Connected Objects

Postie connected thermal printer delivers printed messages from afar

Although mobile devices do a great job of helping people communicate with friends and family who live many miles away, there is just something special about custom, handwritten messages and drawings that people share with each other in person. That’s especially the case when there are kids involved.

Postie is a connected Bluetooth thermal printer that delivers small notes -– drawings or written messages — to family and friends who have downloaded a companion Android and iOS app. Before starting to send and receive messages, both the recipient and sender must install the app on their compatible smartphones. Next, the recipient must place the smartphone onto Postie to receive the messages.

Connected Objects Input

Phree lets you scribble on any surface, saves notes to your phone

editors-choiceWhat do Texas and mobile device interfaces have in common? Everything’s bigger there. Touch screens such as those in nearly every smartphone and tablet today set a new bar for ease of use. But their fingertip friendliness came at the price of precision compared to the mouse, which could pinpoint things on the screen.

patent-claimedPhree, however, takes a fresh approach to the idea of a pointing device for smartphones. Unlike other smart pens that work directly on the surface of the smartphone or on paper, Phree allows scribbling on virtually any surface and sends its output to the screen and is compatible with existing pen-aware applications.

Connected Objects Writing

Writeboard Wi-Fi whiteboard lets you share your meeting scribbles

It may have taken the shape of an app or a notification popping up on a phone or a tablet, but human communication still relies heavily on the taking and sharing of notes. From the classroom to the boardroom, the prevalence of notes touches so many parts of everyday life that it deserves a modern spin.

The WriteBoard is essentially a 27-inch, LCD whiteboard, not unlike the kind many have at home or at work. What makes WriteBoard special is that it’s Wi-Fi connected and can share notes between connected WriteBoards or through the WriteBoard app. With an aluminum stylus reminiscent of a classic pencil and a 1080p display, WriteBoard offers no drop-off or compromise when compared to using a marker-based classic whiteboard.

Every aspect of the WriteBoard is designed to make using the device feel familiar without being held back by technological limitations. A small ledge at the bottom of the WriteBoard can hold the stylus, and the inclusion of wall mounts or stands will make WriteBoard as flexible regarding placement as it is regarding usage. WriteBoard needs $100,000 to find investment partners and create a plan for mass production. Supporters can get set up with their own WriteBoard for $299, with no release date planned at this time.

The main issue with a specialist device like the WriteBoard is that it functions essentially like a large tablet or touch display, with none of the extra features besides note-taking. Add to that a poorly conceived geo-specific advertising function that pops advertising onto the WriteBoard based on location and you have something that is caught between not performing as well as other devices and getting in the way of its solitary function. WriteBoard’s heart is in the right place, but may need to go back to the drawing board.


Tech Accessories

Lappito reclaims desk writing space from your laptop keyboard

This may be the perfect item for college students required to attend lots of lectures, and perhaps traveling business professionals. Situations such as these can mean that desktop space is limited, so if a person wants to make notes in a notebook, it can be an annoying hassle. Lappito fits over the keyboard of a standard sized laptop, and has tiny legs that raise it up just enough so that it isn’t touching the keyboard. Seems like it should be easily transportable since it is supposed to fit right inside the laptop bag with the computer. As long as access to the keyboard while making those notes isn’t necessary, this seems like it has the potential to be a rather handy item to have available. This campaign is seeking to raise $38,000 by November 13, 2014. For $20, early bird backers get two Lappitos with free shipping and an expected delivery of January 2015.


Switch Port pioneers the write light

Here’s a rather clever idea for writing notes to self – or anyone else in the house for that matter. Switch Port is a light switch that functions like a small, dry-erase board. Users can write notes or reminders in a location that is easily seen and in full view every time the room is entered. The ink doesn’t get absorbed by the light switch because the surface is enameled in an epoxy. This product will be some easy installation using only a screwdriver. The screws are included with the product as well as the fine point dry erase type marker. It appears that the marker sits relatively securely on a small ledge at the top of Switch Port, but it might be a nice touch to add some Velcro or something that helps to keep the marker secure when not in use so that it doesn’t end up getting knocked to the floor or lost. The item comes in both single and double switch options, with the single being available for $12. Expected delivery is December 2014, and should arrive before the holidays.


Neo Smartpen N2 sends your scribbles to your smartphone

Only a select few smart pens have really stood out as serious contenders in the digital marketplace. The N2 by NeoLAB intends to follow in the footsteps of heavyweights like LiveScribe and Equil by offering the syncing features we’re all used to, but with a few extras to set itself apart. The pen’s versatility comes from its compatibility with industry standard D1 ink, the ability to import anything created into Photoshop or Illustrator for further tweaking, voice recording, and PDF editing and annotation to round it all out.

The Mimoto pen has also tried to break the mold by moonlighting as a stylus for touch screens, but in the end most smart pens are entirely too similar. The N2 does a valiant job differentiating itself with its feature set and the ability for users to print their own proprietary paper rather than be stuck if they’re out. If it’s up your alley, the basic package goes for $99 and comes with one N2 and a notebook.


Mimoto Smart Pen can send scribblings to tablets, work as stylus

mimotosmartpenThe smart pen was a technological step forward that came with multiple steps backward. Touchy sensors and weird behaviors turned something that could have been a game changer into a novelty at best. Like major competitors Livescribe and its close technology cousin Equil, the Mimoto Smart Pen is a refinement on the smart pen that offers it additional functionality. By clipping a screen frame and changing the tip of the pen to something that won’t leave permanent damage, the Mimoto Smart Pen can be used as a stylus on non-touch screen displays, and the demo in the pitch video makes it look like an exceptionally good stylus at that. One key will be creating integration with popular apps as Livescribe has done with Evernote. The prototype version is available in August for backers who pledge $129, and more advanced models are also available.


ThinkBook provides dry-erase tablet alternative to the never-ending notebook

ThinkBook  9697903696fb89405f4e644f40e3aacb_large[1]So you’re out at a restaurant and this really great idea pops into your head. Alas, you will imminently need that napkin for the sauce-doused pasta and any attempt to wrest the iPad back from your child will meet with vociferous protest. The creator of ThinkBook can sympathize. Hence, the idea for the 5×7 dry erase notebook was born. It comes with 15 pages and a dry erase marker, much to the relief of every waiter and waitress. Of course, with the pages a scarce commodity, you’ll need to find alternative means to sharing your idea rather than ripping out a sheet. Maybe you can borrow that iPad — or at least its camera — for a moment, after all. For $25 backers get a complete product and expected delivery of June 2014.