Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding site, has assembled a list of 2012's greatest hits which we've narrowed down to five of the more technology-related projects. Conspicuously absent from the company's official selection is the massively popular Form 1 3D printer by Formlabs, which features game-changing technology that quickly sparked a patent suit by 3D Systems.
Tallying the numbers, in 2012 more than 2.2 million people pledged approximately US$320 million dollars, successfully funding 18,109 projects. A total of 17 projects raised more than a million dollars, with backers hailing from 177 countries (or 90 percent of the countries in the world). Of all the categories, the video game projects made the most money at more than $83 million pledged, with film and video projects trailing in second place at $57.9 million.
Final Frontier develops a civilian space suit
A Brooklyn-based company called Final Frontier, led by a duo with 20 years of space suit design experience for NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Russian Space Agency, kickstarted its Third Generation (3G) space suit. The 3G suit is being aimed at the commercial space industry, so it's considerably cheaper – about $10,000 dollars each – compared to the millions you'd spend on NASA's current suit.
Open source Geiger counter maps global radiation
Safecast launched a limited edition Geiger counter that, along with the standard version, has collected three million data points. That's more than any other organization, and the data has been published freely and openly online. Now, the company is trying to put together a map of the entire world's radiation, which can then be cross-referenced in the event of future disasters. It's similar to (but almost ten times more expensive than) the Pocket Geiger, which connects to your iPhone and also collates data from its users.
OpenROV explores the world's lakes and oceans
At $830, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole's open-source remotely-operated underwater vehicle (OpenROV) kit is an affordable way to explore your local waters. Once assembled (which will take the average person about a weekend), it can dive to 100 meters (328 feet), and is controlled via a web browser on your laptop. While dedicated ROV hobbyists have been tinkering with their own designs for years, OpenROV streamlines the process so that anyone can get involved.
Dark Sky app predicts the weather
The Dark Sky app, which gives you the current temperature and weather conditions, made our list of the Best iPhone apps of 2012. It predicts whether you'll need to bring an umbrella when you're going out, and keeps you up to date with the latest 24-hour forecast.
MaKey MaKey inspires the world's first banana piano
The MaKey MaKey is an Arduino-based board that can be connected to just about anything that can conduct electricity, turning everyday objects into a novel computer interface. You can play games with a controller made out of Play-Doh, or play software-based musical instruments with a banana piano, to name just two crazy applications. All the necessary pieces to get started cost $35, which makes this a fun and inexpensive project for kids of all ages.
You can check out the rest of the projects, along with helpful infographics that break down the numbers, at Kickstarter's official year in review.