Smartwatches/Bands Wearables

Rufus Cuff is the wrist communicator we were promised

rufuscuffAny science fiction fan knows that a wrist communicator is the one device that truly will usher in the high-tech era. The Rufus Cuff, with a 3-inch screen, built-in microphone, speaker, and camera, makes those Android Wear watches cower in fear. Running a full Android OS and resembling the wrist computer on the old TV show Chuck, the Rufus Cuff can run all kinds of apps and function for internet browsing, fitness, and a whole lot more — alas, no laser shooting. With lots of capability, the only real concern is the device’s battery life and size as it looks a bit clunky and awkward in the campaign video. The Rufus Cuff should beam down in September 2014 for supporters providing at least $229.


LingvoHelmet aims to shatter language barrier, dating opportunities

lingvohelmetImagine Douglas Adams’ fabled Babel fish, the tiny fish inserted in the ear to understand any spoken language, finally come to reality. The LingvoHelmet may not be as tiny or invasive, but it promises the same features. The headset, which seems to eschew cloud-based translation but does include Wi-Fi, looks like an NFL coach’s headset designed by Fisher-Price, and the campaign video is a pretty humorous and awkward exchange, but the premise of helmet-to-helmet communication is enough to generate excitement. Having a personal translator that can make international travel much less intimidating is a dream that most people have wished for at some point. The LingvoHelmet supports four languages and a bevy of features, starts at $199, and is slated to arrive in November 2014.

Cell Phone Accessories Smartwatches/Bands

HeadWatch makes awkward transition from watch to headset

Screen shot 2014-03-14 at 3.16.01 PMWireless just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore, people also want their phones and other devices operate handsfree. Introducing HeadWatch, a self-not-so-very smartwatch that lives on your wrist and communicates with your smartphone. This clip-to-be-square device features a touchscreen and is detachable from its wrist strap so as to to enable its awkward form to clip to your ear for easier phone calls. One HeadWatch goes for $169 at an early price on Indiegogo and $199 at a regular price. The product’s Portuguese creator hopes to raise a staggering $300,000 in a 60-day campaign.

Cell Phone Accessories Smartwatches/Bands Watches and Jewelry

Smart Ring puts notifications and control on your finger

Smart RingWhat makes wearable technology so exciting is that it brings out the inner secret spy out of everybody. The Smarty Ring is back on Indiegogo to help those who missed it the first time pick one out before they hit the market. This sleek stainless steel ring can alert wearers of incoming calls, texts, emails, and even control music or take a photo among many, many other things. Like the device itself, the campaign materials ooze style and make this compact piece of tech look very desirable. The Smarty Ring is available without scrolling display for $175, or with scrolling for $275, and will ship out in May 2014.


SimpliFLY the hassle when you wanna be gone fishin’

SimpliFLY  679f9e814f2fab961029ab39ae01753b_large[1]Perhaps the hardest part of goin’ fishin’ is getting ready to go fishin.’ But at least you can get the drudgery out of the way in the beginning. SimpliFLY aims to make the hardest part less time consuming and put all the most important items right at your fingertips. The octagonal box comes with three zingers, so that when you get the big one you can quickly de-hook, nip, and straighten the line. There are also plenty of spots to organize and store other important items. Though SimpliFLY will retail for $70, a backer can get one for $38 through the early-bird special, which in this case may net a fish instead of a worm. Expected delivery is October 2014

Apparel Wearables

The Back-Off: Personal safety apparel accessories light up your life

Welcome to The Back-Off, where Backerjack contributors weigh in on two or more products being crowdfunded concurrently.

What. Night visibility for pedestrians isn’t just for Halloween anymore. Whether it’s a bicyclist coming home from a night out or just a pedestrian out for a midnight stroll, it can be life-threatening if a motorist doesn’t notice them under cover of night. Enter the Halo Belt 2.0 and Adamas Light, two products designed to combine sci-fi fashion and modern day safety.

