A drone designed to rid the world of landmines

A Netherlands-based Kickstarter campaign wants to use drones to get rid of landmines in the next decade.

The Mine Kafon Drone is an aerial vehicle that can map landmine-rich environments, do effective sweeping searches with metal detectors, and plant detonators before escaping to a safe distance—all without a single living foot touching the ground.

It’s a drone that could potentially save thousands of lives, with the body and chassis of something reminiscent of an Imperial Probe Droid.

Or one of those squid-like things from The Matrix.

Still, the world would be a better place with a few hundred of these running around.

I’ll second that emotion.

DrumPants will turn you into a human drum kit — WTF?

These days, turning yourself into a one-man band is as easy as slipping on a piece of clothing with a built-in sound board, like Machina’s MIDI Controller jacket or the Electronic Drum Machine shirt. DrumPants on the other hand uses sensor strips and electronics that attach to the inside of clothing, so you can walk down the street in your own clothes and play a beat just by rhythmically tapping your own body…

The basic DrumPants kit consists of two sensor strips and two foot pedal sensors that connect to a control box, all of which are small enough to conceal beneath most types of clothing. Each strip contains two velocity sensors and has thin Velcro patches so users can wear them as a band or run them along a part of their body.

This gives wearers control over six individual sensors at once, but the system can support up to 12 with the addition of extra strips. Once a strip is in place, it just needs to be tapped to produce a sound, which can be heard by connecting either a pair of headphones or an external speaker to the control box…

While the DrumPants were designed mainly with music in mind, the wearable sensors do offer some additional uses beyond tapping out a tune. Each sensor can be reprogrammed to trigger actions within a wide variety of apps, so the wearer can, for example, answer their phone, play a streaming video, cycle through a slideshow, or control a game. The software can also connect with certain Arduino boards, in case an industrious programmer wants to use the sensor strips to control another gadget entirely.

Click the link to the whole article to learn all the whizbang tech. Scroll down to the bottom of the Gizmag article and watch the KickStarter video. Prepare to drive everyone in your life crazy!

Stylish power napping

Power napping is a bit of an art form, requiring just the right ingredients to make it possible. The Ostrich Pillow Light, the third product in the Ostrich Pillow line, is designed to simplify the process by helping sleepyheads grab 40 winks anytime that their eyelids begin to sag.

The original Ostrich Pillow was a phenomenon when it was revealed, receiving a slew of press coverage. Then it was launched on Kickstarter and raised almost $200,000. Buoyed by that success the team at Studio Banana Things launched the Ostrich Pillow Junior for children. Can lightning strike a third time with the Ostrich Pillow Light?

While the original and junior versions of the Ostrich Pillow comprised of balaclava-style headwear you placed your head and hands into, the Ostrich Pillow Light adopts a more minimalist approach.

The Ostrich Pillow Light is made from soft fabric filled with silicon-coated micro-beads. The addition of an adjustable elastic ring means it can be tailored to suit an individual regardless of their head size.

The smaller design means the Ostrich Pillow Light is travel-friendly and can be carried easily. It can be worn as a scarf, tied to a bag, or packed flat in luggage until it needs to be used, at which point it is worn over the eyes and ears, blocking out light and noise from the world around you.

I’ve always been pretty good at near-instant unconsciousness. I love that this now is elevated by a term like “power napping”. Used to just call it “crapping out”.

Dodecado stacks up rearrangeable LED lighting

Dodecado lets you sculpt your lighting into an infinitely rearrangeable design, with stackable LED dodecahedrons in a range of colors and styles. The company is now taking pledges on Kickstarter to bring these dynamic lights to market.

Dodecado comes in four different functional units: the basic Dodecado building block, a multicolored DodecadoFusion, a DodecadoPlus with built-in rechargeable battery, and a Power Deck, which is required to charge the Plus and power everything else. Individual units link together with magnets, and whole light sculptures are powered through this connection, up to eight Dodecado blocks per Power Deck…

In addition to being fun and stylish, the range of options make the Dodecado practical in multiple situations. A charged Fusion unit, for example, could serve as emergency lighting or a camp light, with 2.5 hours of charge time. The company also plans to offer a ceiling- and wall-mounted deck and second, a solar-powered deck, adding more utility to a single unit.

The Dodecado team has launched on Kickstarter to take the working prototype into production. Pledges start at US$54 for a single lighting unit and Power Deck.

Way cool…

KickSat to launch sprites into space

It’ll look like hundreds of postage stamps fluttering toward Earth — each an independent satellite transmitting a signal unique to the person who helped send it to space.

A Cornell-based project called KickSat is set to launch more than 200 of these tiny satellites, nicknamed “sprites,” into low-Earth orbit as part of a routine NASA-administered mission in 2013 to the International Space Station. And unlike traditional, big government space exploration, KickSat is truly a launch by the people.

