Automotive Connected Objects

AutoBot transforms your smartphone into a translator for your car

The Premise. All modern automobiles come standard with a powerful diagnostic electronics system that handles the electronic functions of the vehicle and monitors the car’s performance. Getting to that data as an end user is not an easy task, however, and is often left to mechanics and auto shops to access.

The Product. The AutoBot is a simple device that can plug into a car via cigarette lighter or if the vehicle is manufactured after 2007, into the ODB-II diagnostic port on the car. While both outlets are supported, the cigarette lighter only offers simulated data compared to accurate readouts from the ODB-II port.  Because ODB ports are often inconveniently placed, the AutoBot comes with a long but unobtrusive cable, making the device ideal to set up. Once installed, the AutoBot delivers data to the Android or iOS, including GPS information for up to 60 days, suggestions on how to reduce fuel usage, and driving leaderboard data between friends.

The Pitch. The AutoBot team shows off the project through a series of modern, well-designed images, explaining the device’s functions and how it intends to bring “wearable tech” to the auto market. Questions not addressed in the campaign photos are likely found in the extensive FAQ section of the campaign. Only $10,000 is needed to bring the AutoBot to market, which is needed to distribute the device internationally and not just in China.

The Perks. Getting an AutoBot will take a pledge of $79, packed with both the app and the OBD II and USB cables. Higher tiers simply feature additional quantities. The AutoBot is expected to ship from China in August.

The Potential. As the Internet of Things continues to expand to every imaginable niche, it’s no surprise that now that market includes the car. Simpler diagnostic devices are available to the consumer especially thanks to the development of the OBD-II interface, but the AutoBot offers a more personal profile and advice, not just what drivers need to do to turn off the check engine light. It might not be something that every driver needs or even wants, but for those that treat their vehicles like their kin, keeping an AutoBot handy will help the driver/auto bonding process.

Smart Home

Open-Me gives you 24-hour garage door access from anywhere

The Premise. Homeowners constantly have to ask themselves questions about the state they left things in. Is the oven on? Is the front door locked? Did I close the garage door when I left? Now with a combination of some hardware and an app, that last question is a question no longer.

The Product. Open-Me is a sonar sensor that can be placed on a garage door that hooks up to a home Wi-Fi network. By checking the app, users can determine if their garage door is open by even as little as a foot, and open or close it remotely. Additionally, using GPS, the app can be adjusted to open automatically when the synced phone or tablet is within a user-determined distance, and close automatically once that device travels outside of that range.

The Pitch. In a rather light and humorous video, Open-Me focuses mainly on the peace of mind aspects of the app, whether it’s making sure that the home is closed up securely or being able to let children or maintenance workers in without having to personally head home. The preorder site is very clean and contains all the pertinent data anybody could need before making a decision to pledge money. The project wants to raise around $50,000 to incorporate, create an iOS version, and begin producing the hardware.

The Perks. The Open-Me app can be pre-ordered for $79 and expected to release some time In the Fall of this year. For those that don’t want to wait, a beta version is available for $499, and at the highest $999 tier, among the many perks and the beta device comes a lifetime free service guarantee.

The Potential. For local usage, there isn’t a lot that this device does that a regular garage door opener, particularly one with a keypad panel, doesn’t do already and Internet-connected openers have been shown for some time. However, there’s something to be said about having a garage door that opens upon arrival providing a kind of welcoming feel as well as knowing when it’s partially open. Additionally, being able to open and close a garage door remotely has its uses, as demonstrated by the product video. Some might find it handy to save a couple seconds. Motorcycle owners like the product’s inventor will certainly enjoy the added convenience. Others probably won’t worry about it. There have already been a few attempts (like lift) to supplant the traditional garage door opener with a smartphone, but maybe Open-Me will be the one to add enough features to catch on.


Pawda promises to pinpoint pets in the perimeter

The Premise. Dogs can be some of the most loving and compassionate partners a person can ever have. They’ll be by your side through every corner of life, but sometimes tragedy strikes and they wander off. Losing a pet is one of the worst feelings a person can experience, but what if endless search parties and calls to the local pound were unnecessary? What if we could always know where our pets wandered off to?

The Product. The Pawda is the perfect solution that allows you to give your pet the freedom to roam, yet the peace of mind to always find them if they wander too far. The idea lies within a simple GPS tracking system that attaches to your pets collar. Designate a safety zone, and you’ll not only get notifications if your pet leaves the area, but you’ll also be able to track their exact location in the built-in map. The Pawda is also waterproof and durable so it can withstand all the adventures your pet embarks upon, but the battery life only lasts up to seven days.

The Pitch. Pawda’s video wastes no time explaining how the Pawda works. Not to be confused with devices like the Tile and Bringrr, Pawda is an actual GPS tracker. In simple and well-designed graphic simulations, the video shows how Pawda can help track your pet seamlessly with your iOS or Android smartphone. The video takes a brief break in the middle for a word from the two founders who voice their confidence and dedication to their prototype that they deem ready for mass production.

The Perks. To get your paws on a Pawda, the pledge price is $99 AUD (about $90 US Dollars). GPS tracking devices do unfortunately come at a steep price, but it could be worth the investment to have the peace of mind of keeping your pet safe. Those who are more enthusiastic about the Pawda can pledge $185 AUD to also receive a Pawda t-shirt and hoodie for their pet. Manufacturing and shipment for the Pawda has a quick turn around and can be expected to be delivered in April 2014.

