Connected Objects Imaging

Flink photo frame shares pictures instantly over the cloud

The Premise. Sharing photos becomes easier almost every week. The digital revolution continues to streamline the process through smartphones, social media, and sites dedicated to photo sharing, but can the process be made even simpler?

The Product. The Flink Cloud Photo Frame is designed to take digital photo frames to the next level with simple usage and cloud-based storage and sharing. Using their mobile app and proprietary sharing site, once users have decided who to share with and what photos to share, frames around the world can be updated with new pictures as they’re taken. With an 8 inch, high resolution touch screen and only one physical button on the frame, crisp, beautiful photos  of friends or loved ones can appear at any time of day free of complex technical knowledge or cumbersome updates. The Flink app also works to import photos from Facebook or Instagram accounts, and later updates look to introduce slideshows and audio/video sharing.

The Pitch. Patrick Ho, one of the three founders of the Flink, walks viewers through the simple process of using a Flink, then ups the ante later down the page with a video of the prototype uploading a photo  to the frame in less than a minute.  Campaign photos include the evolution of the frame’s design and some key details that clarify how the product will be operated. The Flink Team is hoping to raise $80,000 to help prepare a server base for storing and transmitting photos, complete manufacturing, and get FCC certification.

The Perks. With a May 2014 delivery date, all backers at the $99 pledge level will receive a Flink Cloud Frame and unlimited storage space on the Flink photo site. At twice that cost, the frame can be personalized, and at the $250 tier, a wooden frame cover can be substituted for the black or white plastic versions.

The Potential. Can the digital picture frame by reinvented from the ashes of products such as the Kocak Pulse? Flink bets that mobile is the key. Once a hot holiday category, other digital photo frames with cloud connectivity are already on the market. The companion app makes the process a little easier for the Flink to single out specific photos specifically for sharing, but overall there isn’t much to this product that will change the marketplace, and little to distinguish it from its competitors. Electronic stores could easily carry the Flink, but for the most part, smartphones and tablets have stolen much of the appeal of the digital frame.

Lighting Smart Home

Brightup smart lighting adds context to lighting control

The Premise. The electric light revolutionized everything. Since then there have been several upgrades from a hardware perspective in terms of bulbs or light output, but not much in the way of operation. While several companies are allowing people to control their lights with their mobile devices, one company wants to put the mobile device in charge and make the whole process automatic.

The Product. The brightup smart lighting system avoids the smart home lighting automation equipment that has been promised for decades but has rarely seen adoption. Instead of installing a complicated network for the home’s outlets, brightup has a set of outlet caps that can be plugged in the home. Then, lamps or other lighting systems can be plugged in, and interface with the home’s central unit. The central unit detects the smartphone on which the brightup app is installed, and turns on the lights to greet users. Settings for dimmer switches that detect TVs or travel mode which gives off the illusion of someone in an empty home are also available.

The Pitch. The designers of brightup use their video to make a lot of vague statements about technology, but once the concept of brightup’s functions start, it’s easy to see the appeal. The campaign’s pictures show off the technology and the internal components, as well as feature several seemingly unrelated blocks of computer programming. To meet its goals of keeping prices low and complete the plastic tooling, brightup needs 130,000, or just over $175,000.

The Perks. The brightup starter kit costs €159 (under $220) with approximately an additional $20 shipping cost outside of the European Union. The starter kit comes with 1 central unit and 1 device (a plug or in-wall dimmer). 2 additional units come in the featured bundle for an additional €40, or the entire house can be connected at the €449 (~$615) level with 1 central unit and 10 devices. Higher tiers are meant to be shared among multiple people and come with up to five central units.

The Potential.  Having a home’s light completely set up on the brightup system seems like a great idea, but the price point is a little steep to start with. The system does little to conserve power like competitors unless residents forget to turn lights off when they leave, and the security mode would only work in rooms where brightup plugs were installed. It’s a neat idea, and certainly an innovation where one is sorely needed, but it’s questionable whether or not brightup’s unique features are worth the additional cost. Currently, the technology is not compatible with U.S. electrical systems.

