Virtual Reality

Open DoVision creates VR using open components

When Oculus Rift was bought by Facebook, many interested parties suddenly found themselves without that passionate interest in the device. Thankfully, companies like DotLab are working on alternatives, like the Open DoVision; a fully open-source VR headset that is easy to connect and use. By simply connecting the USB cable and the display output cable of choice (HDMI, VGA, A/V), Open DoVision can display any content right in front of the user’s eyes, with head-tracking features by moving the mouse cursor with accelerometers.

Because Open DoVision is open-source, DotLab encourages users to get their hands into the code and create new features and functions for the device. Additionally, a few parts can be interchanged in the headset to create a simple head-mounted display for use in games that don’t natively support VR headsets or for movies or other media content.

DotLab needs $20,000 AUD (~$17,000 USD) to release Open DoVision, and backers can get their head in the game for $99 AUD (~$85 USD) in January 2015. The presentation is a little lacking, and gamers shouldn’t expect direct support for the Open DoVision for a while, but at this price tag, this is a VR headset worth looking into.

Smart Home

SandboxHome packs in multiple components for a smart security system

Finding a home security system that’s both effective and affordable tends to be a somewhat impossible task. Starter kits are always available, but lack necessary features or only offer enough equipment to target a specific area of the home.

SandboxHome is designed to take all of the advancements in smart home security, bundle them together, and provide enough equipment to cover all the important parts of the home with adequate security. The SandboxHome kit starts with five intrusion tags that can be placed on any door or window to send an alert when these apertures are opened or entered without permission. Next, two HD video cameras are included to allow photo and video recording of any intruders or live feeds of the home’s activity.

Add to this a smart doorbell that has a built in intercom and HD camera so any visitor can be greeted or screened appropriately. For those that prefer a more traditional security system, an optional service of 24/7 live monitoring by security operators can be added in to make sure someone is responding to any break-ins as quickly as possible. SandboxHome has set its goal at $50,000 to assemble the prototypes and build relationships with manufacturers and assemblers. Everything in the SandboxHome system can be purchased for $400, with delivery in March 2015.

Single devices have popped up recently to offer the smart doorbell/doorman system, or the live feeds from security cameras placed in the home, but SandboxHome is offering all of that functionality at a price that’s actually pretty reasonable. The app looks fully featured and easy to use, and for homeowners or renters looking to just make one purchase to encapsulate their entire security needs, this may be the product for them.



MaxMyTV puts everything on your TV that isn’t TV

Even with smart TVs, the use of applications often requires navigating menus, creating tiny picture-in-picture windows, or navigating away from programming completely. Not only do smart TVs need to become smarter to adapt with the change in technology, they need to become more intuitive.

MaxMyTV is a simple smart hub that does both of these things by using overlays and a remote designed for calling up functions without interrupting TV watching. Connecting via HDMI as a bridge between the existing cable or satellite set-top box and the TV and communicating with other devices through open source ZigBee, MaxMyTV then functions with a host of accessories including a sensor, an IP camera, a smart outlet, and more.

This allows MaxMyTV to function as a social media hub for live-tweeting popular shows, a front door camera, and much more. The included remote offers buttons that directly pull up sidebars offering email accounts, sports scores, social networks, and smart home sensors for temperature, lights, or security. The basic system includes a MaxMyTV Smart Hub and the remote control, and goes out to backers who pledge $149 in March 2015. MaxMyTV is hoping to generate $250,000 worth of support to improve the product, get certified, and also pay for tooling, production, and shipment.

Adding more features and a better interface to smart TV functions is a great idea that is easy to get behind. As to whether MaxMyTV offers the best features, the sharpest interface, and the best way to go about expanding the smart TV/home experience, that’s a bit harder to call. The overlays look like they still take up a good deal of screen space, and, since it’s an additional device, it doesn’t appear to shrink down the display to account for this. Ultimately, MaxMyTV just looks like a stopgap to tide consumers over until something better comes along.


A tiny motion sensor, CoinGuard alerts you to mysterious movements

We all have those things that we want to keep protected from the sticky fingers and greedy curious hands of burglars, children, or even just friends and family. Aside from setting up bullet-proof cases with laser trip alarms, how can these items be protected? CoinGuard is a simple and small security system that can be laid atop any item and serve as a watchdog. If the CoinGuard is moved, it triggers the motion sensor and sends a notifcation to the user’s phone, letting them know that their item is being tampered with.

