Tech Accessories

Pocket Printer uses robotics to finally allow printing on the go

editors-choiceThe Premise. Everything is mobile now, as phones and tablets are capable of doing almost everything a desktop computer can accomplish — everything except print, that is. Though these devices certainly can print, most people don’t want to lug a big desktop printer around with them for documents. Portable options to date — at least those for a full-page — haven’t been all that portable.

The Product. The ZUtA Pocket Printer offers grayscale printing that lives up to its name in terms of size. The way the printer works is rather ingenious; one sets it upon the page and running along it robotically to print as it moves. Because of this design, the Pocket Printer can sync wirelessly to any phone, tablet, or laptop, and can print on paper of any dimensions. With a USB-rechargeable battery, the Pocket Printer can print for up to an hour on one charge and the inkjet lasts for over 1,000 pages.

The Pitch. Seeing the prototype of the ZUtA Pocket Printer in action is more like a proof of concept than a finished product. The barebones robot slowly slides its way across the page at a rate that’s a little difficult to watch, but the people behind the product are confident that by the time it releases it will perform much closer to people’s expectations of what a printer should do. For those interested in the how of this little device, the campaign photos do a great job of explaining the design and functionality of the Pocket Printer. ZUtA needs to raise $400,000 to complete prototyping and manufacturing.

The Perks. The Mars Black Pocket Printer is available for $200 and is expected to launch at the start of next year. Those who want the Titanium White model or a special Kickstarter-branded variant will have to pay a little extra, but will still get their product at the same time.

The Potential. In the campaign video, the designers mention that their target is to get the production model to print at a rate of a page per minute. That may not sound like much after we’ve all been spoiled by laser printers, but to have a device that small handle printing from any location, a minute per page is extremely reasonable. It may not actually fit in your pocket (at least your jeans pocket), but this approach to the issue of mobile printing makes a lot of sense and may draw in people for the novelty factor before a future generation holds broader appeal.

Music Tech Accessories

Sno Speakers adds streaming, touchscreen to the portable speaker crowd

The Premise. Having music any time, any place, is something made increasingly possible through mobile devices. One new product delivers home audio quality with an integrated streaming interface for any music, anywhere.

The Product. Sno Speakers are the next in a growing line of all-in-one streaming music systems. Weighing in at under two pounds, the Sno system includes a proprietary OS that can access Pandora, Spotify, other streaming services, and also play music off internal storage ranging from 16 to 64 gigabytes. With 30 hours of playtime and a fog-proof touch panel, this Wi-Fi-enabled speaker can complement any social activity or be mounted on a wall to create a jukebox on-demand vibe in any room. Bluetooth 4.0 and AirPlay support ensure that music can also be streamed onto the speaker from virtually any device.

The Pitch. With an understated, scarcely narrated campaign video, Sno Speakers just shows the product in use, with pop-up video bubbles explaining the available features. The second half is dedicated to showing off the speakers in a variety of places they would excel, from parties to game rooms, showers to fishing trips. The rest of the campaign materials are dedicated more closely to providing technical specs and installation and mounting instructions for the device, which all look pretty simple and intuitive. Sno Speakers has a prototype in place and is ready to move onto manufacturing, trying to raise $75,000 to do so.

The Perks. A Sno Speaker with 16GB onboard storage is available for only $89. The 32GB model is available at the $109 level, and the 64GB model can be had for $125. Wall mounts are also available to create a stable panel for accessing room-filling music. All speakers are expected to be delivered August 2014.

The Potential. Sno Speakers are a great idea, but the portable 21st century boombox idea is already taking off. We’ve already covered the Auris Wily, which offers less onboard storage but more connectivity and utility options with its integrated camera, and other electronics giants have shown tablet-infused offerings. Ultimately if the Sno Speakers want a chance at finding market traction, it will have to be on the merit of its sound quality and the proving it’s a more convenient option than controlling via a smartphone.

Cell Phone Accessories

MicrobeScope turns iPhones into self-sufficient portable microscopes

The Premise. Using a microscope is a necessity for many scientific professionals, but it often needs to be set up in a dedicated lab and often lacks the ability to easily share findings or visual data. One company wants to make the entire experience portable, simple, and require no additional equipment.

The Product.  Connecting effortlessly to an iPhone, the MicrobeScope is a portable 800x microscope that does not require keeping slides handy. There are no complicated dials or settings, making it easy for children to use but powerful enough for professionals. With an internal light source and AAA battery, there’s no need for any additional equipment. Even more enticing is the ability to record and share videos taken through the microscope lens in real-time. If more magnification is required, the camera can be zoomed to 2,000x without a significant drop in picture quality, and the iPhone 5s’s slow motion feature can be used as well to see more detailed movement.

