Displays Wearables

Vufine takes a pass on Glass, shows any content in nerdy style

Although Google Glass (and its successor) have attracted the most attention in the growing wearable display market, it’s clearly not a product for every consumer due to factors including its high price.

Vufine is a much cheaper alternative to Google Glass that works in conjunction with any device capable of outputting a 720p HDMI signal. The clip-on microdisplay attaches to one side of a standard pair of eyeglasses via a magnetic docking station that allows it to be adjusted for the user’s comfort. Vufine can be plugged into mobile devices to act as either a second monitor to view movies and other video content or to display information including GPS directions, emails and text messages. Wearers can also use it as a viewfinder for cameras, or to see everything that their drones are seeing in flight. Vufine costs $149 and ships in November. Its maker has set a Kickstarter goal of raising $50,000 by July 22.


ReVault uses wireless storage to back up your smartphone, keep stuff close at hand

Day in and day out, the smartphone does a lot for the smartwatch, but what does the smartwach do to help the smartphone? As it turns out, one thing it can do is help back it up.

What sets the ReVault smartwatch apart from its rivals is its ability to back up devices wirelessly. The device enables users to securely access and sync their files across all devices without an Internet connection. It connects to other devices using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Users can set up ReVault to auto-backup and auto-synchronize files across their devices. A 32-GB version will cost $269, while a 128-GB model will cost $404 when ReVault ships in January.

Smartwatches/Bands Sports

Pulse Play wearable for racket sports keeps score, doesn’t do much else

Racket ball sports such as tennis, badminton, squash and pingpong delight upper-crust players around the globe. Pulse Play is a wearable used for just such sports. Worn on the wrist, this product monitors each match and records data to an accompanying app via Bluetooth. It keeps and announces the score, remembers the stats of each match, ranks players, and can even match players up with those near them who match their playing level. The wristband comes in a rainbow of colors and is made of lightweight material perfect for working up a sweat in.

Pulse Play only really seems mildly useful. Yes, it keeps score, but the data it provides won’t help one improve their game and it’s doubtful that many are interested in being matched up with other strange players. People only want to meet strangers with the help of an app if they’re going to hook up. Perhaps if the wearable pushed a bit further and provided feedback on speed and swing, like the Arcus fitness wearable, it would enjoy some success.

Still, interested backers can have one of their own for a donation of $75 for delivery in October 2015. Pulse Play’s Indiegogo campaign has a fundraising goal of $75,000.


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!


Reserve Strap charges Apple Watch while you wear it

The Apple Watch isn’t even out yet, but many people are already viewing the device’s 18 hour battery life as a point of concern.

Coming to the rescue is the Reserve Strap, a charging band for Apple’s new smartwatch that charges the device while its user is wearing it. Photos at the strap’s website, where pre-orders are being taken, show a design that features a silicon band with embedded lithium polymer cells and an inductive charging cradle located between the user’s wrist and the Apple Watch itself. The strap is similar in concept to the smartstraps recently announced by Pebble for its new line of smartwatches, including the Pebble Time.

Through prototyping, the Reserve Strap’s maker has refined the product’s design and has come up with a few other ways to charge the watch that remain undisclosed for the time being. Interested buyers should note that there is no ship date yet for the band. Nor is there a final price, for that matter, but the site lays out an estimated selling price of $249.99.

The Reserve Strap, featured in a Backerjack podcast, seems to solve an issue many Apple Watch users will likely face. As a result, this product has all the makings of a slam dunk — so long as the Apple Watch catches on, that is.

Health and Wellness Wearables

Narbis trains your brains

Neurofeedback technology is being used in a growing number of consumer devices to help train the brain.

patent-claimedNarbis — itself an anagram of the word “brains” –- is a headset using patent-pending technology to help train users to better focus their brains. Attached to a set of glasses is a sensing device that touches the wearer’s head. When the user gets distracted the glasses darken and when the user focuses clearly the glasses clear up. The headset’s sensors measure brain matters and send the signals to the device’s electrochromic lenses. Narbis works with an accompanying app for mobile devices and costs $395 and will ship in December with a Bluetooth armband, a protective carrying case and software that includes five program goals: focus, performance, sleep, calm, and mood. Its maker is hoping to raise $150,000 by April 27.

The Kickstarter success of the similarly advertised Melon headband indicates that there is indeed a market for these types of products. The electrochromic lenses in particular are a nice touch offered by Narbis offers. Still, it’s hard to believe that such a device will get much long-term use after a few days or months. More likely than not, the product seems more like a novelty than a device most people really need.


