Connected Objects Lighting

LumiSmart brightens up the smart home, stretches purpose of desk lighting

The Premise. The lamp on your desk right now is probably unremarkable at best. It may be nicely designed or have a few modes of brightness, but its light certainly wouldn’t be one under which you’d pen anything to write home about. Despite its simplicity, it’s still a vital part of your desk layout and you would work in darkness without it. Isn’t it about time that one of the more essential tools of productivity gets an upgrade?

The Product. The LumiSmart is the latest product to enter the “smart” family. The lamp integrates with the user’s living habits in an attempt to seamlessly improves everyday lifestyle. It does this by integrating an ambient light sensor, a temperature sensor, a camera, a motion sensor, a voice recognizing mic, and speakers. By connecting to your phone over Wi-Fi, the LumiSmart can notify you of its surrounding environment. LumiSmart also has an adaptive platform that allows the users to create their own app to customize their lifestyle. Such ideas include an alarm clock, a security system, or a reminder system. The possibilities will go as far as the user’s creativity.

The Pitch. The campaign video shows off the different features of the lamp and how they may improve everyday life. For example, LumiSmart can let you know when someone comes in the house, or remind you when you need to take a break from working. There are tons of examples since the apps can be customized and shared, so its up to the user how they want to use the lamp.

The Perks. The LumiSmart comes with a pretty hefty price tag. The early bird price for a standard lamp will set you back $149, with the price rising up to $200 once that deal expires. Developers can still get a hold to the LumiSmart for $200 to have more access to the platform and various APIs. In what seems like some bad math, people who pledge $999 will receive four LumiSmart lamps with some educational materials. Economic rants aside, LumiSmarts are scheduled to be delivered in September 2014.

The Potential. The LumiSmart embraces some interesting features and ideas, but there’s not much besides lighting that this lamp can do that your smartphone can not. It’s not necessary for a lamp to send you reminders or be an alarm clock, and its simply not necessary to spend hundred of dollars for a redundant piece of technology. Just because something can be a connected thing, doesn’t mean it should.

Smart Home

Jalousier lets sun shine in on home automation with blinds control

The Premise. Blinds and curtains can often be difficult to maneuver and operate, and they always have to be readjusted for different lighting environments. Even expensive electric blinds still have to be operated by button or a remote control. Wouldn’t it be great is the blinds could just adjust automatically?

The Product. The Jalousier, named for the French word for blinds, looks to overcome the everyday obstacles normal blinds pose. The device is able to monitor different stimuli such as lighting conditions, room temperature, sun position, and weather. Using these variables, the Jalousier adjusts the blinds to optimize natural daylight, provide privacy, and lower artificial lighting, cooling, and heating by up to 18%. The built-in wifi makes it accessible through your smartphone, and integrable with your smart home community.

The Pitch. The Bulgarian team offers a pretty self-explanatory device, and the video shows just how simple it is to use. The project creators explain the difficulties of wrestling with blinds and always having to readjust them, and then they show how the Jalousier factors in different variables to adjust to the ideal angle. The design of the product makes it easy to install and take off with minimal effort, and the video shows just how easy that is.

The Perks. If you want to try it out at the early bird price, one Jalousier will cost $99. If you want to expand to more blinds throughout your house, the price doesn’t get lower as you purchase more—it’s a flat rate of an additional $100 for each additional device. Currently, Jalousier expects to deliver its device by October 2014.

The Potential. The Jalousier has a minimalist design that packs some interesting features that change the way we control our blinds. Electric blinds can often be too pricey, so the Jalousier is a more economic solution that also puts more control in your hands through their free app. Control of one’s blinds isn’t at the top of the home automation wish list, but after the precedent set by products such as Nest thermostat and Hue light bulbs, it seems as though another home automation task is about to be democratized.

Health and Wellness

iHear brings down the cost of hearing help

The Premise. The acoustics of life shouldn’t require a lofty price. Yet, what most of us take for granted as just another sense is a commodity that others don’t have access to due to a hearing disability. A high quality hearing aid is very expensive, and it’s a barrier that keeps one in five Americans from buying hearing aids that dig deep into their wallets.

