No Risk, No Reward is a recurring feature by Rollin Bishop that spotlights two very different crowdfunding campaigns: one for a somewhat serious technology project, and one for a somewhat less serious technology project.

When it comes to crowdfunding, one major problem is figuring out what’s worth putting hard-earned dollars toward. Some campaigns are better run than others, with fancy videos and flashing lights. It’s not an easy task picking one over another. That’s where we come in, picking a couple tech-related crowdfunding projects every week to look at specifically.

For your consideration, this week features both a nifty headphone gadget that keeps you plugged into the real world and an incredibly tiny drone that can follow you around.


Have you ever been listening to some music or playing a video game with headphones on, completely zoned out to whatever else is going on, only to later discover that someone’s been trying to get ahold of you at the top of their lungs? Surely this is one of those universal constants for anyone who’s ever worn headphones. That awkward situation, and missed communication, is what SoundBrake aims to solve.

Basically, SoundBrake is a device that plugs into a headphone jack which you then plug your headphones into. It functions by setting a certain audio level limit which, when reached, will alert users by silencing whatever audio. So, for example, if someone’s using SoundBrake while playing video games and there’s a loud knock at the door for, say, pizza, it’ll silence the audio in an effort to get the wearer’s attention.

Best of all, this particular limit can be set automatically or manually. The auto-adjust means that it can automatically detect what’s considered background noise wherever users are and set the level accordingly. Of course, this also means that it could accidentally set it too high — which is why the manual setting could still be nifty. Also, it may not be exactly advisable to rely on this 100 percent when it comes to the likes of knowing when a car’s behind the user while jogging.

At the moment, it sounds like SoundBrake will retail for $49 once it launches, but early backers can preorder a discounted one via Kickstarter. The headphone attachment has earned $9,210 toward its $10,000 goal with 38 days to go.


The ONAGOfly, on the other hand, is a small camera drone for use primarily outside in the open air. The palm-sized device not only follows users via their smart devices to continue to record as they move around, but it also uses infrared to sense and avoid obstacles while doing so.

It’s not the first drone to offer autonomous following capabilities, but it is perhaps one of the first to do so in such a small, enticing package. The nano drone’s 15-megapixel camera can record high-definition video at 30 frames per second — which the folks behind the ONAGOfly compare with that of the iPhone 6s. Can the iPhone 6s fly? Thought not.

Like most drones of this nature, the ONAGOfly can be controlled via smartphone app, which also allows folks to watch live video as it is being recorded. This P2P live streaming potentially means that users could send buds a link to watch them doing incredible stunts when they hit fresh snow on the slopes and so on. Then again, the person doing said stunts could also watch it in theory. It would interesting to see someone try to do both at the same time. Extremely dangerous, but interesting.

The ONAGOfly is currently available to preorder for $199 via the Indiegogo campaign for the drone. At $452,321, it has earned 302 percent of its original $150,000 goal and has 24 days left on its campaign.

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