Kickstarter Roundup: 5 Projects Making Waves

Kickstarter is used to fund everything from the unimaginable to the completely absurd, and five projects on our radar today pretty much run that gamut. Here are five projects getting a lot of buzz this week…

ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone

Planetary Resources is a private firm with the rather ambitious goal of mining asteroids in space. In order to achieve this goal, step one is to launch multiple “ARKYD” spacecraft to analyze asteroids and identify those that warrant further explanation.

That isn’t the only application for these ARKYD spacecraft, though. Planetary Resources is committed to furthering their own education initiatives, and part of that goal involves opening these spacecraft up to the crowd. The ARKYD has a powerful telescope on board, and the team at Planetary Resources will point that telescope at any celestial body for a fee of $200. They’ll then snap a picture and send it back.

There are thousands of institutions and researchers in need for greater access to in-orbit space observatories. The ARKYD will provide a new, low-cost resource to help observe distant galaxies, search for alien planets, and monitor the skies for potentially dangerous asteroids. Researchers at MIT, the University of Washington, and across the globe have shown interest in using the ARKYD to further their important research.

In case you’re wondering why Planetary Resources is considering mining asteroids, consider the fact that in 1997 it was speculated that a single specific asteroid about 1 mile in diameter contained over $20 trillion in precious metals.


Do you remember Earthworm Jim? It was a shooting game released on Sega Genesis in the 90’s and was a pretty huge success. Now the creators of that game have reunited to create a new stop-motion animation adventure game called Armikrog.

In order to keep costs low and speed to market high, many of the same production methods and techniques the team has used before will be employed again in the making of Armikrog.

Without giving too much away, Armikrog follows the adventures of a space explorer named Tommynaut and his blind alien, talking dog named Beak-Beak. They crash land on a weird planet and end up locked in a mysterious fortress called Armikrog. Then…the adventure begins!

The team has an ambitious goal of $900,000 to fund development of the game, but the campaign is already well on its way. The game will be developed using the UNITY engine in an effort to achieve compatibility with PC, Mac and Linux on a short one-year timeline.

Monkey Light Pro – Bicycle Wheel Display System

MonkeyLectric has developed the Monkey Light Pro as a system that displays gifs within bicycle wheels, and they’re now crowdfunding the project on Kickstarter.

It isn’t an entirely new concept. The method has been applied to car wheels for a while now, but I’ve never seen the idea applied to a bike until now.

The Monkey Light Pro has 4 bars of LEDs which are attached together inside your wheel.  As your ride the system rotates, using Persistence Of Vision to create an image with its 256 full color LEDs.  The Monkey Light Pro has sensors to track its speed, heads-up position and rotation direction.  This allows the system to create stable, full-wheel images from 10 to 40 mph (15 to 65 km/h).

One of the coolest aspects of the project is that you can actually take your own images and upload them to the Monkey Light Pro and display them while you ride. Check out the examples on the campaign page. The whole idea is sure to turn some heads. You could even look at it as a creative way to stay safe. It would be hard to imagine any car drivers missing a bike with two running dogs glowing inside of the wheels.

NCAA Documentary – “The Business Of Amateurs”

The NCAA brings in a LOT of money every year marketing and commoditizing a product built on amateur athletes. There is no arguing that point. The ethics of that practice have been increasingly called into question in recent years, and now a former USC Trojan football player is making a documentary to explore that exact topic.

As a former player at USC I saw the business side of college athletics first hand. From 1997- to 2001, I played football for three different coaches at the University of Southern California. I was an award-winning student/athlete and, for the most part, it was a dream come true. But recently, some of my old injuries have opened my eyes to the fact that my future medical costs will likely outweigh the monetary benefits of my free education by the time I’m a senior citizen.

There is currently a lawsuit making its way through the court system involving former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, and the case was recently complicated by revelations that Tim Tebow’s name was used in a recent NCAA-licensed video game. Having said that, this is a very top-of-mind topic and former student athletes from around the country are increasingly calling for a change in the status quo.

The first ever Rolls Royce drift car!

When I said that some Kickstarter campaigns are completely absurd, I was talking about this.

Corbin Goodwin began his 15 minutes of Internet fame when a YouTube series called Drive profiled his “Zero F*cks Given Mazda RX-7.” Credit where credit is due, his car was amazing – a completely utilitarian (and startlingly fast) RX-7 with an oversized muscle car V8 that was build with no consideration given to looks or aesthetics. If a car could be a troll, this was the poster child.

Now Goodwin has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for his next troll car, and this is a pretty good one: a Rolls Royce drift car.

 What I aim to build is my recently acquired 1979 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II, and make it into a JDM-inspired twin-turbo continent-eating luxury bruiser, then take it around the country and hopefully the world, filming the local car scene wherever I go through the eyes of the contacts I’ve made. If I get overfunded, the money will go toward taking this machine as far as possible.

Will the project be funded? Pretty unlikely. I think this project treads into those waters where it feels too much like the crowd just giving this kid money for no reason. However, the spirit is there and I applaud it whether he is successful or not. He already bought the Rolls (for a scant $8,000… depreciation!) so something tells me that this car will turn troll regardless of this campaign’s success.

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