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Future Tech: 

5 Kickstarters to watch in April 2015


The helpful DIY robot, PLEN2, is among this month’s best kickstarters

Kickstarters can last anywhere between one and 60 days, but campaigners are likely to feel the heat no matter what time allowance they set for themselves. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how close they get, history quickly forgets the projects that narrowly missed out, and just as their time runs out the next batch of hopeful crowdfunders swoops in to seek investment.

So, with the dust barely settled on our Kickstarter picks for March, we’re back with another five campaigns to tempt you into hitting pledge. From drawing robots to hackable toys, see what you make of this lot;

Kickstarters to watch this month

1. PLEN2

We dare you to watch the first 10 seconds of PLEN2’s pitch video and not be at least a little bit taken with this open-source robot. At the very least, you’re going to need a session of hypnotherapy to get the robot’s plinky plonk theme song out of your head. There’s more to PLEN2 than a cutesy video though, the robot is a miniature DIY project, sold as a 3D-printable kit that can be assembled using just a screwdriver. Once you’ve built your PLEN, it can be programmed to fulfill any number of functions – from kids’ education to medical rehabilitation. Not bad for a little robot no bigger than 20cm tall.

See the campaign on Kickstarter.

2. Hackaball

We have a feeling this is one of those projects where the name came before a fully-fleshed idea, but either way we’re glad they persevered. Hackaball is, as you’ve no doubt guessed, a ball that you can hack, and as the team behind it like to explain, “a computer that you can throw.” The idea here is to help kids to learn computer skills, but at the same time encourage them to go outside and enjoy the outdoors. Kids can invent and program their own Hackaball games through a dedicate iOS app, spurring on their creativity while keeping parents happy at the same time.

See the campaign on Kickstarter.

3. Widerun – VR biking

We’ve featured Widerun before on GoExplore, but with 32 days left on the clock, the VR biking experience is still around $20,000 short of its crowdfunding target. The project is taking a creative approach to making exercise more fun, transporting your boring bicycle ride from the gym or your local neighborhood to somewhere more exciting – like the Great Wall of China or one of the mountains from Game of Thrones. Using a virtual reality headset of your choice, Widerun also has the function to gameify your workout, adding in zombies to escape from, or allowing you to race head-to-head with a friend without even leaving your home.

See the campaign on Kickstarter.

4. Drawing robots

Like PLEN2, mDrawBot is another built-it-yourself robot – or actually, 4 robots – that specializes in drawing on a range of different surfaces. Between them, mScara, mCar, mSpider and mEggBot can be used to sketch all over flat surfaces, walls, white boards, floors and even trickier curved surfaces – for instance, it could come in handy when decorating easter eggs this weekend. Essentially it’s like having a robotic army at your command, like Skynet, but less apocalyptic and more drawing pretty pictures.

See the campaign on Kickstarter.

5. ARES – drone

A robotic drawing army could also come in handy with our next pick, which takes an unconventional approach to drone piloting. Instead of a conventional remote control, ARES allows you to fly its UAV by simply sketching out the flight path on a digital map. Once you’ve decided where to take it, set the drone’s height and speed and watch it fly away seemingly of its own accord. So, piloting your own quadcopter is now literally as easy as dragging your finger from A to B.

See the campaign on Kickstarter.

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