Shine one takes a shine to promoting superphone specs, little imagery

ShineOneTremble, Androids.  Quake in fear, iPhones.  The Shine one is out to — What’s stronger than conquer? — uber-bliterate the Smartphone market.  Playing the numbers, the Shine one wields 256 GB of ROM, 8 GB of Ram, an  18-megapixel camera , a wireless “Pulsometer,” bracelet and fitness software, 8, yes 8-speaker sound, a thermometer with app that suggests how to normalize temperature, doubly redundant (three) batteries good for nine to 12 days of life (there’s likely a good reason it’s not shown in profile), and a multitouch screen which recognizes gloved touches.

The campaign on Indiegogo — no stranger to superphone campaigns — includes prose clearly translated from another language so details are a little foggy. However, it appears that the Shine one claims to be the first phone with a tripod aperture, and that a built-in wireless charger may also be included.  The backers are even throwing in free phone repair. Of course , that won’t include repair of competitors that see their screens shatter trembling n fear of the Shine one’s over-the-top specs.

Personal Transportation

URB-E personal transporter gets you around, won’t weigh you down

The Premise. That last leg of the commuter’s long journey is the distance between the train station or bus stop and the front door…the dreaded last mile. With no room on public transport for a bike, and no room in a grown adult’s life for a freakin’ scooter! (dopey razor kind, not retiree’s mobility kind)… however will one traverse it? Walk? Pashaw!

The Product. The URB-E is a folding electric mini-bike which collapses down to roughly the size of a rolling oxygen tank. This funky little take on the commuter vehicle comes in Carbon Grey, Cloud White, or “GoGo Green,” main colors (with Polished Gold and MRDR Black premium options), with accent choices of black, blue, white, hot pink, or orange. The rear-wheel assembly is modular, allowing users to switch between three-wheeled URB-E Commuter and two-wheeled URB-E GP versions, which provide optimal performance in slow populated conditions or faster open conditions, respectively (alternate wheel assembly sold as optional accessory).

The Pitch. Five, that’s right, FIVE videos outline everything from the URB-E’s marketing campaign and development to its adventures in the orient and rivalry with a gorilla. Clear and numerous pictures depict URB-E’s color options and smartphone-aware charging station (which will soon include an app to track range, battery life, speed, and even lighting). A three hour charge, a 36V battery and a 250W motor achieve URB-E’s 15mph top speed (max for electric mobility vehicles), 20-mile range, and a 250lb load capacity — pretty impressive for something that weighs less than your kids’ BMX bikes. Finally, URB-E’s development team’s references include the likes of Vans, Nike, Porsche, Samsung, and Disney, to name a few.

The Perks. Available in August 2014, the traditional options include: $1599 extra early backer with exclusive color, $1699 early backer, $1799 purchaser, and even a $250 down payment/reserve option, which locks in promotional price. Awesome options include: $999 race the gorilla option (to secure a chance to race the aforementioned gorilla. Seriously.), and a $20K “first model off the line,” option.

The Potential. With other compact products out there like the Yikebike Fusion, and the boxy Kickstarter alum Zeit-Eco (which is comparable in range and price, and includes built-in sound), commuters have emerging alternatives including many electric bike. However, with a 20-mile range and a design that can go basically anywhere, the URB-E is definitely worth a serious commuter’s second look.


iOne offers smart band on a smart budget

iOneWith the vast deserts of technology stretching out endlessly before us all, what could else could they possibly come up with?  How about a wireless device that transfers some functions from your phone…to your wrist?  For 90 bucks and a wait that lasts til July 2014, the sleekly-designed iOne will allow you to answer calls and texts, play music, display the time and chime one the hour.  You also get Bluetooth connectivity, 240-hr battery life, and grey, red, orange and blue color options. But, with competitors like the Vachen, which shares all of the iOne’s features plus a calendar, stopwatch, and multiple digital clock face,s for about double the price, and the HOT Watch which does even more for even less,  it looks iOne may be the Ryan Gosling of the smart watch world: looks really cool, but doesn’t actually do much.

