Connected Objects Television

Lightpack 2 lets your TV bask in the afterglow of ambient lighting

Ambient backlighting can add another level of immersion to one’s experience while watching a movie or playing a video game on the TV.

patent-claimedLightpack 2 is an HDMI pass through kit that provides ambient backlighting for TVs. It follows the Lightpack lighting system that the same manufacturer, Wooden Shark, successfully received funding for on Kickstarter in 2013. The big difference between the two products is that the earlier device was designed for computer monitors.

The new product has four HDMI inputs to connect all of one’s media devices, including game consoles, to the TV. Lightpack 2 controls an LED strip that contours to the back of a TV and can also include a Pixel accessory, a wireless LED-based lighting module that is placed on the wall or elsewhere. Lightpack 2 uses patented algorithms to process the input video signal. All that is required for setup are a power source and an HDMI connection. Lightpack 2 can also be used as an intelligent lighting system even when the TV is off. Mood lighting can be set with the companion Lightpack app for Android and iOS devices.

Lighting Television

AmbiScreen lights up the backs of your screens and more

Ambient TV backlighting technology has so far failed to find a major audience in the U.S. despite several attempts by companies including Philips and its Ambilight. More recently, the makers of Project-Pyxis failed to reach their funding goals for that device.

AmbiScree is a new, LED-based backlighting device with somewhat more ambitious functionality than some prior products. It is controlled wirelessly via iOS (and later Android) mobile devices, and provides ambient lighting for TVs or any other display, as well as videogame consoles and any other device in the home, according to its Indiegogo campaign. AmbiScreen can also be used as an autonomous mood light system. So, in addition to creating light behind a TV, it can also be used to create ambient lighting in bathrooms and other rooms.

Lighting Television

Pyxis makers want you to pick this for ambient TV backlighting

Ambient TV backlighting technology has been around for several years now, but no consumer product using it has made significant headway in the U.S. yet. Philips came closest with Ambilight, but the company is no longer marketing that (or any other TV products in North American anymore).

Project-Pyxis is a standalone HDMI ambient backlighting device for TVs that illuminates the wall behind a TV with the same colors displayed on the TV screen in real time. The small set-top device interacts with the image being displayed on the screen by using the HDMI signal to sample the edges of the screen to compute LED color values. It works in conjunction with an LED strip that the Pyxis makers say is packed with lighting and all the necessary cabling. It is shipping in May at $200. The Kickstarter goal is to raise $86,000 by Nov. 16.

While Ambilight was marketed as enhancing any video, it was mostly appreciated by gamers. Game accessory maker Mad Catz Interactive has already been fielding such a product as part of a licensing pact with U.K. company amBX, whose technology was originally developed within Philips Research Laboratories. The main selling point of Pyxis is that it doesn’t require any additional devices, such as a PC. Pyxis works straight out of the box in less than five minutes, according to its campaign.



Luminoodle sees the lights, strings them up

After a slow ramp, LEDs have been taking over more and more lighting needs. They’ve shown up in light bulbs, flashlights, lanterns, desk lamps and even the running lights on cars. On addition to their low energy consumption, their small size allows them to be shaped in many granular configurations.

Luminoodle takes advantage of this by stringing together LEDs in a waterproof rope-like enclosure that includes a number of ways to connect to various surfaces, including loops and magnets. In addition, the whole thing can be coiled up in a bag and used as a lantern. The standard product measures five feet long, but also comes in an XL version twice that length.

Smart Home

Smitch smart light switch brings simplicity to smart home category

Smart home devices can make life easier for consumers, but too many such products are overly complicated to set up.

The same can’t be said for Smitch, a smart light switch that its makers say can be installed in a matter of seconds, and fits 90 percent of existing switches. It features an intuitive interface, and can control all of a room’s lights by just tapping on the corresponding picture that is shown on the companion Android or iOS app. Smitch begins shipping in November and will cost $69 each at retail, although it can be purchased via Kickstarter at reduced early bird pricing that starts at $32. Its makers set a Kickstarter goal of raising $21,949 by Sept. 8.

Smitch certainly seems easy to install and other features that should make it appealing to some consumers is its advertised long battery life of about 500 days. But Smitch may face an uphill battle because it just seems too much like many other smart light switches already available, including Switchmate.


