Code can often look like a daunting, impermeable wall of text. Cartoons, on the other hand, are a little more accessible. With this in mind, Ariel Krakowski, a software and product developer in New York City, has created Learneroo, a course on how to use Ruby on Rails, an open-source framework for building websites. With interactive tutorials, challenges to solve and cartoons that help visualize complex concepts, it offers a new approach to gaining web development skills. The project recently raised $10,000 on Kickstarter.
Here are five other quirky ideas that were funded this week:
Bookniture, the brainchild of a Hong Kong designer, is a trendy antidote to the cramped-space woes of urban living. At first glance, the product, made of recyclable paper, resembles a sleek brown or black coffee table book. However, once it’s opened, the three-pound book unfolds into a robust origami structure—inspired by a honeycomb—that can serve as a sturdy table, chair or shelf capable of holding up to a ton of weight.
It may soon be possible to land on the moon without even leaving the confines of a classroom. That is the hope, at least, of Dublin, Ireland-based software company Immersive VR Education, which has developed a virtual reality experience of the Apollo 11 mission. Designed for Oculus Rift, the experience takes viewers to the moon and back—through lift-off, module docking, the mission on the ground and, ultimately, the ascent and return. Using archival video, images and real-time audio of NASA Control, the Command Module and Lunar Lander, the company has created an immersive, 360-degree view—much like the one Neil Armstrong saw in 1969—of the historic voyage.
In case Post-it notes aren’t getting the job done, San Francisco startup Tesla Amazing has created Magnetic, a new kind of paper that can stick to any surface without glue or other adhesive. The material, which relies on a stable static charge, is guaranteed to stay without falling and can work on wood, plastic, metal, glass, fabric, brick, corkboard, you name it, as long as it's dry. Users can mark the front with any type of writing utensil, and the back of the paper is a reusable dry-erase board.
A team in Santa Monica, California has found a way to do laundry without detergent. Toss their Crystal Wash sphere into your washing machine, and the bio ceramic beads inside, made of minerals with antibacterial and antioxidant properties, will raise the pH balance of the water and create hydrogen peroxide that disinfects the clothes and removes dirt. The device can last for 1,000 loads if you "recharge" it after every 30 uses, by soaking it in the sun for an afternoon. The pod is equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled sensor and connects to a smartphone app that alerts users when washes are complete and when it needs additional charge.
The CogniToy is an adorable, WiFi-enabled dinosaur that actually converses with kids about their interests. Developed by Elemental Path, a New York startup, the toy acts much like Siri, offering answers to pressing questions and curiosities. How far is the moon? What is the speed of light? It can also challenge kids with math problems and test other skills. Can you count to six? Children can request knock knock jokes and share tidbits about themselves, such as their favorite color. What’s most intriguing is that across all these capabilities, as the child is learning, the toy is too. It will customize future conversations based on what the child has already said or answered correctly. Finally, a toy that grows with a child! Perhaps this one won't get cast aside.