Accents Connected Objects

SmartMirror, SmartMirror on the wall tells you who’s the most informed of them all

Humans are a vain species, spending upwards of two weeks a year prettying themselves up in front of mirrors. The SmartMirror is looking to give people the option of making that time more informative and entertaining.

The 15 pound, 1920×1080 edge to edge LCD not only serves as a mirror but also serves up the time and date, calendar appointments, weather, news, Twitter mentions, sports scores, data from other connected products in the home, or even cat facts if the user is so inclined.  And with its embedded Raspberry Pi B+ and Wi-Fi connectivity, widget possibilities are limited only by what people end up developing for it.


Whiplash your way to MIDI stardom with the Jambé electronic drum

Most MIDI controllers come in the form of a piano because of the flexibility the instrument provides. While electronic, MIDI-supported drums exist to satiate those who’d rather create beats with something more tactile, such devices can be pretty large and prohibitively expensive.

With the Jambé, Sensorpoint is hoping to ensure that everyone can enjoy a compact and robust drumming experience. This MIDI-supported drum sports ten sensor zones akin to the panels on a soccer ball. The zones are sensitive enough for fingers but durable enough for sticks. The product’s digital nature allowed the company to trade in an obtrusive assortments of knobs for an iOS device instead. With the device’s fully functional iOS app, users can fully configure all aspects of their Jambé experience, from switching kits to downloading additional ones through the device’s in-app store. Two pedal inputs are also present to round out the drumming experience, enabling users to create sounds as chill or as hardcore as they want.

Early birds can grab their own Jambé for $499, while everyone else will have to plunk down $599 for their own. Sensorpoint wants to get Jambé out to backers by August 2015 provided its campaign of $100,000 is reached by April 28.

Novel approaches to MIDI interfaces have long been a popular niche in the crowdfunding world, and those interested in what the Jambé brings to the table should also take a look at Keys and Skoog.


KeyMouse combination mouse and keyboard saves you time, gets you odd looks instead

Although the time spent jostling back and forth from the keyboard and the mouse may seem inconsequential, the time wasted ends up being substantial for those who use that combination for work. The Keymouse is attempting to bridge that gap by offering a device that offers users the fluidity of a mouse while still providing unfettered access to a full QWERTY keyboard.

The Bluetooth-enabled Keymouse is split into two separate, ergonomically designed devices that resemble mice, each of which features half the QWERTY keyboard up top and within reach of a user’s fingers. High-resolution lasers on the bottom of each half allow any side to be the main mouse, accommodating both left- and right-handed users.

An alternative input like this wouldn’t be complete without the ability for each and every key to be fully customizable, ensuring the macros and shortcuts hardcore gamers, graphic designers, and CAD experts use can all be implemented easily. The Keymouse is going for $249, with an estimated ship date of September 2015. A successful goal of $100,000 will get this product moving.

The Keymouse is almost word for word exactly like the The King’s Assembly, although much more refined. With its full wireless capabilities and fully customizable layout. The Keymouse seems like one of the more versatile options out there, with a wide range of professionals standing to benefit from what it offers.

Input Technology

101touch keyboard gets rid of manual typing; uses touch instead

One drawback of traditional computer keyboards is that there are a significant number of keys some users need to use on a regular basis that are not easily accessible. Another negative is the huge number of shortcuts that must be learned on a traditional keyboard for each new software program.

The new 101touch keyboard from the Czech Republic-based company of the same name addresses those issues by replacing the traditional keyboard with a completely touch-screen based solution. The keyboard allows the user to shift around keys to whatever positions they want them to be in and add frequently-used functions so that they no longer require any shortcuts to reach them. Playing a computer game will be easier with the 101touch because of the keyboard’s customizable intuitive controls that do away with the need to use a mouse to look through menus or memorize short-cuts and hidden functions. Although it was built using Android, the keyboard is compatible with any computer operating system, including MS-DOS, Windows, Linux, OS X and BIOS. New keyboard layouts can be installed quickly, the company claims, whenever the user shifts to a new program. To help parents limit the amount of time that their kids are spending on a computer, there is a time lock feature that sets how long the keyboard will be active for and when that time is up, the keyboard shuts down and cannot be reactivated without a password.

