Bottom of the barrel: Worst crowdfunding campaigns of 2020
The bottom of the crowdfunding barrel never seems to dry up. So once again, New Atlas pulls on its thickest gloves and boots and wades into that murky world of ideas and innovations that are somehow both half-baked and completely cooked at the same time.
Power on Demand App
Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to plug your phone in again? Well as the ancient adage says, “There’s an app for that!”
The Power App lets you download unlimited clean energy from the cloud to your phone, laptop or even your Tesla! Except, obviously, that’s not how apps, energy, the cloud, phones, laptops or Teslas work in the slightest.
The campaign doesn’t even pretend to offer an explanation. The best you get is a series of stock photos of lightning bolts and people on phones and laptops, overlaid with corporate buzzword bingo that borders on parody. Which honestly, it almost certainly is – it’s too cringey to even be a scam.
Either way, Indiegogo shut it down before they attracted a single taker towards their humble US$27 million goal.
Area 51 investigator robot
Even the most hardened of skeptics has wondered what kind of shenanigans are going on in Area 51 – but wondering isn’t enough for the internet’s kookiest kooks, who last year tried to organize the world’s illest-advised raid. With that unsurprisingly a bust, a bunch of them are now crowdfunding a robot to casually peek over the fence to check for aliens.
The team set out to develop “a robot capable of flying over Area 51 and taking aerial images of the place without being detected.” So … a drone then. And how, you may ask, is a team of plucky conspiracy YouTubers with zero robotics experience going to build a drone that can slip through the defenses of one of the most heavily guarded site in the US? “It is secret, but we can guarantee that we can fly over the area without being detected.” Well that settles it – although maybe making a Kickstarter publicly declaring your plan isn’t a smart first move.
But hey, let’s give them the most generous benefit of the doubt ever, and say they pull it off – we hope backers like pictures of dust, because it’s not likely the US military keeps its aliens free range or leaves classified documents lying out in the open.
If this exercise in futility somehow paid off, the next plans were to send the robot to solve other mysteries of the most braindead corners of YouTube and Reddit – it would go look for the edge of the Flat Earth, and the big hole at the North Pole that apparently leads to the inside of the Hollow Earth.
It looks like we’ll never know whether Earth can be both flat and hollow at the same time, though – the campaign ended after raking in less than $20. On the plus side, that’s enough money to pop down to Walmart and pick up a drone of the exact same usefulness.
Robotic bedroom buddy
Tired of the minor hassle of making the bed every morning? Why not throw a few grand at a robot arm to do it for you? According to a series of hastily produced renders and a seven-second campaign video, Bedbotix is a set of robot arms that perch above your bed, ready to help out however they can.
Apparently they can make the bed, hold out a tray for your book or brunch, nudge you awake in the morning, give you a massage, read the kids a bedtime story, hand you a glass of water off the night stand, and even, against everyone’s better judgement, use a fire extinguisher if it needs to.
Oh yeah, and before you make the joke you’re already smirking about – yep, it’ll do that too. “Adult bed users” can take advantage of its “interchangeable tools” “in any way the adult user desires.”
In all honesty, Bedbotix doesn’t sound like too bad an idea – but at this point, an idea is all you’re getting for your minimum two grand pledge. The team gives no indication that they’ve done anything beyond a few Photoshop mock-ups, nor have the background to do anything more than that.
The award for Most Oddly Ominous Campaign Video for a Fairly Pointless Gadget goes to the LiveTorch. Special kudos to the marketing team for trying to paint a power outage as the most terrifying moment an unsuspecting family could experience.
If you don’t want to be left in the dark for the 2.7 seconds it would take to pull your phone out of your pocket, the LiveTorch may be for you. Admittedly it’s a somewhat clever idea – a plug-in torch that only lights up when it stops receiving power – but it falls into that trap of a solution looking for a problem.
Hence the “you could literally DIE without this” angle. Come on, the LiveTorch doesn’t need to “change your fate.” That’s way too much responsibility for any gadget to handle, let alone a night light.
Gone are the days of buying bottles of Patterson’s Cure-All Oil from a shouty guy in a pinstripe suit on a street corner, but don’t worry – as with everything, the health shysters have just moved online.
The BodyHealth appears to be some kind of device that a high school student got a C+ for in an electronics class. What it actually does is anyone’s guess – the video is just three silent minutes of a hand poking at buttons and screens, and holding up random components.
But don’t let that stop you! Whatever this thing is, it can apparently cure everything from arthritis to allergies, headaches to hernias, the flu to full-blown diabetes.
Despite only asking for US$500 – ie, one single backer – the campaign didn’t manage to get there before Kickstarter kicked it to the curb.