FlyShark 2 folding keyboard offers big returns (and backspaces and tabs)

There are tons of Bluetooth keyboards, a few folding Bluetooth keyboards, and even a crowdfunded folding Bluetooth keyboard. But almost none of them fit in a pocket just like a smartphone does.

However, the original FlyShark keyboard (also known as the iLepo) broke that barrier with a minimalist, affordable four-line keyboard that offered a quality typing experience. After dabbling in smartwatches, the company has come back to Kickstarter with a new FlyShark keyboard that makes addresses a few issues with the original. The company has made the device a bit thinner, strengthened the hinge and given it a bit more traction to stay put on surfaces. The company also promises a more responsive typing experience.


Kickstarter becomes a Public Benefit Corporation

For a long time, Kickstarter’s founders expressed that they had no interest in selling the company and that they wanted Kickstarter to be a public trust somewhat like Craigslist (but without the religious aversion to graphics in the site interface). While Craigslist keeps its finances notoriously close to its vest, though, Kickstarter has been quite transparent about its metrics.

Now Kickstarter has codified its public interest by becoming a Public Benefit Corporation. In a nutshell, that means the company must consider its public good alongside of and sometimes ahead of maximizing profit. This includes measures such as charity, transparency, avoiding tax loopholes and running an ecologically conscious company — a better defined set of obligations than Google’s famous “Don’t be evil.” unofficial motto. One aspect of the new structure that will directly benefit backers is

Kickstarter no doubt has good intentions and has been a great resource for creators, but it — like Indiegogo — has had its feet held to the fire for projects that have not come to fruition and the steps it has taken or avoided to try and resolve such costly disappointments for consumers.  For now, the FTC has started going after the creators themselves when fraud is suspected. But Indiegogo has recently experimented with insurance that backers can buy to protect themselves against projects failing. Hopefully, Kickstarter’s company’s stepping up its commitment to do good will inspire it to find better ways to protect consumers.


Quirky files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as Wink smart home system goes up for grabs

Before Kickstarter emerged as the leading hub of crowdfunded devices, there was Quirky, a company devoted to reinventing invention. Founded by Ben Kaufman, who had previously founded the Mophie accessories company best known for its iPhone snap-on batteries.

Quirky has a model that is in some ways the opposite of Kickstarter’s or Indiegogo’s. Rather than have the crowd fund a product and have inventors create it, Quicky’s model was that the crowd would suggest products and then Quirky would create it. The company’s New York offices were a hub of professionals specializing in all aspects of product creation including marketing, legal, sourcing, branding and industrial and mechanical design. Inventors would get a perpetual royalty on designs that became products, and people who suggested product names and other attributes would also receive a small percentage. Quirky staff voted on which products moved forward in a weekly meeting. It scored what became perhaps it’s biggest win relatively early with the snaking Pivot Power power strip that spawned several spinoffs.


You may become a fan of the Evapolar personal air condition

Some people are cool and some people just want to be cool. For those in the latter camp who don’t want to make things uncomfortable for the former, the go-to option is generally a small desk fan. But those have limitations. It can be loud and distracting to have air blowing in one’s face.

patent-claimedThe Russian team behind Evapolar seek to create personal microclimates with a personal air conditioner. The cubic illuminated device fills up with water and a special material called Eva Breeze allows it to slowly evaporate. The Evapolar team compares its pint-sized product to the price and energy efficiency of a room air conditioner, but the area covered by the smaller device is only about 100 square feet.

The campaign suggests using two two to cool a larger room and also touts the products air purification and environmental benefits as it uses no freon. Alas, there’s no way to control or monitor the product from a smartphone. Evapolar seeks $100,000 by October 21st. An Evapolar personal air conditioner will set backers back a cool $179 with the final retail price expected to be $250.

Despite its claims, the Evapolar certainly isn’t the first device to market itself as a personal air conditioner although to be fair most of the other products are more like misting fans. On the other hand, those products cost a fraction of what the Evapolar does. The Evapolar’s price requires that it perform well versus real room air conditioners. Doing so will be an impressive feat given its size.

Music Networking

Hidden HUB plays any music anywhere while you’re there, pauses when you leave home

editors-choiceIt says something about the allure of crowdfunding platforms that companies that have had initial success (and sometimes not initial success) go back to the well when they have updated or new projects. That’s already been proven out by the team behind Hidden Radio — one of the first of the now ubiquitous portable Bluetooth speakers — and its sequel, the HiddenRadio 2.

But they’re now up for something that is — if not completey different — a big step up from the modest audio quality of its smartphone companions with the Hidden HUB. The circular, omnidirectional speaker uses larger speakers to create a more room-filling sound. Like its predecessors, can take advantage of virtually any online music source. However, it supports a number of new connection methods, including DLNA and Apple’s AirPlay  as well as tapping its own standard for creating Sonos-like multi-room audio.

