Cell Phone Accessories

ViKC projects a simpler way to text on your smartphone

Typing on a smartphone is notoriously difficult -– and also uncomfortable — for many people. Whether somebody is texting, emailing or filling out an online registration form, the phone’s buttons tend to be too darn small to type anything –- especially complete sentences -– without making at least a few mistakes.

The Virtual Keyboard Cover (ViKC) is designed to address that issue. It attaches to a smartphone like any other cover, but features a red laser diode on top that aims down onto a flat surface and can be powered on to project a virtual LED keyboard onto a table or any other flat, non-reflective work surface.

It works in conjunction with an Android and iOS app that recognizes what the user is typing and transfers it to the screen. ViKC ships in July at the expected price of about $107. Its makers are hoping to raise $162,634 by Jan. 17.

Some consumers –- especially middle-aged ones — may want to give ViKC a try. Younger smartphone users tend to have little problem typing on their mobile devices for some reason, while many older consumers are too technophobic to use a smartphone to begin with. This is a variation on the projection keyboards that have been around for a long time and have tended to not work very well. A further negative is that, for now anyway, ViKC only works with an iPhone 5, 5S, 6, 6S, 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy S5 or S6.


Strone Roam keeps your number home, calling fees low

Even with certain carriers getting more aggressive about attacking roaming fees, it’s possible to rack up big cellular bills when traveling if you’re not willing to hop from hotspot to hotspot.

The Strone Roam may be an alternative. To use it, users connect the cylindrical, Amazon Echo-like device to Wi-Fi and leave it at home with their SIM card inserted. Doing this routes all incoming and outgoing calls through their own number at local rates using the Strone iOS, Android, or Web app — no matter where they are in the world.

For this functionality, users will still need to buy Strone credit with which to make these calls or browse the internet, but that’s still far less expensive than alternatives such as Skype or aninternational packages direct from a carrier. Calls between Strone app customers are free.


Backerjack Podcast #16: Cyclops Cameras, Talking Trash, and Smart Homes vs. Smartphones

In sweet Episode 16 of the Backerjack Podcast, Steven Sande and Ross Rubin check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • Flex Cam PIC, a whimsical and inexpensive still and video camera that wraps around objects and comes in a range of colors and silly characters. It has some similarities to Podo.
  • GeniCan, a clip-on to your garbage can or recycle bin that builds your shopping list by scanning the barcodes of products you’ve consumed. As we note, it has the same goals as SmartQsine.
  • Oomi, a comprehensive and tightly integrated Z-Wave-based home control system that features easy setup. It rivals another recent ambitious smart home project, Paigo.
Cell Phone Accessories Imaging

Shake your Polaroid picture with the SnapJet instant smartphone printer

No matter what kinds of digital advances are made in photography, instant film will always have its place in our collective hearts. Its immediate nature along with the iconic shaking necessary to dry off a fresh picture will always see people trying to incorporate it alongside new technology rather than letting technology render it obsolete. In no other product is this more true than SnapJet.

SnapJet is a high-quality, open source printer that produces Polaroid images with the help of any smartphone. It’s extremely slim and therefore portable, and above all easy to use. Simply navigate to the desired picture on the smartphone, place it screen down onto the printer, and SnapJet will do the rest — no app, wires, or connection of any kind necessary. The only thing a user will need is widely available Polaroid 300 or Fuji Instax film. When the analog nature of a Polaroid won’t cut it, send high-quality prints using LifePrint instead. In any case, the $129 SnapJet is expected to ship in November 2015 if the campaign behind it reaches $155,000.


Powerknots keeps an arsenal of backup batteries ready for your powerless friends

20140819083204-imageSmartphones have dramatically increased in versatility over the past 10 years, but that tends to keep battery life a constant struggle. Many people have long cursed the their weak capacities, leading TechSquare to create PowerKnots. Their design holds massive power: each bite-sized block has a capacity of 5200mAh and each station can charge up to eight, allowing a user to have up to 41,600mAh of power at their disposal. A smartphone user (or anyone else wanting to charge something) with PowerKnots is guaranteed to not stare at a dead phone for a very long time. While it’s probably overkill for most folks, it might make sense for those signing up for the smartphone family plan. You can get started in December 2014 with a four-pack and charging station for $70 among other more expansive options.