Camping Cell Phone Accessories Chargers/Batteries Sensors/IoT Tools

The FOGO Adventure Gadget is a digital Swiss Army knife for outdoorsy types

Exploring the wilds of nature can be a truly rewarding experience. Trails leading to new discoveries alongside the pleasant musk of nature helps foster memorable experiences. Until, of course, someone needs to pull out a flashlight or some other tool from deep within a backpack for some reason — nothing ruins a quaint ambience like the sound of a befuddled hiker looking for their GPS device.

While many would prefer using a smartphone as an aid during such excursions, most smartphones, on account of their poor battery life and dainty construction, can’t ably survive the rigors of outdoor exploration. The FOGO Adventure Gadget solves this problem by incorporating a GPS, walkie talkie, and a 1000 lumen LED flashlight into one rugged device. The FOGO Adventure Gadget includes an embedded digital compass which can help guide users to points of interest and other FOGO users. Further, the device’s walkie talkie feature combines voice and text messaging functionality, thereby allowing users to effectively communicate with others.  Additionally, the device’s LED flashlight sports dynamic light control which adjusts the level of brightness based on the object being illuminated and, in some cases, how fast the object (presumably an animal) is moving).

The FOGO employs some neat tricks with SmartCaps, interchangeable pieces of hardware that add different capabilities. For now, the only SmartCap available is the Digital Walkie-Talkie. Notably, a satellite modem and laser range finder  are both in the works.  With an app based OS, an open SDK, 128MB of flash memory, and a Bluetooth LE connection, FOGO can also act as a fitness monitor along with anything else the developer community can come up with. And its 6800mAh backup battery will ensure it will stay useful and operational for much longer than a smartphone. The $200 FOGO is expected to ship in November 2015 if the $125,000 campaign is successful by March 24, 2015.

New concepts for outdoor gear are always welcome, especially when the product in question does so much to lessen the burden for outdoor explorers. The FOGO Adventure Gadget, along with the All Terrain Cover and WakaWaka, is therefore an ideal product for nature enthusiasts everywhere.

Connected Objects Wallets

Where’s Wallet calls home to your smartphone to avoid being misplaced

Forgetting or misplacing a wallet can be a major inconvenience — especially if it’s left in a public place and has a lot of cash and credit cards in it.

Where’s Wallet is a twist on the increasingly popular Bluetooth item finder that solves that dilemma. It’s a wallet that features a hidden sensor inside. Users just have to download a free Android or iOS app, set a notification range, and their smartphone/wallet will beep to alert them the moment they step beyond that preset distance. Its maker is fielding the product in three versions: a $49 slip model, a $69 bi-fold version and a $99 clutch version. Each will ship in August. Its maker is trying to raise $30,000 through Kickstarter by March 22.

Where’s Wallet is a clever entry in the Bluetooth tracking device category. Applying the technology to a wallet is a no-brainer, and should be especially appealing to consumers with a tendency to misplace their valuables. However, the specific application has a drawback in that some consumers will prefer a small tracking device like TrackR Bravo that can be attached to the object of their choice. For example, folks who are more likely to misplace their keys than their wallet.

Cell Phone Accessories Input Tablet Accessories

Stacking TextBlade slices through bulky Bluetooth keyboards

editors-choiceThe introduction of touch screen devices necessitated the use of touch screen keyboards, a pretty difficult problem even now. Most people, though, would agree they’re a necessary evil. They can be unreliable for anything more than short notes or messages, take up half the screen they’re being used on, and can’t be felt. For people whose jobs rely on any amount of typing, that last downside is a deal breaker, relegating the touch screen keyboard to the very last option on the list.

patent-claimedBluetooth keyboards have long been available for these platforms, generally to underwhelming response. They can be too big, or if they’re small enough, they aren’t practical for long typing sessions. WayTools’ TextBlade marries multi-touch functionality with a very physical, tactile typing experience to give users the best of both worlds — all while maintaining an incredibly slim profile with little tricks like a space bar/battery combo to save space. Indeed, the whole combo stacks neatly enough to fit into the coin holder of a jeans pocket.

Utilizing magnets gives the TextBlade its svelte construction along, but what it does best is reduce the standard 70 key QWERTY keyboard to just eight, intelligent multi-touch keys complete with full-finger spacing. The creators insist the keys are smart enough to know exactly what the users intend want to write, but those who purchase it will have to see for themselves. Some may want to take that plunge, while other may want a more certain solution like the FlyShark. The $99 keyboard is compatible with iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows platforms and is shipping on a rolling basis.



