Arts Maker/Development

SmartMatrix LED display trips the lights fantastic

Once, thethe pixel a common companion in the lives of many, but the race for higher density displays across the devices in our lives has squarely relegated the pixel to an afterthought. Still, many still have soft spots in their hearts for the blocky phones screens, Pac-Mans, and Marios of yesteryear.

That nostalgia still lives on today through a plethora of retro-styled games and art, and the SmartMatrix LED board is positioning itself as the best way to display it all in the home. The SmartMatrix’s 9″ by 9″ frame contains a compact 32 RGB LEDs working in tandem as everything from a music visualizer to a video game art display to a GIF display, making for some seriously throwback light shows.

Arts Tablet Accessories

Sketchmi lets younguns sketch whatever on their tablets

Many artists have switched over to the tech side of things to become graphic designers. They use software and computers to make art. Still, many would prefer to have the convenience of technology, while still using good old fashioned pen and paper.

Sketchmi brings these two worlds together. This product is essentially a tablet case that’s most compatible with the iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPad 3, though it may still work with other models. To use, simply place on the tablet like a case. Add a sheet of paper over the screen to use for tracing a cool picture found on the Internet or from a personal photo library.


Pika portable tattoo device gets ink done on the run

Tattoo artists are only as good as their tools. For them, the vibrating needles they use to infuse ink into skin must be sound, clean and accurate in order to deliver the best results.

Pika takes the traditional tattoo gun and adds portability. This battery-powered device allows artists to give tattoos wherever they’d like. It’s also a great way for artists to switch between colors more easily. The cordless unit allows the artist the ability to adjust the speed, throw, and depth of their needles. Pika offers customizable plate design too, so that the artist’s personal taste can shine through their tool.

While Pika isn’t the first of its kind, it does offer the type of convenience a freelance tattoo artist may crave. Unfortunately, the offered customizable plates are fairly lame. Still, backers can have one of their own for a donation of £65 (~$98) by April 2015. Pika is looking to raise £5,000 (~$7,600) on Kickstarter by March 25.


Modus measuring tool fits in wallet, keeps creativity close by

It would be nice if great ideas were somewhat predictable and actually hit a person’s brain when it’s convenient–or at least when the right tools are at one’s fingertips. But since that’s not the way that creativity typically happens, many artist-types tote little tools around that they can whip out when inspiration falls out of the sky and smacks them on the head. Modus is one such handy tool.

This aircraft-grade aluminum measuring tool is touted as being the same size as a credit card and fits easily into a wallet. The multi-option drawing aide helps users to keep their angles accurate, measurements exact, lines straight and circles round. Perhaps one of its most intriguing features is that it’s 6061 aluminum makeup means that it’s RFID resistant. And for those bookworms who still enjoy a hardcopy book with old fashioned paper pages and ink, it also works great as a bookmark.

Seems like an interesting item worth checking out further for those who like to draw on a whim. Interested backers might also want to check out Vox, My Task, and Hangman. This campaign seeks to raise $1,400 on Kickstarter. Backers get one Modus for $18 with expected delivery in March 2015.


PlexiSketch allows for erasable note taking, saves paper in the process

While most tablets and smartphones offer some great conveniences, including a place to take and store notes, sometimes it’s nice to jot down ideas and make quick sketches in a non-electronic way.

PlexiSketch is a portable dry erase board made from laser cut Plexiglas and has hand beveled edges. Its rubber grips allow for one-hand writing simplicity. In addition, it’s compatible with either dry or wet erase markers. The portable note taking board is slightly larger than a standard piece of copy paper at 8.5 x 11.37 inches, and is only 1/8” thick, so it fits easily in a briefcase, backpack, or large purse.

Where portability is concerned, there is some question as to how to keep the notes from smearing when toted out of an office environment. However, it may serve as a useful way for moms with children who are really too small for electronic devices to keep their kids occupied without needing to have paper or a coloring book on hand. This campaign seeks to raise $5,000 on Kickstarter. Early bird backers get one product for $14 with an expected delivery of April 2015.

Arts Imaging

Kula lets your camera produce 3-D images

From movie theaters to handheld gaming consoles, 3-D photos and videos are a great way to create stunning viewing experiences, but so few people have access to the technology to create this content.

Kula is a new modification for SLR cameras and smartphones to open up the world of 3-D photography to everyone. The Kula Deeper is a lens attachment for SLR cameras that can take 3-D photography, while the Kula Bebe attaches right onto the phone’s lens for easy 3-D photos.

Using high precision mirrors, Kula takes a normal picture and captures it from two perspectives that can be combined to create a three dimensional image or video. The Kula system is flexible and works with any existing 3-D viewing technology, from the classic red and cyan anaglyph glasses and eye-crossing stereograms to 3-D TVs and Oculus Rift. Icelandic inventor Iris Olafsdottir has set Kula’s fundraising goal at 233,626 DKK (~ $40,000 USD), and buyers can get the Bebe adapter for 205 DKK (~$35 USD) beginning in March.

