Connected Objects

Bixi relies on gestures, lets you nix standard remote control

editors-choice-300x96The main problem with controlling music and GPS navigation in one’s car through traditional remote control devices is that it can be a dangerous distraction.

Bixi is a smart home and mobile device that allows users to control connected objects via simple hand gestures. The small smart controller can be placed on top of any surface in the home or car, or mounted just about anywhere as well. Bixi connects via Bluetooth Low Energy to smartphones, tablets and computers. The device is based around next-generation time-of-flight optical sensors, and works well in complete darkness.

Imaging Sensors/IoT

Flail your arms to control apps in-home with ZKOO gesture camera

Leap Motion made a splash a few years ago when it debuted a fascinating add-on product for Macs and PCs that allowed anyone to interface with their devices via gestures. But since it only worked for Macs and PC, the number of situations in which it was truly useful was limited.

Exvision’s ZKOO gesture-tracking camera is touted as the most advanced in the world, but truth be told it doesn’t do much more the Leap Motion can. Using a camera that tracks motion at 100 frames per second it is able to deliver a gesture-tracking experience that boast low latency for both PCs and Android devices, working with hundreds of existing apps out of the box.


Aerion mouse lets your fingers stick together through air travel

Gesture control continues to find its way into a wide variety of consumer electronics devices including TVs and videogame consoles.

Aerion Mouse is a gesture-driven computer mouse that’s somewhat smaller than traditional mice. It gets placed between the top of any two of the user’s fingers. The user then points the mouse at the display to operate it and, instead of clicking on any buttons, just leans to the left to achieve what a typical left click on a mouse would and leans to the right for a right click.

One main benefits to Aerion is that it allows one to keep fingers close to a typing position without having to grab a separate device when moving between the keyboard and pointing device. It also works even when there’s no convenient focus on which to set a mouse.

Input Smart Home

Nuimo dials up a gesture-sensing disc that can control anything in the smart home

editors-choiceWith the number of apps for it slowly increasing, the smartwatch has a shot at supplanting — or at least complementing — the smartphone as the control point for the connected world. But smartwatches aren’t really communal objects around the home and navigating them can often be laborious.

Nuimo seeks to address those issues. The simple control disc, available in a black or silver-white combination supports four main modes of interaction. Users can click them, rotate them, swipe their surface, or perform gestures above their surface. The last three gestures support multiple directions. The campaign video shows Nuimo responding to a music volume command by having the user raise her hand above the surface of the device.


SpaceHarp lets you control music, possibly spaceships, with a wave of your hand

MIDI controllers and musical instruments come in al sorts of shapes and sizes and can increasingly be controlled with a range of movements.

Few, however, compare to the majestic SpaceHarp, a console of nine illuminated circles arranged in a horizontal arc around its user. By adjusting the placement of of hands above the circles, musicians can produce different sounds The product’s developers seek to encourage newbies as well as cater to experienced musicians. The SpaceHarp costs $2,095 and should arrive at backers in November 2015. CEO and founder David Clark seeks $120,000 on Indiegogo by May 20.

The developer of the SpaceHarp stresses that its ease fo use isn’t due to simple tricks used in less expensive products such as Beamz, which is a basic Casio keyboard is to a Steinway grand. Still, the Space Harp’s sophistication comes at a price. It is one that puts it out of range for all but those determined to put on the most elaborate gestural displays to produce audio, but it sure is fun to watch someone doing it.

Connected Objects Home

Listnr assists in controlling the Internet of Things with claps, stomps, and snaps

One of the easiest ways to interact with the environment is through sound, and voice-controlled technology is at the forefront of this potential. For instance, Amazon’s Echo is trying to make one’s own voice the cornerstone of the cloud-connected experience. But sometimes, things just don’t have to be that complex.

Billed as a user’s listening assistant, the Listnr pays more attention to sound than to voice. The device’s iOS app allows users to attach connected objects in the homes (like a Philips Hue lightbulb) to actions like clapping, stomping, or snapping fingers. As a result, hands full of groceries or a comfortable position in bed won’t be obstacles to devices in and around the home. In addition, the Wi-Fi-enabled device can send notifications to iPhones, and even identify the emotional tenor of the voices in the room.

Overall, the product can be useful but only with a wide variety of actions. Without that, it just isn’t as compelling. Early birds can grab a Listnr device for $99, due to ship in August of this year. The campaign is looking for $50,000 in funding by March 6.

Cell Phone Accessories Virtual Reality

Master your reality with the SEER augmented reality helmet

The future is truly now, and a procession of various augmented and virtual reality products signify that with their promises of revolutionary experiences. The problem with many of them is their relatively small fields of view that can lessen the illusion of reality.

SEER by Caputer Labs uses a smartphone to fully immerse viewers into an alternative reality with a headset capable of displaying an impressive field of view of 100°. With so much screen space, experiences once limited by the un-augmented world creeping in on the sides are able to become so much more. The campaign touts augmented reality experiences that are already available on the iOS and Android platforms but reinvigorated through the immersion SEER offers.

