Powered by tinkerers, inventors and dreamers all over the world, the crowdfunding industry is poised to make even more of an impact in 2017. Last year saw products spanning a wide range of categories, from the Pilot instant translation device and Paralenz 4K diving camera to the Montessori-inspired Cubetto coding toy and the off-the-grid goTenna connectivity module.
Each of these projects is remarkable in their own way, having successfully captured the imaginations of thousands and setting the standard for what great crowdfunding ideas are.
Yet, these projects they barely scrape the surface of innovation made in 2016. And just two months into the year, 2017 promises to be no different. With crowdfunding news and products continuing to pop up in mainstream conversation, you can say the power of the crowd has truly been unlocked.
From voice to virtual reality, here are five trends you need to keep an eye out for in the rest of 2017.
Top 6 Crowdfunding Trends for 2017
1. Voice-User Interfaces
While not a crowdfunded product, Amazon’s Echo maintained an impressive influence on the technology industry throughout 2016 with its innovative voice-user interface. Consumers adored its ease-of-use and ever-expanding utility while tech insiders fawned over how it pushed voice into territories it hadn’t been before. That influence was felt in the crowdfunding world as well through the many voice-controlled smart home systems and other devices that made waves.
With voice user interfaces positioned as the next big thing in technology in the same vein as the smartphone and artificial intelligence, there is no doubt voice will be integrated into a variety of different crowdfunded products going forward. A good example is L.U.C.Y., which goes the simple route of adding a massive touchscreen to everything that’s appealing about the Echo and building on top of its success.
At the other end of the spectrum are products like the Senstone and Kai. The former is a wearable voice recorder powered by a user’s voice in conjunction with artificial intelligence to automatically organize and sync recorded thoughts to the cloud with just a tap.
The latter is a small attachment to any pair of glasses that adds a voice user interface that can facilitate calls, texts, and even Uber requests. While both use voice in different ways, what they have in common is a tiny form factor and the ability to integrate voice into everyday life, a combination which will be seen more of as 2017 continues to roll on.
2. Wireless Audio
It’s obvious wireless is the future judging from the constant innovation in the wireless audio space to Apple’s controversial removal of the headphone jack with last year’s iPhone 7. As such, wire hatred is a trend with its roots in 2016 that will ripple into 2017 as more companies explore everything possible.
The Vinci smart headphones are a great example of where wireless audio is going in 2017, combining artificial intelligence for a customized listening experience along with a touchscreen and voice capabilities for 21st-century control. What’s most important about Vinci, though, is its ability to transmit Hi-Fi quality audio over Bluetooth for the very best sound quality, a dream that has long been in the making for many consumers.
While products like Vinci will take care of delivering Hi-Fi audio on the move, the HUB and ONEclassic do the same but in the home. While consumers expect Hi-Fi audio systems to be astronomically priced, these two products bring what are traditionally expensive purchases down to a manageable level.
The HUB streams Hi-Fi audio to any pair of headphones in the home, a perfect complement to the 4K televisions now found in many homes. The ONEclassic, on the other hand, is an attractively designed in-home speaker system boasting the type of premium audio quality found in systems many thousands of dollars more expensive. The result is a revolution in wireless audio that’s just getting started.
The concept of gamification is a firm rejection of all the criticism video gaming has endured for decades. Key to the idea is the integration of fun to otherwise mundane, boring, or difficult tasks to make them hard to ignore and even fun to do. This helps create positive habits with far reaching benefits for users.
In 2016, a few standout products incorporated the idea of gamification in both sports and fitness in order to help people improve their game or get fit faster. That trend continues in 2017 with three products signaling what we can expect. The ti.ttle is a golf trainer that clips onto a golf club and helps calculate the distance and direction of a ball after every swing.
By providing instant feedback anywhere, it increases a golfer’s motivation to practice. Similar to the ti.ttle is the ruggedly-designed Strike connected baseball, a tool any pitcher can use to compare different pitches, view activity history, compete with others and even complete achievements for a more gamified experience.
Nothing quite screams gamification, though, than actually playing a game. The Stealth core trainer is the perfect marriage of something most hate — exercise — with something everyone loves — video games. By challenging users to shoot an increasingly complex pattern of asteroids by rotating a balance board in a plank position, Stealth helps people get ripped through the concept of muscle confusion all while essentially distracting them.
That’s the beauty of gamification: adding layers of information, fun and interactivity to activities that can otherwise be pretty tedious in the pursuit of positive results. The versatility of the concept means we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in many products throughout 2017.
