One of the most exciting things about CES 2015 was the sheer number of companies that were there because of crowdfunding. In 2014, crowdfunding really took off, and startups in every industry — from software to 3D printers to wearables — benefitted from crowdfunding platforms. They democratize finance, allowing people of any demographic or socioeconomic background to start a business and get their product out to the world much faster than the traditional routes.
Some of the biggest booths at CES — especially those in the 3D printing, gaming, and wearables sections — were started by a couple of people or a boostrapped startup that used Kickstarter or Indiegogo to ask the masses for money. Indiegogo actually had a section of the show floor with booths for some of their highest-funded gadgets in recent years.
Here are eight of the most impressive crowdfunded products at the show. Most of them were funded using Indiegogo or Kickstarter, but others were done via smaller platforms or on their own websites.
A couple of years ago, Formlabs crowdfunded the Form 1+ SLA 3D Printer, the first high-resolution, professional desktop stereolithographic 3D printer. They raised almost $3 million on Kickstarter. This year at CES, they had a huge booth in the 3D printing pavilion.
Robo3D also had a big booth at CES. This printer uses PLA and ABS plastic filament. In early 2013, the printer was funded on Kickstarter — it raised almost $650,000. Robo3D printer was among the first low-cost, open source 3D printers to be crowdfunded, and it was really one of the companies that set the stage. Since then, it has become extremely popular to crowdfund products on Kickstarter and Indiegogo in particular.
Lima is a small adapter that is the "brain of your devices." The platform, which makes it so all your files and documents are the same on all of your devices, raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter a little more than a year ago. It's instant file sending via USB and your home internet.
4. Wonder Workshop
Formerly known as Play-i, Wonder Workshop crowdfunded on their own website a little more than a year ago. The company decided to rebrand a bit and built a better app, as well as a digital magazine, for kids to learn about programming, STEM, and robots. They shipped their first round of products in December 2014.
SCiO is a pocket sensor that detects what your food, drinks, and medicine is made of. It tells you the chemical components and nutritional value. This little device raised more than $2.7 million last year on Kickstarter. The data automatically goes to the app on a smartphone, and works with any physical objects.
This booth was surprisingly large for CES — and 3Doodler was also one of the most talked-about devices. The company just released its second-generation pen, which is much thinner and faster than the first big, bulky version. It also uses plastic filament and flexible plastic filament to 3D print in the air. 3Doodler is aiming this 2.0 version toward classrooms around the country, to get 3D printing in schools.
7. Matter and Form
3D printing and crowdfunding seemed to go hand-in-hand at CES, which really showed how the technology has enabled makers and democratized the industry. One of the crowdfunded projects was Matter and Form, a portable, affordable 3D printer scanner. The company had a big booth in the 3D printing pavilion and also announced the release of Cashew3D, a new open source platform for people to upload and customize designs to print on their machines.
This brain-sensing headband was a big hit at CES. In 2012, the company raised over two times its goal on Indiegogo. The brain fitness tool is a headband has seven sensors that monitor and measure your brain activity, and the data is sent to your tablet or smartphone. It can be used as little as three minutes a day and helps you focus, concentrate, and understand your brain a little more each time you use it.
Lyndsey Gilpin has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. She's co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.