The Pitch. In the campaign video, the President of 4D Optical lets his product do the talking, showing videos taken with the MicrobeScope of bacteria, spores, and even hot sauce. Afterwards, he demonstrates how simple it is to clean and apply a sample to the device, a process that takes mere seconds. Also included is the story of how the product was developed and designed, as well as other videos of various samples taken using the MicrobeScope. 4D Optical needs $10,000 to bring the MicrobeScope to market.

The Perks. Getting a MicrobeScope by June will take a pledge of $125. The only other real reward tier option is an awesome customized MicrobeScope with professional-grade optics for $10,000.

The Potential. A microscope is something that someone either needs enough to merit spending big bucks on a professional grade model, or probably doesn’t need one at all. However, the power, flexibility, and simplicity of this pocket-sized device could be helpful for science projects, field work, and could even find application in disease control, as samples could be observed on-site. The very nature of the product makes it really only a game-changer for a niche market, but it certainly will make a splash in that niche.

Connected Objects Fitness

TAO WellShell presses on in quest for smart isometric workout anywhere

editors-choiceThe Premise. Part of what makes staying in shape such a chore is having to go to a gym to work out. Even with home fitness equipment, it has to be lugged out or take up living space and usually takes full attention as well.

The Product. The TAO WellShell is an unassuming, pocket-sized device that can deliver an intense workout. With customizable settings that can be controlled through the companion app, the WellShell can be an invigorating workout for users of all strengths. As users press the TAO with their hands or against a surface, the WellShell vocally advises the user to apply more or more or less pressure until the right zone is found and held. The exercise works on the same principles as pilates or planking. The WellShell can also monitor heart rate and function as a pedometer.

The Pitch. TAO’s Co-Founder, Philo Northrup, demonstrates how to use the WellShell and talks about how easy it is to use the device to get a workout in anywhere. Another video features people trying out TAO for the first time and realizing that for as simple as the device is, working out with it can be a challenge. Adding to the hype is all of the media attention the TAO WellShell has received, from its CES debut to appearances on Live with Kelly and Michael. TAO is looking for $100,000 to contract manufacturing experts and finalized a sturdy, attractive design.

The Perks. Backers can get a TAO WellShell and the app for $149, half the suggested retail price. A $500 pledge is ideal for trainers who want to make their training program part of the app to monitor client activity, and for $1,000 backers can get a designer WellShell with a handmade white leather cover. The TAO WellShell is expected to be delivered in November 2014.

The Potential. Of course, one doesn’t need a machine to do isometric hand presses anywhere and for a portable product and the vocal nature of the WellShell could be distracting in public without headphones; the product is a little on the hefty side for something that might be pocketable. On its own, it might not be enough to find a home in the crowded home fitness marketplace. However, by showing off integration with product remotes, apps, and even potential gamification, the portability and versatility will appeal to those looking for a cloud-trackable exercise in the office, the waiting room, or at the bus stop by next year.


Vega Edge blends fashion and safety with stylish blinker

Vega EdgeWalking, cycling, and jogging at night are greatly improved by increased visibility. Vega Edge presents a wearable light for such occasions. The light offers different flashing modes and is made with leather and magnets so that it can clip onto the edge of any garment or bag and is far more discreet than other night-time visibility aids. Choices of light color, shape and leather are all customizations that Vega’s creators offer. Buyers of this light will even have the option to change the flashing pattern of the light if they wish. One early Vega Edge goes for $55 CAD with an estimated delivery date of August 2014. Vega hopes to raise $32,000 CAD in its 21-day Kickstarter campaign.


Mini Sleek offers portable hair straightening, heat-resistant case for hotheads

For lots of ladies on the go, hair can be aMini Sleek bear to maintain. Mini Sleek offers portable hair care as a wireless straightening iron. The battery plugs into the wall and, when done, offers 30-45 minutes of life while heating up to 375 degrees. This hair tool is compact enough to fit in a purse and comes with a heat resistant box cover so that waiting for the straightener to cool down isn’t an issue. One Mini Sleek goes for $85 on Indiegogo. The creator hopes to raise $50,000 in her 60 day campaign.