Star maps and gaming take a leap forward in terms of usability, all controlled with a wide-range of inputs like joysticks, gaming controllers, keyboards, or gestures when nothing else is around. Open source hardware and software ensure new applications will be developed, given enough interest. The increased field of view makes SEER incredibly bulky when compared to other, more standard headsets like the Viewbox. (But luckily, it doesn’t look as inane as the AirVR.) SEER is impressively priced at just $119, and its $100,000 goal has a deadline of March 3. Its developers see the product shipping in September of this year.

Connected Objects

DISPLIO E Ink display offloads device notifications to a tiny box

editors-choiceThere’s a subtle dance between the devices in the lives of so many and the users who own them. The former aggressively leads, throwing out an endless stream of information to the latter who, for the most part, has to keep up with the many flashes, pop-up notifications, and rumbles throughout the day.

Users could customize the notifications to their liking but that can come at the expense of being less informed, or they can opt to use DISPLIO. The product is a tiny Wi-Fi enabled, E Ink display designed to serve as a point where devices can offload specific, contextual information based on where it’s placed. So at home, DISPLIO can display weather or cooking recipes. At work, the number of Facebook likes can be tracked alongside revenue for that quarter, along with a built-in speaker to catch a user’s attention for very important updates.

Different widgets can be reloaded or switched out using tap, shake, and rotate gestures, while new widgets can be designed using the combination of DISPLIO’s open API, library of various language support, and a design editor to make it all look pretty. A DISPLIO with a choice of multiple colors can be had for $99. The $65,000 campaign is looking to ship the product in June 2015.

E Ink displays are coming into their own, evident in the steady stream of products similar to DISPLIO, like the Vikaura, both of which are strikingly similar. The latter comes in different sizes and supports Bluetooth LE, making it slight more practical. DISPLIO’s small size, though, makes it a nice companion around the home or office.


Tiny Swiftpoint GT mouse offers touchscreen gestures without screen touching

The introduction of the touch-centric Windows 8 and the impending advent of its big brother, Windows 10, have given manufacturers headaches in trying to figure out how to best design a computing system comfortable enough to take advantage of their features. Trying to reign its many tiles along with getting the start menu under control with an ordinary mouse just doesn’t cut it. Although trackpads have fared OK, even touchscreen laptop combinations have come up short.

The Swiftpoint GT is a extremely compact mouse with the ability to use natural touch gestures in a non-touch environment. Its ergonomic design has a point-and-click mode with which all the standard mouse functions are available, but the magic begins with a light press of toggle at its front. A comfortable pen-like grip facilitates natural touch screen gestures like scrolling and flicking with natural motions of the wrist, so as to avoid the dreaded crab claw that results from long periods of mouse use.

It sports a Bluetooth LE connection for up to several weeks use, and a separate USB dongle should the computer it’s used with not be equipped with it which doubles as its rapid charger: just 30 seconds of charging time gives user one hour of use. The Swiftpoint GT goes for $93 and should the campaign reach its $25,000 goal, backers should receive their very own December 2014.

The Swiftpoint GT can also be used with an iPad or Android device as well, but the former exists only more as a portal to Windows than anything else. In addition, learning an entirely new manner of input may actually might make using Windows more difficult for some, especially since left-handed users are left out in the cold. Still, the Swiftpoint GT seems like a must have for Windows users who can grasp its benefits, and probably is a bit easier to swallow than the ThumbTrack — fellow hardware manufacturers should take note.


Fin rings up a versatile approach to wearable gestures

The Premise. Technology has evolved by putting more power directly at the tips of our fingers, but there hasn’t been much breakthrough in the way we input information since the first iPhone and Kinect came out. Touchscreen devices and motion sensing appliances put control directly into our hands, but there hasn’t been a gadget that’s been able to unite these devices until now.

The Product. Fin allows you to take control of your entire digital world with a small ring that transforms your palm into a touchscreen of sorts. One edge of it flips up like a hairdo with tips. Small taps and finger swipes control the functions of Bluetooth devices such as smartphones, smart TVs, smart homes, and cars all through one sleek and handy (pun fully intended) device. Fin uses low amounts of power while also being both dustproof and waterproof, so it’s a practical way to make technology more ergonomic in the way that we interact with the world.

The Pitch. There’s a sentimental aspect connected to using our fingers for everything, and Fin’s video does a good job of capturing it, even campaigning for it as a fashion statement. Fin’s creatoors show how adaptable it can be by using the awakening the sense of touch to improve the quality of life, and end the video by urging the user to “wear the world.”

The Perks. The price seems a little steep for such a small device at $99 for the early bird price. The technology that it packs is worth it, but they won’t deliver it until September 2014. There are different packages for more Fins, but one is more than enough to get you started as the technology of it continues to develop and improve.

The Potential. Right now, there simply aren’t enough devices that the Fin can effectively control. It definitely has the potential to be a device that can control the way we interact with technology, but it will need more developer support. They also still haven’t completed their design and the nine-month waiting period before shipment gives cause for pause. If you want to get your digits dancing on the cusp of technology, it could be worth pledging.