Since the very beginning, travel has been a hugely popular category in the crowdfunding world precisely because there are an endless number of pain points traditional companies have yet to address. As such, folk everywhere have stepped in and, fueled by their own horrible travel experiences, created some of the most successful products ever to grace the crowdfunding world.
2016 saw a lot of these items gain mainstream recognition, and 2017 will no doubt follow in their trail. We’ve already seen products as varied as the AnyCafè Travel Brewer and the GeeFi Unlimited 4G and Wi-Fi Hotspot get funded and ship, proving how fertile the niche is just two months into the year and pointing towards a future in the travel category filled with exciting surprises.
Surprise overnight successes will no doubt play a role in the travel category narrative going forward. But, as always, established successes will influence future crowdfunding attempts. One example is the Travelmate, a connected piece of luggage inspired by the already successfully funded Bluesmart from 2014 that tracks on auto-follow capabilities. Another is the Sheer, a travel jacket with a cornucopia of features similar to that of the runaway 2015 success BAUBAX.
Whether inventors go for the next big hit or ride the coattails of 2016’s best travel products, there’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to crowdfunded travel products.
In this increasingly connected world, more and more people are feeling the stresses of a rapidly changing, modern environment. This creates a flurry of emotional states people have trouble grasping, leading to bigger problems down the road. This is exactly why the trend of mindfulness can be found everywhere: It arms people with the mental tools they weren’t taught so they can better understand themselves in relation to the world and ultimately reduce stress levels. Usually, certain mental and physical techniques are taught achieve this goal.
In 2016, the crowdfunding world sought to augment these more traditional mindfulness techniques with technology that plays a positive role in combating stress versus generating it. Three great examples are the WellBe, the Sence, and the Lief.
5. When two trends collide – Mindfulness meets Crowdfunding
The WellBe is a combination heart rate monitor and mobile app that determine a wearer’s stress levels over time based on three factors: time, location, and people. By constantly gathering this data, WellBe not only prompts users throughout the day to take breaks but also offers user personalized playlists of exercises and classes guided by WellBe mentors to help control stress levels.
The Sence is similar in that it reads a user’s heart rate and serves up personal feedback to better manage stress but expands on the concept of mindfulness by also understanding 64 emotional states and acting as fitness band for exercise. Lief is the most conceptually interesting of the bunch.
As a wearable patch placed on a user’s torso, Lief tracks and optimizes your resiliency to stress by increasing natural heart rate variability (HRV), a biomarker of physical and psychological health. The device then vibrates when it senses a low HRV score, prompting users to follow along by breathing in sync with the device. After just three minutes, Lief can drastically reduce stress, all the while training users to naturally tap into the body’s own stress-fighting tools.
The mindfulness trend will no doubt continue being a popular one in 2017, a classic example of technology creating a problem to be solved with more technology. Only time will tell if the many products positioned to do so in 2017 actually succeed.
6. Virtual Reality
With the unveiling of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, 2016 was a watershed year for virtual reality. And while both products experienced a few stumbles, it didn’t mean VR as a whole did. As a matter of fact, virtual reality technology has rapidly innovated in many categories, from input to graphical fidelity. As time passes, this positive change will accelerate, resulting in all manner of new virtual reality hardware and experiences.
New types of experiences to look out for will be those that push the bar even higher in terms of historic significance and novelty. Perfect examples are the Thresholds VR experience that transports users to the first major photography exhibition back in 1839 alongside the Hideaway Circus VR experience, a series of some of the best circus and dance acts located in the United States and Australia.
In the coming year, virtual reality will continue to take us to places we’ve never been and continue to fulfill one of the key promises of the technology.
Another reason why virtual reality is exciting is the potential it has and the clever ways of using it that continue to spring up because of that potential. Case in point: Toronto-based GIMME360°, an apparel company that partners with charities to benefit people around the world.
Every piece of apparel purchased through them contains a RFID chip users can scan to see exactly where their money benefits, bridging the all-important emotional gap and making charity something to be experienced rather than something simply to write a check out for.
Virtual reality is all about bridging gaps, and 2017 will see products just like these continue to impress with how they go about doing that.
Gamification will continue to play a part in product design, helping users achieve health, fitness and life goals more easily than they could have before while the travel category will see a rash of surprising and not-so-surprising products address a wide range of problems.
In the meantime, 2017 will see products designed to reduce everyday stress and virtual reality grow to places that have yet to be seen, with crowdfunding platforms serving as the testing ground for what will eventually be standard additions to bigger platforms like Oculus’ Rift and HTC’s Vive. All in all, the crowdfunding segment is poised to see lots of growth in 2017, buoyed by great ideas and even greater ambition.
What trends are you expecting to see this year in the crowdfunding world? Let us know in the comment section below!