Input Tablet Accessories

CruxENCORE does more than a 180°, offers keys to iPad Air productivity

CruxENCOREGone are the giant dinosaurs known as desktops, but we may have gotten overzealous when we banished the keyboard from our touch screen-populated lives. And while there are plenty of products trying to fill that all important accessory’s place, the $99 CruxENCORE means to best all of them.  A follow-up from the company’s CruxSKUNK but for the iPad Air, it also dons precision designed button, speaker, lighting and camera-port features, aircraft-grade 6063 aluminum construction, eight color combinations, Bluetooth connectivity, raised keys to emulate the Macbook typing experience, and a 3600 mAh Lithium-ion battery that provides a month of life. The most unique of the CruxENCORE’s features, however, is the locking, 360-degree hinge, which holds your iPad in any position without letting it tipping over, and latches shut, keeping your screen safely locked away.  There are also stylus, sleeve and bag accessory options.  This is a strong value compared to other iPad keyboards, like 2012’s Brydge, which has built-in speakers, but doesn’t lock, has only 180 degrees of hinge movement, and is over twice the price.


MixerFace musical interface helps make any place your studio.

The Premise. You’re off making contacts, getting demos out, and, generally taking the world by storm, when you’re suddenly hit with the need to record a song or demo. There’s no way to get to a recording studio and you feel your inspiration fading. What to do?

The Product. The MixerFace is a musical interface that allows you to get studio-quality sound from recordings made with your laptop, tablet or smartphone. It allows you to bypass these devices’ usual audio inputs, and plug an instrument or pro-quality mic in, directly.

The Pitch. The inventor knows his stuff, referring to factors that define a quality recording, like mikes that are optimized for professional sound, and that mobile devices don’t have them. The interface is built on the proven platform of the Hi-Fi M8, the best amplifier that CNET has ever tested according to the presentation. The well-produced video parodies a movie trailer, right down to the dramatic music, and trademark clichés: “In a world…, One man…,” and so on. It provides an extremely concise, professional and knowledgeable pitch, albeit, a rather thin presentation.

In other words, you get a lot of reasons for using the MixerFace, but not a lot about the product itself. This is partially remedied, however, with a comprehensive list of technical information, like its Li-Polymer battery, low-noise boutique pre-amps, 48v phantom power, product compatibility, and a ton of other specs that will leave the layman’s head spinning.

The Perks. There are two unique aspects to the the products perks — an early early-bird price, and an incentive for referring friends. The regular reward price is $349, but early birds can take delivery on the first day of spring (March 20th), or on tax-day for $279 and $299, respectively. And for you referrers, there is the opportunity to earn free equipment like other instrument interfaces, MixerFaces, and studio monitors (speakers) if you get your friends to spend at least $500.

The Potential. This product depends on third parties’ recording apps. The presentation includes a list of musicians/professionals that endorse the company’s other products. These two details alone are enough to make the seasoned studio rat a bit leery. But, it must be said, while there are other interfaces that sell for as little 50 bucks, one would be hard-pressed to find one that is battery-powered, tailor-made for mobile devices, and is as compact, portable and functional as the MixerFace is at any price.

Music Technology

Wily portable boombox releases an Android’s tablet’s inner voice

The Premise. It seems a week doesn’t go by without some company announcing a new portable speaker to tap into the rising tide of inexpensive smart devices such as Android tablets. Those devices today are often bridged using Bluetooth, but it might be more convenient to just have them merged into one.

The Product. The Auris Wily is basically a tablet with built-in sound, enabling it to easily access a wealth of popular audio sources such as Pandora, Spotify and Slacker as well as music stored on its internal flash memory and microSD card. It also has an HDMI connector so you can connect it to a TV and use it to stream video from Netflix, HBO Go or other sources. The curvy speaker even has a few other tricks up its sleeve such as being able to be used as a speakerphone or video chat terminal thanks to an integrated 2 MP front-facing camera. The Wily sports sleek, rounded, futuristic styling, similar to 60’s art-deco furniture; endearing, which is endearing in that tacky Jetsons sort of way. Available in red, white and black, it can also pump the volume thanks to its 90-decibel speakers.

The Pitch. The creators of the Wiley make their case with a video that features high production values, including an orchestral soundtrack and expensive digital transition effects. Detailed pictures of everything from production sketches to user-interface closeups are included and it runs through a detailed list of the products specs.

The Perks. Set to release in June 2014, the Auris Wily will cost early birds $169 for a model with 8 GB of on-board memory, and $188 for 16G. It will be available to backers for $189 for the 8 GB version and $208 for the 16 GB version.