Camping Food and Beverage

Anywhere-Fridge can use the sun to charge up a chill

AnywhereFridgeCamping or picnicking can be messy activities, especially when it comes to food. Both are made a lot easier with the Anywhere Fridge-Freezer-Warmer. As a portable three-in-one food storage product, the Anywhere Fridge-Freezer-Warmer can recharge in the car and is also solar powered. It travels well and looks like a suitcase, complete with a handle and wheels on the bottom. Prices for the Fridge range from $199 for the small version to $499 for the large version, a significant discount over the Solar Cooler, with an estimated delivery date of August 2014. The Anywhere-Fridge is looking to raise $125,000 on Indiegogo in a 60-day campaign.

Food and Beverage

PROMiXX creates a mini-tornado to smooth your protein shake

The Premise. For health nuts and gym rats everywhere, protein shakes are a must. The only problem? Mixing them requires either inconvenient stirring or shaking up, usually resulting in a huge mess.

The Product. PROMiXX is a battery powered mixer that utilizes what the company calls Vortex Mixing Technology to agitate liquids into a vortex. The mixer runs on two AAA batteries in the base, which is detachable from the rest of the bottle to make cleaning a breeze. PROMiXX comes in white, black and hot pink all with a clear body. The blade inside is capable of mixing protein shakes, cocktails, baby formula, beating eggs and more. The PROMiXX 2.0 has supplement storage, brushed aluminum features and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The Pitch. The Kickstarter video is as posh and polished as the British men are who created PROMiXX. They definitely believe in the whole ‘sex sells’ tactic of advertising because they show half-naked women exercising a little too often, though none of them once use the PROMiXX. The best part of the video, however, comes at the end with the blooper reel; making the creators seem playful and less serious than the video suggests. More information can be found on their Web site. PROMiXX is looking to raise $30,000 to shake up their 60 day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. The PROMiXX costs backers $30, but for only $35 they can get it a month earlier in April 2014 instead of May. The early-bird and regular priced donation tiers for the PROMiXX 2.0 are $40 and $45 respectively. Reward tiers go up to $100, all offering free shipping to the UK and US.

The Potential. There are plenty of other products out there with PROMiXX’s same goal in mind. The All Ware Typhoon Portable Mixer actually looks and operates exactly like the PROMiXX, except its motor isn’t detachable, making it far less convenient. On Kickstarter, the Umoro mixer bottle received full funding last year and is known for storing supplements on top and then releasing them into the bottle with the push of a button. While not motorized like PROMiXX, the Umoro bottle has the convenience of adding pre-measured supplements to the liquid without even having to open it. For the most part, the PROMiXX appears to be the most versatile bottle of its kind, but could definitely go even further to help beef up its loyal fitness-focused customers.


Tread Pad sucks out the whimsy from a Dance Dance Revolution workout

The Premise. Home gym equipment can cause more headaches than it’s worth. Between the bulkiness, awkward shapes and price associated with home machines, sometimes getting that daily exercise is best left going to an actual gym. As technology is advancing at an alarming rate, however, new equipment is hitting the market all the time, some of which seems to be an excellent alternative to the issues that have been associated with home gym machines ever since they first came out.

The Product. The Tread Pad is a new kind of workout device that utilizes touch pad technology that is operated entirely by foot. It resembles the appearance and functionality of the dance pad for the game Dance Dance Revolution, but the flashy graphics and sound of that game have been replaced with some sterile red LEDs. This likely helps conserve battery life. The device allows for continuous tracking of calories burned, distance, average speed and number of steps. Perhaps the best thing about the Tread Pad, though, is that it only weighs 10 pounds and measures in at 24”x30”, making it semi-portable and easy to store.

The Pitch. If there’s anything that hurts the Tread Pad, it’s the campaign video. It feels dated, and as serious as a heart attack it seeks to prevent. The product is being billed as a customizable, easy-to-use device that could potentially replace the type of exercise equipment we use today.

The Perks. There are only a handful of different tiers to choose from with the Tread Pad. Entry level sits around $150, which would be very reasonable for a true treadmill substitute. However, despite its billing, the Tread Pad doesn’t offer the full leg extension that a treadmill can. Also, the reward’s description as “pre-retail” leaves it unclear as whether the device itself would be a late prototype of if you’re simply getting the final version before it’s available at retail.

The Potential. The Tread Pad seems like a product destined to show up on late night infomercials but for its price. It could be helpful to have a versatile aerobic aid that can travel fairly well and store easily. And the device’s different exercise modes may help routines stay reasonably fresh. Unlike with the original Dance Dance Revolution game, though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of joy in using it, something the campaign points out all too well.