Ubik Uno smartphone was made for you and me

These days, using a smartphone may seem easy to many of us, but making them is tough. There are a lot of tradeoffs that companies must make — the better the specs, the pricier the device.

Ubik Mobile hopes to become a more responsive player in the crowded Android market by tapping into the power of the people in a number of ways. First, by bypassing carriers and other retailers, it can cut out middlemen and the piece of the pie they command. Second, by launching the Ubik Uno,  its first phone on Kickstarter, it gets the benefit of getting case before fulfilling preorders. The Ubik includes many leading-edge components, including a  horizontally bezel-free display, an eight-core MediaTek processor and a 20 MP/4K camera with Sony sensor, at the price of a mid-tier device.

But the third way may be the most novel. The company plans to create a community that will vote on features for subsequent Ubik devices. Ubik seeks $200,000 by August 15th and the price of the smartphone, which is due to ship in September, is $345.


Android does its best Windows impression in the ultra-cheap Remix Mini desktop PC

editors-choiceOnce upon a time in a land before laptops, towering desktop PCs peppered the landscape, their hulking shells loaded with all manner of cards and drives dependent on support from the operating systems of their day.

The Remix Mini PC shows how the desktop has evolved in an era of mobile hardware and software. The elongated dish-like device, which makes the Mac mini look large in comparison, is bereft of buttons. (It turns on by touching its top surface.). Its rear is only slightly less minimalist — two USB ports, an HDMI connector for a monitor, a microSD slot and headphone port. Something of a surprise is a standard Ethernet connector, which may be welcome for corporate use or anyone who wants to escape the occasional unpredictability of Wi-Fi.

Home Technology

UVe uses UV light to clean countertops

Most people use cleaning fluids to clean off their kitchen counters. But the chemicals in those cleaning solutions can be dangerous, especially for people with asthma and other breathing conditions.

UVe is a device that uses UV light to disinfect kitchen counters and other surfaces in the home and can operate whether the user is home or away. No dangerous chemicals are needed. Although it’s basically a countertop version of the Roomba, UVe can also be used to eliminate germs on hard floors and any other flat surface large enough for it to safely move around on, including hardwood, tiles, stone, concrete and foam floor mats, its maker says. The device also features smart ledge detection that enables it to know when it’s reached the edge of a counter. UVe is being sold to Kickstarter backers at the early bird price of $89 and will cost $99 after that special pricing, which, according to the campaign, is still cheaper than the undisclosed planned retail price . UVe will ship in November. Its maker has set a Kickstarter goal of raising $50,000 by Aug. 11.

UVe should appeal to many consumers globally. But customers outside the U.S. will, at least initially, have to supply their own plug adapter because it will ship only with a charger designed for the U.S. The charger can accept 110-volt and 220-volt input, so buyers outside the U.S. won’t need a voltage converter/transformer, according to the campaign.





Cycling Music Technology

BikeMic keeps cyclists in tune with their playlist and environment

Riding a bike through any environment is already somewhat dangerous depending on the amount of pedestrian traffic and cars present. What makes it even more dangerous is the use of headphones while riding, something many people do that significantly increases the risk of serious, or even fatal, injury.

People love their music, though, and aren’t so easily persuaded away from it. BikeMic makes the choice easy by providing a mic that connects headphones with its music device to funnel in ambient noises. This way, those noises are mixed in with the music to give riders the best of both worlds. With BikeMic, riders can still hear the cars, people, and conversations around them, all without having to take their headphones off.

Sleep Technology

SensorWake alarm clock helps you arise with aroma

It’s pretty hard to make a unique alarm clock. After all, no matter how many bells and whistles a manufacturer adds to such a device, it’s still going to wake people up using sounds –- be it the radio or more traditional annoying alarm sounds.

patent-claimedSensorWake, however, is an original twist on the alarm clock, using the sense of smell to wake users up. It uses patented technology that enables a scent to be released from fragrance capsules at a specified time. One capsule can be reused up to 60 times and the device will wake users up in less than two minutes each time, according to consumer tests that were conducted on more than 100 people, its developer says.

Cell Phone Accessories Technology

Light Phone sees the light of a voice-centric credit card-thin cell phone

Many people have become overly reliant on their cell phones, but when they need to make an urgent phone call the device’s battery is often too weak to do that. This is especially the case with smartphones, which quickly eat up battery life.

The Light Phone is a simple, inexpensive credit card-sized cellphone that is lightweight and was designed just to make phone calls. The pre-paid GSM phone works independent of the carrier that the user has a service plan with. That makes it a good device to use as a backup cellphone. Light Phone costs $100 and will ship in May 2016. Its maker is fielding white and black versions of the phone and set a Kickstarter goal of raising $200,000 by June 27.

