Platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter have helped to prove that crowdfunding is now a viable option for entrepreneurs wanting to get a product off the ground, but both still have strict rules about what can be funded (despite the latter relaxing theirs earlier this year). There has been a push to create more social crowdfunding platforms however, and we’ve seen Watsi let donors pledge money to individuals’ healthcare needs. Now the legal industry has got its own crowdfunding site. New York’s Lexshares is getting investors to provide support to those who can’t afford the high costs of court battles.
Legal fights can be incredibly expensive, and if you want a good lawyer than plaintiffs will need to cough up. Unfortunately, those with a case may not have the funds to bring their battle to court and end up with an injustice going unchallenged. LexShares helps connect those people and businesses with investors that could help front the legal costs of taking their opponent to trial.
Specializing in ‘David and Goliath’ cases between small businesses and large corporations and multinationals, anyone can send their case in to be reviewed by LexShares’ team of law professionals. If they believe it has a chance, it’s posted on the site for investors to review. Anyone who wants to support the case can decide how much they want to invest. If it’s successful, investors receive a return of any legal fees and damages recovered through the trial, but if it fails the plaintiff doesn’t need to pay them anything. Investors can track each case through the LexShares dashboard.
LexShares aims to help businesses who might otherwise not have the capital to take their case to court. However, the company may need to be careful that the platform doesn’t turn the legal process into a betting platform for investors. Could this type of crowdfunding work for individuals who typically find it hard to get representation?
Complicated equipment — despite designers' best efforts — can't be replicated on a digital touchscreen without losing some of the ease of use that comes with a physical interface. In the past we've seen Tuna Knobs create physical dials that can be stuck onto the surface of a tablet and used to control music apps. Now a project called Of Instruments and Archetypes has developed a wooden caliper, measuring tape and protractor that wirelessly send measurements to a digital device.
Created by Belgium's Unfold, with help from the Netherlands' Kirschner3D and UK-based designer Penny Webb, each of the devices comes equipped with sensors and transmitters that interact with 3D printing software. Users can preload a digital file and each time a measurement is taken, the reading is sent to the device and the software automatically updates the file with new measurements. The instruments have no incremental markings as the user doesn't need to do any of the calculations. The idea is that makers can simply update their 3D files with accurate measurements without entering in any information, simply measuring up the relevant parts much like they would with standard equipment.
As an example, the project designed a part that could connect two glass vessels of any size. As the video below shows, by simply measuring two vessels, the design was automatically altered to fit perfectly.
Of Instruments and Archetypes went on show at the Keyshapes exhibition at this year's Dutch Design Week. Although currently a prototype, this kind of digitization of physical equipment is now becoming more possible thanks to sensors and the Internet of Things. Are there other complicated tools that could help industrial workers do their jobs more efficiently?
Today’s generation have taken fandom to the next level thanks to technology that enables the to tweet their favorite bands and even build communities to share fanfics with. While platforms such as Phonio are aiming to bring celebrities even closer with recorded phone call updates, another startup is taking a different approach. Germany’s Artist Radar lets fans pick the artists, actors and authors they like to receive an entertainment news and info feed personalized to their taste.
Available as both a web and iOS app, Artist Radar lets users create a library of famous names they want to hear about. In order to populate their feed, they can either search for their favorite artists or simply scan their existing music or ebook libraries on their device. The startup already has a database of 6 million musicians, actors and authors with 200,000 planned events, and the app notifies users when their favorite ones release a new album, announce a concert, have confirmed a film appearance or are doing a book signing. The news feed also offers more general news about the users’ chosen celebrities.
While liking a page on Facebook already lets fans subscribe to updates in their news feed, Artist Radar wants to separate it from the slew of other posts that the social network offers, becoming a hub for personalized entertainment news. Could this kind of service become more intelligent, using last.fm-style real-time metrics to tailor which content appears based on the week’s listening habits, for example?