CoinGuard does this through a nearby hub that syncs up to sensors and connects to the Internet through ethernet. The system allows for some peace of mind if items are being tampered with, but this comes with one key drawback. The CoinGuard has no way of reporting who is touching the protected items, and lacks the visual recognition to deter someone who doesn’t know what CoinGuard is. So if one is away from home and their valuables are being taken, the best they can do is try and call someone to respond in time when an alert has been sent. Pilot Labs is raising $100,000 through Kickstarter, and will set backers back $45 in December.


Neutron lets you tote around a PC in your pocket

Part of what made the switch to mobile technology so natural for people is the way that existing technology is always pushing itself to be smaller, more efficient, and more convenient. Somewhere along the way, desktop computers got lost, choosing to stay large, boxy, and cumbersome.

The Neutron is an impressive palm-sized x64 PC that is deceptively powerful for its size. More than just a proof-of-concept novelty, the Neutron can run a full, modern Windows OS(8.1), uses Intel Haswell i3 and i5 processors, and is extremely energy efficient. With a minimum of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage, the Neutron is no slouch computer, especially when being stacked up in a pound-for-pound comparison. With a mini displayport, mini HDMI port, and four USB 3.0 ports, the Neutron supports any USB accessories and up to three displays at once.

Available in seven different acrylic case colors, the Neutron is an eye-catching device sure to start a conversation wherever it gets set down and used. The onboard Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11AC Wi-Fi make it a snap to connect with at any location as well. For those that want a little more performance, the Neutron Pro comes in the same size case, but offers a Core i5 Processor, an Intel Iris 5000 graphics card, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and 480GB of solid state storage. If Atom Computer can raise $30,000, backers will get theirs in time for the 2014 holiday season starting at $750.

This isn’t just a neat idea being made available to people just because. This is a legitimate computer that fits inside a cargo pant pocket. For people who don’t mind latching onto displays wherever they can find them, that means having a fully-featured personal computer everywhere and anywhere. And that seems like the next evolutionary step for desktops.

Connected Objects Displays

Ovoid HomePod projects entertainment onto wall

Entertainment and technology are evolving hand in hand, and yet the common experience tends to continue to revolve around a stationary rectangle (or curved rectangle), placed or mounted within the home in various rooms.

The HomePod by KEECKER is the newest way to enjoy multimedia entertainment. KEECKER is a projector that can broadcast any music, TV, game, or Internet content using full-room audio and project visuals onto any surface, indoor or outdoor. Additionally, KEECKER is remote controlled through its smartphone app and can drive to meet users wherever they might be. With Wi-Fi, a terabyte of storage, an Android OS, a panoramic camera, and 90 degrees of movement on its projector, KEECKER is flexible enough to handle any media task.

Additionally, KEECKER can be used to monitor multiple aspects of the home, driving around as a mobile security camera, and using sensors to track motion, noise, temperature, humidity, air quaility, and light. All of these combine to make KEECKER useful in ways beyond entertainment, though it still excels at that. KEECKER needs $100,000 for production and testing costs. The unit costs backers $2,490 and will be available in May 2015.

Consumers may have a hard time grasping exactly what a HomePod entails, but know that KEECKER is essentially somewhere between R2-D2 and DJ Roomba. The wealth of features and possibilities for this device are exciting, but the sticker shock of the price can be a wet blanket for that hype. It’s a very well thought-out device and one that’s capable of replacing several home electronics along with entertaining the dog, but dedicated A/V snobs may find the fidelity lacking.

Home Smart Home

Kuna embeds a smart camera in a porch light to scare off intruders

Home security is a big concern for people worldwide. The old security systems of the 80’s and 90’s rely on off-site, outsourced professionals to contact the authorities and hope for a response in time. This technology needs an upgrade.

Kuna is a combination outdoor light and smart camera that allows owners to get notifications when someone approaches their door and, using the Kuna app, see them, talk with them, or sound an alarm. Disguised as a stylish exterior home light in one of three available styles, Kuna has all the function and convenience of an app-controlled outdoor light.

The fact that Kuna also includes a fully functional security camera with all the bells and whistles is a welcome addition. Operating on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, Kuna is easy to install and easy to use. Kuna is raising $50,000 to complete testing and ship out units. A donation of $149 is all it takes to provide peace of mind with a Kuna.

