MI Kickstarter Report: Hardware Rules List of Top 5 Projects in 2014

Last week, I wrote about a Michigan-based company’s struggle to complete a 2013 Kickstarter project that raised more than $500,000 toward the development of Bluetooth headphones. Today, let’s focus on the best-funded tech-based Kickstarter projects across the state in 2014.

Perhaps not surprisingly in a state that has given birth to so many world-changing machines, Michiganders love hardware projects. From a portable headset with a built-in screen that projects images directly onto the retinas, to a Bluetooth mood light, to a wet diaper-detecting key chain, we love our gadgets in the Great Lakes State.

Xconomy is examining Kickstarter funding trends across our 10-region network to learn how the innovation clusters we cover across the nation are reflected in the projects that make backers whip out their wallets. There have been 4,223 technology projects launched from Michigan since Kickstarter’s inception in 2009, with the vast majority falling into non-tech categories like food, music, and films.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the most popular local tech projects on Kickstarter in 2014, starting with the best-funded.

Glyph: The mobile personal theater raised a whopping $1.5 million from 3,331 backers last year, despite an initial goal of only $250,000. The Ann Arbor-based hardware project beams images right on your eyeballs courtesy of a virtual retinal display, resulting in what creators describe as “sharp, stark images unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

When the Glyph project launched last winter, Avegant, the company behind the headset, said it had been working for two years to miniaturize the technology in order to get it to fit into a portable headset. The Glyph uses a simple HDMI input cable to allow users to watch content from anywhere in their library, whether mobile or desktop. Glyph creators also imagine exciting future uses: film directors being able to produce 360-degree movies, where they can watch the story unfold from multiple angles on the set; an integrated camera that sees ultraviolet and infrared signatures in real time; or the ability to make phone calls.

The project’s most recent update was a de-brief of January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where the Glyph was reportedly greeted warmly by press and attendees alike. As is often the case with hardware projects, the design has undergone several tweaks along the way, but a beta prototype is expected to be shipped to Kickstarter backers in the fall of 2015.

Ion: A millennial update to the lava lamp, the Ion is a Bluetooth-powered, app-controlled mood light containing 40 multicolor LED lights. It can pulse along with the music on your phone’s playlist, and it ships with 15 customizable moods. It can even imitate the weather outside; “snow” is particularly nice. The Flint-based project is … Next Page »

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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