Tech Accessories

Cusby releases the potential of USB-C, one module at a time

One day, USB-C — the reversible connector that represents the first change the USB “A” port since its inception — will be everywhere. In addition to everything older USB connectors can do, it can accommodate video connections and power. However, in their eagerness to take advantage of the port’s great versatility, laptop purveyors such as Apple (with its new MacBook) and Google (with the Chromebook Pixel 2) have  offered a limited number of ports with few choices for adapters.

Cusby takes a modular approach to releasing the potential of the USB-C connector. It consists of a number of modular components that allow those with USB-C ports to break out dedicated connectors with tile-like units that are about 1.6″ square. These include the more traditional USB-A, HDMI, and one (or more) USB-C ports.

Input Video Games

Bliss-Box 4-Play could create bliss for gamers

The ability to use a controller from any old videogame console to play a game on a computer is something quite a few gamers would undoubtedly enjoy. Being able to achieve that with multiple controllers without having to buy a USB adapter for each and every console port would be equally helpful.

Solving the problem is exactly what the Bliss-Box 4 Play achieves. The device is a universal console-to-USB controller adapter with four ports, thereby allowing up to four players to play at the same time with almost any controller of their choosing. Bliss-Box 4 Play uses low cost adapter cables that allow a variety of console controllers to plug into the 4-Play’s universal controller port. The product allows most videogame controllers to be used on any computer and does not require the installation of software drivers. A planned retail SKU is expected to cost $79.99 and is slated to ship in November. Its maker is hoping to raise $75,000 by May 4.

The Bliss-Box 4 Play adapter will likely appeal to a niche segment of gamers, though it remains to be seen how big that segment actually is. The device seems uniquely designed for console and computer gamers, or at the very least, gamers who used to love console games and now prefer to play on a computer.



Twist caps the MacBook wall adapter, offers USB charging

Keeping mobile devices charged while overseas can be a challenge when one doesn’t have the right adapter. Twist offers users the opportunity to keep everything juiced up in over 150 countries. The charger twists to offer the appropriate plug, and then the user has four USB charging ports available for use. Its unique design makes it a more stable option, especially in older, worn out outlets.

The product is specifically intended for MacBook only, and it appears as if there is only one spot on the adapter for non-mobile device power, a definite drawback. The folks at OneAdaptr would do well to consider adding other models of laptops into the mix to make their product more versatile. Twist is reminiscent of the PlugBug, but offers more options in its usage. This campaign seeks to raise $30,000 CAD (~$26,300 USD) by December 19, 2014. For $22 CAD, (~$19 USD) backers get one product with an expected delivery of February 2015.


Dark-Ingress Wi-Fi adapter keeps you anonymous online

We unfortunately live in a world where every single activity we engage in on the Internet is surveilled, recorded, and stored without restriction. As much domestic and international outrage this behavior stokes, no amount of it will affect what has been the norm for decades, especially when any new opportunity to augment its scale is immediately enacted without checks.

The Dark-Ingress is a portable Tor Wi-Fi adapter that allows anyone, anywhere to encrypt and anonymize the data coming in and out of their hardware over Wi-Fi. The adapter uses Tor, an Internet communication method to enable anonymity online, to change your IP address every five minutes. In addition, it is automatically configured never to use an exit address in one of the Five Eyes nations or Germany, a group of countries with an agreement between them to cooperatively spy on each other to get around strict domestic spying laws.

The open source software itself isn’t particularly user-friendly, but casual users need not install or configure anything themselves. This gives users the ability to bypass portals like those at coffee shops and airports, and access the Deep Web in confidence. In addition, the hardware-based design is USB powered and offers more security versus being strictly software-based. The Dark-Ingress is slated to be delivered by February 2015 for $120. The campaign is looking for $25,000 to help users stay hidden.

Most Tor hardware, like the recently covered anonabox, work by connecting themselves to a router directly, which eliminates portability. The Dark-Ingress is a lightweight, powerful solution that lets you take your digital safety blanket no matter where you go. There will always be an arms race for privacy on one side and complete surveillance on the other, but it doesn’t hurt to make it harder for them, does it?

Tech Accessories

Dart adapter is a tiny tower of power for your laptop and phone

DartWhen you’re away from home and working on an important business proposal, or thesis, that’s not the time to notice that your laptop battery is nearly dead. While battery life keeps getting better, AC adapters can still be a bulky mess to bring along. Dart scores a bullseye when it comes to this problem. The extraordinarily compact 65-watt near-universal adapter uses VHF technology developed at MIT  to not only keeps your laptop powered, but can also charge USB devices. Alas, the MacBook requires Dart to take a novel and expensive approach that requires mating it with Apple’s MagSafe connector.. For others, $89 gets backers a Dart in their color choice with an expected delivery of November 2014.


Steel Connect adds personality to your Pebble

SteelConnectThe Pebble Steel smartwatch is an early contender in the exploding field of smartwatch options, but the two included leather and steel bands leave a little something to be desired. Steel Connect is an affordable solution, available in black matte and brushed aluminum to blend in with both Pebble variants, that allows owners to swap out the band for any 22 mm watch band. With such a wide variety of bands available, owners can make the Pebble Steel more stylish, more comfortable, or better suited to physical activity. The campaign photos show off a variety of band ideas that can work with the Steel Connect system. Steel Connect is available to backers who pledge £15 (add £3 outside the UK) and will be available by May.


IGI Smart Guitar links directly to your smartphone

Smart GuitarRecording equipment can be quite expensive for amateur musicians. Now, all you need is a smartphone. The IGI Smart Guitar plugs directly into your smartphone to record music, add effects or process sound. The adapter normally needed for such a thing is built right into the guitar, cutting out the middle man. One IGI Smart Guitar goes for $450 with an estimated delivery date of May 2014. Smart Guitar is hoping to raise $15,000 in its 57-day campaign on Kickstarter but there are  other ways to connect an existing guitar to an iOS device. The Facebook page offers fun guitar facts and even funnier pictures of John Mayer.