Kickstarter Spotlight: iPhone light, digital card game, and pretty flashlight

[Kickstarter is changing the way tech products get made, but it's hard to tell which projects are worth backing. For every sure-fire hit, there are dozens of flawed ideas and inexperienced teams. Our Kickstarter Spotlight series highlights a few projects worth checking out, and gives you an idea how they might turn out.]

In this installment of Kickstarter Spotlight, we take a look at a big light for the iPhone, a digital collectible card game, and an attractive flashlight.

Paparazzo Light for iPhone

We’ve all seen—in pictures, movies, TV shows, and even cartoons—photographers toting bulky cameras with large, dish-style flash bulbs. When they first debuted, they were a revolution in photography, making it easier (not to mention safer) to illuminate subjects.

The creators of the Paparazzo Light for iPhone (funding through September 1) look to bring a tiny bit of that illumination revolution—and a lot of old-time-camera charm—to mobile-phone photography. The Paparazzo is a 300-Lumen LED in a reflective dish that mounts onto the end of your iPhone.

The body of the Paparazzo hosts two standard (CR123) camera batteries and sports a “shutter-release” (trigger) button on the front. Pressing the trigger in Flash mode lights the flash and takes a photo; in Video mode, the trigger turns on the light and starts video recording. (The Kickstarter description seems to imply that you’ll need to use a special Paparazzo app for taking photos and video.) A dial on the back of the Paparazzo lets you adjust the light level from dim to bright, and the bottom of the Paparazzo provides a standard tripod mount.

The company says that if Apple releases a new iPhone design this year, as is widely expected, there will be either a single Paparazzo Light that works with the iPhone 4/4S and the new model, or separate models for each iPhone design. The Paparazzo is estimated to ship in January 2013 in black, white, or chrome, with an expected price of $60.

Confidence level

If you’re an iPhone photographer who doesn’t mind adding some bulk to your mobile phone, or another gadget to your bag, the Paparazzo could help you take better pictures. However, the project is about a quarter of the way in and has received only $8700 of its $50,000 goal, so pledges will need to pick up for the project to be successful.—Dan Frakes

SolForge Digital Trading Card Game

SolForge (funding through September 10) is a digital collectible card game from the maker of Ascension and Magic The Gathering. The game works like most other collectible card games in that you'll collect various cards, build a deck, and challenge opponents.

Unlike most other collectible card games, however, the creators of SolForge want to make the game completely free to play. That means you'll be able to download the game and collect cards without having to spend a single dime. Rather than having to purchase digital booster packs, players will earn cards simply by playing the game.

The game will initially be available for Windows PCs and iOS devices, though the team hopes to bring SolForge to other platforms as well. Even though SolForge will be free to play, pitching in funding to the Kickstarter campaign will earn you a bunch of exclusive in-game items, as well as a few physical prizes.

Confidence level

The team behind SolForge has a lot of experience with creating both mobile and PC games, so there's a good chance of this being made. That said, the game could be unfun to play, and the campaign still has a ways to go before reaching its $250,000 goal. Still, it's a novel idea and it's worth checking out if you are a fan of collectible card games.—Armando Rodriguez

Trioh flashlight

Speaking of lights, maybe a flashlight doesn’t have the geek cred you’d expect from a good Kickstarter project, but the Trioh (funding through August 17), billed as “The world’s most beautiful flashlight, is attractive, functional, and multi-purpose.

At its core, the Trioh is a silver-colored rechargeable flashlight that uses three bright LEDs. Lift it from the inductive charging base and push the power button to turn it in. The creator says it the Lithium Ion battery should provide 12 hours of constant use on a charge.

But it also has two other functions. The first is as an attractive accent light—twist the lens and the light is contained in a diffuser rather than beaming up towards the ceiling. And as long as the Trioh is docked in its charger (connected to a power outlet), it can sense if your home loses power and and automatically light up in the event of a power outage.

Confidence level

Creator Greg Hinzmann has designed products for companies such as Nike, Logitech, and HP for the past 20 years. With his experience, and a fairly reasonable retail price of $79, the project looks like it has a great shot. The only issue I see is that the Trioh is about 75 percent funded, with only a week to go. But that only amounts to about $23,000, which shouldn’t be too hard to drum up.—Jonathan Seff

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