Ultimate Hacking Keyboard makes programmable typing a split decision

These days, there’s a lot of focus on input options for tablets and smartphones, but there’s still an awful lot of typing happening on PCs. In fact, it’s the tool most professionals turn to when people need to do there most intensive data entry.

And for keyboard users such as developers, gamers and  writers, the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (UHK, it could really use a better name) is a new spin on a long line of curved, so-called “ergonomic” keyboards attempted in the past by Apple and in several iterations by Microsoft. While it looks — save for the phone cord above its number row — like a traditional keyboard when being transported, the halves of the UHK split apart from their magnetic bond to allow exceptional flexibility in the typing angle for the hands and it’s one of the few split keyboards that can be readjusted at any time.

Health and Wellness Wearables

Upright poises to perfect your posture

The Premise. Poor posture can lead to a slew of health problems as people get older. Those who hunch from time to time in their youth will end up hunching over permanently in old age. With the amount of sitting that people do from day to day, it’s difficult to maintain good posture all the time.

The Product. Upright is a small device that attaches to your lower back. When your posture is poor, the product vibrates, alerting the wearer that they need to straighten out. Multiple sensors allow Upright to detect when the wearer is sitting, standing, running or walking. The accompanying app receives information about your posture habits from the device via Bluetooth technology. Upright is small, white and attaches to your back with a sticky substance.

The Pitch. Upright’s campaign video features several different slouchy people straightening up in situations where confidence is needed, such as an interview or date. Testimonials from users and experts on the benefits of good posture round out the video’s narrative. The rest of the campaign goes through the technology involved in the product as well as detailing the mobile training app that the product comes with. The Swiss-made Upright hopes to raise $70,000 USD on Indiegogo.

The Perks. For an early special price, Upright will cost crooked backers $69. At a regular price, the Upright goes for $79, both with estimated delivery dates of March 2015. Reward tiers go all the way up to $1,725, aka the company pack for any company that wants its employees to sit up straight, not a bad idea. 

The Potential. Posture is definitely a problem for most nowadays. We always seem to be hunched over our computers, books, or phones. Similar to Upright, the Lumo Lift also reminds wearers to sit up straight while tracking activity and posture using an accompanying app. Lumo Lift is a a similar price as Upright, but is worn on the lapel instead of directly on the back. This likely makes it a bit more comfortable if conspicuous. All in all, Upright is a clever product and, if it can stay attached to the skin all day, it will certainly enjoy great success for those looking to alleviate back pain. 

Furniture Health and Wellness

ChairBot tackles back pain by dropping half your seat

The Premise. Most people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. This can have many causes, but the two leading reasons for back pain are bad posture and immobility. Office workers may find it hard to address either of these problems due to their sedentary jobs.

The Product. ChairBot makes sitting at one’s desk, but staying mobile with good posture, possible. The chair features a moveable seat that splits in two. The seat, either manually or automatically set by a timer, will alternate supporting each leg. What this means, is that the user stands on one leg, while sitting on the other. When the chair switches sides, the person’s weight shifts keeping them in constant motion to avoid injury caused from sitting too much. Good posture is maintained because the person is in a standing position, without actually having to stand.

The Pitch. ChairBot’s campaign video features Simon Hong, its creator, talking about the dangers of sitting too long and why it causes pain. He goes into the scientific reasons for back pain and his explanation is actually interesting and informative. Hong is aiming to raise $100,000 in his 30-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. Backers looking to avoid back pain need to shell out $2,700 for the ChairBot… ouch. The top two reward tiers come with a crystal etched version of the ChairBot for super chair enthusiasts. Hong also offers a footstool specifically designed to go with his chair for $100. Reward tiers that include the product have an estimated delivery date of November 2014.

The Potential. There have been so many products aimed at fixing the various aches and pains of office worker bees. Most back support systems are attachments or accessories for existing chairs, like PostureME. ChairBot, however, really pushes the envelope with its weight switching capabilities. A couple of drawbacks of this product are that the desks of people using this product need to be at a higher position for standing and that a constantly moving chair may make it difficult to focus on actual work. The price is also very high for a powered chair. Other power or motor chairs go for around the same price or even less. Still, ChairBot’s ergonomic possibilities and well-thought out design make it a great tool for serial sitters in pain.

Tech Accessories

Imposing I Iron Arm adjusts your laptop to the perfect angle

I Iron Arm  b4b6786a02b26652fd90bfc40a8c859e_large[1]It’s a beautiful, clear sunny day outside, maybe 68 degrees. Perfect day to take your laptop outside and either do some work or just relax without being stuck behind a desk. And I Iron Arm will even create the ergonomically perfect set up for you. Whether you are laying, sitting or standing, it can adjust to your position and still keep your laptop safe and functional. The arm does require a fair amount of space, though, so it may not be an option in cramped quarters. Also, while it’s not unreasonably priced given its capabilities, it will still set you set you back a few. The early bird special of $189 gets you yours, and keep in mind that it will eventually retail for $399. Expected delivery is July 2014.

