Smart Home

With the Slide, home curtains slide into the 21st Century

At this point, many parts of the home can be retrofitted with connected components in order to bring them into the 21st century. The result? Dumb lamps that can be cloud controlled and front doors with the ability to track everyone who comes in and out of the home. Curtains, however, have been a bit of a challenge since they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, forcing apartment dwellers and homeowners to buy brand new units to satisfy their connected needs.

The Slide is one of the few devices designed as a smart retrofit system for curtains and blinds. With it, users can use a companion smartphone app to control single or multiple curtains, adjust how far they should open and even set timers and schedules. IFTTT integration takes the Slide’s functionality up a notch, letting users take advantage of other aspiring smart home mainstays like the Flic and Amazon’s Echo.

Smart Home

FlipFlic won’t leave you blinded by the light

It can be a major drag to face interruptions every time the window blinds need to be adjusted due to glare.

FlipFlic is a solar-powered, energy-saving device that adjusts window blinds based on sunlight, temperature or any schedule that is set via the accompanying app. An iOS app is already available and an Android version will follow soon. The automation device is easy to install. With one click, FlipFlic, which is about the size of a roll of quarters, attaches to window blinds magnetically.


Sirius B makes a pocketable PC the star of you mobile world

As powerful as smartphones and tablets have become, they’re still nowhere near desktop class. So for all the situations where desktops are necessary, the smartphone is a decent stopgap, although it  inexplicably can’t perform many of the same functions as well are they desk-bound counterparts.

The Sirius B combines some pretty decent technical specifications— an Intel Atom Bay Trail quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM, 2 USB ports, HDMI 1.4 out, 32GB of flash storage, dual band Wi-Fi, a 3.5mm audio jack, and Bluetooth connectivity—all in a slim, smartphone-esque design that comes in at just 4.2oz.


Backerjack Podcast #21: Dish-sized Desktops and Roving Robots

In Episode 21 of the Backerjack Podcast, the triumphantly returning Steve and Ross check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • Remix Mini, a $30 PC that you can hold in your hands and runs a Windows-flavored version of Android.
  • Buddy, an expressive, face-sensing robot that can interact with multiple family members when you’re home and watch your home when you’re away.

Download the episode or listen below, subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and subscribe to the Backerjack Daily Digest to make sure you catch all the gadgets we’re covering. Also check out Steve’s great work on Apple World Today!




Glide your fingers over the Moky keyboard to use a virtual trackpad

The keyboard is a popular accessory for mobile devices because it’s often much easier to type with than the tiny one featured on a smartphone or tablet. But they take up a fair amount of space, and their footprints are made even larger by the trackpads that they sometimes bring along with them.

patent-claimedMoky is a twist on the typical mobile keyboard, featuring a large, invisible touchpad that’s controlled by the user’s gestures. An infrared laser sensor module provides a thin optical surface on the keyboard. The device communicates wirelessly with whatever mobile device is used with it via Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 technology. The keyboard cover, meanwhile, doubles as a portable device stand. Moky costs $149 and will ship in October. Its maker is hoping to raise $30,000 by July 9.


Run right into improved performance with the RunRite running system

Most wearable running devices focus on different variables like heart rate and stride, but with the activity being such a personal activity unique to each body, simply keeping track of disparate variables isn’t enough. Each body has its own potential and limitations so a system needs to not only obtain the necessary data but also analyze it, too.

This is exactly what the RunRite system does. Comprised of two sensors worn around the legs, RunRite takes in common data like heart rate along with more refined data like power output and pace. The system then compiles this data and assigns a running efficiency score, advising runners how best to increase that score during a run and analyzing the data to recommend exercises to improve performance between runs. RunRite works on iOS, Android, and some Windows devices, and goes for $199, with an expected ship date of September 2015.. Its campaign is looking for $60,000 by June 4th, 2015.

Other products like the Stridalyzer and runScribe also serve up valuable information on running performance, but the RunRite has them beat on both the quantity and quality of that information, in addition to the exercise recommendations it provides. Most running systems are best used during the run, while RunRite stays helpful all the time.


Remix tablet offers a cure to Android users with Surface envy

When it comes to traditional laptop-style computing, Google has pushed Chromebooks for the world of keyboards and mice. Nonetheless, some companies such as HP have taken a few stabs at putting Android in a 2-in-1 laptop-style device.

Now, Beijing-based Jide Tech is looking to infuse Android into a device that’s a dead ringer for the Microsoft Surface with Remix. Like Microsoft’s spin on a tablet-laptop hybrid, the 11,.6″ Remix has a kickstand and a removable cloth-textured keyboard/trackpad cover that attaches via magnets. And the similarity doesn’t end there. The company has added the ability to run apps in windows as well as a Windows-like file manager and taskbar.