When it comes to wishing someone a happy Thanksgiving, it’s much more thoughtful to send a physical card. Digital alternatives — e-cards, anyone? — just don’t really cut the muster, or can appear offhand. Melding the online and offline worlds, Dear Inbox is a Gmail plugin that makes the process of sending a greetings card as easy as composing an email.
Available for free in the Chrome Web Store, the extension give users the option to send a physical card straight from their Gmail inbox. It places a button next to the usual compose button that brings up the Dear Inbox menu. Designed to look much like the Gmail compose interface, the menu instead enables users to chose between a range of seasonal categories and card designs that can be customized with personal details. Users enter a personal message as the body of the email, and their drafts are saved automatically, much like real email. Obviously, the recipient field needs to be a physical address. The service currently offers a subscription service for USD 1.99 a month, which includes up to 3 cards, while a one-off card costs USD 2.49.
Are there other ways to make it easier to link online friendships with physical gifts?
Fitness trackers have taken off in a big way, helping anyone to monitor their performance across a wide range of physical activities. We’ve even seen products such as Darma track metrics that people often don’t think about, such as inactivity. Now Arki is a wristband that can detect the wearer’s posture as they walk and gives them advice on how they can improve it.
Walking is something most people do every single day — the average person in fact walks four times round the world in their lifetime — and yet we often don’t pay attention to how we do it. When wearing Arki, the device uses an accelerometer to detect different metrics such as steps taken and distance traveled, down to swing speed, rotation angle and the vibrations that occur when the foot hits the ground. By alternating the arm the band is attached to, the device can gather even more accurate data, and all of this is compiled to let owners know about their general walking posture and physical balance. It alerts them if they’re committing too many bad habits while walking, such as having hands in pockets or staring at their smartphone. Feedback is offered as haptic vibrations through the wristband, giving wearers a subtle indication that they’re forgetting to pay attention to their posture.
On top of this, the smart band can also offer the usual tracking capabilties, such as calories burned and daily, weekly and monthly stats, as well as the ability to set fitness goals.
Watch the video below to learn more about Arki:
Arki goes beyond the usual remit of fitness trackers by alerting users to something they typically wouldn’t even think about. However, with the number of notifications consumers already receive everyday, it’s possible that this could prove a step too far, being more of a distraction instead of a utility. Those interested can pre-order Arki for USD 99 until the campaign ends on 22 December.
Is the wearable tracker trend reaching saturation point, or are there more ways to help consumers monitor their daily metrics?
Gym memberships are often prohibitively expensive, and those wanting some instruction can find themselves paying even more money. However, online video platforms are now making it easier — and cheaper — to connect with experts remotely. We’ve already written about Peloton, an exercise bike for the home that streams live spinning sessions. Now Finland’s Yoogaia is enabling anyone with a webcam to join in yoga classes and receive guidance from the comfort of their own living room.
Yoogaia offers a number of interactive classes led by expert instructors, ranging from yoga, pilates, core and kettle bell sessions. Members can pay EUR 10 a week or EUR 70 a year’s membership, which grants them access to as many live classes as they like. Users can browse the online schedule to see when live classes are taking place, and if they miss one they can watch the recording. When in a live session, members have the option of sharing their webcam with the instructor, who can then offer real-time feedback. Available in Finland, Hong Kong, the US and UK, most classes are currently in Finnish but the company is working hard to increase its English offerings.
Watch the video below to learn more about the service:
Bringing gym sessions into the home means that people can more easily fit yoga classes into their lives while also saving money. Are there other kinds of teaching and advice that could be streamed into the home in this way?
Regular readers of Springwise may remember cab service Taxi Stockholm, which has been featured before for its Taxi Trails app, which uses heatmaps of cab journeys to give tourists an idea of the most popular locations in the Swedish city. Now the company is back with another innovation, offering cab therapy sessions to customers suffering from winter blues.
According to TheLocal.se, the company carried out a survey that found that many customers see taxi rides as a time for reflection. Taking inspiration from the fact that many people enjoy having a chat to a taxi driver while traveling from A to B, the company has hired a number of qualified psychologists to join customers in the backseat.