Health and Wellness Tech Accessories

Mousebar supports your wrist, won’t serve cats drinks

MousebarWorking long hours at a computer can be hard on your back, wrists and sometimes soul. It’s easy to forget that even while not in motion, you may not be taking care of your body. Mousebar is a product designed to be ergonomic and friendly to the human wrist. It is long, comes in several different colors and supports your arm from elbow to wrist on the side that you control your mouse from. While slightly clunky, Mousebar is great for compulsive computer-ites and goes for $19 early or $29 regularly on Kickstarter. Mousebar’s creators hope to raise $11,000 in their 30-day campaign.


Arced Curvstar tennis racket serves up ergonomic enhancements

The Premise. Imagine, it’s finally the weekend! The sunny sky is a clear blue and you’ve been looking forward to getting out and playing tennis with your good friend all week long. It’s a perfect summer morning. Could anything be better than taking a few swings with your favorite racket? It could if there was a new racket that might become your favorite.

The Product. If you’re a tennis enthusiast, and especially a professional, you’ll likely want to check out this ergonomically correct tennis racket by Curvstar. Tennis pros, health pros, and engineers got together to design a curved racket that boasts of not only being able to give you a better game, but also a safer one. The inventors claim that the curve is a better fit with the design of the human body and takes the stress off of a player’s wrist and forearm that would otherwise be present with a traditional racket. And less stress means reduced chances of injury and more opportunity to enjoy the tennis season from start to finish.

The Pitch. The video for the $50,000 campaign could have used some better lighting for the live shots throughout the video, but the explanation of how and why the product is better than a traditional racket has some good logic to it. It was a nice touch to hear background music that wasn’t dorky. The video also notes that it’s not necessary to change your technique in order to use Curvstar. The racket head is roughly the same size as a traditional racket, and you’ll hold it in pretty much the same location.

The Perks. There are ten tiers from which backers may choose. The first level that includes a racket is the $149 early bird special. This is a $100 savings off of the anticipated retail price. Expected delivery is June 2014, just in time for summer session!

The Potential. With an anticipated retail price of $249, it’s not likely that the average Rafael or Serena will take an interest in Curvstar, especially when a traditional Wilson racket can be purchased for around $30. However, tennis enthusiasts, aspiring professionals, and professionals are a niche that could possibly really make this product take off because if the claims that the design reduces injury and improve performance ring true.

Health and Wellness

PostureME has your back… in an ergonomically supported position

Picture 4Computers are great, obviously, but hunching over them all day isn’t. Good posture is hard to achieve when YouTubing it all day. PostureME offers the “most comfortable back support in the world” according to its Kickstarter campaign. This long skinny accessory for your chair offers lower and upper back support and uses ergonomics to achieve its goal without using any high-techery a la the Lumo Lift. While not as stylish as the campaign leads backers to believe, this is still looks like a helpful and reasonably compact comfort aid  for the car or office. PostureME has a goal of $10,000 in a 45 day campaign. Early backers can straighten their backs with PostureME for $30. But as cappuccino teaches us, sometimes it’s all about the foam.

Input Video Games

The King’s Assembly mashes up keyboard, joystick, mouse, crushes enemies

The Premise. While any PC gamer worth their kill/death ratio will say that keyboard and mouse is the only way to play, many games have had to optimize their control scheme to operate with a hand on each. More complicated games or any game with text chat requires players to take a hand off the mouse and slow their game down to communicate.

The Product. The King’s Assembly from Solid Art Labs is an intimidating but smart solution to this problem that combines keyboard, mouse, and joystick into a one- or two-handed system that looks like the love child of a typewriter and an air hockey paddle. By using a rest for the palm and a downward sweeping curved keyboard, gamers have access to more keys than ever without having to move their hands around. And by using an optical laser on the bottom, the device can be moved around like a mouse without having to change hand position.

The Pitch. Engineer, gamer, and founder of Solid Art Labs Eric Charlton explains how he designed the King’s Assembly to satisfy his personal gaming needs and demos the product. Campaign graphics show off the console-inspired thumb joystick, ergonomic palm rest, and a look at the unique curved keyboard. The project is looking to raise $20,000 to create molds, develop packaging and complete testing. Multiple stretch goals are announced, starting with upgrading the parts and making the device work with as many hand shapes and sizes as possible at $50,000. $100,000 will have the King’s Assembly bundled with presets designed by pro gamers for specific games and onboard macros. At $150,000 the company will add more colors, programmable backlighting and other style options, and at $250,000 the device will become fully wireless, both in connection to the PC and to each hand of the device.

The Perks. To get one hand of choice of the King’s Assembly by September takes a $110 pledge. Both hands are available for $185. If that’s too long to wait, a $350 pledge is all it takes to get a signed pre-production set by July.

The Potential. The unique approach of the King’s Assembly means it will have a hard time competing with established or traditional gaming peripheral manufacturers like Razer and Roccat, but all it will really take is for one pro to adopt and endorse this device for it to catch on with curious gamers.