Echo Connect is a tiny, twisty tether for connecting smartphones

Echo ConnectIn an increasingly wireless world, we still need a whole lot of wires to keep our devices charged. It can be difficult to remember your charging cord at all times and definitely inconvenient when you’re caught without it. Echo Connect aims to fix this problem. This product is a small, silicone keychain that syncs and charges your iPhone, iPod, iPad or even Android phone from anywhere. This British product is a slightly more stylish version of the Chargekey device made with the same idea in mind. Echo Connect costs backers $15 and hopes to raise $50,000 over 60 days on Indiegogo. 

Cell Phone Accessories Chargers/Batteries Connected Objects

GoKey combines about every key chain e-gadget out there

GokeyMany people own a memory stick that lives on their key chains to carry around their files with them. The GoKey is like that, but on steroids. This small keychain has memory storage, a USB to charge your iPhone 5, Android or Windows phone, and Bluetooth capabilities to help locate your keys. One drawback is that, due to its small size, you’ll only be able to eek a couple of hours out of its charge. The Stiktag also helps people locate their keys, but this is a much more versatile product. A GoKey costs backers $39 at a base price; the developers seek $40,000 in a 31-day Indiegogo campaign.


Trinity is a miniature wind turbine to keep your gadgets charged

The Premise. We’ve all been there. Our phones die and we have no access to an outlet. When in public, there’s always the option of trolling for one in a Starbucks, but for those out camping or hiking, there’s little hope.

The Product. Trinity is a portable wind turbine power system. to charge your portable devices. The mini turbine uses a 15W generator that powers an integrated battery, which can also be charged via microUSB on those days without much wind . It has three legs that fold out either into a tripod shape or flat on the ground. Trinity is white and the body is 12” long with 11” legs.

The Pitch. Trinity’s campaign video is bare and simple, going over how the product works. Admittedly, it looks like it was filmed in tent in the middle of the desert. The rest of the campaign goes into the tech specs of this mini turbine for those interested in how it works. Trinity hopes to raise $50,000 in a 50-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. Don’t expect thsi advanced techology to compete with simple pocket power packs. Trinity offers two early-bird specials for backers needing to charge up. The first is $249 and the second is $279. For a regular price, the Trinity costs $299. Higher tiers offer a chance to pick a color other than white. Each tier has an estimated delivery date of January 2015.

The Potential. Trinity joins the sustainability market with several other products aimed at utilizing renewable energy in small ways. The H2Only Battery powers lights with only water. More similar to the Trinity, the WindPax is a portable wind turbine that can be used to run lights or charge low energy devices. Each of these products represents a very cool new way to think about renewable energy. These products, especially the Trinity, introduce this idea on a much smaller scale and show how our everyday lives can be simplified with clean energy. The Trinity, while expensive, is a neat product that will only be elaborated upon with time. It certainly won’t stop with a USB port, but could mean powering larger things with time.


Tech Accessories

TwistVolt shrugs at plugs, twists to accommodate wall warts and USB cables

editors-choiceThe Premise. Power cords are almost always dysfunctional. They look messy and can’t fit too many plugs at once. It’s almost impossible to find a power strip that is actually well-made or useful without several big drawbacks.

The Product. TwistVolt provides a “new twist on the power strip”. This clever product twists and turns so that each plug doesn’t sit right next to the other if desired. Using several triangle formations, each outlet is accessible and the strip can be used to its full potential. In addition, fancier versions of the TwistVolt come with USB ports. LED lights are also featured in this product, making it look very cool. Part of the allure of TwistVolt is that it is a power strip that you won’t want to hide.

The Pitch. This is not TwistVolt’s first time at the crowdfunding dance, having had a campaign at Dragon Innovation last November. The video for this revamped power cord shows how it stacks up against its competition and also how many different devices can be plugged into it. The rest of the campaign features the various ways that TwistVolt can be configured, including hexagonal and zigzag shapes. Michael Schroeder, the Bostonian creator of this product, has set a whopping $125,000 goal for this product in his 30-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. For $49, backers can enjoy the TwistVolt standard which includes five outlets and an integrated circuit breaker. One TwistVolt with two USB ports and LED backlit side panels goes for $89. Two other TwistVolt versions with four USB ports and eight USB ports costs backers $99 and $129 respectively. Reward tiers go all the way up to $2,900 with estimated delivery dates of December 2014.

The Potential. Without a doubt, one of the main competitors for the TwistVolt would be the crowdsourced PivotPower by Quirky, that company’s greatest success story. There have also been other solutions to the challenge of wall wart proliferation. Particularly with its LED lighting option, TwistVolt truly looks cool, even with a bunch of cords sticking out of it, and the way it bends makes traveling much easier. While a little expensive particularly for the high-power USB versions, the TwistVolt could make up some of ithave USB s expenses because they customers may not need to buy a USB-to-wall outlet converter. All in all, this product combines the best parts of functionality, design and innovation in an item that we use every single day.