Kula is an affordable, easy to use way to create 3-D images to share with friends and family. The sheer number of ways Kula’s 3-D can be viewed makes it great for sharing and compatibility.


OneTime Calendar Clock tracks our journey around the sun

For those artistic types who don’t mind the confines that come with being reminded of the time, here is a unique piece of functional art that not only tracks the time, but also the date. One Time Calendar Clock incorporates the colors of the beloved rainbow into the seasons of the year as they connect to the months. Besides the hardcopy version that hangs on the wall, there is also a computer screensaver version. There are plans in the works to develop a computer version that actually keeps track of appointments, and a one time app. It would seem that with some additional effort, this could be made into something that is renewable. Even so, it seems that this product will have some appeal to those who appreciate art, especially art deco. This campaign seeks to raise £5,000 (~$8,000 USD) by November 2014. Early bird backers get a fully assembled wall clock for £49 (~$83 USD) with an expected delivery of January 2015.


Wooden Moku block rolls out paper for your creative pursuits

Drawing is one of those pleasures in life that provides creative release and spawns unique ideas. Such is the case with Moku. While the creator of this product loves art, he also apparently loves trees. So this product is designed to allow the user to manage their artwork in such a way that paper waste is minimized by choosing the proper size of paper for every work of art. Such kindness toward nature means that more awesome works can be created in the future without fear of using up too many trees for the paper. Since Moku is made of wood, it is a constant reminder to the artist of where their paper comes from (Who’s your mama?) just in case the paper itself was not a strong enough reminder. Moku is a great tool for creative types who routinely draw up blueprints, design furniture or doodle. It is not only simplistic, but as useful and convenient as a Saran wrap dispenser. This campaign seeks to raise $3,200 by November 3. For $66, backers get one 12” Moku in their choice of wood. Larger sizes are available at higher reward tiers. Expected delivery is currently set for November 2014.


POV Disk brings the animated GIF to the actual desktop

Animation got its start with the early zoetropes that used spinning images, light, and a viewing slot to create an effect that mystified and delighted viewers. The 21st century version of the zoetrope is here in the POV Disk. A persistence of vision display, POV Disk can create colorful and animated images by using a flashing and spinning column of LEDs right on a desktop. With applications like a wall clock or just a way to share a personal message, POV Disk is a unique and eye-catching method of displaying an image in motion.

The effect of persistence of vision imaging is not unlike light-capture photography, but it can be displayed and viewed in person, in real time. London inventor Sonia Khokhar, the creator of the POV Disk, has a goal in mind of £8,000 (~$12,500) to order components and cover packaging and shipping. Interested backers can pick one up in November 2014 for £60 (~$93). The POV Disk would have great applications in advertising, but its size is prohibitive to that kind of function. As such, it would be hard to sell this as anything other than a desk toy.

Arts Technology

Unleash the tablet inside with a Modbook Pro X

The Premise. Creative types know that getting the most of the digital side of their work takes a very specific build of programs and hardware to make the most of them. A simple desktop or tablet may not be enough, and in those cases a little extra firepower comes in handy.

The Product. The Modbook Pro X is essentially a reconfiguration of the beloved MacBook Pro, turning a versatile laptop into an even more capable tablet that offers the functionality of a dedicated artist’s tablet with a vibrant HD screen that uses mind-boggling high resolution. By tearing apart a MacBook and fitting it into a new case with touch-screen display that offers 2,048 levels of pen sensitivity, the Modbook Pro X gives users the flexibility of a device that can run OS X or Windows, all the apps that any MacBook can run normally, and adds ease of use and an experience tailored to artists and designers to the package.

The Pitch. Modbook Pro X isn’t for everyone, and the pitch video doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. Focusing on those who require the full output from programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, the Modbook team showcases almost exclusively the ways in which their device can make the lives of those in the graphic arts that much easier. Modbook needs $150,000 almost entirely for manufacturing costs.

The Perks. Getting a functional Modbook Pro X is going to take a little bit of coin. For $1,999, an existing, owned MacBook Pro with a 15.4-inch Retina display (from no later than late 2013) can be sent to the developers, who will tear the device down and reassemble it as a Modbook Pro X. The Keybars on the back of the device are added at the $2,299 level, while those who pay $2,689 will also get the Keyboard Stand. Anyone without an existing and compatible MacBook Pro can get a complete package for as little as $3,999, going as high as $5,689 for a top-end system with all the bells and whistles. The base perks won’t ship until March 2015, while the higher-tier items will be out as early as December 2014.

The Potential. A Retina display combined with pen controls has never been attempted before, and for some people this will be the kind of dream machine that will be pinned to their corkboard as a sports car of rigs for work and play. The high price point and requirement of owning a MacBook Pro at lower levels will shy away all of the potential backers who might just be looking for some new tech to play with.