The triumph of Kickstarter and synergy over solutions

Thanks to Kickstarter, anyone can be a venture capitalist. But good luck with the IPOs for your jarred farts, exploding kittens, and 'smart' jump ropes

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It’s time to begin my own Kickstarter project. After all, geniuses like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have taken valuable seconds out from building backyard AI shelters to hail this time as nearly unequaled in terms of sheer opportunity. They’re right -- we’re in the midst of a digital revolution spawned by the ever-burgeoning, never-quite-here Internet of things, a world where everything will be connected to everything else and Verizon will charge all objects on the planet 80 cents per minute for spotty 4G access.

There is no place with a better view of the evolving Internet of everything than Kickstarter. This is where bleeding-edge wingnuts of all ilks and brain stems can manifest their genius and post pleas for money to forward-thinking investors who want to get in on the ground floor of the next twist-tactical ballpoint pen (a real thing). The projects up for investment here span a gamut as wide as the galaxy.

On one end, there’s the international Fart in a Jar project, where a successful Kickstarter funding drive will result in a business that ships nasally challenged customers different flatulence scents from around the world. The project allegedly has a single donation, which turned out to be the founder’s weeping mom hitting Submit shortly before she changed her name, her fingerprints, and all other identifying characteristics.

On the other end of the spectrum are entirely viable inventions with nearly nonexistent profit caps. Exploding Kittens is a current darling --- and why shouldn’t it be? We Americans like blowing crap up, and the cuter and more psychologically scarring it is to our children, the better.

Why jump when you can e-jump?

My personal favorite is the heated race in the smart jump rope segment. Believe it or not, more than one company thinks this is a great, history-making, humanity-evolving idea that’s definitely worth the money their parents earned working three jobs and suffering an early stroke to put them through college.

Forget jump rope 1.0. That was a mere length of string wrapped in plastic at each end. Sure, that’s been a reliable sweat generator since Rasputin stained a diaper, but today’s connected gym rats need more.

Enter smart rope 2.0, viable precisely because we’re in a bad economy and need to watch our money. For the 10-fold hike in price, the rope will be constructed of luxury polymers woven by Brazilian orphans, and they'll have embedded sensors that use advanced analytics to tell you how many times you’ve jumped. Let’s face it: Counting is too damn hard in an age of corporate-sponsored ADHD.

Smart ropes will also let you set a “fitness goal” -- that is, an indicator of how many times you wanted to jump minus the actual starts, so you can feel the appropriate level of failure when you quit early to have an Irish smoothie and ogle the 2 p.m. yoga class. Of course, they’ll be able to wirelessly transmit data to one of the umpteen bodily attachments/fitness trackers we’ll soon sport (Apple iEverything, Microsoft NotQuiteBand, and Sony TooLateGlasses).

Those will not only tell you the exact same information, gathered with a completely unsecured version of Bluetooth approved by the NSA, but they’ll do it in touch-enabled, multicolored graphs you can share online with your friends and Mark Zuckerberg’s marketing maw. Get ready for positive Twitter feedback like “Woot!” and “You go!” as well as a new hourly Facebook update from Connected Jumper informing you of the latest developments in the digital jump roping revolution.

Soon to follow: Nike’s jump-rope-optimized Hoptop sneaker line and the multi-million-dollar X-Jump competition co-sponsored by Apple where world-class e-jumpers will compete over the Internet for 20 seconds at a time in between 10-minute cycles of digital advertising streamed to your smart glasses. You’ll never be able to get away from them ever!!

Rags to riches

I need to be a part of this. My idea? Smart socks with odor indicators and an online leaderboard for Nasal Destruct Potential connected via 5G to my smartwatch for an optimized sock-changing schedule that four out of five highly subsidized, third-world doctors recommend as a way to prevent falling arches. Version 2.0 will have user modifiable sock skins and branded Facebook updates in 27 languages, plus the ability to set fitness goals based on sock saturation.

Also in the mix: a partnership with Adidas and Tinder to add a Raspberry Pi-based chemical sweat analyzer to a $2,000 pair of running shoes that will wirelessly integrate with the dating database for compatible sweat matches. That way, you can work out and get romantically rejected before even hitting the shower. That’s a business plan. Fork it over, people.

This generation of Internet of sensors in everything, inescapable mobile connectedness, and probable testicular tumors will surely spawn amazing, even life-impacting technologies. But I can't help but think those inventions will be outliers, while most of the money and brainpower in Silicon Valley will be devoted to digital dilettantes and security Band-Aids, even as bloated customer databases get picked like fields of cotton.

Why pay a database admin with a solid patching policy when you can burn cash on quixotic viral marketing campaigns and executive excess? In fact, why pay anything at all when strangers on the Internet are willing to cover your costs? As the saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted, and Kickstarter proves it again and again.

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