Traditionally, this is dealt with by beta testing, polls, trust in an inventor’s vision, or iterating through different versions of a product to see what works best. Today, customers can choose exactly what they want – from features, to design, and even price point– through crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is the practice of utilizing an engaged audience for labor, media, and without compensation. It’s a way that if your audience wants a particular product, they can make it happen.
Solar Roadways have the potential to turn our future roadways into energy producing structures that look like they should be in the movie Tron. They work by embedding solar panels into portions of roads, allowing the materials to pay for themselves over time. LED powered by the stored solar energy paints the lines on the road, allowing for safer night driving. Solar energy stored as heat can act as defroster for frozen roads. In 2009, they received their first contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar road panel prototype. Thanks to a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, Solar Roadways have now moved on to their stage II prototypes.
The vision for what roadways upgraded to solar would mean includes power for everyone. No more power shortages, less need for fossil fuels and foreign oil, enhanced ability for electric cars to recharge anywhere, and the ability to redraw lanes at any point, as they are simply LED patterns powered by the solar roads.
Check out their promo below:
2. Fiat Mio
Fiat released their website asking people what they want from a “car of the future” in 2009. Some 11,000 suggestions later, ranging from proposed on board experience, to how the car interacts with traffic, the Fiat Mio Concept car was born. Community members were also able to participate in choices such as colors the car came in, and door configuration.
While the Fiat Mio has yet to be mass produced, the plans for the car were submitted under creative commons licensing, allowing anyone to make one, including other car makers.
3. Ubuntu Edge
The Ubuntu Edge is a phone running both Android and Ubuntu’s mobile Linux OS. It’s powerful enough to be plugged into a monitor and work as a stand alone computer. It has near universal network compatibility. It was also the recipient of the most money ever crowdfunded on Indiegogo raising $12.8 million. This wasn’t quite enough, as the audacious funding goal that would enable mass production was $32 million. But small batches of similar products will start to be released in 2014.
“Apparently the Ubuntu community is nuts about this idea. Within just under eight hours… some $2 million in donations to the project have flooded in, making it what’s said to be the fastest and thus perhaps most successful crowdfunding effort ever seen.”
~ Fast Company
4. Kite Patch
Mosquitoes track your carbon dioxide. That’s how they find targets, until Kite Patch. This nontoxic skin patch releases compounds that inhibit the neurons in mosquitoes from tracking your carbon dioxide. Brilliant idea?
Yes, and only possible thanks to more than 11,000 backers on Indiegogo.
Kite Patch superseding its funding goal by over 743% for a total of $557,254 in community funds, but that’s just small change compared to what Kite Patch has planned. An initial large-scale test in Uganda is set to provide over 1,000,000 hours of mosquito deterrence for families suffering from malaria infection rates of over 60%. After EPA approval in the US, backers will begin receiving their anti-mosquito devices as well.
5. Sigmo Voice Translating Device
Talk about the future being now. The SIGMO Voice Translating Device lets you forget about language barriers, and not in a glitchy Google translate sort of way. SIGMO works in 25 languages in real time, either translating your voice to a foreign tongue, or translating another language to your own.
SIGMO was crowdsourced on IndieGoGo and raised 1,661% of its fundraising goal for a total of $249,085. This pocket-sized device can be worn around your neck, clipped to your shirt, or held, and connects to your cell where an app is running via bluetooth.
SlideRider turns your stairs into a slide with the use of a clever foldable mat. Whether you’re a parent trying to entertain your kids on a rainy day, just want a new way to get around your house, or are sprucing up your startup campus, everyone got their say on this viral project crowdsourced on Quirky.
While Trisha Cleveland was the inventor of SlideRider, over 4,700 community members helped to determine everything from design, to price, to the name and tagline of the product. If only crowdsourcing was around back in the day.
7. Razer’s “Razer Edge” Windows 8 Gaming Tablet
The world’s first crowdsourced gaming tablet was built with preferences from millions of PC gamers. Through a massive Twitter campaign, everything from end-game chipset, weight, thickness, features, and even the price point of the tablet were determined by the community. As gamers are some of the most demanding users of PC’s, the combined efforts of Razer and the community ended creating perhaps the highest performing tablet out there today.
Innovative control pads with precise analog joysticks attach to the sides of the tablet. For more traditional gamers looking for a portable experience, a keyboard mouse can be attached. A multi-touch Windows 8 optimized screen and vibration feedback make this device a full fledged gaming PC, a mobile console, and a tablet all in one. Just what gamers wanted!
You can buy an expensive (and subscription based) security system that opens when your phone’s closed, or you can buy Lockitron, the crowdsourced device that earned 4,704 pledges worth $2,278,891 through it’s own boutique crowdfunding platform.
Lockitron comes in stylish color pairings and latches over the deadlock of your door. Use your phone to lock your door from anywhere in the world.
Share access to your house on other’s smartphones, and use any recent iPhone for key less entry. Lockitron also connects to the internet through wifi so you can get information on your locks from anywhere with the mobile site. Oh, and did we mention Lockitron’s battery lasts for an entire year?
9. Plug Hub
Power strip cord management may sound a bit dry, but anything that’s sold 25,000 copies after only a month of development must be something we naturally know we need. For all of those tangled cords under your desk, Plug Hub is an invention made through the Quirky marketplace. Quirky votes on proposed items to create from the community. The main inventor gets the largest chunk of profit, split with all of the community’s other contributors, and the product is sold in Quirky’s store.
Plug Hub’s Quirky page promises to “rid the rat’s nest” under you desk. It’s honestly such a simple and effective solution that little more than a picture is necessary to explain the device . So far, Jared Joyce (the inventor) has earned $23,404 on the device, and the Quirky community has earned a total $38,707.
10. Ministry of Supply
For those who don’t want to decide between no-wrinkle, wicking, ventilated, anti-microbial, or a panoply of other men’s shirt styles, Ministry of Supply has utilized MIT research and materials used by NASA spacesuits to provide new takes on traditional clothes. Phase change materials take in extra heat when you’re overheated and store it (like a battery), slowly releasing the heat when you’re back in an air-conditioned environment. The store’s shirts also wick moisture, are no-wrinkle, provide odor control, and are anti-microbial. High-grade synthetic fabrics make for super clean lines at a down to Earth price.
Ministry of Supply proves that when you engage a community with something they really want, things start to take off fast. Funded on Kickstarter by 2,798 backers, Ministry of Supply supersede their funding goal by 1430% and raised $429,276.
Check out their pitch here: