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Crowdfunding the smart home -- for better or for worse (pictures)

There's no shortage of smart-home pitches on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Here's the best -- and worst -- of what's currently out there seeking your money.

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Ryan_Crist2.jpg

Ry Crist

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1 of 17

A marketplace of ideas

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are absolutely abuzz with ideas for the smart home. Some are fresh, some are stale, and others are just plain strange.

With no guarantee of funding and a propensity for delays and other production-oriented disappointments, all of these budding ideas need to be taken with a fair dose of skepticism. Still, we've seen enough big-time breakouts to know that it's a space worth keeping an eye on. Click through to see what you can currently find, from the clever, to the creative, to the downright cringe-worthy.

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2 of 17 oPhone

oPhone

The oPhone is a French-designed device that promises to bring "complex scent texting into your mobile messaging life." That's right: scent. With its "aromatic vocabulary," the oPhone claims it can create over 300,000 unique smells that you'll be able to enjoy on demand, or send to your friends using the free "oSnap" app. oReally?

GOAL: $150,000

PROGRESS: $6,824

DEADLINE: July 31

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3 of 17 Niwa

Niwa

We're starting to see smart gardening gadgets springing up all over the place, with a couple of interesting plant sensors already on the market. The Niwa takes things further, offering a complete smartphone-controlled system for growing fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The successful campaign is just hitting its final few days, so if you're interested in buying in, now's the time.

GOAL: $100,000

PROGRESS: $136,700

DEADLINE: June 21

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4 of 17 Aquarius

Aquarius

The Aquarius is another smart gardening gadget seeking crowdfunding dollars. With Aquarius you'll be able to water your plants automatically, and keep an eye on things online or through a smartphone app.

GOAL: $30,000

PROGRESS: $2,515

DEADLINE: July 18

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5 of 17 HiTechBed

HiTechBed

I guess it was only a matter of time before we started seeing smart beds. This one from Italy integrates a movable HDTV, color-changing mood lighting, and support for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. The Indiegogo campaign uses "Flexible Funding," which means that it gets your money even if it doesn't reach its goal, so take this smart bed with a grain of salt.

GOAL: $85,000

PROGRESS: $10

DEADLINE: August 14

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6 of 17 WhoMe

WhoMe

One of several music-based bulbs on the crowdfunding circuit, WhoMe is a fancy-looking full-color LED with integrated Wi-Fi and a built-in speaker.

GOAL: £20,000

PROGRESS: £7,029

DEADLINE: July 13

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7 of 17 Playbulb Color

Mipow Playbulb Colour

We spotted Playbulb's standard app-enabled, Bluetooth-powered smart LED with built-in speakers at CES this year -- now, the London-based startup is crowdfunding a model that adds color changing smarts into the mix.

GOAL: £24,000

PROGRESS:£3,196

DEADLINE: July 9

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8 of 17 The Q

The Q

Here's yet another crowdfunding campaign that promises to integrate music into color-changing smart lighting. What sets The Q apart, however, is the fact that it features a component that plugs into your home audio system using a standard 1/8-inch audio jack. The Massachusetts-based startup behind the system claims that this will let you play music to it from any networked device, complete with a synchronized light show.

GOAL: $100,000

PROGRESS: $20,510

DEADLINE: July 16

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9 of 17 Season Scape

Season Scape

Season Scape is a smart lighting option that chooses to think outside the bulb. Each oddlyshaped, app-enabled luminary connects with your phone over Bluetooth, changes colors on demand, and stacks together like a pile of dishes for a unique lighting effect.

GOAL: $75,000

PROGRESS: $5,755

DEADLINE: July 16

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10 of 17 LumaGlo Beacon

LumaGlo Beacon

Beacon, by Wilsonville, Oregon-based startup LumaGlo, is a Bluetooth-enabled smart LED belt designed to keep runners and cyclists safe. Aside from the obvious uptick in nighttime visibility, Beacon functions as a wearable brake light, using a built-in accelerometer to glow red whenever you're coming to a stop. You can customize the color and pattern of each LED, set a visual timer, or set it to notify you if you receive an important call or email worth stopping for.

GOAL: $20,000

PROGRESS: $7,417

DEADLINE: July 4

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11 of 17 Bright Switch

Bright Switch

Not to be confused with the successfully crowdfunded, Android-powered touchscreen light switch of the same name, Bright Switch offers a much more subtle approach to smart lighting. Forget to turn a light off, and this automated wall plate motor will flip the switch for you.

GOAL: $15,000

PROGRESS: $2,232

DEADLINE: July 3

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12 of 17 Gunny

Gunny

Gunny is a cheap-looking, adorably named security camera that uses environmental sensors to decide when to shoot its built-in gun. What could possibly go wrong?

GOAL: €50,000

PROGRESS:€0

DEADLINE: July 13

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13 of 17 Sentri

Sentri

For a more sensible take on DIY security, there's Sentri. Like Piper and Canary, Sentri uses built-in environmental sensors and an integrated HD camera to keep tabs on things at home, letting you monitor all of it from a free smartphone app. Sentri sets itself apart by adding in a glossy touchscreen display, allowing you to check important household info with a quick glance.

GOAL: $200,000

PROGRESS: $235,291

DEADLINE: July 11

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14 of 17 Lila

Lila

Lila is another DIY security option. Promising Android, iOS, and Windows Phone compatibility, its set of Bluetooth-enabled internal and external sensors will keep track of things like temperature changes and whether or not doors and windows are open or closed.

GOAL: £40,000

PROGRESS: £18,966

DEADLINE: August 3

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15 of 17 Nucano

Nucano

For a different take on smart-home monitoring, there's Nucano, a smart doorbell and chime that integrates with external smart-home devices like locks, switches, and lights.

GOAL: $95,000

PROGRESS: $11,765

DEADLINE: June 28

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16 of 17 LaMetric

LaMetric

Quirky+GE released an interesting desktop data tracker called the Nimbus last year. Now, in 2013, a London-based startup called Smart Atoms is taking the idea one step further with the LaMetric, a fully customizable, full color LED smart ticker capable of displaying just about any kind of data you can think of -- complete with fun, geeky iconography and promises of IFTTT integration.

Smart Atoms is asking $129 for their ticker and estimating delivery in January 2015. If you can't wait that long or don't want to pay that much (or both), you can play around with a free virtual ticker on their website.

GOAL: $69,000

PROGRESS: $16,420

DEADLINE: August 1st

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17 of 17 Glance

Glance

Glance is another smart gadget designed to keep you informed. Its Canadian makers claim that after buckling it into your wristwatch, you'll be able to read incoming emails and alerts, track your activity, and even use your hand as a motion controller for a computer or smart TV. Limited numbers are available for a pledge of $80 CAD.

GOAL: $150,000 CAD

PROGRESS: $51,291

DEADLINE: July 3

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