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Crowdfunded Project News: The best of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the rest

Every week, TUAW provides readers with an update on what new or significant crowdfunded Apple-related projects are in the news. This update is designed to give readers a heads-up on projects they might find interesting enough to back. Note that we're not covering those "projects" on Indiegogo where people are trying to get someone else to cough up money for a new computer or tablet... If a project reaches at least 80 percent of total funding and provides us with review material, we may choose to write a detailed post about it.

Here are some of the fun and fascinating products we're following this week. From Kickstarter:

  • Oscar is no longer a grouch. Now, he's an Open Screen Adapter, designed by a group of engineering students from the University of Southampton with software support from a Joint Mathematics and Computing student at Imperial College London. OSCAR is marketed as a "super high resolution 9.7" LCD panel with an Arduino-compatible adapter that connects to your computer." Think of it as a small Thunderbolt Retina display that you can connect to your Mac, and you've got the picture. I could envision using one of these as a portable side display to a MacBook Pro with Retina display. At this point, the team really needs your support -- they're at 52 percent funding with eight days to go.

OSCAR Open Screen Adapter

  • While this idea isn't in Kickstarter yet, it's something that makes a lot of sense. Those little Mac Pros are just packed with power and would make excellent Mac-based servers, but the cylindrical design keeps them from being mounted in racks in server rooms. The ModeMount Mac Pro Rack Mount can hold the device in 4U of rack space when mounted horizontally (what I think of as a "wine barrel" mount), and can also be positioned vertically. The design is open on both ends for optimum cooling of the Mac Pro. You can sign up to be notified when the company's Kickstarter campaign begins.

ModeMount Mac Pro Rack Mount

  • Remember the Carbon, a solar charger that looks like a wristwatch? Well, I was kind of dubious about it, since the last thing I want to put on my wrist is a big solar charger that doesn't do anything but charge my gear. Well, the company did something that I think makes it quite worthwhile -- they've added an analog watch display to it so it's actually a working watch and a solar charger. EnergyBionics, the team bringing Carbon to life, still needs your support. With 18 days to go, they're at 27.2 percent funding.

Carbon Solar Charger with analog time

  • TUAW reader Hal Sherman is always looking out for Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects for us to cover, and this week he found the Prescient AudioCase for iPhone 5/5s. This one has a long way to go, at only 3 percent of its funding goal with about five weeks remaining. The idea? A smartphone case that's also a speaker -- no more carrying around a Bluetooth speaker when you have a speaker protecting your phone.
  • This one got my attention very quickly -- an app-controlled winemaking set up called The Miracle Machine (it turns water into wine...). The description says it all: "The Miracle Machine is the world's first affordable accelerated winemaking device for the home that reproduces great wine with minimal effort and within days." You can sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign goes live. The Miracle Machine is expected to retail for $499.
  • And now, some Aussies want you to clean up your desktop with DeskPal, a beautiful wood desk accessory that holds pencils, wristwatches, keys, and -- unsurprisingly -- acts as a smartphone or tablet dock as well. It's already funded with a month to go, but you can get some of the action starting at AUD$30.

On Indiegogo this week:

  • SunSprite is a funded (110 percent with 24 days left) project that is a wearable, solar-powered light tracker. It tracks how much light you're exposed to, letting you boost your energy (most people don't get enough sunlight), improve your sleep, or avoid high UV intensities. Of course, there's an app for that -- developed by the same team that wrote the RunKeeper app. You can pre-order one at a 34 percent discount for US$99, with June delivery planned.

SunSprite Personal Light Tracker

And some other crowd funding favorites from outside of the Kickstarter/Indiegogo world:

  • Hey, guys -- if you're going to make a Star Trek: The Next Generation communications badge, at least make it look futuristic. The CommBadge is a $89 Bluetooth 4.0 speakerphone that you can wear, avoiding the dreaded Bluetooth headset while giving you hands-free access to your phone and Siri. Here's video showing why you apparently need one:

  • Our last entry this week is Plink, which isn't the garbage disposal cleaning tablet you're thinking of. This Plink is "an iOS app that lets you upload images and insert them into your blog posts using Markdown or HTML. You can help me build it." Right now the project is 41 percent funded with 16 days to go. If you do a lot of blogging, you should check out Plink and help provide funding starting at just $10.
If you're aware of any other crowdfunded Apple-related projects, be sure to let us know about them through the Tip Us button at the upper right of the TUAW home page for future listing on the site.

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