Tablet Accessories

Compact Plinth tablet stand features pop-out legs, versatile device support

The Premise. These days everybody’s making the switch to tablets. The simple touch screen controls and mobile computing make any quarterly presentation, Skype call, or homework assignment a snap if the commercials are to be believed. But what they don’t show is each user endlessly fumbling, adjusting, and hunching over their tablet just to be able to type and see what they’re doing at the same time.

The Product. The Plinth looks to take all the guesswork out of buying a stand for a tablet. This pocket-sized stand (roughly the size of an iPhone) unfolds with a push of a button and is ready for immediate use. With rubber-padded feet, the Plinth seats the iPad, Nexus, Kindle Fire, or Galaxy tablets firmly in place at one of three adjustable viewing angles. The simple design boasts compatibility with any protective case on the market and even small-to-medium sized hard cover books. When the job is done, the Plinth folds up in a matter of seconds and fits right back in the pocket.

The Pitch. UK Inventor John Bull has a lot of tablets, and he shows off just how quickly setting up a Plinth is with any one of them. It’s hard not to be impressed as each tablet he has on his desk fits firmly in any of the Plinth’s 3 viewing angles. £21,000 (~$35,261) is what Bull needs to cover injection moulding, patents, marketing, and design.

The Perks. For £15 (just more than $25 American), backers can put a Plinth in their pocket in May 2014 without worrying about international shipping. Personalization comes at a roughly $15 jump in cost, whether it’s a name, personal message, or late Valentine’s gift.

The Potential. Universal stands on their own already litter the market by the thousands, but the Plinth’s compact size and clever opening mechanism make for a winning combination. Plinth already has interest from a distributor in the UK and companies that sell through Amazon, but any electronics store would be wise to keep plenty in stock, and the price tag is reasonable enough to make it a companion purchase with any tablet on the market.

Connected Objects Music Sensors/IoT

Acoustic Stream protects your guitar, helps it dash off a ditty to your smartphone

The Premise. From the first moment of finding a song that they can identify with, everybody wants to be a rock star. Whether it’s a beat-up pawn shop acoustic or a glittery studio electric, nobody forgets their first guitar. But aside from the thousands of hours of practice, one has to learn how to maintain their guitar and also get the necessary equipment to perform with it.

The Product.  The Acoustic Stream is a 4-in-1 solution to the basic needs of a guitar that syncs up effortlessly to a phone or wireless device to serve as a recorder, amplifier bridge, and instrument tuner. Additionally, it will send daily updates to the user’s phone about humidity levels, helping ensure proper maintenance and infrequent need for repairs. The device connects to the guitar’s output jack or can be placed inside or near the guitar or other instrument, and by simply tapping on the instrument its features can be activated. At this time, only iOS support is available.

The Pitch. A broken guitar was all it took to inspire Bob Bean to start dreaming up the eventual Acoustic Stream. With endorsements by up-and-coming musical acts, the promotional videos highlight the ease of use and effortless control that the device can provide musicians. With a $50,000 goal, of which over three quarters is going toward components and tooling, Bean and his team hope to make this tiny tool a staple for performers.

The Perks. Early supporters of the campaign can get an Acoustic Stream for $97, less than half the retail price, and with the inclusion of 5 guitar picks and a download for the music used in the promotional video. A second Acoustic Stream is available at the $294 tier, and at the high-end $3000 tier backers can join the beta-testing/development team and help shape the final product. All products are expected to ship in August 2014.

The Potential. If the Acoustic Stream did just one of the things that it’s capable of, whether tuning or connecting to an amp, it would be a worthwhile purchase for any musician that’s more likely to be without their wallet than their guitar. Tapping the guitar as a method of control seems a little suspect as some performers tap their guitar as part of their compositions, not to mention the potential for errant inputs. The Acoustic Stream could become as necessary a purchase as a quality amp, and the young musicians of the world will want to get their hands on it as soon as possible.