The Product. Regardless of whether you use an iPhone or iPad, the iHear is a comfortable hearing aid that delivers crisp and clear sound. It’s waterproof, completely invisible to outside viewers, and can be adjusted to have a perfect fit within your ear in less than a minute. It offers everything that a person with a hearing disability needs, but can do so at the fraction of the cost. The low price/high quality combination makes this hearing aid much more accessible to the average consumer, and thus it gives access to sound to a much larger percentage of the population with a hearing disability.

The Pitch. Both the Indiegogo campaign and the video show that iHear is truly passionate about making hearing aids more affordable. The creators go into depth about what is included, and how customers know that they’re getting reliable hearing aids. Supporting the mission of iHear are the stories of testers who have already changed to the hearing aid. They echo the sentiment of supplying a cheaper competitor for high quality sound delivery.

The Perks. iHear gives plenty of opportunity for anyone to support their campaign and the effort to give access to hearing to more people. The iHear HD can still be claimed at its early bird price of just $149, but the hearing aid will then be priced at a reasonable $200. For those who don’t have a hearing disability, there are plenty of ways to get involved. iHear also has a philanthropic campaign of trying to deliver 1000 hearing devices for free. Pledgers can donate $10 to that cause or pay $379 to get two hearing aids for you and two hearing aids for a person in need.

iHear has also developed a PC-based hearing test that can be administered that is available at $49. Lastly, for those looking to support iHear, you can pick up earphones designed for your smartphone and MP3 player for just $39. It’s currently anticipated that the iHear devices will start being available in August 2014.

The Potential. iHear Medical has a product on its hands that means all the best for improving the lives of people with a hearing disability, but the question is whether or not people without a hearing disability are willing to pledge. iHear still needs to get FDA approval for its products, and then the task will be to challenge the six companies that control the market for these medical devices with higher-priced product.

Smart Home

EmoSPARK melds AI, cloud intelligence in a small cube

The Premise. The movie Her raises many questions about artificial intelligence (AI) in relation to human interaction. As technology grows smarter, a more capable AI becomes almost inevitable as humans continue to grow closer and closer to creating a computer program that can think and interact like a human.

The Product. The EmoSPARK is one of the first products that claims the capability to read human emotions and learn from its environment in order to improve its interactions with people. It allows people to interact with it via conversation, music and visual media through an Android-powered program that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. By reacting to human emotions and interaction, the EmoSPARK can enhance the stimuli it receives to boost that emotion and make interaction seem natural—as if with another human being. It has access to over 39 million topics and can be paired with smart devices to make integration that much easier.

The Pitch. While maybe not as advanced and alluring as Scarlett Johansson’s voice in “Her,” the video shows that the EmoSPARK can read and understand human emotions—and subsequently translate that into a response that constitutes normal interaction. It can be used by people of all ages, and it can even be used as an Internet learning tool with its wide access to information on the web. The creators have held out two stretch goals at $200,000 for home automation and a Windows Phone app and $300,000 for compatibility with crowdfunding alumni Webee and Ninja Sphere.

The Perks. The EmoSPARK cube costs $224 for early adopters, and it will be delivered by May 2014. For an extra $50, the IP camera that gives it eyes and ears at home is worth getting as well if you’re investing in the cube. If you’re willing to drop a cool $9,000, you can claim a day with CEO in EmoSPARK’s London office as well as a cube signed by the whole team.

The Potential. The idea screams potential, but unfortunately, the product doesn’t. The EmoSPARK definitely takes steps toward being a more capable AI unit capable of human interaction, but the it still hasn’t reached the natural cadence of human interaction. EmoSPARK bills itself as the firat AI home console but it’s certainly not the first cloud-based device sitting waiting for your ambient commands. The Ubi recently began shipping to backers since being funded on Kickstarter in 2012. Nonetheless, the EmoSPARK may be a stepping stone worth taking a look at as we continue to strive toward that goal.

