4 Dec 2014 03:44pm

Kickstart your health

Crowdfunding is getting active in the area of health. Penelope Rance brings you four inventions, funded by the people, that could improve your fitness

Boat in a box

Anton Willis grew up kayaking in northern California – but as an adult he found he couldn’t fit a boat in his San Francisco flat. Determined to keep paddling and to share the freedom of the water with everyone, he invented Oru Kayak, the origami boat – complete with folding paddle. Looking for a Kickstart of $80,000 (£50,000), he raised over $440,000 (£275,000) to create the product, which folds out of a box to form a light, strong and, most importantly, fully watertight, craft. It’s a little too bulky to fit in your briefcase, but you could certainly chuck it in the boot of your car or take it on the train – or make a quick trip down an urban canal on your lunch break.

Going swimmingly

Passionate collegiate swimmer Hind Hobeika has created the “Google Glass of swimming goggles” with Instabeat. The entrepreneur from Beirut saw the need for a high-tech training device, and used Indiegogo to raise $35,000 (£22,000) – an amount she more than doubled in the first few days of her campaign. Affixed to any pair of swimming goggles, Instabeat tracks laps, flip turns, calories burned and heartbeat, beaming information into the sightline of the swimmer. Synced with a phone app or computer, it allows athletes to track their progress through their training schedule. At the 2013 Computer Electronics Show it was named one of 17 Most Intriguing Gadgets.

Wear and tear

Fashion designer and personal trainer Charli Cohen graduated from Kingston University with a degree in womenswear and won sponsorship from Invista, owners of Lycra, to launch her first collection. She describes her gear as “technical sportswear gets luxe”, and has created a series of body-sculpting designs that appealed to fitness fanatics so much she raised over her £30,000 Kickstarter goal to launch the CC Effect, a pop-up fashion store in London. Form-hugging yet flattering, shapely and functional, the high price tag is justified.

Virtually fit

Oculus VR aims to create “immersive virtual reality technology that’s wearable and affordable”. Put away images of the Better Than Life game from Red Dwarf, where players’ bodies rotted slowly away in boiler suits while their minds lived out their fantasies of perfect lifestyles. In the world of Oculus, video gameplay becomes more realistic than ever before. Founded by hardware obsessive Palmer Luckey, the California-based company developed its initial product, Oculus Rift, with more than $2.4m (£1.5m) of Kickstarter cash (apparently, a lot of people out there would like to live a virtual life). And the health angle? With precise positional tracking to follow your movements, and a low persistence OLED display to eliminate judder and motion blur (and so stop you getting motion sickness), the new DK2 product should allow sports and fitness simulator games to be played more vigorously than ever before. But be careful – the injuries will be a lot more realistic too.

Penelope Rance


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