Singapore on Kickstarter: Screaming tissue boxes, phone forks and other oddities
As the world’s largest online crowdfunding platform turns 10, CNA Lifestyle takes a look at some of the more unique ideas to have come out of the Lion City.
This weekend, Kickstarter turns 10 years old. Yes, it’s been a decade since the world’s biggest digital crowdfunding platform went online to eventually become the go-to site for anyone who thinks they have a great big idea that needs a financial leg-up – whether it’s a t-shirt, a short film or some futuristic gizmo.
And Singapore’s startup scene is no different, with products such as the SmartEgg universal remote, watch microbrands Zelos and Ventus, and others being realised thanks to successful campaigns on Kickstarter.
A quick search on the site shows that 1,097 projects have come from Singapore, including ongoing campaigns as well as past ones, both successful and unsuccessful. And while the majority of those fall into the usual categories – board and computer games, watches, bags, books, films, wallets, pins and other more conventional products – there have also been some left-of-field campaigns.
Who says you can’t get creative in Singapore? CNA Lifestyle highlights 11 unusual Kickstarter projects and what happened to them.
Bet you've never thought of using your smartphone to eat, have you? Well, two people did. The Singapore-based duo Sergey Mast and Thaechawat Treevitchukorn had the Sphoon_Phork project – which is essentially a phone case that you can attach plastic utensils to.
Deeming it “a new chapter in our history” after inventing the wheel and sending people to space, they purportedly took a year to achieve the design “for a seamless experience simultaneously eating while browsing.”
Never mind the hygiene issues – how someone can shovel a spoonful of rice into their mouths while scrolling through their Facebook feed is something they never quite explained. And we’ll never know – they only got S$445 out of their S$15,000 goal.
With many F&B places going eco these days, hardcore straw lovers have had to do with reusable ones, which may be troublesome to store or clean. And if you’re in the habit of biting them, good luck with that metal or bamboo tube.
Enter Chew Inc with “the world’s first pocketable chewable reusable straw”. The two-piece straw comes in a recyclable case, which thoughtfully has a tip you can use to slit open your drink.
How do you use it? Simply assemble and suck on the end with the rubber tip (designed based on “the waves of the sea”). And it’s still on – in their last update this month, they’re meeting with some design folks in Shanghai and are looking to release them at We The People.
PERFUME THAT LASTS ‘FOREVER’
How would you like to wear a perfume that people can smell from three metres away for literally half a day?
That was the premise behind Nishtha Devnani’s The Forever Lasting Perfume. Coming in lavender, mandarin, rose and jasmine, it’s the result of “groundbreaking skin research”, according to the page.
After consulting “leading perfume-oligists”, it was discovered that most of what’s out there is diluted, and so an oil-based solution was found, which was “way better than the 20 minutes, 30cm project that every perfume used to give me”. Oil-based perfumes aren't new, apparently, with people back in the 18th century already concocting them. Unfortunately, The Forever Lasting Perfume was a no-go, with eight backers pledging S$851 of the S$5,000 goal. Sniff.
SHOES WITH ADJUSTABLE HEELS
Ladies love their high heels, but sometimes they can be a pain to wear all day. What if you could go from heels to a pair of flats with a simple flick?
This campaign by Gena lets you basically have two-in-one shoes, so you don’t have to lug a more comfortable pair around when you’re at the office or going out at night – their heels can switch from 9cm to 2cm, with the steel heel folding underneath. It was a popular campaign that saw 227 backers pledging S$41,166 – and now, there’s even an online store.
SMARTPHONE NOTCH STICKER
The future of smartphones these days is in foldable screens, but remember when notches were a huge thing? If you were one of those with notch-envy, campaign creator Charles Wong had a solution: A sticker.
