Input Sensors/IoT

Backtrack monitors spinal movement with eye to those in rehab

As we age, we begin to slow down. For example, our backs give out and injuring them could mean immobility for weeks.

Backtrack is a sensor that tracks movements in real time in 3-D. Connecting to any smartphone, the image shows movements on the screen. With this data, advanced algorithms can be applied to analyze how to improve movements and really show what’s going on, especially in physical therapy situations. The product itself is a small blue piece of rubber (obviously with more stuff inside). The campaign does a good job of showing how moving the sensor tracks those motions on the phone.

While the idea of translating three-dimensional motions onto a phone is a novel one, it doesn’t really seem necessary. The technology is still too new to really do much with the data collected. The campaign mentions vague “advanced algorithms” but it’s confusing what these really are. Backtrack seems to have fallen into the trap of sensor without feedback. Other sensors, like the runScribe track motions and then provide useful tips about adjustment. For their very own, backers can donate $150 CAD (~$131 USD) for estimated delivery in July 2015. Backtrack is looking to raise $50,000 CAD (~$44,000) on Kickstarter.

Chargers/Batteries Wearables

Ampy charges from your movement, brings us one step closer to The Matrix

The ultimate first world problem is a dead smartphone. Since it usually occurs at the worst possible time, finding an outlet nearby usually isn’t easy. That feeling of having to be tethered is one of the biggest drawbacks of current battery technology, especially because more and more are experiencing very active lifestyles that involve lots of movement.

Ampy is aiming to take all of that movement and put it to good use. The product is a small box that houses a 1000mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery charged from kinetic energy. So, every hop, skip and jump you take not only takes you where you need to be but also generates power for your smartphone or any other USB-powered device. An accessory kit ensures that no matter how you move, Ampy will be able to come along for the ride, and a companion app tell you how much energy you’ve generated doing so. The portable battery market is drowning in options and Ampy makes great strides in separating itself from the pack with its eco-friendly aims, even if the solar-powered Granola Stroller costs $30 less and doesn’t exactly require you to break a sweat. Ampy is currently slated for a June 2015 delivery with an $85 contribution as the campaign has achieved success, currently sitting at $258,000.

Connected Objects Pets

Best Fit Friend puts more woof in your workout

The Premise. Humans and canines are alike in that we all need regular exercise. Unfortunately, today the majority of people as well as their beloved pets are not getting the amount of exercise recommended for a healthy, active lifestyle. Having a partner in exercise can make things a bit easier, but people can sometimes be unreliable.

The Product. MyFitDog is a heath and fitness company that has created a way for dog owners to get fit alongside their furry friends. The Best Fit Friend (BFF) is a pair of Bluetooth-enabled activity monitors worn like a wristwatch on the owner, with the other clipped to the dog’s collar. Using the MyFitDog app on your Android or iOS smartphone, you may track the amount and intensity of your movement and even compare data, set goals, and interact with other Best Fit Friend owners.

The Pitch. Tianyi Joe Zhu, the founder and CEO of MyFitDog, is featured in a goofball video that includes commentary from his (presumed) dog Cooper. Between the schtick that runs a bit too long, Zhu explains the consequences of dogs not getting enough exercise, which include more trips to the vet’s office and possibly an early demise. He also explains how frustrating it can be for the average person trying to get fit via crazy fad diets and intense exercise programs that are impossible to keep up with.

He concludes that the only logical way to really make a change in your (and your dog’s) daily habits is to embark (sorry, pun intended) on the journey together with Best Fit Friend. Scrolling through the page you will see images of the different components of Best Fit Friend, screen shots of the MyFitDog app and more commercials for Best Fit Friend done by the funny “Hollywood team.” If the initial product video didn’t introduce enough of Tianyi’s personality, click the Vimeo link to one of his previous pitches. The project goal is $30,000 total.

The Perks. For $99 you receive a set of Best Fit Friend devices (one for the owner, the other for the dog). For an additional $49 ($148 total) you may receive an extra device for either an additional owner or additional dog. One generous backer willing to donate $5,000 will receive a full Best Fit Friend set, an additional device, and will even have the opportunity to star in the next MyFitDog commercial.  The final product is expected to retail for between $100 and $120 with estimated shipping in May 2014.

The Potential. Best Fit Friend will be tasked with drumming up supporters who need to be motivated enough to start a fitness plan for themselves and their pets. While tracking the intensity and amount of exercise is a solid way to measure exercise, it seems challenging to set a pace which would achieve goal rates of intensity for both you and your pup simultaneously. Still, it addresses a common problem that many Americans and their dogs face today – how to stay motivated to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. While Voyce is aiming at a more comprehensive set doggie data for you to analyze, Whistle is another activity monitor and (iOS-only for now) app for dogs (not people) which is available today for about $130.