Cast lets you share your streams with your favorite cast of characters

Google Cast has become a fairly popular way to play –- or “cast” –- video content from mobile devices and computers to TVs wirelessly. After all, it enables users to watch the same content on a big-screen TV that they start viewing on a tiny smartphone screen.

Cast takes the Google Cast concept a couple of steps further, incorporating social media functionality. The new community viewing hub seamlessly connects all the devices in one’s home into one wireless video system, according to its Kickstarter campaign. The standout feature is that it allows users to live stream entertainment that they are watching on their TVs to family and friends via an app for Android and iOS smartphones or tablets, making it kind of like a reverse version of Google Cast. Therefore, if the Cast owner is streaming a movie on a TV via a Netflix account, that person could use Cast to mirror the movie on a friend’s smartphone or tablet even if that friend doesn’t have a Netflix account. That’s in theory anyway because Netflix and other service providers may raise legal objections.

Cast will ship in September 2016 at $299 — barring any delays caused by legal or other issues — although early bird backers can get one via pledges that start at $99. Its makers are out to raise $50,000 by Jan. 9.

Smart Home Television

SmartEgg cracks a smart remote control system and timer for your home

Universal remote controls still offer a pretty good way to reduce the number of remotes needed to power all the electronic devices in a room.

patent-claimedBut SmartEgg takes the concept of a universal remote a few steps further. The egg-shaped universal remote control center works in conjunction with Android and iOS mobile devices to automate one’s home. It can control any infrared device using Bluetooth 4.0, according to its Kickstarter campaign.

SmartEgg has an internal timer to switch electronics on and off — even when the user is not home. It also has a self-learning capability to adapt to old or new devices, and will interact with devices if certain conditions are met. For example, it will mute the TV if the phone rings. SmartEgg also supports iBeacon technology.

Lighting Television

AmbiScreen lights up the backs of your screens and more

Ambient TV backlighting technology has so far failed to find a major audience in the U.S. despite several attempts by companies including Philips and its Ambilight. More recently, the makers of Project-Pyxis failed to reach their funding goals for that device.

AmbiScree is a new, LED-based backlighting device with somewhat more ambitious functionality than some prior products. It is controlled wirelessly via iOS (and later Android) mobile devices, and provides ambient lighting for TVs or any other display, as well as videogame consoles and any other device in the home, according to its Indiegogo campaign. AmbiScreen can also be used as an autonomous mood light system. So, in addition to creating light behind a TV, it can also be used to create ambient lighting in bathrooms and other rooms.


AfterMaster TV improves the quality of your TV audio

Audio quality continues to be the weakest link in the TV viewing experience for many people. That has only been enhanced by the dominance of flat-panel TVs, which typically can’t fit quality speakers inside due to their thin designs. Even many sound bars and the best multi-channel speakers can overcome such issues as sudden changes in audio levels.

patent-claimedAfterMaster TV is designed to overcome such problems. It’s a small, set-top device that gets hooked up via HDMI cables to a TV and an audio/video source including a cable or satellite box. The device uses patent-pending technology originally developed for the music industry, according to its Kickstarter campaign. It features a proprietary Digital Signal Processing chip, co-developed with ON Semiconductor, that can master and remaster audio to professional standards in real-time and, unlike other audio enhancement technologies, makes any audio source sound much better throughout its entire frequency range.

Connected Objects Television

Klikr lets you replace all your electronic clickers with a smartphone

With the popularity of the Chromecast, many consumers are already controlling their TVs with their smartphones. But Klikr is a small Bluetooth LE device that takes the trend one step further.

By sticking Klikr on a TV, speaker, air conditioner or just about any other electronic device that uses an infrared remote control, a user can use an accompanying Android or iOS app to control any of those devices from their mobile device. Klikr gets stuck to a device next to that device’s infrared receiver using two sticky, reusable gel pads, and works as long as the user is within about 10 meters away. ,


HUBI Stick marries Android and your TV for big-screen bliss

With all this talk of the new Apple TV, it’s easy to forget that he Android platform is blessed with an unending amount of content made specifically for its many variations. While sheer variety is always a good thing, it’s not the best for the device ecosystem.

The result is a fragmented experience that the team behind the HUBI Stick wants to address. The device is a small HDMI dongle that comes in 8GB and 16GB varieties. By plugging it into a supported television, it gives users access to the entirety of the Google Play store. So all manner of internet TV apps—smartphone or tablet versions—along with the dizzying number of games are all fair game. Any smartphone and their embedded sensors (even iPhones) open up the opportunity to have a Wii-like experience when playing video games.