Displays Video

Avegant Glyph transforms from headphone to head-mounted theater

editors-choiceThe Premise. Since the inception of personal devices, there’s been a consistent battle to have the best graphics possible. As screens get smaller and closer to the eye, this has been quite the significant challenge to overcome. No product has been able to come out the definite victor, and they continue to strive for a completely immersive experience.

The Product. The Avegant Glyph combines high-quality audio with image quality unlike traditional displays. The flip-down headband provides a vibrant display by projecting the images directly onto the retina. The end result is a powerful combination of audio and visual entertainment with extensive potential. According to Avegant, they want the Glyph to be a universal device that can allow for 360 degree immersion, making phone calls, and seeing ultraviolet and infrared signatures in real time. It can work with most devices by using a simple HDMI cable, so it can be integrated with almost all your current devices.

The Pitch. Yobie Benjamin, the COO of Avegant, summed up the austerity of the Glyph pretty well. “It’s not about just building a better product. It’s actually about building a platform that nobody’s ever seen.” The video shows how simple the Glyph is: flip down the headband, and be immersed in an entirely new world. But the video really focuses on where it hopes developers will take the product and use it in ways previously unimagined. After demonstrating the Glyph at CES, Avegant hopes to bring the Glyph to consumers by the end of the year.

The Perks. $499. That’s all it takes to have this prototypical combination of crisp audio and stunning visuals in your hands. A pair of high quality headphones will set you back $300-$400 dollars, so it’s completely reasonable that the Glyph would be $499. It will take until December 2014 for it to ship, but the opportunity to be among the first to try out this new personal device it well worth the wait.

The Potential. The Glyph’s micromirror system helps avoid issues plaguing other virtual reality headsets and the flip-down headband/visor helps avoid some of the stigma often incurred with other VR headsets. While its profile is still chunky, Avegant claims that the functional beta shipping to backers will have smaller headphone cups. It may not be enough to make HMDs  mainstream. However it wouldn’t be surprising to see increased use in public places such as planes.

Automotive Smart Home

WataSensor WA1 detects dirty deeds in home or car

The Premise. In 2012 alone, there were 8,975,438 property crimes in the U.S. according to the FBI. Collectively, those crimes (which include burglaries, larceny thefts, and car thefts) resulted in a loss of $15.1 billion dollars for the victims, and the rate that agencies made arrests on these crimes is 528.1 arrests for every 100,000 crimes.

The Product. WataSensor aims to improve the security market, and improve the alarming number of property thefts in the U.S. Their product, the WA1, can sense a window breaking, a door opening, or a fire burning and will then send an alert to your smartphone so you can always monitor your property safely. The WA1 is completely portable, and works in any car or house up to 2000 square meters, plus it doesn’t rely on line-of-sight or motion-sensing technology like its competitors. Simply pair it with your smartphone, and you’re protected with the WA1 — no wires or additional set up required.

The Pitch. WataSensor’s video explains just what its product is capable of, and how the company hopes their product can protect property in both the home and automotive markets. According to WataSensor, 90% of homes are unprotected and they hope to change that number for the better. By raising $100,000 the company plans to invest in manufacture tooling for the WA1 and complete their development of the smartphone app.

The Perks. Early adopters, for the price of $249, can be among the first to be protected by the WA1 when it ships in July 2014. That package will also include regular updates from the team and a special edition t-shirt as well. For those more enthusiastic about the product, $400 will include the aforementioned items plus the current generation device which will ship in February.

The Potential. The WA1 will go head-to-head with a huge crowdfunding success story, the Canary, as well as the crowdfunded iSmartAlarm. These products disrupt the security market by creating a device that allows protection without the monthly payments or costly setup procedures, although those who want a professionally monitored option will need to look at options such as the SimpliSafe2. These options also have the advantage of letting you move houses without having to start over and work in just about any setting. Indeed, if the WA1 be even used in a car as the company states, it may be poised to advance home security into apartments where penetration is even lower than in houses.


