Connected Objects

Oombrella senses the weather, won’t let umbrella loss rain on your parade

Umbrellas are handy to have when it’s raining, but many consumers wind up needing to replace them after leaving them behind in a taxi, on a train, in a restaurant or many other places.

Oombrella is a smart umbrella that alerts users about impending rain and also lets them know if they are about to leave it behind. The device collects real-time data including temperature, pressure, humidity and light. The electronic capsule at the end of it includes sensors that communicate with smartphones via Bluetooth Low Energy technology, allowing users to know if there is an incoming call or other notification.

Connected Objects

Raincheck’s smart, artful design puts other umbrella stands in check

Rain and snow: the city slicker’s most hated enemies. Everything becomes just a little bit harder when either enters the picture, which is why getting caught unprepared is the epitome of a bad day. Designer Nick Jonas’ (not that oneRaincheck is an umbrella stand with a touch of smarts to ensure that never happens.

The product is comprised of beautifully lacquered, dark walnut wood sculpted into a tall, rectangular stand perfect for a few umbrellas. What makes Raincheck special are the eight dots of light installed within that are connected to Wi-Fi that are constantly updated on the weather.

Apparel Travel

Nubrella keeps you dry and in the hood at all times

We’ve all been there. Stuck outside walking on a windy rainy night with a flimsy Dollar Store umbrella. Then, a gust of wind surges through, soaking us to the bone and annihilating that cheap umbrella. After that, only a soggy newspaper can provide relief.

Introducing Nubrella. A wearable inversion proof, hands-free umbrella designed to never fail. Worn like a backpack, the umbrella goes up and down much like a hood would. The back part is black, while the front is clear. The front part comes down to cover the face for full protection against the rain, or any other liquid for that matter. Reinforced to withstand strong winds, the canopy is also designed in such a way that wind can’t get underneath it to invert.

While this product looks absolutely ridiculous, it is still a great idea. The typical umbrella model is definitely flawed and it’s about time someone tried to improve it. Complete with a Steve Jobs quote, the Indiegogo campaign is seeking to raise $10,000. Backers can have their very own Nubrella for $49 with estimated delivery just in time for April showers.

Home Smart Home

Sprinkl smart watering system keeps plants hydrated, saves money and water

Over-watering, under-watering and weather conditions can mean certain death for gardens, plants or crops anywhere. Most have sprinklers set to automatically water their lawns every night, whether it’s raining or not. These systems fail to take rain or lack thereof into account when hydrating plants.

Sprinkl is a smart watering system that does more than just spew water everywhere. First of all, it monitors the soil, checking hydration levels at all times. After that, it syncs up to weather forecasts. Simply input location and it’ll see what’s coming in the way of moisture. In addition, it takes into account local water conservation laws. Sometimes, a town or city will put a ban on lawn watering to make sure there’s enough water for everyone. Sprinkl makes sure that laws are followed, keeps the lawn hydrated, but won’t over-water in times of heavy rainfall.

Using Wi-Fi the sensor in the ground keeps the touchpad inside up to date on everything that’s going on. The screen displays date, time, temperature, soil level, past rainfall, next rainfall, watering schedule and zones. If different areas need different levels of moisture, the touchscreen makes that possible.

As far as smart sprinklers go, Sprinkl is a great one. With its myriad of options and ease of use, it’s completely versatile for any garden. For $299 backers can get one with one sensor by May 2015. Higher reward tiers offer more sensors for larger lawns and gardens. Sprinkl is hoping to raise $150,000 on Kickstarter.

Sensors/IoT Wearables

Tempi beats out your weatherman by giving you the exact temperature

Wearable devices come in all shapes and size, doing all kinds of interesting and novel things. The problem is that most of these functions are simply not that interesting. Introducing Tempi, the smart wearable thermostat. The product is similar to others like Thermodo and CliMate in that it tracks temperature, but that’s where the similarities end. CliMate offers more versatility in that it can be clipped onto clothing and left in predetermined places. It also offers more information such as sunscreen alerts, things Tempi does not.

The company is looking to beef up the app by adding multiple Tempi monitoring, social networking features, as well as map integration — but will you really want to share how hot or cold it is on your hike? Seems like although the product’s idea is usable in very certain scenarios, for the most part, it’s a novelty. With that said, if you’re as much of a temperature enthusiast as the product’s creators, then a Tempi can be had for just $25. However, without a more robust feature set, this product may face a few hurdles towards it $50,000 goal.

Cell Phone Accessories Connected Objects

Noteu puts smartphone notifications on your desk to avoid pocket-pulling peeks

NoteuOne of the main reasons people are so obsessed with checking their phones is because of the litany of notifications that one can receive through the course of a day. Noteu is a small desktop screen that can connect to devices on the same network and display email, weather, and other notifications on a simple LED display that can be dismissed with a tap of the device. Devices like LEDmeKnow are certainly more aesthetically pleasing than this simple box, but Noteu does offer readable text. Either way, most people would probably be content to keep glancing at their phones and responding just as fast. Noteu can be picked up for £25 and will be out in October.