The Potential. Pricing for the Pawda is in line with that of Tagg, the dog tracker that was spun off from wireless giant Qualcomm several years back, and is part of a new generation of products for tracking people and pets. Not every pet owner needs to know its dog’s destination, but built-in and attachable location devices for pets are certainly going to be more popular in the future.

Kids/Babies Smartwatches/Bands

hereO tracking watch keeps rugrats on your radar

The Premise. The world is a much different place than it was even 50 years ago. Where older generations may have spent all day outside the house, roaming the city and having adventures, many parents are concerned about their kids’ safety or just want to know their whereabouts.

The Product. Children wearing the hereO GPS watch can have their location tracked and monitored live using the companion app for up to 72 hours. The bright, colorful watch was designed with children in mind and fits many smaller size wrists that other GPS units won’t. Each watch is fully water-resistant and features its own SIM card for roaming-free tracking in over 40 countries.

The Pitch. In the promotional video, the hereO team explains their mission goal and shows off some of what the watch can do. In addition to live monitoring and tracking, alerts can be set up for specific locations like school or friends’ houses to let parents know when children arrive and leave. Seeing the hereO work with children of all ages is enough to pique the interest of most parents. The campaign needs $100,000 to complete work on the different apps and to begin mass manufacturing.

The Perks. One challenge of some kid trackers, such as the thoughtfully designed FiLiP available at AT&T, is the need for another cellular subscription. hereO backers can save $50 off the retail price by making a pledge of at least $99 and receive a hereO watch with six months of subscription fees paid. Higher tiers are available for batch orders and distributors, and at the highest $1,000 tier, backers can design their very own hereO watch.

The Potential. The concept behind the hereO watch is certainly one any parent can get behind, and the design and size are ideal for children, unlike other personal GPS locators. However, the safety messaging behind the device is negated by how simply the watch can be removed, either at the hands of a predator or the child itself. While the former seems unlikely based on its seemingly innocuous design, the latter seems almost inevitable as children are likely to fiddle with any accessory. This just serves as further proof that no device is a substitute for vigilant supervision.

Cell Phone Accessories Connected Objects Watches and Jewelry Wearables

Cuff signals stylish connected piece of mind at the touch of a button

The Premise. When you aren’t with your loved ones, sometimes the worst possibilities run through your mind. Some people use GPS tracking applications to know where there friends are safe, but if they become detached to their phone, they have no way of signaling for help. Wouldn’t it be nice to always have a guaranteed peace of mind that your loved one is safe?

The Product. Cuff is a line of products that look like sophisticated and fashionable jewelry, but inconspicuously hides a wide range of safety features. If your partner is in distress, they simply press a button on their jewelry, and everyone in their circle of close ones receives their location and other information they need to get you help. The current line has products such as necklaces, keys, and of course, cuffs.

The Pitch. Why can’t all Web sites be like this? The graphic design is flawless, the animations are smooth, the pictures are crisp—it all makes the information very easy to take in and absorb. The presentation beams with confidence in the product, and that makes the consumer (or me, at least) confident in their purchase. Oh yeah, their video also looks like high-quality cinematography at moments as well. The pitch is just a wonderful concoction of emotion, credibility, and logic.

The Perks. Currently, Cuff’s line of products are only available for pre-order. As mentioned, there are a variety of options that can range from $50-$150. It depends on what style fits your wardrobe and your fashion, but there are plenty of reasonable options. The Cuff products are expected to be distributed in Fall 2014.

The Potential. Fashion is such an individual thing that it may be challenging to find a Cuff design that will appeal to everyone. However, Cuff is less overbearing and obvious than other tracking applications but provides state of mind that alternative apps do. The only hinderance is the remaining fear that some people may have about privacy in regards to location devices.

Cell Phone Accessories

Dots911 amplifies cell signals, points you toward coverage

editors-choiceThe Premise: There have been too many cases where people have been lost or stranded without cellphone reception to make a call for help. People often have to wander off blindly in search of a stronger signal in hopes of getting out of their sticky situation. Not being able to find a cell signal — a nuisance in daily life — can turn into a life-threatening scenario, particularly in extreme temperatures.

The Product. Dots911 is a combination of hardware that boosts signal strength and software that directs you to the nearest signal if you don’t have any. It’s an insurance product to make sure that you never end up stranded without signal, and it can sometimes be the difference between life and death. The app, which is available for Android and iOS users, doesn’t directly control the product. However, it is a good complement, providing a quick access map of cellphone coverage in the area, while the amplifier — which resembles a small, clear satellite dish — boosts whatever signal there is to make a stronger connection.

The Pitch. In their video, the creators provide examples of people who have been stranded and unable to call for help because they didn’t have cell-phone coverage. They show how their app uses color-coded dots to direct the user to the closest signal, and how the signal booster can fit within the trunk of a car for convenient signal access.

The Perks: The app for Dots911 is available only to those who make a $35 pledge or more. That pledge is also enough for a compact 8-inch signal enhancer that requires no power and works with any mobile phone in the world. You can pitch in more money to receive larger signal enhancers for increased signal power.

The Potential: While the potential value of the Dots911 system is compelling, there are other cellular amplifiers on the market, many of which are more compact. Their signal enhancer looks like the product of a garage, some extra plastic, and an old camera tripod. It’s not portable enough to be a product that campers or hikers would consider bringing, and for the average cellphone user, a laptop sized satellite isn’t exactly the number one solution for a text message that won’t go through. However, throwing one in the trunk of your car might not be a good idea if your travels will take you to remote and potentially dangerous places.