RE-vibe wearable minds your focus so you can mind your work

In a world filled with a million and one distractions, maintaining focus on tasks at hand can be pretty difficult at times. For children in the classroom, nearby classmates, along with the temptation to start daydreaming, often make it difficult to focus and complete work assignments. For adults, smart devices, computers, friends, family, and responsibilities all contribute to a lack of focus and lack of production. Compounding the problem is that adults don’t always have someone hovering over them to make sure that the work that needs to be done is being attended to.

patent-claimedThe RE-vibe wearable is an extremely simple wristband designed to do one thing and one thing only: be that helpful tap on the shoulder when needed. The product employs a proprietary algorithm which monitors when a user is most likely to be distracted. When a potential distraction is detected, the device’s embedded vibration motor begins to shake, thereby alerting the user that it’s time to get back to work. Key to the RE-vibe’s utility is that its algorithm was written as to prevent the user from becoming used to the vibrations, thereby making the wearable an effective tool in the long run. The device which has no screens or buttons on the outside, has a recessed button hidden underneath the strap which can be toggled to one of four modes, all designed to address various levels of distractedness. Re-vibe is available for $89 with an estimated ship date of September 2015. The campaign is looking for $25,000 for mass production.

Previous products dedicated to keeping people focused have targeted specific subsets of users, such as writers or drivers. RE-vibe is one of the first focus-oriented products casting a much wider net, housing appeal for teachers trying to corral thirty children, individuals with a lot on their plate, and even professionals looking to address the effects of ADHD and autism.

Health and Wellness Wearables

Kanega Watch provides emergency connections for seniors on the go

Many traditional personal emergency response devices are limited in that they they traditionally keep seniors tethered to their homes. That’s an outmoded way in the era of powerful wearables.

Kanega Watch was designed to replace traditional emergency alert devices for seniors and doesn’t require a smartphone to operate. As an added plus, it’s more fashionable than many standard watches on the market. The company claims that focus groups have called Kanega a wearable version of OnStar for seniors because it provides discreet support for falls, medication reminders, and a guard against wandering, according to its Kickstarter campaign.

Kanega uses an easy speech interface rather than buttons and also features Bluetooth Smart technology and patent-pending quick-swap batteries that peel away from the watch for charging. The product costs $299 and will ship in February 2016. A separate charging cradle with two additional batteries is included. Replacement batteries are provided free with a  monitoring service that costs $35 to $85 a month depending on the service level chosen.

Kanega mostly relies on emergency notification but there have been other products that focus more on passive monitoring. Lively focuses on monitoring independent seniors in their homes although the company has come out with a wearable.

Kids/Babies Wearables

Baby Check checks on your baby’s health so you can rest easy

When someone is sick, they tell the doctor what’s wrong. Babies, however, can’t communicate except through crying. So when there’s a problem, it can be hard to tell right away whether it warrants a visit to the doctor or not.

Baby Check is a wearable for babies. Like many adult wearables, it keeps an eye on health by monitoring temperature, sleep, position and medicine administration. It stays on the arm and is made from safe materials meaning that it’s fine for baby to wear all day and night. The information detected by the armband syncs up with an accompanying Android/iOS app. It tracks data over time and allows for high temperature alarms to be set so that parents know exactly when their baby’s fever spikes. Baby Check runs on a rechargeable battery with a life of about one year.

All in all, Baby Check appears to be another great product for helicopter parents, much like the Fever Smart. While temperatures and sleep patterns aren’t essential for parents to keep super close track of, there’s value in being able to keep tabs on sleeping positions as babies aren’t supposed to sleep on their stomachs. Parents can donate $50 for their own with delivery in June 2015. Baby Check is hoping to raise $35,000 in funding on Kickstarter by April 1.

Fitness Wearables

Stryd makes strides in measuring workout intensity

Most wearable fitness devices do a good job of measuring heart rate, pace and several other metrics. But they typically fail to gauge an extremely important metric for runners: workout intensity.

patent-claimedStryd was designed to accurately measure running power and efficiency while also offering most of the typical features that other fitness wearables and smartwatches provide. Stryd is a small clip-on device that users can attach to a piece of clothing during a workout. The device tracks data and uses Bluetooth Smart technology to subsequently connect with a wide variety of devices, including sports watches, smartphones (Android and iOS), tablets, and even computers. Notably, the device uses patent-pending sensing technologies developed by Princeton engineers. Each unit costs $149 and will ship in September. Its maker set a Kickstarter goal of reaching $50,000 by April 12.

Stryd holds a lot of promise for fitness enthusiasts, but there are far too many players in the fitness wearables market, including Tracky, to declare Stryd a sure thing.