Back to the Backers: Neobase networked hard drive and personal cloud base station

After failing to reach their Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000 last year, the makers of Neobase are now selling the networked hard drive/personal cloud base station direct to consumers via their own website.

patent-claimedNeobase is a private hub that enables users to securely share photos, videos, chatting, written documents and other content with only their family and friends. All the information is secured locally on the device in the user’s home. It ships Dec. 24 and carries a price of $249, although it’s being offered now at the introductory price of $199.

The patent-pending Neobase may be a good solution for some consumers who are overly cautious about privacy and security concerns related to social networks and cloud storage services. It’s hard to tell for certain, however, just how secure Neobase is based on the website’s claims alone. Neobase’s makers, on the other hand, have made one welcome change from their original plans: there is no longer a limit of five accounts for each unit. Users can now create as many additional accounts for family and friends as they want, according to the Web site. But the experience of shared users may be impacted by their upstream bandwidth, the device’s makers warn. Each additional user also requires part of the drive to be set aside for those extra people, eating up some of the available space on the drive. That, however, shouldn’t be much of an issue because Neobase ships with 1 TB of space.


Connected Objects Imaging

XY Share It squares up photos with your circle of friends

Since the dawn of the digital camera and years into the smartphones imaging revolution that launched billions of photos around the Internet, syncing up photos with friends, family and fellow party guests is a game of jumping through digital hoops using a barrage of services with different tradeoffs: Facebook, Dropbox, Google Photos, iCloud photo sharing and on and on.

XY Share It offers a twist on photo sharing that addresses the sometimes surprisingly difficulty in sharing photos with mobile devices that may be right next to you. By introducing a small Bluetooth gadget similar to the locator tags (such as the one created by the company) that have deluged crowdfunding platforms, one can easily and securely share photo with those who have the tag. Essentially, the small squareish device acts as an authentication device.


Backerjack Podcast #14: Breathing Sensors, Social Servers, and Heat-Seeking Bedroom Bots

In Episode 14 of the Backerjack Podcast, Steve and Ross check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • Neobase, a home server that lets you create your own private Facebook for sharing with your (small) circle of friends. Now all your base are belong to you!
  • Wakē, a focused light and speaker combo that mounts over your bed to wake you gently without disturbing those sharing the budoir
  • Prana, a wearable sensor that scores your breathing and posture and lets you practice via a video game

Many thanks to SnapPower for sponsoring this episode! Please support its campaign.

Download  the episode or listen below, subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and follow Backerjack on Twitter and Facebook. Also check out Steve’s great work on Apple World Today!


Neobase lets you create your own Facebook for private social sharing

The world has never seen a Web site like Facebook, where a sizable chunk of its population — 1.3 billion people — share details and media about their lives to their circle of friends. On its login screen, Facebook notes that it’s free to use and always will be. But it makes money via targeted ads. That’s why there is always close scrutiny, and a lot of concern bordering on paranoia, about its privacy policies, particularly when they change.

For those who like the idea of sharing status updates of their lives with a circle of friends without the intrusion of ads or fear of privacy breaches that many Facebook users have, there is Neobase. Billed as the world’s first private network device, the small cylindrical home server has a 1 terabyte hard drive. As opposed to just being used for sharing files like previous products, Neobase runs Neone, a social network that doesn’t have any central hub but runs on different people’s Neobases.


Lumera adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and remote control to your DSLR

For photography enthusiasts, every opportunity for a snapshot means making a decision. With the ever-present smartphone, pictures can be taken anytime, anywhere and shared immediately with location information and other data. However the quality of these pictures, even with more megapixels, never holds up to what can be done with a professional grade camera.

Lumera is a camera accessory with the design to bridge this gap. attaching to the bottom of any camera with a tripod screw, Lumera offers one-button sharing to various social networks or cloud storage sites. When paired with the Lumera Android or iOS apps, Lumera can do even more, including wireless aperture control, time-lapse settings, and more. Lumera uploads either through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth LE 4.0, and is OpenSource and Openhardware friendly to allow for the potential of even more unique features later in development.