Why. While the Halo Belt 2.0 presents its personal light as a strap that can be attached around any surface, the Adamas Light is more of a vest that is worn around the upper torso. Adamas has a large glowing green diamond on the back with four reflective strips framed by utility pockets. The Halo Belt is a little more fashion-forward with a single strip of light the length and width of one half of the strap’s circumference. The Halo Belt light is available in several colors, can be set to blink, and is USB rechargeable. On the other hand, the Adamas runs on 3 AAA batteries, offering longer usage time at the cost of requiring external batteries. The Halo Belt 2.0 is sent to backers pledging a minimum of $35, $10 less than the minimum pledge for the Adamas. Neither campaign offers much more in the way of more extravagant reward tiers or stretch goals.

When. The Adamas Light vest beat the Halo Belt 2.0 to Kickstarter by just a day. Adamas is running a 35-day campaign slated to end April 1st,  while the Halo Belt will be raising money until April 27th. Even though they were second to the party, Halo Belt 2.0s are scheduled to ship in July, one month before the Adamas Light.

Winner. There’s something to be said for the consistency of the Adamas vest, However, in terms of style, versatility, convenience, and even price, the Halo Belt 2.0 seems to be smarter choice. The strap design looks less intrusive than the Adamas vest, and the team also has the experience of running a successful Kickstarter campaign with the previous Halo Belt model, which should put any fear of a mismanaged project to rest.

Health and Wellness Wearables

SunSprite fights SAD, offers feedback to keep you grazin’ in the sun

The Premise. For years, doctors have suggested that a major factor in the rise of depression, energy loss, and insomnia is a result of the increase in time most people spend in doors, bathed in the glow of computers and televisions. The remedy to this concern is simply exposure to the sun, but concerns about complications from ultraviolet rays keep people unsure about just what to do.

The Product. With a clip onto any article of clothing or accessory, the SunSprite is available to tell consumers how much bright light exposure they need in a day for optimum health benefits.  The SunSprite itself is solar-powered, meaning that charging it is as easy as using it. A line of lights on the product’s surface measure how much light its owner has basked in that day, and a companion app helps people plan for harsh UV exposure, advising them to use sunscreen or other protection. The SunSprite comes with no extra cables or attachments and is roughly the dimensions of a house key.

The Pitch. SunSprite is the brainchild of the Harvard-educated doctors and engineers at GoodLux. The message in their introductory video is simple – the human body was designed to be out in the sun, and their device will help make sure its owners are getting enough exposure. Additional videos include a product unboxing and the medical background behind the product’s inception. The graphics help explain the different reward tiers, how the SunSprite works, and how bright light affects the human body. GoodLux needs $50,000 to finish tooling, production, and certification for their creation.

The Perks. The Sunsprite and its companion app are available for contributions of at least $99, and is expected to be arriving in June in time to get plenty of sun. Pledges of $399 also include a SunBox SunRay II (or different model for European backers) that will allow backers to get light exposure even on the cloudiest of days.

The Potential. This simple device is sure to help people make sense of an easy holistic solution to their ailments. Outdoor enthusiasts will surely be adding these to their list of essential gadgets. While it may not become a common accessory based on the price and limited functionality, the self-powering, non-invasive SunSprite will become a fast favorite to those who are serious about lighting up their lives.

Chargers/Batteries Smartwatches/Bands

Carbon stores solar energy on your wrist, makes a fashion statement

The Premise. Having a cell phone or tablet run out of battery is pretty much the modern-day indication that it’s time to get back home ASAP. Many people feel naked without their devices, so why not wear something that can keep them running without tethering users to their homes?

The Product.  The team at EnergyBionics has a solution – the Carbon Precision Solar Charger. This small device is worn like and even resembles a modern, designer watch. Instead of a clock face, the Carbon houses a solar panel that can store energy equivalent to roughly 3 hours of additional phone life. By pressing a button and unscrewing a cap, the Carbon can connect to most major mobile computing devices and keep them going for a while longer. If Carbon needs to be charged in a flash (and not one of sunlight), it can connect via USB to any traditionally powered device to charge up without the assistance of the sun.

