Levitating gadgets will disappoint you

I'm here to issue an important but disappointing warning: that cool new gadget on Kickstarter that floats ? You should not endorse it. I can tell you, with almost total certainty, that I will disappoint you.

I've been fascinated with floating devices for a couple of years because they keep appearing again. Floating clocks, turntables, speakers, incense stands, light bulbs and a surprising number of plants have successfully made their way into crowdfunding sites. I did some quick calculations based on the results of a Kickstarter search for levitating products and discovered that, as long as it is successful, the average campaign of a levitating product increases by about $ 140,000. Most successful campaigns raise less than $ 10,000.

Two companies have been particularly successful in taking advantage of this. The first, and probably the most recognizable, is Flyte. Flyte gained popularity after crowdfunding a floating light bulb that, at least in the photos, seems to be a surprisingly elegant blend of modern and retro design. Since launching a planter and a clock, he has raised more than $ 1.6 million in Kickstarter in total.

But, in person, Flyte shows where all these levitation products go wrong. What looked bright in the photos looks more like a toy up close: the light bulb is made of plastic, probably because you regularly break a floating glass bulb; it does not light up very well (in Nikola's model, two LEDs just complete their false spiral); and making it float is a challenge. The power block also seems to buzz when the electromagnets are activated, which is not comforting, and surprisingly it is not an exclusive problem of this floating product either.




Levitating the floating glass of X.

I do not think it would be critical of the Flyte bulb if the company was not trying to pass it off as something dramatically better than it is. But it sells for $ 369, and the photos on the company's site make it look so good that it could serve as a smart art class in your home or apartment. Someone I work with commented that they would pay $ 50 for it at a museum gift shop, which felt like a much more accurate reflection of how this product is in person.

Flyte is not alone in charging much more for floating gadgets than they seem to be worth. Levitating X, the other company that has gone through multiple main Kickstarters, sells a variety of floating products, which include some dishes, some cups, a fake plant, an exhibition pillow and some statues. The price is close to $ 200 in most cases: they are $ 350 for the 3D printed statues, one of which arrived cracked and broken when Levitating X sent samples to our office, although you will pay less if you do not need to buy a base since a base can be used to levitate any of the company's products.




The watch Nixie levitating from Lasermad.

I must say that I found an exception when it comes to the quality of the floating gadgets, and that is the Nixie Levitating watch from Lasermad. The clock has its peculiarities, many of them, but it looks and feels like what it is: a strange and expensive DIY project for an amateur enthusiast. Even so, still would recommend obtaining the normal version of the watch, without interruption, if desired. It turns out that the magnetic levitation of normal objects is actually a great annoyance.

After a couple of weeks of playing with all these things, my conclusion is that levitating devices are probably only good for restaurants and stores that want a catchy path to show something in a front window, and even then, probably only the stickiest of them.

We analyzed all these products in the last episode of Circuit Breaker Live . You can look at the segment above or watch the whole episode below.