Crowdfunding websites and open-source design platforms are propelling the rapid development of proof-of-concept products. This week, we’re featuring design- and construction-themed items that are currently or have recently completed sourcing their concept, funds, or both from the public. From heavy-duty equipment for crafting a high-end morning brew at the jobsite to connectors that sync multiple toy construction sets, these six products are thriving from new ways to respond to demand.


Spotter Uniq, Quirky
Earlier this month, industrial-design startup Quirky announced its latest batch of crowd-sourced products. Among them was the Spotter Uniq, a customizable wireless sensing hub that can manage up to four of six monitoring functions including temperature, illumination, passive infrared, and sound. “Sensors are going to be a huge driver of a cohesive and seamless connected home-experience,” says Mike Sullivan, Quirky’s general manager of power and connected devices. “[W]e wanted to give customers an opportunity to purchase or create whatever sensor they want, [and] place that in whatever location they want in their home.” The unit was one of nearly 2,000 products from independent designers conceived as part of the firm's smart-home Invention Challenge last spring and hit the shelves after five months of development, Sullivan says.


CoffeeBoxx, Oxx
Keep your contractors alert at the jobsite with this ultra-durable, single-serving brewer. Designed by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Oxx, the portable, IP55-rated CoffeeBoxx is fitted with a 3’ retractable cord, sealed to avoid spills, and designed to resist impact. The unit weighs 11 lbs. and can hold up to 2.5 liters of water. Mud not included, though likely inevitable.

John Ciecholewski

Spectrum-adjusted illumination is making its way into the home and office, helping to manage occupants’ internal clocks amid a sea of blue-light screens and (often) an absence of daylight. Sunn, an LED fixture that has raised more than $60,000 on Kickstarter with 15 days left in its campaign, brings daylight (and moonlight) indoors while doubling as a glowing decorative orb. The luminaire spans 2700K to 6500K and can be adjusted using a companion, location-based app that sets lighting levels based on natural conditions outdoors. It can be wall-hung or mounted to the ceiling.

Jerry Schutt

What’s the good of having multiple toy construction sets if you can’t use them together—without bringing out the duct tape and rubber bands? Created by a Toledo-based engineer to solve the inter-generational playtime challenge he'd watched his own children face, the patent-pending VersaBricks completed a $17,894 successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this week. Each of the six modules is 3D-printed in ABS plastic and connects Legos, K’NEX, and Hot Wheels tracks in imaginative, table-sized infrastructure works.

Field Guide to Human-Centered Design,
IDEO’s nonprofit division is expanding its mostly digital human-centered design portfolio with new content in the form of a 200-plus page Field Guide, which wraps up a Kickstarter campaign on Sunday, Dec. 7. Says senior editor Aaron Britt, the illustrated text is something that “you can both enjoy on the sofa and take into the field and beat the hell out of.” Here’s to analog media.

Big Bend, Texas
Ryann Ford Big Bend, Texas

The Last Stop
A project by photographer Ryann Ford captures a roadside staple that's fast disappearing in the American heartland. The Last Stop showcases the last of numerous rest areas that once dotted the barren miles between small towns, since replaced with gas stations and travel centers. A Kickstarter campaign to publish the book closes on Dec. 16.

This article has been updated.