Light Phone isn’t exactly original. There have been easy-to-use, credit card-sized backup cellphones before that were just designed for making phone calls, including the Talkase. Light Phone’s stripped-down look and features may still be appealing for many customers. Other benefits include its SIM card and an app that can be used in conjunction with the user’s primary cellphone. It also comes with 500 prepaid minutes.


Voxbox makes holographic technology more accessible

Holographic technology has been around for a while, but only recently has professional-grade holography made its way to the consumer market. In the past, many people likely only experienced holograms in their homes as part of cheap CD or DVD packaging.

Voxbox is a new video device that was designed to make pro holographic technology more accessible to consumers. The Voxbox viewer has a smaller, 8-inch screen than Holographic Optical Technologies’ prior device that was targeted at the pro market, and the new version can be used on a desk or hung on a wall. A starter pack including Voxbox and one of the company’s Voxgram holograms costs $200 via Kickstarter and will ship in September. It wasn’t immediately clear what the company will charge after the campaign. It is hoping to raise $200,000 by May 22.

The Voxbox produced true holograms, that is, images that float in front of the screen. The quality of its imagery, though, is not entirely clear from the campaign video. That can be a tough thing to capture in two dimensions. And while they are really more augmented reality products that true holography products, there is sure to be much competition from the Microsoft HoloLens and a secretive project by startup Magic Leap.



Endless targets emerging markets for affordable PCs

Despite the ongoing decline in global PC sales, many people in emerging markets still don’t own a computer due to factors that include price tags that are outside the reach of many consumers in those countries.

Endless Computers are targeted specifically at those people. To lower the barrier to entry for consumers in emerging markets, Endless has developed a low-cost desktop central processing unit that works with TVs, much like early PCs. That eliminates the need for a monitor, which typically adds some cost to the price of a desktop PC. Although many people in emerging markets don’t own even one PC, they do tend to have at least one cheap TV.

Endless also created its own operating system and software that it is similar to that of a mobile operating system. The computers feature apps that include office software, games and photo editing software –- all tailored to emerging market users. Endless was also designed to work without Internet access, so there are more than 100 apps that don’t require access to the Web.

An entry-level 32-GB computer costs $169, but pricing will vary by country and the company is also fielding a more expensive 500-GB model. Each version features an Intel Celeron N2807 processor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and ships in August. The initial markets targeted are Mexico and Guatemala, and more of Latin America will follow shortly after that, with plans for Asia, the Middle East and Africa planned for later. Its maker set a goal of raising $100,000 by May 15.

The computer holds promise for the specific markets it’s targeted at. But it remains to be seen if at least some of the targeted consumers will prefer low-cost convertible PCs such as those from One Laptop Per Child or scaled-up smartphones, especially as pricing on those products continue to decline.



LOST AND FOUND helps find misplaced items without the infomercial pitch

Items like keys, remotes, and remote controllers all have a penchant for being easily misplaced. It certainly goes without saying that constantly having to search for such items can be extremely annoying. The problem is compounded when those who aren’t particularly tech savvy have to rely on smartphone and app-centric solutions for help.

The LOST AND FOUND universal paging devices makes it possible for anyone to locate misplaced items with easy, all without having to configure any apps. The LOST AND FOUND base station is mounted on a wall beside a washable board on which users can write their five most frequently lost items. This list corresponds with up to five battery-powered tags that can be attached to those items. To help find a misplaced item, the LOST AND FOUND is set to its respective number, a button a pressed, and the matching tag will beep loudly to draw attention to its location. The product has a range of 80ft, but can be taken out of its dock to find items outside the home as well.

A LOST AND FOUND base station and two tags can be purchased for $24, just in time for Christmas 2015. The LOST AND FOUND campaign is looking for $11,941 in funding by May 9.

LOST AND FOUND looks like the type of product that would be found in stores alongside Made for TV type products, but that’s exactly where its greatest strength lies. Its unconnected nature is arguably more appealing to a wider array of people than products like HIRO that can end up confusing folks rather than helping them.

Automotive Cell Phone Accessories Displays Features Technology

Before the Backers: better batteries, a vision quest and the outer limits

Before the Backers highlights up-and-coming products that haven’t yet made their crowdfunding debut.



Car batteries are rarely thought of — until, of course, they’re dead. Of course, at that point, they’re nothing more than extremely heavy and possibly explosive paperweights. The RevAMP is a product that replaces standard lead batteries. While it may have a similar price and come in a familiar size, it has several tricks up its sleeve. For one, it doesn’t die because it turns itself off when necessary. It’s also eco-friendly, ditching the lead, acid, and the potential for explosive hydrogen for earth-friendly materials. It’s also extremely light, weighing in at only seven pounds. Don’t take its lightness for weakness, though, as it’s capable of generating 2000 amps of power over a suggested 20-year lifespan. Keep an eye on Kickstarter for this one.