The keyboard uses an emulator that makes it possible for users to connect the 101touch to a computer and have it immediately start working, without any installation. Keys that computer users don’t use regularly have also been replaced with the most commonly-used computer functions, including open, save, save as and print.  Although the keyboard presented in photos at the Kickstarter campaign website has two screens, that is only a prototype and the final version of the device will have only one display. Backers who pledge £99 (~$154) will get the keyboard when it ships in November. The company is looking to raise £180,000 (~$279,400).

One drawback of a touch-based keyboard is that the user doesn’t get the tactile feel of a traditional keyboard each time a key is pressed, unless the 101touch’s makers can come up with a way to duplicate that experience. Gamers and other computer users who want to get some of the same benefits of the 101touch, but without the touch keyboard, will find the customizable Optimus Maximus keyboard a more appealing option.


Watches and Jewelry Wearables

Ear-O-Smart measures activity levels in an earring

Most wearables devices come as wristbands that can be pretty bulky. Companies are just now getting around to the fact that most people don’t want to wear these ungainly devices despite whatever benefits they may offer, and designs are starting to reflect that. In all of this, though, the market for women-worn wearables is practically non-existent.

BioSensive Technologies Inc. has noticed, and has designed the Ear-O-Smart, a connected earring aimed specifically at women. The earring is Bluetooth LE enabled and syncs with any iOS/Android phone to provide an activity tracker, heart rate monitor, and a calorie monitor to better inform users of their body states. The campaign is looking for $30,000 CAD (~$26,300 USD) to get the $149 CAD (~$130 USD) earrings out by June 2015.

This company has truly taken a chance in designing an accessory for women as the challenge, first and foremost, is a design one and not a technological one. In addition, that market is extremely saturated and most women enjoy a large selection of accessories at any one time, so asking for the repeated use of just one will be a long shot. The Ear-O-Smart attempts to address these points by being customizable, but even a few different looks may not be enough.


RaspiTab open-source tablet is customizable, hacker-friendly

Every year, all the big name tablets on the market offer increasingly greater levels of performance and design, giving users unparalleled graphics and robust operating systems that pretty much do anything software-wise. Unfortunately, all this software is inherently limited by what hardware these companies choose to install in the device themselves. This leaves users who’d prefer alternative capabilities pretty much out in the cold.

While the RaspiTab won’t win any awards with its 7″ capacitive touch screen or 5MP camera, its Raspberry Pi heart will win over the legions of tinkerers and hackers who long for more autonomy over their hardware. The Pi allows for unparalleled customization of the RaspiTab to accommodate whatever someone might need inside it, from a GPS to a NFC chip to an accelerometer. To facilitate the easy installation of these parts, the product’s chassis is held together by minimal connections so that the process of taking it apart never becomes a chore. The RaspiTab can be had for £159 (~$248). Enterprising backers can expect their own come April 2015 should the campaign reach its £125,000 (~$195,400) goal.

The RaspiTab is certainly underwhelming on the stats side, but it’s completely up to the user if it stays like that. With so much room within its chassis to make adjustments, the hackable product has the capability to be similarly equipped to or even superior than other tablets provided the user knows enough. At the very least, the RaspiTab sits firmly in the Raspberry Pi tradition of creating an educational environment that can empower those learning hardware design and coding, alongside good company like the Pi Top.


Jolla Tablet fires on competitors with impressive specs, open source OS

Jolla, a company founded by former senior Nokia team members, has made a splash in the smartphone market with its user-focused Jolla Smartphone powered by their proprietary Sailfish OS. The company constantly harps on about the effect user input has on the finished product and this, along with the phone’s Other Half functionality, resonated deeply with users. Now, they’re back at it again and looking for some of that same magic with their Jolla Tablet.

The Jolla Tablet is outfitted with a 7.85″ IPS screen boasting 330 ppi, a quad-core Intel chip, 2GB of RAM, a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera, a 4300mAh battery, and 32GB of storage with expandable microSD memory. However, the Jolla is more than just the sum of its parts. While the tablet does sport specs comparable to leading tablets, its Sailfish OS differentiates itself with gesture controls and full multitasking capabilities unlike those from competing brands, letting users easily control native Android apps or those from the Sailfish OS app store. Jolla’s open source nature and desire to make their products better using suggestions solicited from their users reinforce their people-centric belief and is a far cry from the lockdown-like policies in effect at other companies in the field. The Jolla Tablet clocks in at $209 and is expected to be delivered by May 2015. The campaign goal sits at a lofty $380,000.