Passengers taking an hour long ride or a short ten-minute trip can take advantage of the service, which aims to provide advice for any life problems they have. Mia Fahlén, one of the therapists taking part in the project, said there could be plenty of interest for the scheme: "A lot of people are lonely. There are so many single people in Stockholm."
Considering the typical costs of therapy sessions, the campaign could encourage more people to use Taxi Stockholm and air their grievances. It's clear that the project is also an effort to compete with services such as Uber. Are there other extras that taxi companies could offer to make journeys more enjoyable or useful?
The internet is an incredible thing, but two-thirds of the world population still don't have access to it. Even in emergencies, the internet might go down when responders need it most. We've previously written about BRCK, which boosts data signals to improve web infrastructure in Africa. Now the Outernet Lantern is a portable device that works anywhere, receiving web data from space when the internet's not available.
Outernet as a company has so far been broadcasting up to 1GB of new data — from news stories and educational content to videos and music — every day from a satellite in space. So far, it's only been accessible through satellite dishes, but the new Lantern device aims to change that. It's a portable stick clad in solar panels so it can stay charged without being plugged in. Those with a laptop or smartphone can turn on Lantern's wifi hotspot to anonymously access the data it receives.
Lantern works much like a radio, in that the device only receives the information that Outernet selects to broadcast, rather than the whole internet. However, users can contact the company to request data. For example, the satellites could broadcast up-to-date and relevant news about an emergency situation or disaster so that responders can stay informed.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project:
The Outernet Lantern can be purchased for donation to those that need it from USD 99 through the company's ongoing Indiegogo campaign. Backers can get their hands on one for themselves from USD 185. Are there other ways to get online information to difficult locations in times when it's vital?
These days, smartphones are taken somewhat for granted. They're so integral to our daily lives that accidentally leaving them at home or charged at low battery can constitute a mini disaster. However, there's some members of society who aren't able to use them. We've previously written about pererro, a kit that helps attach joysticks to iOS devices to make them easier to use for those with mobility difficulties. Now Sesame is the first smartphone that works for disabled people out of the box.
For most consumers, performing some tasks on a handheld device like a smartphone can be a bit fiddly. For those without the use of their hands, or limited dexterity, it's nigh on impossible. When buying a Sesame phone, customers receive a Google Nexus 5 that's preloaded with a special layer of software that makes the device more accessible.
Voice commands are set up to trigger events — for example, saying Open Sesame will turn on the phone — and users can also use their voice for entering text and composing messages. Using the front-facing camera, the phone also accurately tracks head movements that can be used to control an on-screen cursor. This means that users can navigate app menus, scroll through Facebook and play Flappy Bird without touching the phone.
Watch the video below to learn more about the device:
Sesame is currently seeking funding via Indiegogo, and backers can pre-order the phone for USD 700 (paying USD 350 now and the rest upon receipt) until 11 December. Are there other ways to make new technology accessible to those with disabilities?
One of parents’ biggest fears is not knowing what their children are getting up to, but they also don’t want to end up smothering them. We’ve already written about FiLIP, the watch-sized communicator that helps parents stay connected to kids. Now Sweden-based Tinitell is a wearable, voice-controlled phone for kids that are too young to own a smartphone.
Self-described as the “world’s smallest mobile phone”, the device looks much like a wristwatch, except that it has no display. Instead, it comes equipped with a mic, speaker and SIM card slot, as well as a small CPU that turns it into a useable phone. Parents first connect it to their smartphone via Bluetooth to load numbers onto it as well as register it with their device. Kids can then simply press the button on their Tinitell’s face and say the name of the person they want to call. They can also receive calls through the device, but only from the numbers loaded by their parent. Parents can track the location of their child on their smartphone, as well as see a calling list.
Watch the video below, taken from the company’s successful Kickstarter campaign:
Tinitell offers functionality that connects parents with their children in an uncomplicated way, without any distrcting features. The devices come in 4 different colors — Aqua, Indigo, Charcoal and Coral — and currently cost USD 129. Could this kind of tracking capability be developed for older kids, who might want something more than just a phone on their wrists?