If the camera’s memory card is getting too filled up with photos, Lumera has an additional USB port built in to allow for the connection of any USB storage device to store any overflow photos. As of right now, Lumera only officially supports certain Nikon and Canon cameras, but offers a survey where the development team can confirm whether the camera is supported or begin working on support for it. Lumera Labs needs $90,000 CAD (~$80,000 USD) to engineer the product’s design, complete the apps, and get Lumera certified. Lumera will be out in May 2015 to those that pledge $170 CAD (~$150 USD).

Lumera’s features are all more or less offered by using a Wi-Fi enabled SD card like Eye-Fi, but offers the freedom of flexible hardware and ideally limitless storage through the USB port. Professional photographers who demand the most from their equipment will love the sharing features without sacrificing quality, but only the most dedicated will need to keep Lumera on hand.

Connected Objects Music

Wayit combines an app and gadget to let you listen to others’ jams

We’re in an age where sharing pretty much anything is a possibility, giving rise to an entirely new class of devices taking advantage of the technology that allows us to do so. With that in mind, Wayit is letting users share not only music playlists like other services but also exactly what they’re listening to at the moment. The iOS/Android app itself works by syncing to whatever you’re listening to at the moment, making it available to others wanting to jump into the groove with you.

Their Indiegogo campaign is not about the app, though. What Wayit is looking to do is raise $250,000 to complete the production of a companion wearable device that allows users to benefit from proximity to other Wayit users. GPS and proximity sensors would allow friends or strangers to be alerted to other users in their presence, let them listen in to their music, and even have those tunes be influenced by the emotional status of the person listening, possibly facilitating some spontaneous friendships in the process.

The device’s retail price will be $45, but for now backers can grab one for $30. And while that low price may convince some to ignore needing to buy a separate device solely for this feature, it ultimately won’t fly as an extra device on top of everything else we carry has to really be something special and Wayit isn’t that device. Backers can expect their Wayit in April of 2015.

Cell Phone Accessories Imaging

Little Occhio pairs with your smartphone to explore the microscopic

Many inventors and companies alike are catching onto the smartphone’s potential as an intermediary between the people who use them and the microscopic world alien to us. Smartphones can add a new dimension to a microscope, freeing us from the shackles of bulky, cumbersome equipment and letting us wander into the world and discover nature as it was truly intended — provided, of course, we have the right tools to do so. Luckily, Little Occhio is aiming to be that tool.

This product is a portable micro-cam that lets users see the world around them, wherever they happen to be. Users can then share what they see with an app that transmits photos and videos at 30fps to up to 10 smart devices at range of up to 50ft, making Little Occhio equally versatile for families and classrooms alike. The app also acts as a control, letting you focus the camera among other adjustments. It does this with its own built-in Ad-Hoc Wi-fi mode, generating its own connection so that smart devices in the vicinity can connect. In addition, LED lights are prominently featured as a way to continue discovering more as night sets in so long as the built-in rechargeable battery is powered enough to keep going.

The Little Occhio has promise, despite its $145 price tag. The upside to the price, though, are the included sharing features which trump other similar products like the Microscobe and the Micro Phone Lens. The company is looking for a cool $35,000 to start manufacturing — let’s hope it goes off without a hitch.

Connected Objects Imaging

Famatic tries tapping into the senior market with a cloud-connected photo viewer

The Premise. There’s nothing that grandparents love more than photos of their grandkids. Photo sharing these days is easy with the Internet and social media, but grandparents are notorious for having trouble using these new technologies. From a distance, sharing photos with older people can be difficult.

The Product. Famatic is a digital picture frame with an added touch screen bonus. People can share photos via wi-fi directly to the frame so that grandparents can enjoy a slideshow of new material right from their living room. The 8 GB device connects to Instagram, Facebook and e-mail as well so that people sharing on these platforms can easily upload their photos or videos to Famatic. The screen shows who shared the photo or video along with the caption and allows users to comment on each photo.

The Pitch. Famatic’s pitch begins with a charming video showing a family using the product with ease. It manages to use the same infomercial format that many campaigns use, but does so in a cute way that will make you laugh. The Famatic creators express an interest in the rest of the campaign to connect their product to more social media, including Flickr and Picasa. Famatic hopes to raise $75,000 in their 42-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. This-amped up digital frame from the Netherlands offers a $169 early-bird special for the U.S. which includes shipping and a $209 international early-bird special with shipping included for the EU. At its regular price, the Famatic frame costs Americans $189 and the rest of the world $229. The highest reward tier of $329 offers different color options for backers. All tiers have an estimated delivery date of October 2014.