The Pitch. Like the product itself, EnergyBionics puts forth a simple, no-frills presentation video that explains the Carbon and how to use it, including a demo with an iPhone 4s. The other campaign materials show off the optional crush proof case, currently available cable adapters, and go over the technical details. At this point the Carbon is compatible with most phones and tablets, personal music players, and even the PlayStation Vita. EnergyBionics needs $48,000 to get three major certifications, manufacture the small, initial run, and create the molds for the internal parts.

The Perks.  A minimum pledge of $95 is required to get a hold of the Carbon Precision Solar Charger with a black silicone strap, available in August 2014. Getting one with all the bells and whistles (leather strap and black crush proof case) is possible with a $130 pledge.

The Potential. Portable chargers, and indeed solar chargers for mobile devices are already plentiful on the market. Some DIY-ers have even made similar devices to the Carbon, but what makes this particular item so marketable is the sleek design and the sturdy components. The Carbon is perhaps even fashionable, which means a lot for a device that someone has to wear, regardless of how well it functions. Obviously, it would be even greater if the designers could figure out some way to get an actual watch face overlay on there. Nonetheless, gadget stores and even cell phone mall kiosks will want to upsell this kind of item to people in the process of upgrading their phones.


iOne offers smart band on a smart budget

iOneWith the vast deserts of technology stretching out endlessly before us all, what could else could they possibly come up with?  How about a wireless device that transfers some functions from your phone…to your wrist?  For 90 bucks and a wait that lasts til July 2014, the sleekly-designed iOne will allow you to answer calls and texts, play music, display the time and chime one the hour.  You also get Bluetooth connectivity, 240-hr battery life, and grey, red, orange and blue color options. But, with competitors like the Vachen, which shares all of the iOne’s features plus a calendar, stopwatch, and multiple digital clock face,s for about double the price, and the HOT Watch which does even more for even less,  it looks iOne may be the Ryan Gosling of the smart watch world: looks really cool, but doesn’t actually do much.

Winter Sports

Frostbite turns your limbs, lard into a human sled in five easy pieces

editors-choiceThe Premise.  Lots of folks want the fun of sledding, but not the lack of control over your sled’s downhill course or having to schlep said sled back up said hill, just to submit to gravity’s indifferent mercy once again. For those who don’t mind looking a little silly to alleviate this tradeoff, the ultimate sled may be themselves.

The Product.  The Frostbite is a collection of flexible sheets of plastic that strap to your hands, heels and hindquarters, allowing you to sled down a hill in a seated position, steer ( probably more just influence) your descent, and finally spring to your feet and run back up the hill without having to pick or carry a sled back up, or ever worry about falling off of it again, as you and the sled are united in perfect snow-strewn harmony.

The Pitch. The Frostbite’s creators demonstrate their product with what is mostly just a narrated product slide show interspersed with random graphics.  Claims are made that jumps tricks and spins can be done with the Frostbite, and are backed up with snippets of semi-trailers jumping dirt mounds and jets breaking the sound barrier; the latter one shall not achieve with Frostbite.  Although it does depict a smooth and fun sled run, after which the inventor seemed to have no problem popping right back up and running directly back up the slope, the one clip of the product in action is short and repeated about four times. The rest of the campaign page shows off design photos are literally snapshots of hand-drawn sketches and discusses things like die creation and pressing convex plastic in an extrusion process.

The Perks.  $25 gets a Frostbite, or $45 for a limited run that glows in the dark, for your night-time, glowing-butt sledding needs.  The inventor will throw his signature on most of the perks for an extra five bucks, just in case the Frostbite becomes the next pet rock, and he’s the next…guy that invented the pet rock.

The Potential.  The Frostbite is cleverly designed, reasonably priced, and made with safety and practicality, those best of intentions, in mind. But, snow tubes are almost free, regular sleds as low as $8, and steerable sleds start at $50­.  Also, none of these are named after painful potential side effects of winter exposure. Still, it’s one of the few sledding contrivances that one can pack away in a carry-on bag on route to your next destination for sliding snow fun.