Connected Objects

Programmable laziness is just a tap away with Flic wireless smart button

Ownership of a smartphone gives users control over their environment that at one time in the past seemed unimaginable. That awesome level of control is unfortunately tempered by the need to have to fish it out of a purse or pocket for every little action. Voice control was touted as the answer, but has only proven to be mostly ineffective.

Programmable one-touch button solutions have offered users a tactile alternative, and Flic is another entry into the space for iOS and Android. It uses Bluetooth LE to do whatever a user would like, from placing a usual phone call, ordering a pizza, sharing a GPS location, taking pictures, or skipping a track. A full list of the possibilities would be impossible, but suffice it to say the Flic is incredibly versatile. Hold options along with single and double clicks increase each button’s functionality.

The product featurs a reusable sticky base and a 150-foot range from the smartphone, so buttons can be placed pretty much anywhere inside or outside the home to streamline normally cumbersome actions. Contrarily, most wireless buttons like the Gyzmo or Qblinks aren’t made to be placed in the home but rather be taken with you. A single Flic is $27, while six can be had for $99, and is expected to ship in March 2015. The campaign is looking for $80,000.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT

VERVE2 lets you assemble your own Internet of Things like LEGOs

The Premise. The Internet of Things is garnering a lot of attention and excitement, and rightfully so. Just as getting people connected online revolutionized communication and information, connecting objects online stands poised to change what people expect from their appliances and tools.

The Product. VERVE2 is an easily programmable, highly customizable family of sensors that allow users to give any item a degree of online functionality. Detecting touch, light, heat, or motion, VERVE2 can be clipped or affixed to anything and then programmed to interact with computer programs or Web sites to create new and exciting functions.

The Pitch. The very first words for the VERVE2 campaign call it the “LEGOs of the future,” and this sort of do-anything approach is what the video and campaign material strive to portray. In the video, viewers see everything from a DIY burglar alarm to a greeting card turned into an automatic tweet whenever someone is thinking of a loved one and touches the card. VERVE2 creators inXus interactive are hoping to raise $10,000 for manufacturing and assembly. At $50,000 dollars, backers who get at least 7 sensors will also receive a sheet of Velostat to make touch panels of any shape or size.

The Perks. Getting started with VERVE2 only takes a pledge of $45 to get one connecter cable, the hub, a light sensor, and a flash drive with the required software. A pack with seven sensors goes for $89, with a light sensor, button, touch sensor, turn sensor, motion sensor, DIY sensor, and magnetic sensor. Finally, the $160 tier level includes 2 of each of the aforementioned sensors, plus temperature sensors, force sensors, and loudness sensors. All perks are expected to deliver out in November.

The Potential. Just by how easy the VERVE2 system is to set up and tweak to accomplish different tasks, it’s an incredible way to bring the power of connecting objects to the Internet to even the most average end user. That being said, from a practicality standpoint, the system may not be as flexible as promised, offering a lot of options to use, but not a lot of outstanding features that would be intuitive to many. The creative and curious will derive a great sense of joy from getting their hands (and fingers, and voices, and lights) on VERVE2, but for the person who just wants something they can plug in and use to make their lives easier, VERVE2 might not be the right buy. This sort of real-world physical programming has been put out before with products like Ninja Blocks, but being able to turn any object into computer input is what makes VERVE2 an exciting alternative.

Connected Objects Maker/Development Toys

Droidles join with each other to attack your robot soft spot

The Premise. Kids get tired of even the most engrossing toys, forcing parents to spend money on video games, smartphone applications, or even more toys to keep them entertained. Most of these options become expensive quickly and lack the tactile benefits attached to interacting with real-world objects.

The Product. Droidles are small, spry little robot toys with tons of personality and charm for both kids and adults. Each Droidle has its own social media page detailing the evolving exploits of its everyday life. Each robot learns on its own through interaction with the environment around it, whatever behaviors you choose to program it with using the free companion iOS/Android app, or even other Droidles. Absolutely no programming language is needed to make a Droidle sing, dance around, follow other Droidles, or simply wander around.

For those among us who are more technologically inclined, the 100% open platform allows for much creative freedom in creating behaviors for these playthings that will ultimately be shareable on the the company’s Web site. The fun doesn’t stop there, though:

The Pitch. Hurley Research is eager to push Droidles to the masses to take advantage of the rich amount of information each will be able to sponge up from the world around them. To convince would-be backers, its pitch video talks up Droidles’ openness as a platform, versatility as a robot, and sheer uniqueness as one of the first internet connected toys along with a detailed list of all the Droidles’ components so you know exactly what you’re getting. $50,000 is the magic number for Droidles to go into production and continuing growing as a platform.

The Perks. Owing to their penchant for swarm intelligence, Droidles are meant to be used in crowds and the campaign’s perks reflect that. You can grab one Droidle for $89

The Potential. Most other robotic toys are either solely focused on entertainment or education. Droidles, on the other hand, manages to bridge that gap by encouraging active participation, a novel form of engagement, and plenty of imagination from all age ranges. Its open platform is compelling for all kinds of tinkerers as well, opening up many doors to experiment with computer intelligence on a much larger scale. Provided Droidles can charm its way into the many homes it will need to be in, we may very well have one of the first Internet of Things phenomenon on our hands.

Connected Objects

LaMetric is the personalized ticker worth sharing and showing off

lametricSmartphones and smartwatches keep everyone in the know on important things like emails, stock prices, and breaking news. Still, the data is often private and requires interrupting what’s going on to take a look at notifications. LaMetric is a portable or desktop ticker that can be programmed using its app to show various kinds of data and can filter out the things that are less important. The device uses bright pixels to display text, logos, charts, and more. The device appears to be extremely flexible, giving users the ability to get all the information they want without having to dig out their phones. LaMetric is available for $119 and will be available in January 2015.

Technology Toys

Robotiky toy robot teaches as a programmable plaything

RobotikyRobotic toys are the perfect combination of imagination, fun, and real-world experience. The Robotiky is a small robot that children can use to learn how to program by using the intuitive Web-based platform. Transitioning from simple drag-and-drop steps to actual text-based code, children will learn the basics of how programming works. The campaign video gives a clearer idea of how simple it is to set up a Robotiky and how closely the developers worked with real children to make playing with the device both accessible and rewarding. Access to the full Robotiky experience is available for £99, plus an additional £20 for shipping outside the UK. But be prepared to wait as the binary bot isn’t slated to ship until February 2015.