The HUB can also connect to HiddenRadios to add an extra burst of audio around the home. And in keeping with the deisgners tradition, it can be controlled with simple touch controls on its surface. HUB owners can mount it on the wall and the video even shows it being used as a home theater speaker. But they can also use it untethered and outdoors (in nice weather) with its 12-hour battery — even at night when its subtle LED underlighting would stand out most.

Connected Objects Networking

The Egg shows if your shared files are all they’re cracked up to be

Although we live in a world saturated with powerful pocket devices, it’s often surprisingly difficult to get a simple file from one device to another. We have to contnd with multiple connection methods, multiple operating systems and multiple apps — sometimes even multiple authentication tags.

The Egg (by Eggcyte, naturally) is — true to its name — an egg-shaped device that acts as a personal server. Mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices connect to The Egg to receive and send files sent by other mobile devices via a Web browser or companion app. It can also be used to stream HD movies that can take up a lot of room on a phone; the company claims 10 to 12 hours of battery life. Unlike some other products, The Egg can also be attached directly to PCs via USB and also be accessed remotely from home.

Connected Objects Imaging

XY Share It squares up photos with your circle of friends

Since the dawn of the digital camera and years into the smartphones imaging revolution that launched billions of photos around the Internet, syncing up photos with friends, family and fellow party guests is a game of jumping through digital hoops using a barrage of services with different tradeoffs: Facebook, Dropbox, Google Photos, iCloud photo sharing and on and on.

XY Share It offers a twist on photo sharing that addresses the sometimes surprisingly difficulty in sharing photos with mobile devices that may be right next to you. By introducing a small Bluetooth gadget similar to the locator tags (such as the one created by the company) that have deluged crowdfunding platforms, one can easily and securely share photo with those who have the tag. Essentially, the small squareish device acts as an authentication device.

Connected Objects Food and Beverage

Eazyshot dispenser keeps the good times simply flowing

Large and sophisticated robot bartenders have been featured on commercials for cruise ships, but simpler and less expensive models are making a pitch to be the next countertop appliance. Many of them seek to make a wide variety of drinks, even employing Keurig-like pods for cocktails.

Eazyshot, though, keeps it simple with a limited range of shots in its egg-like form. Liquors are filled up in its refillable tube-like reservoirs to make variations of “Mexicans” and “Bombers” from the tap of a companion app. The device can even function as a Bluetooth speaker to kep the party tunes accompanying the party. The Eazyshot is expected to retail for about  $495 but early bird rewards have started at about $345. The campaign is seeking $65,000 CAD (about $49,137) by September 24th.

The best part of Eazyshot is its portability, including the ability to run on battery power. Its smaller size means it can’t make the variety of drinks of other bartender bots, but — let’s face it — these are something of a novelty right now anyway.

Personal Transportation

Walk Wing gives you wheels while you trudge through your commute

In malls across America, kids are joyously sliding around at any opportunity using the Heelys at their feet. Any self-respecting adult wouldn’t dare strap a pair up, though, even if it means ignoring the obvious comfort and utility they would provide during daily commutes. While all sorts of choices exist for speedier commutes, people still want the versatility of being able to walk without lugging around an entire bike, for instance. This is where the Walk Wing comes in.

The Walk Wing are essentially Heelys for adults, featuring four retractable wheels: two up front and two in the back. Its ability to switch between the two modes gives people the option to take a walk if they want to or speed up if they’re in a hurry. An adjustable ankle and heel strap makes it simple to slip on, and multiple wheel caps in different colors and patterns let users personalize their set however they see fit.


Indie hardware market Grand St. shuts down on 10/1

Device companies have cause to celebrate when they’re successfully funded and often cause to scramble while they make they make the thing. But then there’s the business of selling the thing beyond the backers. Grand St. was an early company to create a marketplace for independently created gadgets. facilitating connections between products that had been successfully crowdfunded and new buyers.

The company had a chance to jump from the digital to the physical world when it won an opportunity to have a popup store on New York’s Lower East Side (not far from Manhattan’s Grand St.). It was acquired by crafts marketplace Etsy the following month and its staff likely had a role in developing Etsy’s Fund program that the company launched in June. Grand St, offered items that were ready to ship, available for preorder, and in development (Beta). But its marketplace is shutting down as of October 1st. It will still offer items for sale until that date. The Grand St. site lists nearly 270 device makers that it worked with.

Other marketplaces have cropped up for crowdfunded gadgets. These have included Indiegogo itself with its InDemand program, Amazon Launchpad, and Crowd Supply has also sold products funded on its site since its founding.