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Crowdfunding Roundup: Family robots and camera tomatoes

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.

  • And we're back again for another roundup of crowdfunded tech projects for the world of Apple. This first one is going to excite anyone who has ever wanted a family robot just like the Jetsons had. Unfortunately, I don't think that Jibo will be able to do as good a job as Rosie the Robot, but this Indiegogo project certainly is capturing the attention of backers -- and the money. It's 1,277 percent funded with 16 days to go.

  • Cue Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra"! The Monolyth isn't "full of stars", instead, it wants to control your air conditioning unit with a smartphone. This isn't for whole-house air conditioning (which could use your Nest thermostat), rather for room units that cool a smaller area. The Monolyth team has some amazing goals for integration that will make the device extremely useful and powerful. They're currently at 23 percent of funding with 27 days to go, so if you have one of the compatible air conditioning units and want to be able to give it some brains, back this project.

  • With all of the smartwatches and other wearables on the market, it was only a matter of time that someone came up with a "smart band" that worked for everyone in the family. The Sync Smartband doesn't have a display on it, but tracks steps, calories expended and REM sleep. It can also be used as a proximity sensor so the young (or old) ones don't go wandering too far away from you. Sync is 72 percent of the way through funding with just over a month to go, so it looks like this family-oriented fitness tracker will make it.

  • A while back there was a fake project that someone created some great videos for. The project purported to create wonderful wine by putting water and a special powder into a smartphone-controlled container. It proved to be a hoax, but this Bieree smartphone-controlled microbrewery is for real! It needs a bit of support to make it into production -- the project is currently at 63 percent of funding with just 12 days to go. Back this project: beer drinkers around the world are counting on you.

  • If I had a dollar for every "Smart Card Wallet-Sized iPhone and Android Charger" type project that has been published in our weekly roundup, I'd probably be able to retire. Yet for some reason, unknown to me because there are already a number of these products on the market that work perfectly well, we keep seeing these week after week. It's this type of repetitive "me too" Indiegogo campaign that makes me want to beg for some real innovation. This charger will apparently make it to market along with the other 5,834 that are out there -- it is 266 percent funded with about two weeks to go.

  • When Friend of TUAW Hal Sherman sent me a tip on the Heirloom, I had to laugh as it was the first time I'd ever seen a "camera tomato" project. But Heirloom is a take on a tried and true photographer's friend, the "bean bag tripod". Use this with a Glif and you'll be able to take some amazingly sharp photos with your iPhone, and it is big enough that it'll hold your DSLR in place, too. However, this tomato is nowhere near being "go for launch," with only two percent funding with a month to go.

  • With apologies to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, "What the world needs now is another SCOTTeVEST". That's what the AyeGear 25 Pocket Transforming Jacket appears to be, down to the "X-ray" photos of the jacket with everything from an iPhone and iPad to a water bottle in the pocket. But I think that's a good thing -- the market needs competition. AyeGear is a Glasgow, Scotland-based manufacturer that wants to bring a sharp-looking new techie jacket to the market. The project is only 2 percent funded with a month to go, so dig into your pockets if you want to give Scott Jordan's company a competitor...

  • The Ghost Trax App is an iPad app that does one thing really well -- it plays a backing track for solo musicians. If you're a solo musician, you'll want to scrape up some money and back Mark McCluskey's campaign, as it's only 17 percent funded with just over three weeks left.

  • I love this idea. MaCO is a magnetic cable organizer (hence the name) that's designed to keep your world from tangled cords. Apparently others have found MaCO to be just as exciting and useful as I have, since it's 184 percent funded with over three weeks left in its campaign. Here are all the details:

  • Last but not least, here's a Kickstarter campaign that deserves the minimal funding that it has received so far. The EvolvButton is supposed to add a "real" shutter button to your smartphone for taking photos. Well, your iPhone does have a real shutter button -- the volume toggle. All the EvolvButton does is add a piece of plastic over the top of the volume toggle. Of the ridiculous $40,000 goal, EvolvButton has achieved a whopping $14 with a month to go. No video for this one, I'll leave you with a photo instead.

EvolvButton on Kickstarter

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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