Connected Objects Technology

Findster ditches cellular connection but lets you locate at long range

The Premise. Many people can remember the mind-numbing worry that comes along with losing track of a younger member of the family or a pet. Striking that balance between watching them while also giving them room to enjoy themselves has always been a tricky, but most would err on the side of caution. Although products now exist that help track people or pets, either their range or their costly monthly fees don’t make them very practical.

The Product. Findster is a proprietary tracking solution created so that users would never have to worry about losing a loved one while fretting about range or monthly fees while doing so. There are four parts to the system that make it what it is: a tracking module for both the guardian and the child or pet, a basestation, and a smartphone app tying it all together.

The product is simple: a parent or guardian uses the Findster smartphone app to mark a predetermined space. Once created, push notifications alert the guardian if a child or pet leaves that space, leading them in real-time so that both can reunite. The tracking modules have a range of one kilometer, but base stations can expand this range by two kilometers, with no limit on the number of repeaters. This allows guardians to stay connected with kids at school, or pets at home. Group monitoring adds more layers of security. In addition, other Findsters can act as anonymous relay points to aid in your search. Additional features, like fall detection for kids and a pet activity monitor, give you an extra pair of eyes where there are none.

The Pitch. The campaign’s professionally done style is clear, concise and super informative, doing a great job of explaining the many capabilities of this technology while being careful to avoid being heavy handed about it.

The Perks. If you want to get set up properly with Findster, $199 is the price of admission for either the kids or pets version. Either comes with a one base station, one guardian’s module, one Findster module, and a charging module. A package for $550 (retail $949) is available which includes four basestations and four Findster modules, while another for $649 includes one guardian’s module, 10 Findster modules and one charging module. Estimated delivery of all perks is slated for April 2015.

The Potential. One of the biggest issues with GPS-only devices is their inability to work well indoors, a problem Findster has addressed with its base station concept. This makes the potential range more or less unlimited, provided there are enough around to do the job — and that’s appealing considering there are no monthly fees. All in all, the range may prove to be an issue for some, but the Findster will shine in closed environments like local parks and campuses where an interested party can outfit them with the needed number of relay points.


Moonshot Ring Launcher sends rings flying to the… other side of the field

The Premise. Outdoor activities at parties, in the park or at the beach usually involve frisbee, badminton or simply throwing around a football. While all of these staple games are fun, it would be nice to expand what games people can play outdoors.

The Product. The Moonshot Ring Launcher is a toy for those who like to play catch. Coming in three different sizes, the launcher shoots lightweight rings either far, really far, or really really far. The rings come in different colors and the launcher seems easy to use. The rings are 9 inches in diameter with a dog-friendly version that’s only 7 inches. 

The Pitch. While a little long, the campaign video does a good job of showing the launcher in action and really displaying just how far these rings can travel. They seem to defy gravity as they float through the air. Passersby in the video ooh and ahh at what the Moonshot Ring Launcher can do. The rest of the campaign goes through the prototyping process as well as why the creator needs more funds. He hopes to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter.

The Perks. Various reward tiers offer just the rings for backup. For $65, backers will receive the entire set, including the launcher and two 9 inch rings. A seemingly mislabeled tier for $80 offers the same as the $65 level at an early bird price. Estimated delivery is currently set for February 2015.

The Potential. New lawn games come onto the market all the time, but the ones that stick around have that addictive quality like Cornhole does. The Moonshot Ring Launcher looks like a lot of fun too. The only drawback is that it would be necessary to purchase two in order to shoot the rings back and forth between two people. Still, the distance that the rings can travel is incredible and this game is perfect for those who have access to large spaces to play in.

Connected Objects Pets

PetPal separates electronics from feeder to dispense foods remotely

The Premise. Having pets is wonderful, but it’s necessary to find someone to care for them when you’re out of town. It’s tough to travel or even go out for the day when you have to worry about feeding your dog or cat.

The Product. PetPal is a pet feeding system that holds up to 15 pounds of food. Using Wi-Fi and an app, pet owners can dispense food into the bowl without actually being in the house. A button on the top dispenses food too so the bowl can also be used when you’re home. The PetPal has a camera and motion detectors so that you can see and take photos or videos of when your pet eats. A microphone and speaker lets you hear your pet and talk to it as well.

The Pitch. Ken Powers, the creator, talks about his love of animals and pets in the video. He wanted to make a product that would not only feed his pets, but that would also allow him to see and talk to them when he’s away. In the rest of the campaign he discusses how he wanted to build his product like his durable toaster that has lasted him for 40 years. PetPal hopes to raise $150,000 in its 45-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. PetPal’s reward tiers offer three early bird specials at $350, $360 and $360. The system goes for regular price of $395. All tiers have estimated delivery dates of August 2014.

The Potential. There have been a lot of pet care products looking for crowdfunding recently. PETLY is an automatic pet feeder that works off of a schedule to deliver food at regular times. Pintofeed also has Wi-Fi capabilities so that you can feed your animal from a smartphone, computer or tablet. Most similar to the PetPal, the iCPooch lets dog owners video chat/bark with their pets and even deliver them a treat it they’d like. PetPal is by far the most sophisticated of these. It delivers food either manually or automatically and the microphone and camera are a great way to keep an eye on things at home. The price, however, is quite steep compared to similar products being developed. Other than the expense, PetPal looks like a perfect way to feed and keep an eye on pets when out of town.


Pop-Up Playland welcomes hamsters to a portable paper pet playground

The Premise. Gerbils, hamsters, mice, lizards, hermit crabs and other small quirky pets generally live in small habitats in their owner’s homes. The drawback is that the habitats can sometimes be too small for these pets, but take up too much room at the same time. In addition, not all offer the props needed for enough exercise or interaction.

The Product. The Pop-Up Playland offers a fun alternative for puny pets pursuing a place to play. Similar to a pop-up books, the product is a cardboard area that folds and unfolds to provide fun and excitement for small pets. When popped up, the playland, which mimics an urban playground, has ladders, seesaws, wheels and other fun features for pets to play with.  When playtime is over, the Playland folds back up into what looks like a large cardboard book that is easy to store. The sides of the Playland have little doors that make it possible to connect several Playlands together in order to expand the space your pet can ran around in.

The Pitch. Pop-Up Playland’s creators Shawn and Olivia, a father and daughter team, talk about how and why they wanted to invent a better solution for small pets in their video. Their pet hamster, Munchkin, was crowded in his enclosure and needed more room to run and play. Shawn and Olivia hope to raise $20,000 in their 35 day run on Kickstarter. More information can be found on their Web site.

The Perks. Early-bird backers can pledge $25 for the Pop-Up Playland, which otherwise goes for $35. Reward tiers go all the way up to a $750 tier, which includes the opportunity to name one of Olivia’s future pets (subject to her approval of course) and a few other perks. Reward tiers that include the Pop-Up Playland itself have an estimated delivery date of August 2014.

The Potential. There are of course lots of options for play areas geared towards small pets. Many are made out of solid materials that don’t store easily. Some, like the Prevue Smallcall themselves playpens, but don’t actually provide interactive features and require additional wheels and toys, The Pop-Up Playland is unique in that it offers an all inclusive play area for pets that it is easy stored and completely portable. While there may be some concerns about long-term durability for such a product, the Pop-Up Playland seems to offer at least as much fun for pet owners as the pets themselves.