An eye-catching invention that produces as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb using just an eighth of the power has become a crowdfunding star for three University of Toronto graduates.

The NanoLight, billed as "the world's most energy-efficient light bulb" has raised $133,022 on the U.S. crowdfunding site Kickstarter and generated pre-orders for more than 3,000 bulbs since the project started seeking backers on Jan. 7.

The project had original hoped to raise $20,000.

"It's been incredible for us," said Gimmy Chu, product developer for Nanolight, the company he founded with Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan, two former teammates on the University of Toronto solar car project whom he met in 2005.

"What's next is to set up manufacturing lines so we can actually start producing for all our backers."

People who have pledged $30 or more to the project on Kickstarter can expect to be among the first to get one of three versions of the Nanolight shipped directly to them for free anywhere in the world:

- 10 watts, equivalent to a 75-watt incandescent bulb.

- 12 watts, equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

- An even brighter 12-watt bulb, created "using the best components available without any regard for price."

"To get that kind of efficiency, we had to redesign the whole idea of an LED light bulb from the ground up," recalls Chu, who began working on the project with Rodinger and Yan about three years ago.

Circuit-board origami

Their design consists of a circuit-board with LEDs attached to it, folded up into the shape of a light bulb that plugs into a regular lighting fixture.

"That way it kind of mimics the traditional incandescent light bulb in that it shines light in all directions," Chu said.

According to the Nanolight team, there are currently very few LED lighting products on the market as bright as a 100-watt incandescent bulb. The Nanolight is almost half as heavy as a compact fluorescent light bulb, and unlike fluorescent bulbs, it turns on instantly.

Potential customers will have the opportunity to pre-order the Nanolight on Kickstarter until March 8.

The Nanolight team is currently working on other light bulb models, including one that is dimmable.

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  • Lifelogging Cameras

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  • Google Glass

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  • Essemblix 'Drag-And-Drop' Drugmaking

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  • Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset

    "Virtual reality" had a moment in the mid-90’s, what with <a href=""><em>Total Recall</em></a> and <a href="">Virtual Boy.</a> But back in the day, the gaming technology wasn’t quite up to par. Mid-90’s VR displays were <a href="">plagued by weight, menaced by low resolution, doomed to make gamers nauseous</a> -- and eventually, all of them died with a whimper. But now VR is back, and this time it looks like it’s going to work. The <a href="">Oculus Rift</a>, made by <a href="">ModRetro founder Palmer Luckey</a>, boasts a <a href="">huge field of vision, resolution approaching Retina-level, and head-tracking sans latency and sans nausea.</a> Better yet, the Rift has a reasonable price tag ($300) and scads of corporate support -- the creators of DOOM <a href="">have announced that they’re making their fourth game Rift-compatible (as well as their re-release of DOOM 3)</a> and a <a href="">Rift-compatible version of Minecraft is in the works.</a> <a href="">With a $2 million war chest from their Kickstarter campaign and game developers going gaga over the tech</a>, could the Oculus Rift be the biggest thing since Kinect?

  • Mind-Controlled Cybernetic Limbs

    Disabled men and women may gain cyborg limbs if researchers at UC Irvine have their way. <a href="">A team of engineers at the university have developed a pair of mind-controlled robotic legs</a> that “walk” in response to a person thinking “I want to walk now.” The legs are currently in prototype, and have thus far only been tested on able-bodied people. <a href="">But the UC Irvine team plans to start tests on the disabled soon.</a> Along with holding the potential of giving the immobile mobility, these legs are just one of several brain-reading technologies invented this year. Besides the mind-controlled legs from UC Irvine, we’ve seen the genesis of <a href="">“extremely popular”</a> <a href="">mind-controlled robotic cat ears</a> and (perhaps less trivially) the <a href="">crazy mind-reading binoculars from DARPA that spot the enemies your conscious mind doesn’t even know you’ve seen.</a>

  • Form 1 3D Printer

    3D printers found their way into the news in 2012, and it would be a shame not to put one on this list. As tech trends go, this one’s been a long time coming -- for the past year or so, we’ve heard people oooh and aaah over devices that can print <a href="">jewelry, chairs, human jaw bones, organic chemicals, parts for jet engines</a> and now, <a href="">guns.</a> But why the <a href="">Formlabs' Form 1</a> of all 3D printers? It’s a big sell because <a href="">it brings ultra-precise laser-based printing, previously the hallmark of only the best 3D printers on the market, down to a consumer price point.</a> Suddenly, top-of-the-line 3D printing can be done at home.

  • Grasshopper Reusable Rocket

    We’ve been able to spend humans to space since the 1960s, but it’s never been cheap. Every rocket we’ve made so far has been at least partially disposable -- which means every rocket we’ve ever built leaves pieces in space and has to be partially rebuilt every time it launches. You may have guessed, this is expensive. The holy grail of rocketry has been a completely reusable rocket, but it’s been the stuff of fantasy -- until now. Enter Elon Musk, the billionaire PayPal founder who <a href="">very badly wants to go to Mars</a>. After many years of work, his SpaceX flight company has built the first reusable rocket, which took its first test flight in September 2012. The rocket, known as the <a href="">Grasshopper</a>, is as tall as a 10-story building and has thus far flown twice, once to the height of 6 feet and once to the height of 17.7 feet. Seems like small potatoes maybe, but <a href="">both test flights landed safely, the rocket was reused, and the flights further proved that the Grasshopper is capable of vertical take-off and landing</a> -- a necessity when travelling to planets without runways. <a href="">Mars colony, here we come! </a>