Swimming the Big Apple

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo attract boatloads of offbeat money-raising projects. Some are outright jokes, some are truly bizarre, and some get successfully funded even though they seemed doomed to fail.

It's been decades since people could swim in New York's rivers. But that could change with the successful funding of Plus Pool, a swimming pool floating on the East River.

Offering stunning cityscape views, the cruciform pool would have a filtration system in its walls to clean thousands of gallons of river water per day. A second Kickstarter campaign to realize this unique leisure facility netted more than $270,000 in July. If prototype tests go well, New Yorkers could be river swimming in summer 2016.

Updated:
Photo by: Kickstarter / Caption by:

Surf the turf

You love playing the links, but you can't afford a golf cart hovercraft. Well, how about riding this electric board from hole to hole?

The GolfBoard is like a motorized skateboard that's designed to carry golfers and their clubs around the course. It's billed as an experience like surfing or snowboarding, and there are three models in development with various payload capacities. The low-impact boards are being offered on Kickstarter for $3,350, where a campaign is about halfway to its $100,000 goal.

Updated:
Photo by: GolfBoard / Caption by:

Detroit gets its RoboCop statue

In early 2011, a Twitter user suggeste Detroit use part of its budget to build a statue of RoboCop, the cyborg protagonist of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven film. Mayor Dave Bing didn't exactly embrace the idea, but it got legs on Kickstarter, raising more than $67,000.

Last week, the nearly complete statue finally arrived in the city. It's slated for unveiling next year, when a remake of the film will hit theaters.

Updated:
Photo by: Kickstarter / Caption by:

X-wings versus Death Star

After news of an attempt to crowdfund construction of the Death Star, Rebel-minded organizers decided $11 million was needed to build an X-wing fighter and train a pilot.

The "Crowdfunding Rebel Alliance X-wing Squadron" bid attracted more than 600 backers and raised an astonishing $721,036. That was far short of the goal, but about $200,000 more than what the Empire loyalists coughed up for their battle station. Will there be a sequel to this epic funding fight?

Updated:
Photo by: Lucasfilm / Caption by:

Giant Jobs statue

You can't really be famous without your own statue, right? Well, here's a bright idea: Erect a colossal Steve Jobs statue in the San Francisco Bay Area. The flexible funding Indiegogo campaign is hoping to raise $50,000 for a life-size statue of Jobs, but it also dares to dream big: "if the campaign raises enough capital -- more than what we could conservatively hope to raise -- we'll aim for Statue of Liberty and Colossus of Rhodes proportions."

So far, the effort has drummed up about $630. Its backers get to keep that, minus the fees.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET / Caption by:

Fill My Studio With Gravel

Artistic inspiration knows no limits. We should hardly be surprised, then, at artist Nate Page's campaign to raise $2,000 to fill his studio with 4 tons of gravel.

"Fill My Studio With Gravel" was renamed "Fill My Studio With Gravel and Come Visit," and that seems to have done the trick, with the goal met as the end of the campaign neared.

What would Page do with the gravel, you ask? Originally it was to reprogram Page's subconscious, but that was changed for a more sociable purpose. "Filling the space with gravel is one major component to draw and keep people hanging out in my studio," he writes.

Take that and party.

Updated:
Photo by: Kickstarter / Caption by:

Algae for lunch, anyone?

On today's menu: green slime. It may not look appetizing, but spirulina is a cyanobacterium that's been hailed as a wonder food with plentiful protein and amino acids. It has even been proposed as an astronaut snack during long space flights.

Forget trying it, or eating it regularly. Do you want to grow and harvest it yourself? Well, Spirulina Systems has raised more than $7,000 on Kickstarter toward selling harvesting kits that require air pumps, an aquarium, and other equipment, not all of which is included in the pledge rewards. A 10-gallon culture would yield about two tablespoons of the algae a week. Now, open wide!

Updated:
Photo by: Kickstarter / Caption by:

The Slingatron

Could twirling objects at high speed like a sling be an efficient, cheap method of launching cargo into space? The Slingatron is envisioned as a "railroad to space," a huge gyrating track that sends bulk cargo into orbit at speeds over 4 miles per second.

Although the Kickstarter campaign, organized by HyperV Technologies, wound up collecting more than $30,000, it fell far short of its goal of $250,000. Prototypes have been built, however, and work on this project may continue.

Updated:
Photo by: Kickstarter / Caption by:

The tornado-proof van

Fittingly, her name is Dorothy. This Ford commercial van has been retrofitted with armor plating to make it the perfect vehicle to chase tornadoes.

Three twister-crazy guys from Des Moines, Iowa, raised more than $5,400 on Kickstarter back in April to outfit the van, produce a Web series, and report on extreme weather systems. Fans are eager to see some action. What would the A-Team think?

Updated:
Photo by: Tornado Junkies / Caption by:

QR codes for diapers

How obsessed are you about your baby's health? Obsessed enough to check his or her urine against a massive database?

Well, now you can with Smart Diaper, a high-tech diaper that developer Pixie Scientific claims can track long-term dehydration, potential kidney problems, or urinary tract infections. Parents scan the QR code on the outside of the diaper and the data is sent to the cloud; results can recommend pediatrician consults if there's a potential problem.

Pixie has picked up some $21,000 of funding on Indiegogo but still faces hospital tests and FDA vetting.

Updated:
Photo by: Pixie Scientific / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products