One of the best aspects of being the editor of Yahoo! Homes is learning about new and groundbreaking designs that aren't (yet) household fixtures. I saw lots of them at the Dwell on Design show in June and at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair a month earlier. But design shows aren't the only place to see some of the most inspiring innovations: They're just a few clicks away on Kickstarter.
I've rounded up my recent favorites. If the funding period hasn't expired yet, then you haven't missed your chance to get in on the ground floor -- possibly at a much cheaper price than if you wait till the product or service hits stores. And even when a project hits its fundraising goal, it's free to keep raising money during its designated period, whether it's to produce and distribute more rewards, or to create something even better than the initial plan, or, as Kickstarter says, "the creator may even profit from the project." (Imagine!)
Here are Yahoo! Homes' favorites.
I've got one word for you: snaps.
The creators of Smart Bedding estimate you'll save a month of your life with their Smart Bedding, because the task of making the bed is reduced from 90 seconds to "about two seconds." How? With a simple, why-didn't-I-think-of-that solution: snaps that attach the comforter to the sheet.
Now, many readers are probably asking right now: Couldn't I just attach snaps to my own sheets and comforters and save myself some money? As far as I can tell, the answer is yes. If you know how to sew or otherwise attach the snaps, then yes: You can probably do this yourself. [Update Wednesday, July 31: I received an email from co-founder Marshall Haas, who says it's not quite that easy: "I wanted to point out that it's more than just snaps. Traditional top sheets are cut to be much larger than the duvet cover, causing the sheet to hang past, forcing you to tuck it in. So another piece of the equation is the two matching in size (which only ours do). Also, our early prototypes only had snaps sewn on, and they were terrible. It takes a special reinforcement along the edges to make them soft, but still sturdy."]
But wouldn't it be nice to see this become the new standard in bedding, so you don't have to do it yourself?
Admit it. You already dig at weeds with your finger anyway, right? Well, the Ring Weeder from Vincent Suozzi just works with what you already do naturally, making your finger more efficient at getting to the root of the problem. (Heh.) Only $8!
If you struggle with "fat finger syndrome," the myType wireless keyboard could be your answer. A $59 pledge will get you your choice of color from the full production run (after the Kickstarter campaign).
SolSource, originally developed to help rural Himalayan families, uses no fuel at all -- just the sun. It's available for a pledge of $249, which is $150 off the expected retail price.
Many times I've wished for a contraption like the gStick mouse. It's a shape that seems much more intuitive and ergonomic than the traditional mouse or trackball. For a $35 pledge, you can have one sent to you in November; they're expected to retail for twice the amount. But the project hasn't yet met its goal, as of this writing, and the funding period runs out at 11:27 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, July 30. Will you help push it over the edge?
This is the loveliest and most elaborate set of dishes devoted to a single food that I can think of. Omid Sadri's Lantern tableware set was inspired by pho, the Vietnamese soup that comes with numerous hard-to-carry garnishes on the side. For a $95 pledge, you'll get two sets, each of which includes three dishes and a spoon.
The WigWag system lets you write rules on the "if this, then that" principle. The creators include examples like: If there's motion outdoors, then turn the lights on and send a text. If the humidity rises, then turn on a fan.
The Solalounge is an outdoor lounge chair that dispenses a custom-controlled water mist and offers a mechanized adjustable back -- both powered by the sun. Perfect for those ultra-lazy summer days.
A flow sensor in the lip of the Ilumi Smartbottle works in conjunction with an app to track your water intake. An LED ring on the bottle changes color as you close in on your goal. A pledge of $37 will get you an Ilumi Smartbottle, which is expected to retail for $70.
This last project, the Nourishmat gardening system, is a sentimental favorite here at Yahoo! Homes. I wrote about it (and bought one for myself) just before it launched on Kickstarter, so I'm taking this opportunity to plug it one more time before the funding period is over. For a $10 pledge, you can get an eight-pack of single-variety seed balls; for $65 you can get an Herbmat complete with 32 seed balls (subtract $10 if you don't need irrigation); for $99 you can get the Nourishmat veggie-and-herb combo with 82 seed balls plus a T-shirt.