Connected Objects Health and Wellness

Sophia puts the humble jump rope through a 21st century makeover & name change

Over the ages, skipping rope has continually proven to benefit the body in a myriad of ways. From working out and toning a variety of muscle groups to improving balance, it’s surprising how such a simple idea can do so much.

Like any simple idea nowadays, smartening it up with some connectivity instantly makes it applicable in a whole new way—something the Bluetooth LE-enabled Sophia jump rope proves. The halves of the leather-gripped handles lock together and come apart when needed, incorporating an OLED display when in use to keep users informed on the number of jumps performed without having to stay stuck to their smartphone. Its tough polymer cord and sweat resistant design makes sure it stands up to the most demanding of users.

Sophia’s companion app for iOS and Android communicates with HealthKit and GoogleFit to integrate relevant information into a user’s overall workout regimen. In addition, users can track jump records, go through Sophia’s arcade mode, and challenge others as well. All this functionality is accessible for up to 15 hours on a single charge. Sophia will cost €39 (~$45) and is expected in May of this year. The campaign is looking to skip its way to a successful €28,500 (~$32,300) campaign.

Other connected devices, like the STABALLIZER, Loop, and Glyder, have recently sprung up as examples of unions between the tech and exercise worlds, but none have been as elegant as Sophia. Its affordable price will surely attract not only exercise nuts but everyone else as well, positioning it well as a new device.

Sensors/IoT Wearables

Scarab air pollutant detector warns you about invisible threats

Air pollution continues to be a major problem, especially in urban areas of the United States. Therefore, it would be nice to be informed if there are invisible toxins in the air. The Scarab from Dallas startup Amulet Corp is a multi-sensor, wearable sensor device that does exactly that.

The small, oval device can detect more than 16 invisible threats in the air, including ozone, magnetic fields and nitrogen dioxide. It comes in a choice of white or black, and can be easily clipped to everyday items such as backpacks, baby strollers, belts and purses.

Scarab’s 16 on-board sensors continuously monitor the environment and communicate local conditions and hidden dangers to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth LE. An accompanying app can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices. Backers who pledge $129 will get a “benchmark” version of Scarab in matte black or glossy white when it ships in August. Backers who pledge $175 will get a “premium” SKU of the device styled as a Scarab amulet etched with an Egyptian-style Scarab beetle logo. Its maker is hoping to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter.

The device holds promise. But its application stands to appeal to a much narrower consumer base than wearables that track fitness. Yet Scarab still faces potential competition from wearable environmental trackers like the TZOA. If consumers don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector in their homes, the device could become a life saver. Also potentially useful are its noise level detection circuit (especially if the user lives in an urban area) and UV index sensor (especially if the user is planning to spend a few hours at the beach).

Sensors/IoT Wearables

Back to the Backers: Tempi wearable thermometer

Back in October 2014, Backerjack covered Tempi. Unfortunately, it was a losing battle as it eventually proclaimed defeat. Defiantly, Tempi creator Venicipio has decided to give it another go around, hoping for success this time.

Tempi is a smart, wearable thermostat that can be used to monitor the temperature in multiple locations at once using Bluetooth LE, an upgrade from the previous campaign’s model that could only monitor one. As such, the product has inherent limits in range, but confusingly still boasts being able to report back temperatures even on the go. A nine month battery helps Tempi recognize temperatures from -22°F to 185°F for a while. A backing of $30 will get those interested a Tempi in Silver or Red, to be shipped in Marh 2015. The campaign’s current goal of $45,000 is $5,000 less than the original campaign’s $50,000 goal.

Tempi may have experienced its initial failure because of just how unexciting it is. Granted, temperature readings are good information to have, but to purchase an entirely separate product to do so seems a bit excessive. The creators behind it have added a few more bells and whistles, but in the end it doesn’t seem that much attractive.

Connected Objects

Tog controls Bluetooth devices, even when they get lost

It would be nice to be able to control multiple devices all from one hub. Especially when such a device has disappeared, maybe behind the pillows of a couch somewhere.

Tog is the latest Bluetooth-enabled button that can be used to remotely control Bluetooth LE devices including smartphones, laptops and lights. It can activate Siri or take a picture on a smartphone with no app required. The user can also configure it to control or mute music. The Tog design is open source, so it can be modified to do whatever fits the user. TogMods are magnetically attached modules that extend the functionality of Tog. An accompanying app is required to perform extra functions including locating the user’s smartphone when lost.

Backers who pledge $20 will get one Tog and TogMod in May as part of an early bird Kickstarter special. Tog is hoping to raise $50,000 by early February.

