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Crowdfunding Roundup: A really useful GPS tag, an iCat, and more

Each week, TUAW provides readers with an update on new or significant crowdfunded Apple-related projects in the news. While our policy is to not go into detail on items that haven't reached at least 80 percent of their funding goal, this update is designed to give readers a heads-up on projects they might find interesting enough to back.

  • If you've followed our weekly crowdfunding roundup for a while, you're aware that various tracking gizmos seem to be one of the biggest categories in crowdfunding. Here's one that actually makes sense -- Iota consists of a small GPS-enabled tag that also has its own base station that it can broadcast to within about a four-mile distance. The tags can talk with any Iota base station, so with just a handful of these base stations scattered across a metropolitan area, you have almost full coverage -- for free. This is a project I may back, because it makes more sense to me than any of the other smartphone-based tags we've seen. It's at 39 percent funding with 20 days to go, so it's going to need your help.

  • As an avid gardener, I sometimes wish my plants could let me know when they're feeling stressed out. That's the idea behind Smart Plant, a smart sensor that can be placed in potted plants or gardens and provide feedback on how your plants are feeling. A small display shows if your plant is "happy" or "sad", and can pump a little water in to a potted plant to make it "happier". Outside, the Smart Plant sensor can open a Smart Valve to water a complete garden. It's at only 6 percent funding with 33 days to go, but hopefully this one will make it over the top.

  • We have smart webcams, doors that can be locked or unlocked remotely, and more ... but we don't have smart doorbells. i-Bell is a smart video and Wi-Fi enabled doorbell that can let you know who's ringing the doorbell just by looking at their image on your smartphone. Unlike our other campaigns this week, i-Bell is actually funded at 126 percent with 13 days to go.

  • One downside to smart lighting in your home is that you usually have to consider purchasing either a switch of some sort or a smart bulb like the Philips Hue. Wouldn't it be great if you could take any dimmable light bulb and make it "smart"? That's the idea behind emberlight, which promises to turn any light into a smart light. It's currently 70 percent funded with 42 days to go, so I think it's going to see the light of day (no pun intended).

  • CaseCam is a remote controlled iPhone "tripod" case that proves that there is more than one way to solve a problem -- in particular, how to take a selfie that's properly framed and set up. Using a mirror to allow the iPhone to be propped up in such a way that it's stable and an app to let you use another iPhone to make sure the selfie is set up properly, you can either take a timed photo or use another iOS device to trigger the shutter. CaseCam is 9 percent funded with 28 days to go, but this one has all the earmarks of a winner.

  • Back in the days when I was doing a lot more bike riding, I sometimes used to wonder if I was just getting tired or if one of my tires had sprung a leak. That meant stopping my ride, checking the tire pressure, then either getting back on or replacing the inner tube. With CycleAT, I wouldn't have to stop to check the pressure, as I'd be notified by a Bluetooth sensor through a smartphone app -- which is fine, since I'd be using my iPhone as a cyclometer. It works for both motorcycles and bicycles, and is 17 percent funded with 57 days to go. It's a Kickstarter Staff Pick, and for good reason.

  • We hear about wearables and fitness monitors all the time, but usually those devices don't have a second purpose in life. FreeWavz are Bluetooth smart earphones with built-in fitness monitoring sensors, and the campaign is 48 percent funded with 13 days to go. If you're looking for a totally wire-free listening experience from a pair of water-resistant earphones, and want to track heart rate and other metrics while you're at it, FreeWavz needs your support.

  • Over on Indiegogo this week, we have the first iris recognition enabled smartwatch, FiDELYS. Apparently the idea here is that you simply glance at your smartwatch, enabling secure entry into apps. Unlike Apple's TouchID technology, the FiDELYS iris recognition doesn't seem to be very popular -- the campaign is just 2 percent funded with 17 days left.

  • We'll end this week's roundup with a robot that will make you smile -- iCat. It's a friendly-looking, vaguely cat-shaped in a cartoon way robot that's designed to keep an eye on your kids and your house, even remotely through a smartphone app. iCat will even go into "tracing" (I think they meant "tracking") mode, following a child around. iCat might never make it to production thanks to absolutely no contributions at this point, but who knows -- with 47 days to go, we may see a crowdfunding miracle happen. No video available, unfortunately, but we do have this image of a very confused looking child staring pensively at an iCat mockup.

iCat and Child

That's it for this week. We'll be back next Thursday for another roundup of crowdfunded projects that you can support or ignore. Many thanks again to Hal Sherman for providing some tips about new and exciting projects, and 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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