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

Oko tries to reverse the digital picture frame no-go

The digital picture frame category was once hugely popular, but has sunk into a funk in recent years as photo sharing has gone mobile.

The makers of Oko are hoping to drum up renewed interest in the category by offering new features and focusing on social network interactivity. For example, Oko will let users follow hashtags and enable the device to display the best pictures and videos that are uploaded on social media networks. Features planned for the near future include voice control and, in a future version of Oko, cloud storage.


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.


Wear both your heart and digital life on your sleeve with youWare QR accessories

]The youPass app by ThinkYou, Inc. has taken steps to incorporate social media accounts and other pertinent information associated with someone’s digital life, and compiled them for easy sharing. While it’s much easier to have everything centralized, it still requires a smartphone to be taken out and fiddled with just to share. As a result, the company has come up with a solution: a line of accessories dubbed youWare.

Each youWare accessory features a QR code that can be synchronized with a youPass account, so the code only needs to be scanned. Afterward, users can set what exactly another connection gets to see, so different connections can get different information. A wide variety of options, from silicone to leather to paracord to stainless steel bands, start at $5 and work their way up to $89. If the campaign reaches their $50,000 goal, backers should expect their own in May 2015.

The youPass/youWare combo is an admirable attempt at eliminating the many unnecessary steps at simply connecting with each other, but still requires a proprietary app to do so, not to mention accessing the phone to get all the info in the first place. Their stretch goal of incorporating NFC support would really transform this approach from a novelty to something truly useful, but then the company would run into the problem of lacking some smartphone compatibility. As polished as this approach may be, there are definite holes: making something like this truly accessible to all means the creation of a mobile standard, not just an app.


MaxMyTV puts everything on your TV that isn’t TV

Even with smart TVs, the use of applications often requires navigating menus, creating tiny picture-in-picture windows, or navigating away from programming completely. Not only do smart TVs need to become smarter to adapt with the change in technology, they need to become more intuitive.

MaxMyTV is a simple smart hub that does both of these things by using overlays and a remote designed for calling up functions without interrupting TV watching. Connecting via HDMI as a bridge between the existing cable or satellite set-top box and the TV and communicating with other devices through open source ZigBee, MaxMyTV then functions with a host of accessories including a sensor, an IP camera, a smart outlet, and more.

This allows MaxMyTV to function as a social media hub for live-tweeting popular shows, a front door camera, and much more. The included remote offers buttons that directly pull up sidebars offering email accounts, sports scores, social networks, and smart home sensors for temperature, lights, or security. The basic system includes a MaxMyTV Smart Hub and the remote control, and goes out to backers who pledge $149 in March 2015. MaxMyTV is hoping to generate $250,000 worth of support to improve the product, get certified, and also pay for tooling, production, and shipment.

Adding more features and a better interface to smart TV functions is a great idea that is easy to get behind. As to whether MaxMyTV offers the best features, the sharpest interface, and the best way to go about expanding the smart TV/home experience, that’s a bit harder to call. The overlays look like they still take up a good deal of screen space, and, since it’s an additional device, it doesn’t appear to shrink down the display to account for this. Ultimately, MaxMyTV just looks like a stopgap to tide consumers over until something better comes along.

Connected Objects Video

Buzzcatcher lets you record bite-sized TV clips and share them with ease

buzzcatcherWhen something happens in prime time and gets everyone talking on social media, it can be hard to catch the clip online in a timely enough fashion to contribute to the discussion. Buzzcatcher is a small, handheld device that communicates with any television to record any clip and send it to smartphones for sharing with friends or uploading to social media. The simple design makes the device easy to use and as the campaign video assures, will keep viewers in the loop with all the best moments on television. Buzzcatcher is ready to record in the homes of any backers who pledge at least €100.


Firefly matches you to those with similar interests beyond glowing wristwear

fireflyGoing out to socialize isn’t the same as it was even a decade ago. With smartphones and social media, most people out in the bar or the club have their phone up the whole time to check messages or take pictures, not notice the people around them. Firefly is a wearable LED band that checks messages and sends out Facebook profiles and common interests, lighting up with a specific pattern if someone else in the area has similar interests, allowing them to meet and talk face to face. In terms of design and functionality, the Firefly is similar to Wave, but adds the pivotal local matchmaking element. Firefly will hit the town in October and is available for $69.

Connected Objects could create the Internet’s first anti-social network

The Premise. Social media is becoming something of a necessary evil in most people’s lives. While the updates and changing security policies keep users ill at ease, there aren’t any better options when it comes to staying in touch with friends and family.

The Product. The is basically a tiny web server that connects to a PC and functions as a private social network that others can connect to. With a unique URL and the ability to make content public or private, the can store photos, videos, blogs, and any other content without reliable internet access with a user interface familiar to users of Facebook.

The Pitch. The video is stylish and brief, criticizing social media for selling data to advertisers and for accounts being unexpectedly shut down. The rest of the campaign is similarly styled, showing the product as something cool, tech-savvy youth would find themselves behind to protect their privacy, yet simple enough for the advanced in age to make ample use of. Product creators Genshi.lab are looking to raise $250,000 to finish the product’s design and bring it to market.

The Perks. The is available for early adopters in March 2015 for $199. Four color variants are available at the $249 tier, with full customization of colors being available for backers who pledge $599 or more. Those who can’t wait can get a beta model in January 2015 for $1000.

The Potential. provides a hardware-based alternative for personal sharing. But what sets it apart from previous options such as the PogoPlug is the software that handles the status updates. That’s likely what will re1uire most of the product’s development time. In cutting off most of the rest of the world,. the product makes it easier to have people opt in to certain life events and photos, etc. as opposed to having to screen people out as on Facebook. What one gives up on, however, is the serendipity of seeing updates from other people and being able to easily share those as well. One key to the product’s success will be a good mobile app that will make sharing easy on the go, which is a key way that content gets added to social networks today.

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.