Kickstarter Spotlight: iPad keyboard case, multi-platform game, and clip-on lenses

[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 sleek iPad keyboard case, a new installment of a cross-platform game, and some clip-on lenses for mobile devices.

CruxSkunk

CruxCase has been making iPad keyboard cases for a few years, but the company has decided to go the Kickstarter route with its latest product, the CruxSkunk (funding through October 3).

The CruxSkunk is an aluminum case designed to match the back of the iPad, and includes a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard that—at 6mm—the company boldly calls the “thinnest keyboard for your iPad on the planet.” (With the iPad attached, it measures 19mm.)

The other selling point is the rotating hinge, which allows for multiple positions for typing or viewing. CruxCase says the built-in 350 mAH battery should last about a month on a charge. And to keep your iPad free from scratches, the company will include a leather sleeve.

Confidence level

CruxCase is an established case maker, and has already reached its funding goal with a month left in the life of the project. To me, the question isn’t whether the product will the see the light of day, but only if CruxCase will meet its early December ship date.—Jonathan Seff

Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse

Fans of classic adventure games and lush 2D animation should sit up and take notice of The Serpent’s Curse (funding through September 22), the fifth game in the venerable Broken Sword series of globe-trotting adventure games.

Charles Cecil and the folks at Revolution Software have been building these sorts of games for years, but this is the first time they’ve attempted to produce a Broken Sword game since 2006. While Revolution Software doesn’t have a perfect track record, it does have a history of developing beautiful, well-written, and mature adventure games like Beneath A Steel Sky or Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Now it’s assembled many of the developers and voice actors who worked on the original Broken Sword games to create a classic 2D animated adventure game in HD that (judging by the Kickstarter promo video) looks fantastic.

The game will be available on Android and iOS devices as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs, though the development team is still sorting out whether or not The Serpent’s Curse will be available on the Steam service. For the moment, backers will only be rewarded with copies of the game for Windows, Mac, and Linux (though the development team is working with Apple to potentially distribute iOS download codes) so anyone who wants to play this game on their mobile device should probably wait until after the project is funded and rolling to place their order. Of course, backers of the Kickstarter campaign can earn a smorgasbord of in-game rewards and physical mementos.

Confidence level

Cecil says the team at Revolution Software has already begun developing The Serpent’s Curse, and with more than $315,000 pledged in just six days it seems likely that the team will meet or exceed its funding goal of $400,000 before the Kickstarter campaign ends on September 22.

And that’s probably a good thing, because the Broken Sword titles are notoriously quirky, story-driven adventure games of a sort that rarely get picked up by contemporary game publishers. Kickstarter is proving to be an excellent venue for fans of adventure games to fund their favorite designers and franchises (see also: Double Fine); whether or not these crowd-funded games are any good remains to be seen.—Alex Wawro

Mobi-Lens

The clip-on concept has worked pretty well for earrings, sunglasses, potato chip bags, even ties—so why not mobile phone lenses? That’s the idea behind Mobi-Lens (funding through September 15), a set of clip-on specialized lenses that are meant to work with iPhones, Android devices, tablets, or really any device with a camera.

The Mobi-Lens comes in two flavors: a wide angle/macro combo ($40 retail), and a fisheye model ($45 retail). The company will also offer a bundle of the two for $70. Backers can save $10 off each of those prices by pledging towards the project right now. The standard clips will come in black, as well as a number of additional color options. To use them, you’ll just clip them over the camera on your device (or the camera you want to use, if you have, say, a front and back camera) and start shooting. Because of the design, you can attach it over a case, although the creators suggest you’ll get the best results without a case.

Confidence level

The Mobi-Lens is an interesting concept, but the sample images don’t look that impressive, and I question whether people will want a giant clip jutting out of the top or side of their device when taking pictures. Also, the brother/sister team behind the Mobi-Lens, Aris and Evette Allahverdian, freely admit they have no background in product design or development, and the quality and professionalism of the Kickstarter video leaves something to be desired. Still, with two weeks to go, they are almost 75 percent of the way to meeting their very modest funding goals, so there’s a distinct possibility that the product may make it to market by December as advertised. —JS

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