Several years ago…Zac Manchester…now a graduate student in aerospace engineering, dreamt up the idea of crowd-sourced, personal space exploration. He and Ryan Zhou…and Justin Atchison…designed and built a prototype spacecraft that fits in the palm of the hand and costs just a few hundred dollars to make. The sprites are a type of micro-satellite called a “ChipSat…”

Manchester’s goal, he says in his blog about the mission, “is to bring down the huge cost of spaceflight, allowing anyone from a curious high school student or basement tinkerer to a professional scientist to explore what has until now been the exclusive realm of governments and large companies. By shrinking the spacecraft, we can fit more into a single launch slot and split the costs many ways. I want to make it easy enough and affordable enough for anyone to explore space.”

Sprites are the size of a cracker but are outfitted with solar cells, a radio transceiver and a microcontroller (tiny computer). KickSat, which is the name of the sprites’ launching unit, is a CubeSat, a standardized cubic satellite the size of a loaf of bread, frequently used in space research.

Using Kickstarter.com to find sponsors for the mission, Manchester raised nearly $75,000 as more than 300 people sponsored a sprite that will transmit an identifying signal, such as the initials of the donor. In 2013, about 250 sprites will be sent into space. One person, who donated $10,000, Manchester added, will get to “push the big red button” on the day of the launch.

A delightful dedication to citizen science. A special tradition centuries-old.

Vertical Food Gardens by The Windowfarms Project

Windowfarms let you grow fresh vegetables at home by taking advantage of natural light and climate control indoors. The roots are bathed in nutrients from the sea, preventing food plants from getting root bound (as they do in traditional soil filled containers). You get healthier roots, and fresher, more nutritious vegetables without dirt in small spaces.

By bringing edible gardens into living rooms and kitchens, you learn about where your food comes from while eating the freshest produce available…

This is a Kickstarter project and special offer.

The new Windowfarms systems are made from environmentally friendly plastic and wire. The new design allows us to offer Windowfarms at a greatly reduced price…It just snaps together, decreasing the assembly time from a full day to about ten minutes.

We are so excited about this simplified and lower cost option because it will allow us to include people in the windowfarms movement who just want to focus on the growing part. We believe in the power of our community to change the way that people grow and eat food.

If you order before November 30, you’ll receive your Windowfarm in March 2012.

Our new Windowfarms will not be ready to ship by the holidays, however, if you are pre-ordering as a gift, we will send a personalized welcome-to-the community card to your loved one before December 24. The card will include a link to a personalized webpage for his/her windowfarm. Your giftee will be able to begin customizing the page and learning about his/her window’s microclimate, going through Windowfarms 101, selecting plants, and meeting other windowfarmers. It’s like the Facebook game, Farmville, but tastier! By the time the windowfarm arrives, your loved one will be ready to grow for real!!

My mom built systems like this in our kitchen when I was a kid back in a New England factory town. It gave us a certain amount of fresh greens all winter long. Kept our meals healthy and a bit mellower till we got back to normal growing season for our Victory Garden.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

An iPod watch project explodes online

A project that began with an iPod Nano and an experimental wristwatch design has quickly exploded online, receiving over $540,000 in funding through Kickstarter, a Web site that helps people find support for projects.

The project was created by the Chicago-based design firm Minimal, which wants to take the iPod Nano, Apple’s latest tiny multitouch iPod, and incorporate it into a wristwatch. Those who pledge $25 to the project will receive a Nano-holding watch kit when it is produced.

Scott Wilson, founder of Minimal, said his company had been astonished by the response to the idea.

“It just seems to keep on going,” Mr. Wilson said, referring to the number of pledges received since the project idea was posted online two weeks ago. “I had expectations that we would get $15,000 in funding from Kickstarter, but by the second day of sales we had quickly passed that.”

Fred Benenson, an employee at Kickstarter, said on Twitter Thursday that the project was the first on Kickstarter to top $500,000 in funding…

The TikTok design created by Minimal turns the Nano into a watch by letting you snap it into a wrist dock. The LunaTik, a more expensive design, is meant to be more permanent. It is made of aluminum and holds the Nano in place with screws.

Mr. Wilson said he decided to finance the project through Kickstarter to ensure that his designers had more input on the final product.

“I’m most excited about using this platform to give creative control to the designers and experiment with the product without having to enter a complicated corporate deal to produce it,” Mr. Wilson said. “It seems to be working; there’s nothing more validating than someone putting a credit card down to buy something.”

We’re starting to offer Giftmas suggestions to our readers, this week. This is the first of several.

I was a more than reasonably successful salesman when I was working at it – in fields as wide-ranging as sporting goods to tech goodies. This is one of those products I would have loved to sell to retailers. Its attractive design adds more functionality to an already successful product. Piece of cake.