This isn’t the first smart camera and intercom system that’s been released on the market, but it may be the most multi-functional and most discreet; great for making a home look welcoming poorer for deterring unwanted guests outright.


Lumera adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and remote control to your DSLR

For photography enthusiasts, every opportunity for a snapshot means making a decision. With the ever-present smartphone, pictures can be taken anytime, anywhere and shared immediately with location information and other data. However the quality of these pictures, even with more megapixels, never holds up to what can be done with a professional grade camera.

Lumera is a camera accessory with the design to bridge this gap. attaching to the bottom of any camera with a tripod screw, Lumera offers one-button sharing to various social networks or cloud storage sites. When paired with the Lumera Android or iOS apps, Lumera can do even more, including wireless aperture control, time-lapse settings, and more. Lumera uploads either through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth LE 4.0, and is OpenSource and Openhardware friendly to allow for the potential of even more unique features later in development.

If the camera’s memory card is getting too filled up with photos, Lumera has an additional USB port built in to allow for the connection of any USB storage device to store any overflow photos. As of right now, Lumera only officially supports certain Nikon and Canon cameras, but offers a survey where the development team can confirm whether the camera is supported or begin working on support for it. Lumera Labs needs $90,000 CAD (~$80,000 USD) to engineer the product’s design, complete the apps, and get Lumera certified. Lumera will be out in May 2015 to those that pledge $170 CAD (~$150 USD).

Lumera’s features are all more or less offered by using a Wi-Fi enabled SD card like Eye-Fi, but offers the freedom of flexible hardware and ideally limitless storage through the USB port. Professional photographers who demand the most from their equipment will love the sharing features without sacrificing quality, but only the most dedicated will need to keep Lumera on hand.

Augmented Reality Input

Nimble Sense brings virtual reality the input devices you were born with

Virtual reality technology is on the brink of reaching the average consumer after decades of failed vision and false promises. While head tracking and immersive headsets are great, the next level of immersion comes from a sense of touch rather than just using a keyboard and mouse.

The Nimble Sense is a hand-tracking camera created by Nimble VR, a company with years of experience working in the biggest tech companies and a history of focusing on hand-tracking technology. With this, their first proprietary camera, they are offering a gesture control and navigation system not just for gamers looking to lose themselves in a fantasy world, but also something that can have a wide variety of applications across a number of real-world situations.

Like the Kinect camera that Microsoft bundles with its Xbox consoles, the Nimble Sense creates a 3-D point cloud to track motion, depth, and gestures. With 110 degrees of vision and the ability to be mounted in any number of devices, the thin but powerful Nimble Sense is great for adding intuitive functionality to any piece of compatible technology. The 70 centimeter range also allows for any length of arms and less restrictive motion. Nimble VR needs $62,500 to complete design, testing, tooling, and production of the Sense. Supporters can reach out and grab one for only $99, with an expected release of June 2015.

By focusing exclusively on the hands, the Nimble Sense should offer a greater sense of accuracy and precision than many other motion cameras available, and will be a great companion for any Oculus Rift buyers. At this point, however, the technology is largely for novelty purposes, and it’s hard to think of existing practical applications for this product. Creators and VR enthusiasts will love it, others may want to let the technology continue to develop.


Arts Imaging

Kula lets your camera produce 3-D images

From movie theaters to handheld gaming consoles, 3-D photos and videos are a great way to create stunning viewing experiences, but so few people have access to the technology to create this content.

Kula is a new modification for SLR cameras and smartphones to open up the world of 3-D photography to everyone. The Kula Deeper is a lens attachment for SLR cameras that can take 3-D photography, while the Kula Bebe attaches right onto the phone’s lens for easy 3-D photos.

Using high precision mirrors, Kula takes a normal picture and captures it from two perspectives that can be combined to create a three dimensional image or video. The Kula system is flexible and works with any existing 3-D viewing technology, from the classic red and cyan anaglyph glasses and eye-crossing stereograms to 3-D TVs and Oculus Rift. Icelandic inventor Iris Olafsdottir has set Kula’s fundraising goal at 233,626 DKK (~ $40,000 USD), and buyers can get the Bebe adapter for 205 DKK (~$35 USD) beginning in March.

Kula is an affordable, easy to use way to create 3-D images to share with friends and family. The sheer number of ways Kula’s 3-D can be viewed makes it great for sharing and compatibility.