Kickstarter Week in Review: Animation, oil check, and iPhone music

Kickstarter is a site that gives people with product ideas a place to pitch their offerings to people who want to donate to their cause. While donators aren’t investing in the idea, they are given rewards for their generosity. Our last feature focused on a 360 degree panoramic camera for your iPhone, a stylus shaped like a whiteboard marker, a glove that replaces your keyboard/mouse and a desktop war machine.  The camera is a great hit – last week it had only $15,000 pledged and today it has over $80,000, easily hitting its goal.  The stylus remains popular, adding over $10,000 in the past week, while the glove and trebuchet have added roughly 10% each.

This week we have three projects that are completely unreleated.  One is an open-source 3d animation tool that can use Microsoft’s Kinect, the Arduino project, cameras, and many other inputs to make interesting animations. The second project can help save you money by checking the oil of your car, and the last project is a whimsical “invisible instrument” app for iOS that uses WiiMotes to make music.

MovieSandbox - an open-source 3D animation tool

While Pixar may be the best animation studio in the world at the moment, that doesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t be attempting to do the same, and that’s where MovieSandbox comes in. Although you won’t win any awards for high end graphics with this tool, it has many unique features that can make 3d animation easier for people to use and is open source so will constantly improve with time. Some of the unique features of the tool are that it gives the user the ability to import data in many different ways – through a Kinect sensor or other camera (like the MilkScanner), microphones, an Xbox 360 controller, or even through an Arduino board if you want to make your own input device. The tool is already available for download but is at version 0.5 and therefore still buggy. This project will give Friedrich Kirschner the ability to get a full blown release, complete with documentation and tutorials, so that everyone will be able to use the product. With a month left to go, the project is already over half funded and needs only $1,600 more to reach its goal.


Lubricheck, the digital 'blood tester' for your car

How frequently do you change your oil? 3,000 miles?  5,000 miles? Every 3 months, whether it needs it or not? Well, you may be throwing money away and wasting oil at the same time. Enter the Lubricheck by WaveOn Technologies, a device that acts like a blood sugar tester and lets you know when it’s really time to change your oil. Simply put a drop of oil on the device and LED lights will tell you how soon before you need an oil change. In addition to the physical hardware, WaveOn Technologies is developing an app for your iPhone that keeps track of the times you’ve checked your oil, including history on the date, odometer reading, and what LED was lit during the test. This helps you see what factors help determine when you need to change your oil. The project just recently launched and has a goal of $19,500. With 58 days to go, they’ve already collected pledges in the amount of $1,485.


Invisible Instrument: iPhone-based, gestural musical tool

Do you want to play the air guitar, but still want to make music in the process? Then this project is for you! Tim Soo has developed a virtual instrument app for use with the iPhone or iPod Touch that works in conjuncture with a Nintendo Wii controller (or WiiMote). This app allows users to select from over ten different musical instruments and simulate playing them all with the WiiMote. The demo video shows the user playing an invisible drum set, an electric violin, a guitar, and more. While it remains to be seen how accurate the device is and how well it will really play music, for a $10 donation Tim will send you a complete album of songs that he has recorded using the Invisible Instrument. It's difficult to take a picture of an invisible instrument, so if this sounds interesting you should click through to the project and watch a video of the tool in action. At the very least it looks to be a fun way to spend some time jamming on a fake instrument but making real music and it appears many people agree: The project is 40% funded with 25 days left to go.

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