Crowdsourcing Innovation: Highlights 2013

It’s less traumatic than Dragon’s Den and cooler than IPOs and Angel investors… it’s Crowdfunding! We’ve featured plenty of interviews with companies looking to find favour and fortune online, almost 30 by my count, so here’s a rundown of our favourites.

Arbitrarily picked and in no particular order:

Spellwriting Smartwatches

Thanks to the phenomenal success of Pebble, I’ve been trying to get a smartwatch in this series for ages. Many attempts and months later, one finally took the bait. The Spell Smartwatch is a sleek little thing and offers a differentiator in its ‘airwriting’ capabilities. Whether or not air writing is actually any good I can’t say, it’s still a fun alternative option.

Young & Fun Appsters

The Abacus OS was a nice idea: a mini server that could merge any APIs into a single format. It didn’t make its goal, but it doesn’t matter. The incredibly trendy and hip picture of the company’s execs was the best part of this post. You don’t see enough C-level types throwing shapes in their business mugshots.

The Defenders of the QWERTY faith

I’m not a big fan of touchscreens; give me buttons any day. Another project that didn’t make the grade but is still a winner to us is the TREWgrip; a device you plug your smartphone/tablet into that has a full QWERTY keyboard embedded on each handle. A nifty idea, but most endearing was their stoic refusal that it might be too difficult for some people to learn.

Gamification – Where nerds & productivity meet

For me, HabitRPG was the embodiment of what crowdfunding is about – just a dude with a personal project that people wanted more of and he needed some help getting it out there. Take all the basic elements of an old school RPG: 2D avatars, levelling up, weapons and armour, health points etc. and link it directly to your to-do lists. The more productive you are; the more of a badass your Habit dude becomes. The creator was a nice guy with a fun idea that appealed to the nerd within me. On this list mainly because he’s a gamer nerd. Respect.

Ahoy There Matey!

A MILLION DOLLARS! That’s how much this company made on Kickstarter with their affordable 3D printer plan. The Buccaneer is one of the top 5 most funded tech projects on the site and one of the biggest names we talked to, so has to be on this list really. Also the pirate theme is excellent; not enough companies have Chief Executive Pirates working for them. Also they were nice enough to talk to us for the second time about crowdfunding fraud.

Monkeys in SPAAAAACE

Space Monkey. An excellent name that has nothing to do with Cloud servers. But these guys from Utah decided the two should meet, and raised three times their goal in the process. A tidy product that got plenty of attention, and could be a trend setter for bringing Cloud computing to the masses next year. Another project, CloudLocker, had a similar idea, but Space Monkey has a better name and looks better.

Security Made fun

Security can be unbelievably dull. Usually the only excitement involving McAfee comes from John’s antics in South America and his unhinged videos. But Jumpshot had a good idea, and made it look gooooood. Colourful? Check? Happy looking? Check. Like Moshi Monsters of malware. Genius.  And the first one in our series.

At least it’s not .ly

The Ego! Smartmouse adds a whole other dimension to the mouse – the “lift and use the laser pointer” dimension [a lesser known one hidden somewhere between 4D and Smell-o-vision] – and is actually a sound idea that made its goal. But the name of the company is Laura Sapians. I’m sure it makes sense when explained and sounds cool, just seems odd.

We got there first

It’s a solid idea – use your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone. Problem is that when the new iPhone incorporate the same idea into their new iPhone, it can cause your business a problem. And it revealed the same idea pretty much the same week this was published. Bad times.

Runners up include the Smartglasses taking on Google, The app speeding up Wi-Fi and the digital pen with a difference. There’ll no doubt be more in the New Year; who knows what wackiness awaits? 


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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