The Potential. The glory days of the digital photo frame have faded in the wake of tablet popularity. However, cloud-connected frames have some potential. Prior to leaving the consumer imaging market, Kodak had some success with the Kodak Pulse More recently, Flink went the crowdfunding route for its cloud-connected picture viewer, but fell short in its campaign. That said, Famatic is a promising way to share photos with friends and families alike and will improve as its creators add to their product in the future.

Accents Connected Objects Imaging

Appnificent Eclipse digital frame shares shares photos with your social circles

The Premise. Sharing photos is something almost everybody likes to do. Doing so should be easily and unintrusive, combining the excitement of receiving a social media notification with the surprise of an unexpected gift.

The Product. The Appnificent Eclipse is an addition to the smart photo frame market that integrates the features that users are used to applying to their photos when sharing them through social media. This way, using the Eclipse app, owners can take photos, doctor them to make them more attractive, add messages or emoticons, and then share them only to invited users via their Eclipse frames, Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox. The frame itself connects to a home wi-fi network with a simple push of a button and can hold up to 2GB of photos for viewing as static images or part of a slideshow.

The Pitch. Appnificent Co-Founder Rod Spongberg introduces us to the Eclipse, showcasing how easy it is to connect the frame to both a wireless network and users of the Eclipse app. The rest of the campaign’s site goes over how to use each of the Eclipses features, from applying filters and sharing to adding emoticons and messaging. Appnificent wants to raise $75,000 to handle the tooling and production of the Eclipse. At $100,000 a stretch goal to double the frame’s storage from 2GB to 4GB will be unlocked.

The Perks. The Eclipse is available to backers who pledge $115 in either Charcoal Grey or Optic White. The device is also available with a custom protective travel case at the $165 level. All frames will be delivered In August of this year.

The Potential. There have several digital photo frames posted to crowdfunding sites in the past, and the most common “new” feature is the ability to wirelessly send photos securely. In that, the Appnificent Eclipse offers little in terms of innovation, but what makes it attractive is the large, high-quality display and the Instagram-like features that can be selected through the app before sending out the photo. The Eclipse is a strong choice for anyone in the market for a digital photo frame, but doesn’t quite offer enough to make consumers want to replace their existing frame.

Connected Objects Imaging

Flink photo frame shares pictures instantly over the cloud

The Premise. Sharing photos becomes easier almost every week. The digital revolution continues to streamline the process through smartphones, social media, and sites dedicated to photo sharing, but can the process be made even simpler?

The Product. The Flink Cloud Photo Frame is designed to take digital photo frames to the next level with simple usage and cloud-based storage and sharing. Using their mobile app and proprietary sharing site, once users have decided who to share with and what photos to share, frames around the world can be updated with new pictures as they’re taken. With an 8 inch, high resolution touch screen and only one physical button on the frame, crisp, beautiful photos  of friends or loved ones can appear at any time of day free of complex technical knowledge or cumbersome updates. The Flink app also works to import photos from Facebook or Instagram accounts, and later updates look to introduce slideshows and audio/video sharing.

The Pitch. Patrick Ho, one of the three founders of the Flink, walks viewers through the simple process of using a Flink, then ups the ante later down the page with a video of the prototype uploading a photo  to the frame in less than a minute.  Campaign photos include the evolution of the frame’s design and some key details that clarify how the product will be operated. The Flink Team is hoping to raise $80,000 to help prepare a server base for storing and transmitting photos, complete manufacturing, and get FCC certification.

The Perks. With a May 2014 delivery date, all backers at the $99 pledge level will receive a Flink Cloud Frame and unlimited storage space on the Flink photo site. At twice that cost, the frame can be personalized, and at the $250 tier, a wooden frame cover can be substituted for the black or white plastic versions.

The Potential. Can the digital picture frame by reinvented from the ashes of products such as the Kocak Pulse? Flink bets that mobile is the key. Once a hot holiday category, other digital photo frames with cloud connectivity are already on the market. The companion app makes the process a little easier for the Flink to single out specific photos specifically for sharing, but overall there isn’t much to this product that will change the marketplace, and little to distinguish it from its competitors. Electronic stores could easily carry the Flink, but for the most part, smartphones and tablets have stolen much of the appeal of the digital frame.