Cell Phone Accessories Music Sensors/IoT

Mogees turns virtually anything into a musical novelty

The Premise. Amateur percussionists have always found a way to make music using garbage cans, chain link fences or a desktop as a drum kit. This DIY form of music has found its way to full-blown stage shows, but what if there were a way to turn percussive racket into harmonic music?

The Product. In the tradition of MaKey MaKey, which allowed virtually anything to be a PC input, Mogees is a sensor, a little smaller than a golf ball, that can be affixed to any surface. By connecting to a companion app on mobile devices, the Mogees detects the vibrations of objects being dragged across, tapped on, or any other form of physical contact with the surface it’s attached to. These vibrations generate musical tones like chimes, bells, or strings depending on the app’s setting and the types of vibration.

The Pitch. Bruno Zamborlin, inventor of the Mogees, shows off what the device can do with the help of experimental dance artists Plaid. Among the promotional material is a music video that the two created for a song made entirely with the Mogees, which goes from novel to truly impressive by the halfway point. Additional materials explain how to use the companion app, and an explanation of Song Mode, which allows users to sync up their percussion with a MIDI of a favorite song to play along. Zamborlin needs £50,000 to begin production and keep the price point low.

The Perks. Backers will need to pledge approximately $67 to get a Mogees, either for Apple devices or Android operating systems. The higher quality red sensor and pro version of the app goes for just over $100, and the early access beta version is available for roughly $162. The iOS version is scheduled to ship out in August 2014, with the Android version following in November. Backers who pledge to get the beta device will be making music in May.

The Potential. Upon first hearing what the Mogees is capable of, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe and childlike wonder of glimpsing a new, musical world with this innovative device. Five minutes later, the feeling is of being stuck in performance art purgatory, where even a heavy dose of Bjork would be a welcome return to normalcy and stability. Artists and urban optimists might be able to create lush dreamscapes and inventive new city soundtracks. Everyone else will likely be responsible for a few minutes of discord and then probably lose interest.

Input Video Games

The King’s Assembly mashes up keyboard, joystick, mouse, crushes enemies

The Premise. While any PC gamer worth their kill/death ratio will say that keyboard and mouse is the only way to play, many games have had to optimize their control scheme to operate with a hand on each. More complicated games or any game with text chat requires players to take a hand off the mouse and slow their game down to communicate.

The Product. The King’s Assembly from Solid Art Labs is an intimidating but smart solution to this problem that combines keyboard, mouse, and joystick into a one- or two-handed system that looks like the love child of a typewriter and an air hockey paddle. By using a rest for the palm and a downward sweeping curved keyboard, gamers have access to more keys than ever without having to move their hands around. And by using an optical laser on the bottom, the device can be moved around like a mouse without having to change hand position.

The Pitch. Engineer, gamer, and founder of Solid Art Labs Eric Charlton explains how he designed the King’s Assembly to satisfy his personal gaming needs and demos the product. Campaign graphics show off the console-inspired thumb joystick, ergonomic palm rest, and a look at the unique curved keyboard. The project is looking to raise $20,000 to create molds, develop packaging and complete testing. Multiple stretch goals are announced, starting with upgrading the parts and making the device work with as many hand shapes and sizes as possible at $50,000. $100,000 will have the King’s Assembly bundled with presets designed by pro gamers for specific games and onboard macros. At $150,000 the company will add more colors, programmable backlighting and other style options, and at $250,000 the device will become fully wireless, both in connection to the PC and to each hand of the device.

The Perks. To get one hand of choice of the King’s Assembly by September takes a $110 pledge. Both hands are available for $185. If that’s too long to wait, a $350 pledge is all it takes to get a signed pre-production set by July.

The Potential. The unique approach of the King’s Assembly means it will have a hard time competing with established or traditional gaming peripheral manufacturers like Razer and Roccat, but all it will really take is for one pro to adopt and endorse this device for it to catch on with curious gamers.