RST training glove punches up hit accuracy, timing

The Premise. Muhammad Ali once said that he was so fast, he could flip the light switch in his room and be in bed before the room was dark. While maybe a little shy of the 300 million meters per second, he was still able to dodge 21 punches in 10 seconds.  The Greatest have been even greater, though,  had he access to the advanced training tools of today — including ones that are putting a digital twist on tried-and-true methods.

The Product: Reflex Strike Technology (RST) is the training glove from the future. Using adjustable lights, a built-in reflect stopwatch, punch counter, and successful strike beeps, the RST training gloves give realtime assessments to the trainer and allow the fighter to prepare for the spontaneity of a realistically unpredictable fight. With RST, fighters can practice with the same intensity of an actual fight, and have a distinct advantage over their opponent in terms of preparation.

The Pitch. The video shows the RST in action as a young boxer squares off with her trainer. From the video, the mitts look well-made, and it’s easy for the fighter to see the lights and throw the appropriate punch that the trainer dictates. RST creator Jermaine Simpkins goes into great depth about the RST in the written description on how he has combined his passion of teaching youth fighters with the technology of his product. He comes off as passionate and honest about all the RST’s strengths and downfalls, leaving the buyer no doubts about what they’re buying if the campaign can reach its $12,000 goal.

The Perks. The price is steep but the reasoning is honest. Simpkins explains that the gloves offer slightly more than the most expensive gloves on the market. Therefore, the fundamental gloves for beginners will cost $219 and the advanced version with punch count, reflex test, and training features costs $399. He expects the delivery of the fundamental gloves to arrive in February 2014, and the advanced pair to arrive in May.

The Potential. It’s great to see that Simpkins is passionate about evolving the resources that fighters have available, and it’s a good foundation for future improvement. However, Simpkins notes his product’s own downfalls such as durability and price. RST is an ambitious product, but the design needs to improve before it’s ready for  production. As the product is refined, it may be more valuable if it measures strength of impact as well.

Imaging Video Wearables

meMini records your life after the fact

editors-choiceThe Premise. Sometimes the most precious memories in life can be the most unprecedented. These unexpected moments can add a delightful twist of color into life, and they should never be lost or forgotten. But oftentimes it’s either too cumbersome or too late to pull out a camera and take a video that can be cherished forever.

The Product. The meMini is a wearable camera that lets you record events after they happen. Designed to be small and unnoticeable, it magnetically clips onto your clothing and records continuous loops that can be set anywhere between five seconds to five minutes. If something special happens but you were unable to pull your camera out in time, there’s no need to worry. Simply press the Recall button and the meMini will send that moment to its secure cloud based server for you to view later on your profile. Because life’s most precious moments deserve to be shared, meMini also has an iPhone app that makes it easy to share your videos with family and friends.

The Pitch. Co-Founder Sam Lee starts off his narration of the meMini by introducing it as the world’s first wearable camera that makes it possible to record moments after they happen. He then shows the process and the detail that he and his team went through to make sure that the meMini was both simple and innovative in the way that we capture, store, and share our most treasured memories.The device eliminates the need for cords and memory cards because of its unique cloud-based storage system, which makes it easy to go back and relive memories in their purest form as they happen. Lee and co-founder Ben Bodely end the video by asking for a donation to fulfill their first order to put the meMini into production.

The Perks. Scheduled to be shipped in June 2014, a few early bird specials that will land you a meMini in the color of your choice for just $149. After this deal is over, you can still claim the same prize for $159, which is still a pretty good deal for a 1080p HD video recording device with image stabilization.

The Potential. Going head to head with wearable video capture products such as the Looxcie 3, the  meMini could change the way that moments are captured. Instead of a performance in front of a video camera, the meMini captures a memory as a candid visual that accurately portrays the moment as it happened and as you remembered it.  Wearable cameras still have their share of stigma, though, and the meMini’s battery will power it for only three hours at a time. Still, it’s the closest thing we might have to the rewind button on what we’ve experienced.


