Kids/Babies Television Wearables

box&rox measures kid activity, lets them trade it for TV time

One of the foremost concerns for parents is the amount of time screens take up in their children’s lives. With smartphones, tablets, computers, consoles, and television all vying loudly for their time, it’s easy to see how most kids can forget about the outside world.

box&rox is a multi-layered system to ensure that children get the required amount of physical activity each day, with a goal of supporting healthy habits young to develop a solid foundation as they grow into adulthood. The system is comprised of three parts. The rox is a wristwatch that comes in a variety of colors that tracks a child’s physical activity throughout the day, earning sparkies as a reward. The box portion of the system connects to a television or a console’s power supply and meters the electricity available for use depending on how many sparkies were earned on a connected rox. The final of this system is an online world that serves as a place to use sparkies to gain more access to it, although the campaign didn’t do a great job at explaining why a child would interact with the world. The box&rox system serves as a warden of sorts that encourages physical activity and rewards it accordingly, taking the worry off the parent’s shoulder. The core system is going for £125 (~$198), while the campaign itself is looking for £10,000 (~$15,900) in funding.

The box&rox system is similar to what the Kudoso is doing for Internet access, and continues an overall trend of gamifying access to entertainment for younger children. Combining both in one household would lock down overuse for sure, but who’s to say kids won’t figure out a way to game the system itself? They usually always do, but I suppose an all night binge in Mario Kart could be viewed as an exercise in problem solving.


Vega Android TV box apes Sony’s 4K set top puck

Like the original transition from black and white to color TVs, and then SD to HD, the time has come for people to start the upgrade to 4K TVs. With Sony pioneering the technology, getting an alternative product may be difficult at first.

The Vega S82 4K set top box is incredibly similar to Sony’s 4K set top in terms of functionality, features, and even design. The key difference between the two is that the Vega S82 runs an Android OS on a Quad-Core processor and has customizable user interfaces and more. The campaign is looking for just $5,000, though the purpose for those funds is not stated. Supporters can get a Vega S82 for $200 in December.

Having more options for 4K media is a welcome addition to the market, but there just aren’t enough details about this product to instill consumer confidence. With a few technical specs, a very unimpressive pitch video, and not much else, it’s difficult to make a determination if this is a worthy competitor to Sony or just a product that’s more concept than reality.

Television Video Games

G-Pack packs a gaming PC into a TV

As SteamOS makes the move for PC gaming into the living room possible, it also allows manufacturers the freedom to do unheard of things with gaming PCs. The living room follows more aesthetic guidelines than the boxy, gaudy features that many computers tend to obey, so those interested in making Steam Machines have an extra challenge to meet.

The G-Pack is an incredibly well-designed gaming PC designed to offer access to Steam and all the latest PC games without cluttering the living room. The thin box comes with a universal mount and is meant to be affixed to the back of flat screen displays no matter their size or how they’ve been mounted. In order to keep wires and cables easy to access, the G-Pack can even be stretched out to more comfortably hug wider displays.

More than just a pretty face, the standard G-Pack is as easy to upgrade as any PC and comes with some powerful hardware. With the latest Nvidia GeForce video cards, a minimum of 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a mixture of 1TB or larger hard drives and solid state drives, these machines are built to handle hardcore, graphically intense gaming. G-Pack creator PiixL is asking for $150,000 to bring G-Pack to production. Backers can get their game on for $1,645 for the base system.

The Steam Machines platform is already facing an identity crisis, trying to figure out what sets them apart from any decent gaming PC. A hardware design like G-Pack is a great response that keeps living rooms clean and sharp while opening the door to a whole platform of popular and fun games. Its smart aesthetic design will bring fun to the room without cluttering the walls and floors with cables.


MatchStick hopes to catch fire like its Chromecast rival

Since the Chromecast’s runaway success, scores of companies have created their own version, or changed the dimensions of their existing set top streamers to better suit the now popular dongle look. The proprietary nature of most systems and the need to find some sort of workaround is a problem. This sort of problem presents roadblocks to the average consumer that they’re not willing or capable to negotiate.

This means that Matchstick, a new streaming dongle powered by Mozilla Firefox OS, has to be something truly special to catch people’s attention. And for the most part, it does. The small stick is a completely new product category for the OS, standing apart with its completely open platform that will work with any device. You can download the design schematics to build your own version or use a versatile developer SDK to grow the platform; the company’s developer program supplies interested parties with prototype models, ensuring that will happen.

It doesn’t rest on its laurels with just those points. Its hardware is a move up from competing devices: bragging 4GB onboard storage and 1GB DDR3 memory where the Chromecast has none enables it to do everything other streamers do with just a bit more pep. Chromecast will need to play catch-up because a quick recompile will make current Chromecast apps compatible with Matchstick.

There’ll be a rather small assortment of apps at launch, like Netflix and HBO Go, compared to the rest of the big players already enjoying a broader range. With Airtame working similarly across all devices and being able to beam to multiple displays, Biggifi a full Android experience but only working with Android, and the premium priced Sugarcube able to stream 4K, the Matchstick has plenty of competition. Its $100,000 goal and $18 price tag will definitely give it a better shot at success.


4se lets you watch, stream four TV shows at once

Readers old enough to remember the advent of picture-in-picture windows on TV will recall that the commercials were always framed the same way. A popular drama or movie was displayed up on the big screen, while the die-hard sports fan was relegated to the tiny picture at the bottom.

Not being able to watch sports is only slightly worse than not being able to watch enough sports, something rectified by 4SeTV. 4SeTV is a set-top box that connects to the TV through the HDTV antenna, as well as an ethernet cable. Once the device is powered on, the box allows the TV to display four equally-sized windows of different programming, whether it’s multiple games on Sundays, or just enough programs to make everyone in the room happy. Using the 4SeTV app, users can decide which program broadcasts audio, change channels in each of the windows, or zoom in to catch a critical moment as it develops.

Additionally, 4SeTV is great for families with diverse viewing habits because it allows HD content to be streamed wirelessly through the house from the main television. This way, while the game’s on, the kids can watch cartoons on the computer, and non-sports fans can catch a movie or show using a tablet. 4SeTV is asking backers to provide $50,000 of funding to bring the device to mass production. The 4SeTV is going out in November 2014 to those that pledge $99.

If it were maybe a decade earlier, this device would be a must-have for sports fans with families to share TV space with or interest in multiple teams and sports. With broadcasters providing split-screen content already and everyone having enough mobile devices to keep track of their viewing needs, the market for this is relatively small, not to mention the curious inclusion to only have an HDTV antenna port.