer like those in high-end survey tools

You can save up to 100 measurements in the smart tape measure. This helps eliminate the need for notes and transcribing an incorrect number (Oh . . . did you mean 30 inches or 3 feet?). Best of all, with the push of a button you can choose any measuring unit you need whether it's inches, centimeters, millimeters, feet or meters. If you measured in feet, you can later convert it meters (or inches, or whatever) later in the phone app.

I love this concept and looking forward to trying it out when it hits the market.

Weighitz: Weigh Smarter

Imagine a device that could weigh your coffee grounds, a few pieces of basil, your airline luggage or you or even your dog. Weighitz (pronounced Way-its) rethinks the weight scale. Rather than collecting sensors in a single device, Weighitz is made of three modular sensor pods that allows you to lay them in any configuration you wish. Need to weigh a single apple? No problem. Simply lay the apple on a single pod. Need to weigh your dog? Lay out all three pods in a triangle and place with a board under your dog's bed. The device can tare (zero out) the weight of the board and bed then cast the data to an app on your smart phone with an accurate measurement of weight. Pretty smart.

Crowdfunding allows some items to be created that can truly improve the human condition. Others are just another tech gadget likely to end up in an electronics recycling bin. Review these devices and root for your favorites to come to market.

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