Cycling Video

Blinking Fly6 bikecam lets tailing motorists know they’re being watched

The Premise. For those who bike to commute or just for fun, laws and convenience tie them to the same streets that cars speed down. Every intersection is an accident waiting to happen, every passing car might not notice the cyclist doing his best to move with traffic beside him. As a result, cyclists are constantly in fear of something much faster and heavier than they forcing them off the road.

The Product. The Fly6 is a combination LED taillight/HD camera that clips right to the seat post and can record the traffic behind for up to 5 hours. The philosophy behind this design is that it will alert motorists to cyclists, and at the same time let them know they are being recorded should they try to do anything dangerous or reckless. Every Fly6 comes with a USB-rechargeable lithium ion battery and an 8GB microSD card.

The Pitch. Introducing the Fly6 are Australian inventors Andrew Hagen and Kingsley Fiegert. Kingsley explains that the inspiration for the device came about when a car full of inconsiderate young people pulled up beside him in a motorcycle and shot him point blank with a slingshot, nearly causing him serious injury. Shocked by the incident, he forgot to take down the license plate number. A number of demonstrations are shown, illustrating the taillight strobe and the camera recording functions, as well as how the current model is waterproof. At the end, the two cleverly reveal that the entire video was shot using a Fly6, illustrating its quality. Andrew and Kingsley are asking for $95,000 AUD to finalize the design, streamline the software, patent the device, and more.

The Perks. $119 AUD ($15 AUD to ship outside of Australia) is all it takes to get a Fly6, delivered in May 2014. A special white model is available for slightly more. At the highest, $399 AUD tier,  backers will be shipped a prototype in March with free shipping, to test out and provide feedback before the finished product launches, which they will also receive.

The Potential. The Fly6 could be to cyclists what the insurance dashboard camera is for Russian motorists. Not only does it provide a real safety need, but it could lead to a new generation of viral videos as one of the promo videos hints.


Dash wireless earbud headset whispers entertainment, information into your ear

editors-choiceThe Premise. Headphones have come a long way since being a simple wire connecting two hard plastic cups covered in a thin foam. Ergonomic, performance, and technological advancements have slowly evolved the headphone to its current state, but at its best, it is still a device that has to rely on something else to function.

The Product. Bragi LLC’s The Dash Wireless In-Ear Headphones are the first smart earbuds out there. With no cables whatsoever, each pair of headphones inserts into each ear and can be gently pressed or swiped to control playlists, volume, or track fitness performance. The Dash can sync up to a phone for music playback or to take calls, but will also function on its own. However, as one might expect from the tiny size, battery life is limited with three  hours of playback on its battery life and  4 GB of non-expandable space to store music without using any other device. The fitness tracker can report heart rate, body temperature, distance, speed, and altitude among other things.

The Pitch. Designer Nikolaj Hviid introduces us to The Dash as his vision for the future of headphones. A series of clips shows us all the different features available and how seamlessly they work with or without the app. Afterwards, Olympic Triathlete Helle Frederiksen gives her endorsement for the headphones as a companion for fitness, and the design behind The Dash is explained. Pictures that accompany the campaign explain what each Dash comes with, all the specs and features, and what each reward tier includes. Bragi needs $260,000 to order plastic injection tools, develop prototypes, get certifications, and more.

The Perks. Shipping in November of this year, to get your hands on The Dash will cost $179, which is a $120 markdown from the suggested retail price. Developers who which to employ Dash headphone functionality with their app or who want to develop add-ons to the existing app will get a series of prototypes and access to the developer kit in July for $299.

The Potential. We’ve seen MP3 player headphones before, but the Dash is a miniature marvel. If Bragi delivers all of its promises on The Dash, this could be the template that all high-end headphones follow going forward. Fitness enthusiasts, business travelers, and tech junkies alike will want a pair, making the suddenly bulky-looking Bluetooth earpieces of the present obsolete.  While they appear sleek and simple, The Dash might find fast traction as the perfect companion to Google Glass.