Lighting Television

Pyxis makers want you to pick this for ambient TV backlighting

Ambient TV backlighting technology has been around for several years now, but no consumer product using it has made significant headway in the U.S. yet. Philips came closest with Ambilight, but the company is no longer marketing that (or any other TV products in North American anymore).

Project-Pyxis is a standalone HDMI ambient backlighting device for TVs that illuminates the wall behind a TV with the same colors displayed on the TV screen in real time. The small set-top device interacts with the image being displayed on the screen by using the HDMI signal to sample the edges of the screen to compute LED color values. It works in conjunction with an LED strip that the Pyxis makers say is packed with lighting and all the necessary cabling. It is shipping in May at $200. The Kickstarter goal is to raise $86,000 by Nov. 16.

While Ambilight was marketed as enhancing any video, it was mostly appreciated by gamers. Game accessory maker Mad Catz Interactive has already been fielding such a product as part of a licensing pact with U.K. company amBX, whose technology was originally developed within Philips Research Laboratories. The main selling point of Pyxis is that it doesn’t require any additional devices, such as a PC. Pyxis works straight out of the box in less than five minutes, according to its campaign.


Music Television

Electric Jukebox streaming device delivers tunes from the TV

The modern age has gotten rid of that communal feeling inherent in the jukebox, a cultural relic rarely experienced and as a result underappreciated. Nowadays, music lives on smart devices which can make the act of listening to music a singular one.

The team behind the Electric Jukebox is eager to tap into the spirit of yesteryear with their plug-and-play music streaming device. By requiring only an HDMI-enabled television and broadband connection, Electric Jukebox is hoping to make the idea of accessing absolutely any song at a moment’s notice a reality — no smartphone or laptop necessary.

Video Games

ZRRO Android console supersizes your favorite mobile games on your HDTV

Google’s Android platform is an absolute powerhouse, especially when it comes to gaming. With over one million games to choose from, a lack of choice is never a problem. Even so, the small screen sizes of both smartphones and tablets can’t compete with the gaming experience offered by a full sized HDTV.

patent-claimedThe ZRRO Android 4.4-based gaming console connects to any television and incorporates a proprietary, capacitive touch enabled controller capable of directly translating finger positioning onto the big screen. The controller’s zTouch technology detects fingers from up to 1.2 inches away from the screen, reflecting that positioning with circular cursors on the television itself to better guide users. This eliminates the problem of using a smartphone as a controller and inevitably having the user’s eyes glued to the wrong screen.

ZRRO is powerful machine, sporting a quad core processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and 16GB of storage that can run the full gamut of Android apps with ease. Having access to the entirety of the Android app store from the outset makes it a far superior product to something like the Ouya, even if that access comes at a premium. Android enthusiasts looking to take their mobile gaming up a notich will certainly find ZRRO a compelling product. The $199 ZRRO is expected to ship in September of 2015 provided its campaign reaches its $200,000 goal by March 31, 2015.




4se lets you watch, stream four TV shows at once

Readers old enough to remember the advent of picture-in-picture windows on TV will recall that the commercials were always framed the same way. A popular drama or movie was displayed up on the big screen, while the die-hard sports fan was relegated to the tiny picture at the bottom.

Not being able to watch sports is only slightly worse than not being able to watch enough sports, something rectified by 4SeTV. 4SeTV is a set-top box that connects to the TV through the HDTV antenna, as well as an ethernet cable. Once the device is powered on, the box allows the TV to display four equally-sized windows of different programming, whether it’s multiple games on Sundays, or just enough programs to make everyone in the room happy. Using the 4SeTV app, users can decide which program broadcasts audio, change channels in each of the windows, or zoom in to catch a critical moment as it develops.

Additionally, 4SeTV is great for families with diverse viewing habits because it allows HD content to be streamed wirelessly through the house from the main television. This way, while the game’s on, the kids can watch cartoons on the computer, and non-sports fans can catch a movie or show using a tablet. 4SeTV is asking backers to provide $50,000 of funding to bring the device to mass production. The 4SeTV is going out in November 2014 to those that pledge $99.

If it were maybe a decade earlier, this device would be a must-have for sports fans with families to share TV space with or interest in multiple teams and sports. With broadcasters providing split-screen content already and everyone having enough mobile devices to keep track of their viewing needs, the market for this is relatively small, not to mention the curious inclusion to only have an HDTV antenna port.