Connected Objects Cycling

LIVALL connected bike helmet blings out your ride

For far too long, bike helmets have been left in the closets and basements of homes all across the United States despite how effective they are stopping at preventing all types of injuries. The reason? Most would mention how bike helmets much besides make them look silly, a sorry excuse now that the LIVALL Bling Helmet is here.

The LIVALL Bling Helmet is a bicycle helmet that features Bluetooth connectivity alongside a two sets of LEDs and a three-axis gyroscope, all in an effort to improve communication and safety for cyclists everywhere. Bluetooth connectivity in conjunction with a built-in mic gives riders the option to to walkie-talkie other members of the group, take calls from others, or just ride along to music from the smartphones.

A dual set of LEDs, up top and on the back, ensure other members of the riding group, pedestrians, and motorists all have a good idea of where the cyclist is, while the three-axis gyroscope sets off an SOS alert and contacts help when the cyclist is thrown off due to an accident. All of these features are facilitated with the Bling Jet handlebar controller working in tandem with the LIVALL app on iOS or Android.

Cell Phone Accessories Imaging

olloclip Studio case creates a photo accessory rig for your iPhone

How far can one take smartphone imaging? Each of the many accessories that are available to improve the standard output of their integrated cameras compromises their portability either with more stuff to manage or by making for an awkward group of phone appendages that must often be treated gingerly.

olloclip is familiar with this scenario. The company that created a Kickstarter stir in 2013 with a series of smartphone lenses. It has since come out with a new version for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that includes a small holster to encourage taking the accessories along. Paving the way for much more than lens add-ons, though, the olloclip Studio “mobile photography system” begins with the rare protective case that can accommodate the olloclip lenses and a grip for steading the iPhone.

Smart Home

Hook creates a smart home at a smart price by bridging RF and Wi-Fi

From standalone products such as Nest and the Philips Hue to a host of crowdfunded connected objects, the home automation dream has never been closer. But adding IP or even Bluetooth to products can be expensive and sometimes overkill.

Hack-a-Joe Labs has found a clever way to automate lights and other appliances without havng to drive up the price of everything in the house. Its device, Hook, smartens up low-cost RF outlets and bulb sockets already on the market that use basic remote controls. By using RF-to-WiFi technology, each connected appliance can be synced to a smartphone once to be controlled from anywhere in the world.

And it’s not just about turning things on and off via a phone. Users can take advantage of the product’s integration with the IFTTT simple rule system to set up custom events. An example would be flicking the lights when the bus is five minutes away. A package of one Hook with three RF sockets to control things like coffee brewers and space heaters goes for $58, and is expected on doorsteps by December 2015. The $25,000 campaign ends on May 27, 2015.

Hook is remarkable in its simplicity and price. Other options such as Webee and Linkio, are similarly priced and have similar functions but are completely proprietary. In tapping into a market that already exists, Hook can definitely make a splash if it can get the word out about the benefits of its unconventional approach.


SpellBrite helps you let others see the signs wherever you go

Neon’s look draws people in with the mood it creates and the impact it has. But neon signs are pricey and require a significant amout of power. Plus, once they burn out, they’re complicated to repair.

SpellBrite is an alternative to neon that offers several advantages. The products glow in a manner similar to neon lights, but they use LEDs so they are far more cost-efficient and energy-efficient. The signs are also easy to create and customize as they rely on standard letters that snap together and are secured with simple screws. While a full character set is available, though, there’s only one font and one color available though the latter seems like it could be easy to change  with different colored ovelays.

Features Lighting

Out There: Slap It butt light lets you get a piece of that double without any trouble

Out There is a feature that highlights weird, wacky or woeful projects.

So many people see a big jiggly butt and just can’t help but slap it! It’s human nature. Unfortunately, society discourages this type of behavior citing “personal space” as something that must be respected.

Now, the wet blanket of society can suck it! Slap It is a light shaped like a butt. Mount it on the wall, step back, and marvel at its beauty. It’s made from some mystery material that produces a life-like jiggle. To turn on, simply, slap, squeeze or grab. The light comes in ten different colors and a dial lets the user choose which one they’d like to see.

This British-made product will surely find success donning the sound studios of many butt-obsessed rappers. Other than that, it’s actually not a particularly shapely or alluring butt. Still, backers can get their slap on for a donation of £195 (~$295) with estimated delivery set for June 2015. Slap It is hoping to raise £58,000 (~$87,800) in funding on Kickstarter.