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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 01/02/2012

Five Kickstarter success stories


The antler chair from SketchChair, which more than doubled its Kickstarter goal in May.
Occupy isn’t just a movement, it’s a movie, and the Internet is its production house. Filmmakers Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites teamed up to create a movie about the Occupy events, using footage submitted by people across the country. Like many underfunded artists and inventors before them, they took to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise the $17,500 they need for the bare movie-making essentials.

The Occupy film, called “99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film,” has until January 13 to raise thousands more, Wired reported.

Films are just one type of the various artistic and technical endeavors that have used Kickstarter in an attempt to get off the ground. Here are some of the most-funded recent projects and where they are now:

Safecast

Safecast.org (originally called RDTN) was born in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, when three friends — entrepreneur Sean Bonner in Los Angeles, MIT media lab director Joi Ito and computer scientist Pieter Franken in Tokyo — began an e-mail chain in order to explore ways to assess and report the region’s radiation data in real time. The Kickstarter campaign was launched in order to send hundreds of Geiger counters to Japan and to provide data about the radiation levels. Safecast later received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the team is currently designing networkable sensor devices for production in 2012.

In November, Safecast was the subject of a PBS Newshour special.

Sketchchair

Ever wish your IKEA furniture was a bit more customizable?

SketchChair, by the U.K.-based Diatom, is a free, open-source software program that allows people to design their own furniture. Users can sketch out a chair, use the software to test its structural soundness, and customize it based on their bodily proportions. Users then send the design to an online digital manufacturing service, like ponoko.com or 100kgarages, and the parts are cut and shipped to the person’s home for assembly.

SketchChair nearly doubled its goal, and Diatom’s site says they are “now working with our collaborators from the campaign to publicly release SketchChair as a free and open-source system.” Those who pledged $300 or more receive a free antler chair, the flagship design.

Twine

Twine is a tiny square with a big brain: Strapped with sensors, a WiFi connection and batteries, it can tell when it’s being knocked, moistened, frozen, moved and an array of other actions. A separate Web app (called Spool) lets the user program Twine to e-mail, tweet, or SMS when specific things happen to Twine.

The example Twine gives: “WHEN moisture sensor gets wet THEN tweet ‘The basement is flooding!’”Other fans have suggested that Twine can tell you when your coffee is done or when someone’s knocking at the door.

The project has raised nearly $500,000 (thanks in part to some well-timed Twitter support from Ashton Kutcher) and is scheduled to be released this spring.

LilyPad

Designed by Orlando inventor David Foster, the LilyPad is a case that uses solar power to charge iPads and iPhones. (There’s a back-up battery and USB port just in case). The LilyPad nearly quadrupled its goal by October, but the case is currently out of stock, according to the site.

Don’t Go Back to School

Kio Stark is a Brooklyn-based grad-school dropout who aims to help people answer that essential quarter-life question: “Should I go back to grad school?”...with “probably not.” She’s also taking the self-publishing trend to a new level.

Don’t Go Back To School promises interviews with “Cory Doctorow about learning to be a working writer, Dan Sinker about learning to code, Quinn Norton about learning neurology and psychology as a science writer,” among others. Stark will also include advice from HR pros on how to represent that self-learned knowledge in job interviews.

The money Stark raises will go toward interviewing, writing, paying for transcription and book design, proofreading and printing.

The book is fully funded at $38,928 (more than twice the original goal), and copies will go out to backers starting in May.

By  |  12:46 PM ET, 01/02/2012

 
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