Cell Phone Accessories Tech Accessories

keyDock offers an iPhone charge at the end of your Apple keyboard

keyDockAs Apple’s machines get further and further away from having the jungle of wires a personal computer usually comes with, any accessories being developed for the Apple brand ought to have the same philosophy in mind. Hence, the keyDock for iPhone provides an unintrusive, simple phone dock that connects through the USB port on the side of the keyboard, keeping surfaces tidy while still providing all the features of a standard dock. Available in six different colors and with Lightning or 30-pin connectors for different models of iPhone, the keyDock is due out in July 2014 and backers who pledge €10 can get connected.

Tech Accessories

iMacompanion gets up front about the iMac’s USB port

imacompanionWhile the iMac is a beautiful, modern piece of technology that eschews clutter in favor of simplicity, the lack of any easily accessible USB ports means a lot of adjusting and moving the screen for owners. iMacompanion is a simple, low-tech but high-quality solution to this issue, adhesively connecting a USB port to the base of the monitor stand and imperceptibly feeding a flat cable underneath the base into one of the USB ports on the back. Created by Wiplabs, which previously created the iDockAll, backers of the iMacompanion can be assured it’s made by Apple enthusiasts, for Apple enthusiasts. iMacompanion will launch in October and is available for pledges of $29.

Cell Phone Accessories

Pocketable Torso helps your smartphone to charge, pose

The Premise. As smartphones have grown exponentially more powerful, battery life has been incapable of keeping up. Active smartphone users often have to charge their phone once or twice a day, and that means bringing a charger to wherever they need to go. The problem is, these chargers aren’t as portable as the devices they give life to.

The Product. A followup from the Portland team that delivered the similar Twig charging cable that gained over three times its funding goal, the Torso is the spork of charging devices. This all-in-one charging device is an extremely portable charging device for both iPhone and Android devices. At about the length of a thumb and the thickness of a Samsung Galaxy S4, the Torso can easily slide into your pocket discreetly with all your other essentials. The Torso also has moldable legs that allow it to double as a cord-wrapping device and triple as a tripod that props up the phone vertically. (And you’re not one of those folks who take vertical video, right?) Likely due to the thinness of the iPhone Lightning connector — which was not supported by the Twig — the iPhone version has a small grippy head to hold it steady; this reduces the flatness of the form factor somewhat.

The Pitch. The simple campaign video gets the point across straight away. It starts off by demonstrating the issue we’ve all faced with tangled cords and charging cables, and comparing that to the simplicity that the Torso provides.

The Perks. Backers can pick up the miroUSB verison of the Torso for Android and Windows Phones for $17, a 30-pin version for older iPhones and iPods at $17, and the Lightning version for $25, a bit of a premium over the relatively similar to the $19 price tag of the 0.5 meter charging cable from Apple. Shipment of the Torso to begin in April 2014 — a pretty decent bet considering the team was just a couple of weeks late delivering its first Kickstarter project to which the Torso is so similar.

The Potential. The Torso is a refreshing perspective of what used to be a one dimensional product.  There are cheaper and smaller on-the-go charging cables, but particularly for those up for a quick video chat, it’s a versatile bridge between a nearby USB port and your smartphone.

Tech Accessories

EkZee targets the USB drive-by with malware removal

The Premise. Security risks are omnipresent in today’s world, and they’re only becoming more and more real as the years go on. Since so many of us use the Internet to handle our banking and put countless amounts of sensitive information on our computers, it’s never been more important to think about ways in which to maximize security.

The Product. EkZee may just be the solution to those who fear their USB drives may contain viruses. With a hobbyist enclosure and the footprint of a smartphone, it’s also extremely easy to use. Simply plug a USB drive into EkZee, hit the button and the rest takes care of itself. The device will scan your drive for any malicious software that may have somehow made its way onto it and get rid of it for you. According to the developer, simple antivirus software is often not enough to clean USB drives — this is where EkZee steps in.

The Pitch. There’s no slick marketing pitch for the EkZee. The video features low-fi audio and awkward cuts. However, it communicates the product’s value on a campaign page that goes into more technical detail about how the product works, why it’s effective, and what the oh-so-sexy printed circuit board looks like. The developers set out some aspirations for EkZee with their stretch goals beyond the £51,000 they seek. At £75,000, they’ll consider adding an LCD and more selective file deletion support and at £100,000 support for more file systems such as NTFS used by Windows.

The Perks. EkZee is expected to ship in July 2014 to backers. The base reward tier is £40 although a £31 early bird offer is available.

The Potential. The simplicity of using EkZee combined with the relatively low price makes this a product that could potentially have a big splash in the IT community. It’s not strictly for business use, however, and would be a wise purchase for many nontechnical users who need to screen a wide range of unknown USB drives.