If you’re looking for new or unique gadgets, crowdfunding sites are often the best places to start. In the past, they were primarily platforms for startups and individuals short of development funds but recently, large companies have seen the benefit of using crowdfunding sites to allow consumers to participate in the research and development of new projects. Here are a couple of ideas that caught the eye:

Keeping kitty in purrfect health

Since pet cats, unlike dogs, don’t need to be taken for walks they usually spend most of their time indoors. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular exercise and a good diet. One way to ensure that a cat stays healthy is to keep track of its activity.

Catlog is a biologging device that records cat activity 24 hours a day, allowing owners to observe their pets’ lifestyles. Worn on a collar, it constantly accumulates data, such as time spent sleeping and eating and the temperature of the rooms the cat is in — all of which can be viewed on a mobile app. If you have more than one cat, you can check all their data within the app and share the account with other family members, veterinarians or pet sitters. At 9 to 15 grams (depending on collar size), the Catlog is light and has been specifically designed for cat comfort, which includes ensuring that it doesn’t emit any sounds that felines may be sensitive to. It’s also possible to replace the collar belt, should a cat change in size. On a full charge, a Catlog can be used for 10 to 20 consecutive days, after which it takes four hours to recharge. The Makuake crowdfunding project has already achieved over 800 percent of its goal, but you can still support it at ¥11,500 to receive a basic set of the Catlog, matching collar and recharging device.

www.makuake.com/project/catlog (Japanese only)

Not just a plank

Having tech on display is the norm now, but sometimes it’s nice to have it hidden away or appearing more natural. At first glance, the Kickstarter project Mui, a CES 2019 Innovation Award-winner developed by Mui Lab in Kyoto, looks like a buffed plank of wood that blends into the interior of a room as an unobtrusive, natural-looking wall piece. Once touched, however, it lights up to show text, numbers and symbols. It’s 68 cm long, 8.5 cm wide and 2.6 cm thick, and as a touch panel, it can be used to check the weather and news, organize a schedule via Google Calendar, control home appliances. It can also send and receive text messages and has a speaker and microphone for voice messaging.

For those already using smart home tech, the Mui can be linked to devices such as Sonos and Nature Remo, while the more tech-savvy can attach a Raspberry Pi 3 single-board computer that can be used with Google’s software development kit to run Google Assistant. Available in pale and dark shades of wood, it can be pre-ordered with a pledge of ¥56,608.

Kickstarter: bit.ly/kickstartermui Mui: mui.jp

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