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.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT

Sammy Screamer shrieks when stuff gets disturbed

The Premise. Parenting can be a hard-core mission that can test your sense of sanity. But even for those who say that they enjoy a good challenge, there are days when it’s necessary to use tools that allow you to cheat.

The Product. Sammy Screamer is one device in a family that totals eight members that go by the name BleepBleeps. They were designed with the intent of “making parenting easier.” The devices each have different tasks ranging from monitoring the baby to keeping little Johnny out of the cookie jar to tracking your teens. And if all of that isn’t enough and you feel the need for more excitement in your life, there are even a couple of devices that can assist with knowing when it’s the most opportune time for “Mom and Dad” to enjoy rediscovering one another and engage in some family planning activities. But getting back to Sammy Screamer, it is essentially a cute, red triangular motion sensor that can emit what seems like a not-very-loud sound when it is activated as well as sending a signal to a smartphone app. The app also allows you to control the device’s sensitivity and volume but, alas, not those of a child.

The palm-sized motion detector has a magnetized back so that it can attach to, say, a refrigerator door, thereby possibly causing the offending door-opener to utter words that ought to be BleepBpeeped. The triangular tweeter also has a loop fixing so that it can be attached to a book bag, or on those days when a good, hardy laugh is needed, the dog’s or cat’s tail. Sammy works with Bluetooth LE up to 50 meters, which means you’ll have to be in the general vicinity to hear its plaintive cry.

The Pitch. The minimalist video for the $20,000 campaign opens with music that sounds like some trippy 1960s throwback keyboard player. Sammy is given a gender and becomes “cute” in the eyes of “her” creator throughout the video. Along with demonstrating some potential applications that includes cookie jar and refrigerator patrol, the rest of the product family makes a cameo

The Perks. There are a whopping ten tiers from which backers may choose. The $60 early bird special offers a complete Sammy Screamer product with free worldwide shipping. The $150 early bird special includes three Sammy Screamers, one app and free worldwide shipping. The estimated delivery is Aug 2014 for most levels.

The Potential. Sammy Screamer could be useful to young parents, teens, and those who enjoy practical jokes. (Imagine secretly attaching a Sammy Screamer to your friend’s jacket or purse when he or she isn’t paying attention.) It’s not presently able to be used with Android, but that’s only temporary. While there are other mini motion detectors out there, they while they are intended for fixed home security applications, Screaming Sammy is always happy to go along for the ride.

Sensors/IoT Sleep

Aurora headband offers the sleep experience of your lucid dreams

The Premise: There’s been a lot of interest in lucid dreaming for many years, and technology has made it more approachable. The ability to control one’s dreams is certainly enticing, especially for those who are looking to learn more about themselves.

The Product. Aurora is just the latest in a string of devices meant specifically to make lucid dreaming easier and more accessible. The way in which the Aurora works is quite simple, really. As one begins to go into REM sleep, eye movements change rapidly. The device (a high-tech eye mask) is able to pick up on this, after which it emits customizable lights and sounds. In theory, once you experience this “reminder” that you are actually dreaming, you’ll be able to train yourself to control the results of the dream. The USB-rechargeable Aurora can communicate with your smartphone and can also time your wakeup so that you feel more relaxed, a premise of the Lark device that launched on Kickstarter last year.

The Pitch. The pitch video makes a very good case for what the product is capable of. A nice production value, a great explanation of what Aurora does and plenty of attractive imagery makes the product look quite enticing. Developer iWinks describes how the companion app maps a typical sleep cycle and introduces a stretch goal of $300,000 at which point Aurora’s algorithms will be baked into the mask itself, making the smartphone optional.

The Perks. The Aurora is due to appear with a pretty quick turnaround, scheduled for March 2014. At $175, it is quite a pricey device, although you can certainly find pricier alternatives. Most of the reward tiers from there include incentives for developer access.

The Potential. Given the low maintenance associated with the device, its perfect for those who ascribe to the “set it and forget it” ideals that come along with so many of today’s products,  That said, it’s difficult to avoid comparing the device to 2012’s Remee, another Kickstarter-funded sleep mask meant to help make lucid dreaming easier, and LUCI. Since the Remee is only $80, shelling out the extra $100 or so may be difficult for some folks, if not unnecessary.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT

A little Birdi whispers life-saving things to your smartphone

The Premise. Everyone has those annoying fire alarms in their home, but many people let their batteries die or unplug them because they continue to beep for no reason. Because their notifications are so annoying, many folks aren’t too diligent about checking their battery levels. Or aren’t too disappointed when they get too low. Plus, even when they’re working, most budget smoke alarms can’t do much to save your home when you’re away.

The Product. The Birdi is a connected multi-use home alarm set to compete directly with the Nest Protect. It connects via WiFi to alert you of smoke, carbon monoxide, and 10 other variables such as humidity and air quality. It sends the user alerts when there are elevated levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, but if it detects sufficient levels of these dangerous elements in the air, it will dial out the fire department. Birdi can even notify you via smartphone when its batteries are low and automatically order replacements (although the standard AAs wouldn’t be too difficult to find at any nearby store.)

The Pitch. The inventors of the Birdi make their case well for a smarter alarm in a two-minute campaign video that features lots of shots of the product and families. They also note that they’re working with PCH International’s Highway1, an accelerator that helps take projects from prototypes to projects and may help increase their chance of success.

The Perks. After selling out the $89 early bird, the Birdi is now offering a $99 Indiegogo special for its flexible funding campaign. Units are due to be delivered in October 2014.

The Potential. The humble smoke alarm is one of the many things around the home that companies are looking to turn into connected products. Obviously, everybody needs one. And many can probably justify even a significant premium for a device that can not only automatically contact the fire department when you’re not home, but do so with no subscription fee. There’s cause to be more skeptical about Birdi’s interesting neighbor-notify feature, though, since that would likely require a very large installed base.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT Smart Home

Ninja Sphere keeps digital tabs on things roaming around your home

The Premise. Everyone loves the promise of a smart home that can alert us to — and ideally control — things around your home. But many of these products are expensive or complicated. Other systems require apps for different manufacturers.

The Product. Ninja Sphere is a second generation home sensor and automation platform from the Australian team who raised over $100,000 bringing you Ninja Blocks. And, boy, have they upped their industrial design game. The curved, underlit Spheramid is the heart of the system that also includes roaming waypoints and smart plugs. Ninja Sphere integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee radios and takes advantage of gestures and triangulation to pinpoint where things are in your home in addition to the usual sensors.

The Pitch. The campaign, while someone jargon-heavy is beautifully done. It showcases many of the features of the Ninja Sphere. Most users will be too captivated by what’s happening on screen to listen to the narrators discuss technical details. Examples of the functionality include a pop-up on the television screen that alerts the user to an incoming call and tells her what room the phone is in. While a proof of concept, you can also turn the lights on and off with the push of a button on the “smart watch.”

The Perks. This product is obviously pushing the limits of technological advances, and the ability to control your home are growing exponentially. A system of devices, Ninja Sphere started at the sold-out $199 AUD level. However, the company also offers a $549 AUD level to address a two-level home. Other configurations are aimed at apartments, but it doesn’t seem feasible that many people living in apartments would have the need for something like Ninja Sphere. Products are expected to be delivered in June 2014.

The Potential. With some similarities to the multi-radio Revolv home automation system, Ninja Sphere is definitely a bleeding-edge product designed to keep track of multiple things going on in your home. The success of these products will depend on how many things worth controlling enter the market and how many consumers adopt them.