Connected Objects

A digital frame, Pigeon carries photos and videos to loved ones

Once upon a time, the digital picture frame was a popular product category. But consumers quickly grew tired of them, in part because they were too difficult to be used by many of the people who often received them as gifts, such as grandparents.

The Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled Pigeon largely resolves that problem as it allows photos and videos to be automatically downloaded to the frame via an Android or iOS app. As a result, users, and grandparents in particular, won’t be stuck staring at the same 10 photos for years on end, which was sometimes the case with older digital frames that often relied on memory cards. The 10-inch frame has built-in speakers, 2 GB of onboard storage, and USB connectivity for when Wi-Fi isn’t available. It can also be hung on the wall or onto a refrigerator via its magnetic back. Notably, photos and videos are also stored securely via Pigeon’s cloud service while a a motion sensor cleverly ensures that the frame is on only when somebody is nearby.

There are two versions of Pigeon to choose from along with a choice of five frames: the entry-level Winkie version costs $159 while the White Vision model, with backlit LED lighting and a rechargeable battery pack, costs $205. Its maker is hoping to raise $50,000 by March 19.

As mentioned in a recent Backerjack Podcast, there have been a few challenges to digital picture frames. The Pigeon digital frame, however, holds some promise thanks to its enhanced and more modern features. But there is still at least one fundamental cause for the declining interest in digital frames that no new frame –- including this or Fireside — will be able to address: the ubiquity of tablets which many grandparents can use with ease.

Connected Objects Imaging

Fireside seeks to rekindle interest in the digital photo frame

With smartphones, tablets, and all of our other devices containing cameras both portable and capable enough to take quality photos and video anywhere we’d like, we’ve amassed a glut of media that we may enjoy having, but unfortunately don’t get to enjoy. As much as we’d like to go down memory lane more often than we do, finding, organizing, and displaying all of our media is a time-consuming process. Digital picture frames do exist, but they’re usually of shoddy construction and the user still has to upload everything manually.

Fireside combines smarts and beauty in order to organize, curate, and display all of your photos from disparate devices all on one slickly-designed, HD frame. The product does this by backing up photos and videos taken normally on any iOS or Android device connected with the Fireside app. Once cloud-side, they are made searchable with auto-tagging and filtering based on criteria like time, date, and age. After, algorithms and personal input are applied to show users contextually relevant content, like the birthday of a friend or family member.

Celebrating a holiday? Fireside will display previous holiday festivities.) Similar to Pandora, users can create stations based on keywords to add an element of pleasant unpredictability, giving all your content the chance to be enjoyed. Constructed from materials like chrome and glass, its minimal design can be mounted on a wall and multiples can be kept at other people’s homes to easily keep them up-to-date with users and their families. A black or white Fireside is going for $399 and includes one year of cloud service. It has an expected delivery date of June 2015 provided it hits its funding goal of $100,000.

The Fireside really backs other digital photo frames on the market into a corner. If the intelligent cloud service that supports the product doesn’t turn out to be a bust, then the Fireside will have a leg up against other frames like the Flink, Famatic, and most notably the Nixplay. Although the Nixplay can interface with every social network and also receive emails of photos from friends and family, its still manual at its core. Ultimately, the Fireside’s automation claims along with its sleek design will be impossible to ignore.


Cubee puts an Instagram twist on the classic photo cube

CubeeNow favorite old photographs can light up the night without the use of a computer monitor. How? Cubee takes the old 1970s photo cube idea and gives it a new twist with some back lighting, a USB hookup and an Instagram app. Users get to select five of their favorite photo memories from their Instagram account, and include them in their order for the 21st century update on the old cube. Favorite photos can’t be directly uploaded from a mobile device or computer yet, but Cubee aims to change that in the future. Backers can get theirs for $25 with an expected delivery of December 2014.

Accents Connected Objects Imaging

Appnificent Eclipse digital frame shares shares photos with your social circles

The Premise. Sharing photos is something almost everybody likes to do. Doing so should be easily and unintrusive, combining the excitement of receiving a social media notification with the surprise of an unexpected gift.

The Product. The Appnificent Eclipse is an addition to the smart photo frame market that integrates the features that users are used to applying to their photos when sharing them through social media. This way, using the Eclipse app, owners can take photos, doctor them to make them more attractive, add messages or emoticons, and then share them only to invited users via their Eclipse frames, Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox. The frame itself connects to a home wi-fi network with a simple push of a button and can hold up to 2GB of photos for viewing as static images or part of a slideshow.

The Pitch. Appnificent Co-Founder Rod Spongberg introduces us to the Eclipse, showcasing how easy it is to connect the frame to both a wireless network and users of the Eclipse app. The rest of the campaign’s site goes over how to use each of the Eclipses features, from applying filters and sharing to adding emoticons and messaging. Appnificent wants to raise $75,000 to handle the tooling and production of the Eclipse. At $100,000 a stretch goal to double the frame’s storage from 2GB to 4GB will be unlocked.

The Perks. The Eclipse is available to backers who pledge $115 in either Charcoal Grey or Optic White. The device is also available with a custom protective travel case at the $165 level. All frames will be delivered In August of this year.

The Potential. There have several digital photo frames posted to crowdfunding sites in the past, and the most common “new” feature is the ability to wirelessly send photos securely. In that, the Appnificent Eclipse offers little in terms of innovation, but what makes it attractive is the large, high-quality display and the Instagram-like features that can be selected through the app before sending out the photo. The Eclipse is a strong choice for anyone in the market for a digital photo frame, but doesn’t quite offer enough to make consumers want to replace their existing frame.

Connected Objects Imaging

Flink photo frame shares pictures instantly over the cloud

The Premise. Sharing photos becomes easier almost every week. The digital revolution continues to streamline the process through smartphones, social media, and sites dedicated to photo sharing, but can the process be made even simpler?

The Product. The Flink Cloud Photo Frame is designed to take digital photo frames to the next level with simple usage and cloud-based storage and sharing. Using their mobile app and proprietary sharing site, once users have decided who to share with and what photos to share, frames around the world can be updated with new pictures as they’re taken. With an 8 inch, high resolution touch screen and only one physical button on the frame, crisp, beautiful photos  of friends or loved ones can appear at any time of day free of complex technical knowledge or cumbersome updates. The Flink app also works to import photos from Facebook or Instagram accounts, and later updates look to introduce slideshows and audio/video sharing.

The Pitch. Patrick Ho, one of the three founders of the Flink, walks viewers through the simple process of using a Flink, then ups the ante later down the page with a video of the prototype uploading a photo  to the frame in less than a minute.  Campaign photos include the evolution of the frame’s design and some key details that clarify how the product will be operated. The Flink Team is hoping to raise $80,000 to help prepare a server base for storing and transmitting photos, complete manufacturing, and get FCC certification.

The Perks. With a May 2014 delivery date, all backers at the $99 pledge level will receive a Flink Cloud Frame and unlimited storage space on the Flink photo site. At twice that cost, the frame can be personalized, and at the $250 tier, a wooden frame cover can be substituted for the black or white plastic versions.

The Potential. Can the digital picture frame by reinvented from the ashes of products such as the Kocak Pulse? Flink bets that mobile is the key. Once a hot holiday category, other digital photo frames with cloud connectivity are already on the market. The companion app makes the process a little easier for the Flink to single out specific photos specifically for sharing, but overall there isn’t much to this product that will change the marketplace, and little to distinguish it from its competitors. Electronic stores could easily carry the Flink, but for the most part, smartphones and tablets have stolen much of the appeal of the digital frame.