The Jolla Tablet is a pretty piece of tablet that can stand up to the giants in the field. Giving exactly what consumers want can never be bad business, so barring poor exposure or lackluster tablet performance, Jolla should be able to sway some over to their ship. Novena is similar in that it gives users the option to create something personal with high-end specs, but with a laptop instead. High power, customized hardware gave the Jolla Smartphone a bit of mindshare, so their tablet should experience similar success.

Connected Objects

Fizzly is another Bluetooth mashup of smart tag, button and sensors

Why buy one device that does a single thing, or wait for apps to be created before you have the functionality you need? The tiny square Fizzly will put the power back in your hands with its multitude of arrays and sensors designed to track and react to all sorts of movement.

While impressive in and of itself, the real magic starts happening when Fizzly is attached to your body or other real-world objects to make them interactive. Attach it to your skateboard and make every trick and grind a part of a Fizzly-enabled game on your iOS or Android device. If everyday functionality is more your thing, place Fizzly in your mailbox and set an alert to trigger whenever it is opened so you can be in the know, for example. The company stresses the open nature of the platform, and encourages backers to try and find their own uses. In many ways, it’s $39 price tag is getting you a product that changes depending on who uses it, an exciting prospect for something so small. The campaign’s $49,000 goal aims to have Fizzly in backer’s hands, bags, shoes, or wherever else by April 2015.

Smart Home

Jul Bujh clamps on to boilers to make them smarter and more efficient

In most of the developed world, natural gas heaters seamlessly provide heated water to a household without wasting an unnecessary amount of energy doing so. In the undeveloped world, that isn’t the case: the price for natural gas heating goes up because the boilers in use are outdated, knowing only to keep water heated but not necessarily when it should do so. This means that every night when people are sleeping and not using any, the boiler will still be chugging away and heating up water. This raises prices, wastes fossil fuels, and contaminates the air.

Jul Bujh is intended to solve the problem of wasteful legacy boilers by being an easy to install, snap-on device that turns a boiler’s control itself, rather than forcing people to wake up and head out into the freezing weather to do so themselves. With the device being Bluetooth Low Energy enabled, customizable, repeatable schedules can be set with an iOS or Android app utilizing multiple temperature options; a remote controlled option is in the works if you don’t have a smartphone. Once you do, you won’t have to think about it all winter: just four AA batteries can power the device all season. At $60 a pop, the potential for money saved trumps the investment necessary. The more people know this, the easier it will be for the company to raise $35,000 within the month.

The smart home is becoming increasingly more adept at conquering the issues of heating. Products like Hot-Tubes offer solutions alongside the heavyweights like Nest. Unfortunately, these solutions only apply to more developed nations where the issue of waste is present but much less intrusive financially, making it harder to feel its effects, and thus take action. Outside of the Jul Bujh, there isn’t really anything addressing the problem of legacy water heaters — let’s see if it makes the difference this winter.

Health and Wellness

Rockwell razor ditches cartridges for customization

Every few months, it seems like a new razor hits the market. One with more blades, or with all kinds of bells and whistles that promise a better shave while men continue to struggle with razor burn and other problems.

The Rockwell 6S Razor from Rockwell Razors takes a step in the other direction. Inspired by the classic safety razors used generations ago, the 6S has a classic, minimalist feel to it. What makes this razor unique however is the presence of three double-sided plates that provide a customized shave designed to work on any kind of face or facial hair. Rockwell Razors has set a goal of $12,000 CAD for this project. For $69 CAD, supporters will receive the 6S Razor with all the plates, cap, handle, and blades in December 2014.

Younger shavers may be intimidated by going back to using an actual razor blade to do their shaving, but it’s a method that’s been used by men for years prior to the introduction of the Gillette Mach3. That it uses normal, inexpensive and replaceable razor blades is just the icing on the cake for those who want to save money.