The Potential. Although the Auris Wily logo bears a striking resemblance to that of the “Beats” franchise (Seriously, it looks like they just flipped it over) its design and concept stands out. The Wily comes on the heels of January’s announcement of Vizio’s portable smart audio system, which is heavier (8.8lbs for similar, 7-inch screen option) and has less bass response (60Hz). The Wily could be a fun poolside companion to backers who’d rather keep their smartphones out of the streaming chain this summer.

Cycling Music Winter Sports

Jalapeño mixes beats to your extreme feats

editors-choiceThe Premise.  Your favorite music flows. You wipe your brow with the last dry spot on your shirt before bearing down for that last attempt at nailing this trick, lest the daylight and your body give out. Start your run, compress for the jump, pop, hit the air, and then the silence, the calm, that instant between bad idea and successful trick. Time and sound resume, and you can stop holding your breath. You stuck that! What could make this moment better? How about if your music was more than a backtrack to that trick? What if it was the unique score to that moment?

The Product. The Jalapeño, so named for its cubist resemblance to the spicy pepper, is meant to enhance the extreme sports experience by allowing your movement to remix music; essentially, shredding on a board or bike creates the effect of a DJ mixing.  Along with the accompanying Beat Farm smartphone software, it allows your jumps, spins and turns to slow, freeze, cross-fade between tracks, and pan audio between headphones.

The Pitch. A compact (under 3x2x1″), durable, weatherproof design and a seemingly sturdy mount make the Jalapeño viable across a wide range of applications from snowboarding, to BMXing to breakdancing. Its campaign includes multiple endorsements and three videos depicting testimonials, product demos, and brief explanations of operation, but little technical info about how it actually works. The only info about the creators is that they “first met at the University of Pennsylvania’s IPD graduate program.” In fact, technical development information is lacking overall. Not a campaign designed to appease techies, there are only two prototype development photos, and short, broad descriptions of the development state.

The Perks.  Early birds will pay $199 for essential equipment (Jalapeño, mount, software), and everyone else can expect to pay $239, or more, for packages that include extra swag like tees and hoodies.

The Potential.  This seems like a ton of fun. Who doesn’t want their own personal soundtrack enabling you to mix and remix.  Shredding to your own sounds looks like it will add a new element of fun to showing off, but the challenge will be in ensuring that the novelty doesn’t wear off.

Connected Objects Health and Wellness

Atlas carries the weight of exercise knowedge on its shoulders

editors-choiceThe Premise.  You’ve watched what you’ve eaten, been walking the dog regularly, and re-repurposed that dusty, laundry rack back into a treadmill, but your weight loss has hit a plateau and you’re ready for the next level.  Fitness charts, daily journals, progress analyses and beach body, here you come! On second thought, you’ll just buy a piece of equipment to handle all that stuff for you… except for the actual exercise part.

The Product.  Atlas is a wrist-worn fitness tracker that can track time, heart-rate, reps, and even evaluate your form.  It achieves this through 3-D tracking and a bank of (potentially, by the time of release) over 100 exercises.  It can differentiate between exercises like squats and deadlifts, double curls from alternating curls, learn new exercises, and even discount exercises that aren’t done with proper form… so don’t try to cheat. It does not require dedicated software, is compatible with Fitocracy, MapMyFitness and other fitness programs, and allows you to create your own apps using its open API. Atlas is waterproof down to one meter, employs standard USB charging, has enough battery life for seven long workouts, a 30x15mm display screen, offers replacement bands, and is even left/right hand compatible.

The Amiigo was another Indiegogo fitness tracker that claimed tracking of specific activities.

The Pitch.  Atlas’ developers worked with professional trainers, fitness gurus, and their local fitness community to keep in touch with customer needs, and develop criteria of proper exercise form.  The campaign page shows off the “exercise fingerprints” it has devised, which are  snapshots of the Atlas’ graphic analyses. The page also includes a FAQ section that addresses everything from international shipping to metal allergies.  The well-produced video consists of the company’s CEO walking through a gym, delivering the essentials of the written pitch.

 The Perks.  The Atlas will run $160 ($130 for early backers), including a free six-month trial of fitness software.  Perks become much more complicated, including a $900 six-pack for trainers, a $1,500 option that entitles you to preload a custom exercise to be included with every shipment, and a “developer model,” Atlas.