Detecting rain without the cloud, BloomSky reports backyard weather

The Premise. Once upon a time, people relied on local news reports or weather sections of newspapers. Now, every smartphone is well equipped to give local weather and temperature data, but so often it tends to be incorrect or inaccurate due to weather monitoring stations that are several miles away.

The Product. BloomSky is a weather sensor that can be installed outdoors using a spike and can be augmented with a solar panel for continuous charge. Its design is more than just for looks, as it provides accurate detection of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and more while protecting the internals from sunlight, dust, and water. BloomSky also comes with a wide-lens HD camera that takes pictures of the sky and sends them straight to smartphones for a real look at the conditions outside. These pictures can then be combined to create time-lapse movies of the day’s weather.

The Pitch. BloomSky’s pitch is pretty straightforward: those looking for accurate weather conditions and want to contribute to a larger network that provides that data to others will want a BloomSky as soon as possible. The flexibility of the device to come with solar options as well as an indoor sensor also make it a great way to replace a home’s thermometers with something more modern. BloomSky is looking to raise $75,000 to finish development of the app and handle tooling and production of the device itself.

The Perks. A BloomSky outdoor sensor with ground stake is available for $99 and will ship out in December. The indoor/outdoor kit can be had for $129, while the outdoor model with solar-powered charger base is $139 and won’t be out until March 2015. One of everything runs for $199, and developers can get in on the beta for $1,299 starting in August.

The Potential. Like so many other products that opt for a crowdsourced approach, BloomSky’s greatest strength could also be its greatest weakness. The idea behind a completely local weather network that people individually add to in order to complete a picture is a fantastic idea that is solely dependent upon there being enough local users in order to flesh out. Thankfully, BloomSky works well enough as a sort of at-home workaround for the inaccuracies of distant weather stations, so the individual can still have some valuable use out of this product even if none of their neighbors purchase it. Aesthetically pleasing and fully functional, those who never step outside without checking the forecast will appreciate the pinpoint accuracy that BloomSky provides.

Sensors/IoT Travel

StormTag is a hyperlocal weather forecaster that broadcasts right to your smartphone

stormtagWeather is unpredictable, which can be a very bad thing when it comes to severe storms. While there are plenty of local meteorologists doing their best to interpret the patterns weather clings to, StormTag is a small, keyring device that functions on Bluetooth LE. StormTag can detect temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and more, then send that data to a phone in real-time or upload it anonymously to the cloud to create a larger picture of data that can be used for scientific or hobbyist purposes. Whether it’s for a surfer who wants to catch a big wave, or just to keep safe in the face of unpredictable but dangerous weather, anyone interested in StormTag can get one for $20 in November 2014.

Connected Objects

Cubic ORBneXt is an artful light that provides color-coded notifications

The Premise. As great as smartphones are, the frequency with which they alert users with notifications can be extremely distracting. Setting custom notifications can single out the truly important information, but can be time-consuming to set up and can be impolite in social situations.

The Product. The ORBneXt is an updated version of the Orb art piece/single-pixel notifier created by Ambient Devices in its early days. It’s a hand-held, easy to use accessory that can sync up with any phone wirelessly and display notification information through a series of ambient colors. The ORBneXt connects to a phone and its Wi-Fi network by resting on top of the device, and then , using a blinking-light sequence similar to the one used by Quirky’s smart devices, can be programmed through its app to monitor information like weather, sports scores, stocks, and more. That information can then be tied to colors (for example, turn red when the weather’s getting warmer), so that the displaying color carries with it information that matters to its user’s life. The ORBneXt is made with a stylish Japanese glass housing, and has an easily modifiable brain in addition to its flexible IFTTT-enabled app.

The Pitch. The creative minds at Ambient Lumonics Labs show off the ORBneXt inside and out with their campaign information. The video focuses on the everyday use of the device while the photos and text cover all the technical details and stress how easy the device is to customize for any need. A second video that demos the product does a better job of selling the device’s strengths for the end user. Advanced Lumonics Labs needs $12,000 to complete a market-ready product in order to apply for certifications.

The Perks. Backers looking to score an ORBneXt can have one by August for a pledge of $79. Anyone with one of the older Ambient ORB devices can retrofit it to function as an ORBneXt for $69, with self-installation. If that’s too long to wait, a prototype of the device is available in June for $500.

The Potential. The flexibility of the ORBneXt’s internal hardware and its app belie the simplicity of the information it can display. Unfortunately, without being able to acknowledge a notification and clear it or get more precise details without unlocking the phone and looking at the app, its effectiveness is limited. The device does look sharp at home on a desk or in the office, but the amount of time it saves is measured in small bursts of seconds, and might not be worth it for some. Like the original Ambient ORB, the ORBneXt’s appealing form is overshadowed by its lack of function.