“Notch emulates the intense emotions of gazing in captive wonder at the stunning edge-to-edge display of the iPhone X,” he explained. And it doesn’t have to just be phones – you can transform your book or even your laptop with that oh-so-wonderful “notch”. Sixty-six people actually got on board, pledging S$827 to this amusing project that had “all of the prestige, all of the drawbacks.”
TITANIUM FIDGET SPINNER
The fidget spinner trend has come and gone – and we wonder how The Persuader would have stacked up against its flimsy plastic counterparts. Touted by campaign creators Roy and Vahit as “the world’s heaviest titanium bar fidget spinner”, this 103g monster promises a whopping seven minutes of spin time, which is approximately the time it takes to watch two K-pop videos.
The video doesn’t actually show anyone holding it, maybe because you’ll probably get carpal tunnel syndrome if you do. But it can double up as a cigar stand, paper weight or desk ornament. The Persuader didn’t persuade a lot of people though – it got 15 backers and fell S$900 short of its S$3,000 goal.
METAL PLAYING CARDS
Probably the best-looking and most intimidating pack of cards we’ve ever seen, the gorgeous Lux Runa is made of stainless steel.
How you can actually shuffle them is anyone’s guess. But Singapore designer Forges says Lux Runa (which means “bright darts”) can also be an “alternative to darts”, which is good if you want to pretend you’re Gambit from the X-Men. Foam – not humans – is the suggested targets, by the way. If anything, its sturdiness makes it perfect for stacking cards.
And the project is still on – it surpassed its S$6,800 goal, with S$20,861 worth of pledges from 310 backers. And last month, Forbes revealed images of some samples.
CHROLO MULTISENSORY KINETIC TIMER
A Chrolo what? There are a lot of watch microbrands on Kickstarter, but there’s no time-telling gizmo as mesmerising as art design studio Sparkpluck’s creation.
Okay, time-telling might be a bit of a stretch. Think of it as a fancy futurist hourglass, where instead of sand, you pop a small steel ball on top, which goes down a 19cm 3D-printed structure in a spiral/pendulum-like motion, much like a ticking clock. After 60 steps, it hits a bell at the bottom signalling a minute. Mind you, it’s been exhibited at Venice Design 2018 and is set to ship out by end of June.
PENS WITH AIR POLLUTION INK
Turns out all that soot and smog was useful after all. Singapore-based Graviky Labs created what they call Air-Ink, which is made from the unburned carbon soot coming out of chimneys, car exhaust pipes and generators. Their successful campaign a couple of years ago – where they garnered S$41,076 from 688 backers – saw them offering various types of pens and screen printing ink, too.
Using a proprietary device called Kaalink, they captured soot emitted from vehicles (45 minutes was enough to produce an ounce of ink), which they purify to remove heavy metals and carcinogens. The result was a purified carbon rich pigment.
SOCKS WITH INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES
Feeling down? Take off your shoes. Socks brand Talking Toes launched a campaign a couple of years ago touting their “no-show socks”, which are designed to, well, keep you on your toes with some perk-me-up quotes such as “Take Heart”, “You Are Enough”, “Live The Moment” and “Seize The Day”.
It’s an untapped market, for sure – T-shirts have long had a monopoly on such quotes and at some point during the day, you do take off your shoes. They raised S$11,124 from 167 backers – and there’s also a website you can buy these socks now.
TISSUE BOX THAT SCREAMS
Take too much, and it will scream at you. That’s what the Cicada Box is. Created by Yang Mingsen, it’s essentially a smart tissue box. When you pull out one, two or three sheets, it emits a guitar sound. By your fourth pull, it will scream at you and your un-eco-friendly ways, thanks to audio files stored in a built-in SD card.
It also doubles as a bluetooth speaker and a strange kind of pet – they provide three types of furry material to cover the tissue box, in case you feel the urge to pet it.
It might have been too “out there” when the unsuccessful campaign was first launched in 2017 – garnering only S$1,289 of its S$5,000 goal in pledges from 21 backers who had a weird sense of humour.