The Potential.  Other wireless activity trackers can be had for as little as 60 bucks, on up to about $180, but none with the capacities or versatility of the Atlas.  And with technology sophisticated enough to differentiate between swimming strokes, track exercises as vague and obscure as rope-climbs and battle-rope work, and help you anticipate and overcome plateaus, the Atlas may be a bit toward the pricier side, but may be the exercise tracker that workout enthusiasts have been looking for.

Personal Transportation

Onewheel rolls through the middle of an electric skateboard

The Premise. Lots of folks love to use their skateboards but are tired of having to kick their way through town. Maybe the shock inflicted by every little crack or pebble they roll over with their existing board is too much or they want a more enjoyable means of transport. Or maybe they just love to surf or snowboard and still itch for the slopes and the surf even with no powder or waves to shred.

The Product. Meant to satisfy that itch while being super-intuitive and easy to use, the Onewheel is the latest in electric skateboards. It looks like a skateboard with a go-cart wheel sticking up through the middle of it, allowing you to put your feet on either side of, kind of like those pogo-balls from the ’80s.

The Pitch. The campaign video artistically and professionally depicts Onewheel riders rolling and carving through city streets, turning the heads of the hip, urban youth as they do. A comprehensive chart of components leads into a by a detailed breakdown of their attributes/technical specs. An extremely comprehensive shipping production chart is provided, and all pics are pertinent and professional. The campaign highlights Onewheel’s construction attributes, like its 6061 billet aluminum frame, its brushless, direct-drive hub motor, and Canadian maple deck, as well as its inventor’s and technician’s well-established qualifications. A little more explanation of how a motorized wheel’s only moving part can be the wheel seems warranted, however. Pictures of high-tech production equipment that looks like something you’d find on a nuclear sub, and terms like algorithms, gyroscopes and accelerometers, even when duly explained, can still fly well over the layman’s head.

The Perks. The Onewheel is not a toy, unless your kid is Richie Rich. One (blue) Onewheel can be had for a backing of no less than $1,299. Be prepared to shell out another c-note for the 20-min charger, and another three on top of that if you want to choose from the black or pink options. The Potential. The Onewheel provides only 20 minutes of ride time per one-hour charge (20-minute with a high-speed charger). Despite that, it still seems like it would be that must-have plaything of the cool people if it didn’t cost those cool people a few months’ worth of not-so-cool rent.

Camping Cooking

Vertex stove brings the heat, keeps it light

The Premise.  So you plan on spending some time in the great outdoors.  Most of the essentials are small and readily portable: water, compass, map, maybe a multitool.  But what about cooking?  How do you go about fitting something that can contain your fire, shield it from the wind, and prop up your pot/pan into your backpack?

The Product. The Vertex Ultralight Backpacking Stove addresses this problem. With no moving parts, it is literally nothing more than three stamped-out sheets of metal that assemble into a base for your pot, a support for your fuel, and a wind shroud for your fire. These sheets have holes and tabs stamped out to accommodate the Vertex’s interlocking assembly, and arc along their long ends, which form its base and the stand for your pot.  It can burn solid fuel tablets, or also be used in conjunction with the Trangia Spirit Burner to burn denatured alcohol. It then disassembles into a flat, 3×5-inch package that fits easily into its rip-stop nylon storage sleeve (fancy name for pouch), and almost any pocket.

The Pitch. While clear and demonstrative, most of the product video consists of a slide show There’s little more than a couple clips of the creator in the woods and some panning shots of the product in action, with “action” meaning “sitting there on fire,” in this case. About a third of the video focuses on the fuel the Vertex uses rather than the product itself which, let’s face it, consists of little more than a few thoughtfully configured sheets of tempered stainless steel.

The Perks. Backing the project for with $50 will get you a Vertex of your own ($45 if you get in early enough).

The Potential. The Vertex is a clever and elegant product, but with such a small foot print, and nuanced design, it might not work on a rough or slanted surface.  Conventional burners and emergency stove kits cost as little as $4, folding aluminum wind shrouds as little as $8, and other folding stove kits as little as $9.  That being the case, 50 bucks doesn’t seem like much of a deal for a device whose purpose can be outsourced to a bunch of tactically arranged rocks.