The product’s early bird pricing is cheap enough to attract some interest. However, just like with similar products, including Qblinks, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a reason for most consumers to spring for yet an extra smart device when they already have their smartphones so close at hand much of the time. However, if the phone gets lost, one may want to have Tog around as a backup.


Kairos Watches balance mechanical, smartwatch capabilities with style

Up until now, watches have either been mechanical or, more recently, they’ve abandoned their mechanical construction to become more intelligent. Bluetooth capabilities have allowed smartwatches to communicate with the devices in people’s lives, relaying information about everything from exercise results to e-mail notifications. The smartwatch problem is a thorny one, though, and as much as people want their watches to be high-tech, watches aren’t smartphones that last for a few years. People expect quality that will last for a lifetime.

Kairos Watches is attempting to bridge the chronography gap by offering a hybrid mechanical smartwatch that gives users the best of both worlds. The watch’s two versions, the MSW 115 and the SSW 158, offer Japanese and Swiss construction and movement, respectively. Both of these models are outfitted with a touch-sensitive, full-color, transparent OLED display, or TOLED, that lets users check time normally while still being able to receive and act on notifications, text messages, or e-mails. Bluetooth LE connects the watch to an iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, and an embedded GPS in tandem with a three axis accelerometer helps in tracking fitness progress, amongst other applications.

Since the watch is a hybrid, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it needs to be charged every week or so. It also comes with other caveats, like components that become rapidly outdated. To address the issue, Kairos Watches offers an upgrade program that has owners pay $99 to ship their unit back to be updated with current parts.

The company presents a solid solution to problems unique to smartwatches and, along with quality construction options like stainless steel and gold, may prove enough to sway serious watch owners over in the face of the impending Apple Watch. The many models are currently enjoying a 40%-50% off their respective MSRP in their pre-order phase, ranging from $549 to $1,249. The Kairos Watches will ship in spring 2015.

Connected Objects

Green Lantern got nothin’ on anyone with an IRring remote control infrared ring

Sometimes, even getting up to manually turn off the lights can be a hassle, especially after a long, tiresome day. It’s funny how that can happen, and as a result most can admit to that feeling of pure laziness. Smart devices have pretty much made this an option, though, provided enough of the home is connected.

This is why the IRring remote control ring is a bit of a puzzle. The product is an Arduino-based, infrared ring that can control all types of electronics, appliances, and lights. For those parts of the home without infrared capabilites, an appliance module can help bridge that gap. A point and a click will set anything programmed on and off without much effort.

The ring itself is a bit of a clunker, though, and its lack of Bluetooth LE (although it’s being worked on) along with being relegated to only the home seems limited in use when other smart devices can trigger parts of the home through cellular networks. But, at $20 a pop, the device is inexpensive. A successful $15,000 campaign will see the IRring shipped in June 2015.

Health and Wellness Wearables

ECHO H2 smart patch accurately monitors body with Bluetooth

It’s now a well-known fact that the wrist isn’t the best place for fitness tracking. Between most devices unable to know the difference between walking and typing and the inaccurate relationship between steps taken and calories burned most rely on, this isn’t entirely surprising.

Instead of relying on the limited information supplied by the wrist, Kenzen’s ECHO H2 uses a person’s own sweat to more accurately glean all sorts of information from the body, from heart rate to calorie intake and burn. Since the measurements are based on biochemical processes, the results are way more accurate; it’s like having a lab nearby at all times.

The ECHO H2 is notable because it takes the form of a wireless smart patch that uses medical grade adhesive to comfortably stick to a person’s calf or abdomen for up to a week straight. Over this time, it continuously monitors aspects of the body’s functions, alerting users with buzzes and sounds when they should ease up to avoid overtraining.

Although it uses Bluetooth LE to connect with a smartphone, it fortunately isn’t necessary to bring one along, a death knell to a lot of other fitness trackers. The ECHO H2 itself stores data that later can be synced with the robust mobile app, which offers capabilities like custom notifications, reporting, and team tracking. For $89, backers will receive 20 reusable and disposable patches along with a fully unlocked mobile app, expected to ship on July 2015. The campaign is looking for $75,000.

The ECHO H2 is extremely similar to the LEO in that they both keep an eye on user’s activity through sweat, but the LEO is a lot bigger than the tiny ECHO H2. With the LEO being reusable, though, it bodes much better for the environment when compared to the ECHO H2’s disposable nature. Both are technologically impressive, and gym rats and fitness freaks will be interested.