Fin rings up a versatile approach to wearable gestures

The Premise. Technology has evolved by putting more power directly at the tips of our fingers, but there hasn’t been much breakthrough in the way we input information since the first iPhone and Kinect came out. Touchscreen devices and motion sensing appliances put control directly into our hands, but there hasn’t been a gadget that’s been able to unite these devices until now.

The Product. Fin allows you to take control of your entire digital world with a small ring that transforms your palm into a touchscreen of sorts. One edge of it flips up like a hairdo with tips. Small taps and finger swipes control the functions of Bluetooth devices such as smartphones, smart TVs, smart homes, and cars all through one sleek and handy (pun fully intended) device. Fin uses low amounts of power while also being both dustproof and waterproof, so it’s a practical way to make technology more ergonomic in the way that we interact with the world.

The Pitch. There’s a sentimental aspect connected to using our fingers for everything, and Fin’s video does a good job of capturing it, even campaigning for it as a fashion statement. Fin’s creatoors show how adaptable it can be by using the awakening the sense of touch to improve the quality of life, and end the video by urging the user to “wear the world.”

The Perks. The price seems a little steep for such a small device at $99 for the early bird price. The technology that it packs is worth it, but they won’t deliver it until September 2014. There are different packages for more Fins, but one is more than enough to get you started as the technology of it continues to develop and improve.

The Potential. Right now, there simply aren’t enough devices that the Fin can effectively control. It definitely has the potential to be a device that can control the way we interact with technology, but it will need more developer support. They also still haven’t completed their design and the nine-month waiting period before shipment gives cause for pause. If you want to get your digits dancing on the cusp of technology, it could be worth pledging.

Imaging Technology Wearables

Panvu 3D chases less dorky wearable to snap panoramic 3D photos, video

The Premise. At life’s most breathtaking and exhilarating moments, you want to be able to focus on the now, not worrying about opening up the camera on your phone or tinkering with the settings of your DSLR. You want to capture the moment with your own eyes, and have a picture worthy of the remnants of that memory.

The Product. The Panvu 3D glasses are lightweight and sporty while boasting three integrated 15 megapixel cameras. By taking dual images, it can create 3D panoramic photos that capture even more than what the eyes can see. The images taken with the glasses can be sent directly to your smart phone via Bluetooth where their app (available for both iOS and Android users) creates a 3D panorama at the with a single tap. It can also shoot video in HD 1080p at 30 fps, with 8GB of memory and a 60 minute battery life.

The Pitch. The pitch video is a sequence of transitions between slides explaining the features of the Panvu 3D glasses, and beautiful landscapes of people taking life by the horns. However, it’s unclear if these photos were actually taken with the glasses, and some of them even look like generic stock photos. But even if you do put on your “Suspension of Disbelief” glasses for those photos, it’s concerning that nowhere on the page or the video is there a person actually wearing the glasses. The glasses run the risk of looking bulky and perhaps even being uncomfortable. Their pitch doesn’t mention anything that would dismiss those concerns.

The Perks. The standard 8GB glasses can be bought with a pledge of $110. That includes the Panvu 3D Glasses, interchangeable anaglyphic 3D glasses, hard case, remote, soft tissue, and an 8GB memory card. For an extra $20, you can get a 16GB memory card instead, but the real deal is the $150 pledge that will land you the Panvu 3D Extended Edition glasses with nearly triple the battery life.

The Potential. Whether their goal is reached or not, all pledgers will receive their Panvu 3D glasses since this is an Indiegogo Flexible Fund campaign. That’s reassuring considering they’re asking for $100,000 over the course of one month.  The glasses themselves are an interesting competitor to something like the GoPro or Looxcie HD wearable imaging camera. They may be able to give a better point-of-view perspective since they are integrated with the natural field of vision with potentially less bulk. But as mentioned earlier, the quality of the experience, as well as those of the images, will be tough to convey without head-on experience.