Jide Tech seeks $100,000 by April 24 and the Remix is available in limited quantities at prices up to $349. A ridiculous $39 early bird sold out quickly. Units are expected to be delivered by May 2015 and the company assures that the product is already in production in China and it simply needs to bring it to the U.S. and other markets.  What appeared to be a simultaneous campaign on Indiegogo turned out to be fraudulent and has been removed.

As noted, Android-based keyboard devices have not seen the level of success that Chromebooks have despite having so many apps available. It’s also somewhat surprising that the new device wlll not have the latest version of Android — Lollipop — that is rolling out to new devices. While the Remix  was a clear value-based alternative to the Surface Pro, the recent introduction of the Surface 3 at $499 makes the original far more competitive although that price doesn’t include the Type Cover.

Fitness Video Games

TreadGaming works you out without cheat codes

Video gaming is a fantastic way to spend a day off, but pretty a pretty terrible thing for the body. As much fun as it may be, a sedentary lifestyle is nothing but bad news. Although virtual reality is eventually promising a future where people will be able to move around with their favorite virtual worlds, that future is a considerably long way off.

Enter TreadGaming, a tiny, USB-enabled device that attaches a treadmill or an ergometer bike and transforms it into a giant video game controller powered by nothing but physical activity. The Mountain Dew and Doritos won’t be at arm’s length anymore but, in exchange, users will be able to sneak, walk, and run throughout whatever world they popped into the DVD tray.

What’s more, any action can be mapped to the exercise device or the two Wii Nunchuks that are able to plugged into the TreadGaming devices along with free I/O pins offer a ton of versatility when it comes to interacting with the game itself and expanding the device’s capabilities. Early birds can grab the device for kr380 (~$47) before it goes up to kr456 (~$57). The kr22,500 (~$2,800) campaign is looking to get people off their couches by March 2015.

The TreadGaming device is fairly limited at the moment in its execution, working out only with the PS3. Further revision and a deal with another company will be required to bring the rest of the current generation consoles up to speed. In addition, other types of exercise tools won’t work, like ellipticals and rowing machines. A similar device that combines exercise and gaming is the STABALLIZER, but works only with smartphones and tablets. Omni-directional treadmills that work with VR headsets have been teased, but are a ways off. Until then, something like TreadGaming can fill that niche.

Cell Phone Accessories Television

Andromium OS unlocks Android’s big screen potential

It’s truly a marvel just how powerful the smartphones in our pockets are. Contained within their impossibly slim frames is the type of power that only absurd amounts of money could’ve bought just ten years ago. This type of power has penetrated the world much faster than traditional computers have because of their low cost and small size. At the end of the day, though, a smartphone will be a smartphone. Sometimes, a larger screen is needed for work or play.

The Andromium OS was created to give Android handsets the opportunity to live not only in your palm, but on a separate monitor too. A lightweight, proprietary app along with an HDMI dock for the smartphone itself work together to create an environment where real work can get done with just a few taps. What users are offered is not just a reproduction of the smartphone’s screen, but also a totally separate, full desktop experience. This way, spreadsheets and presentations can be created alongside games in progress, all in their own windows like a traditional computer.

Regular Android apps will continue to run in the back without having to worry about the phone’s battery because the dock doubles as a charging station. The standard $29 package includes the HDMI docking station and a serial number for the Andromium app from the Google Play Store. The $35 Expended Edition also includes a dock, but this one works for other popular Android phones. The product is expected to ship in February 2015 and has a campaign goal of $100,000.

As mentioned before, the Andromium OS is not solely focused on those who already have connected devices, but rather those who only have a smartphone. Another product that has tackled a similar approach is the TinyStic, but it doesn’t offer a full desktop like Andromium does. Both of these platforms, though, already need the type of income that can afford a decent screen, keyboard, and mouse, necessities that may hamper their success.

Smart Home

Droplit drops a remote control for your entire home

The rash of smart home automation solutions all think having a proprietary app is a fantastic idea, because why wouldn’t you want to have quick and easy access to total control of different parts of your home? As well-intentioned a thought that is, it quickly becomes apparent that having 12 different apps for disparate parts of your home actually isn’t that useful after all and makes decidedly analog action of flicking on your light switch that much more attractive again.

Droplit is a smart home solution that allows you to control all of the different connected objects in your home through a single remote control or iOS, Android, or Windows phone app. The app will allow for quick and easy access to all of your homes connected objects using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, or an optional z-wave attachment. Both the remote and the app have the capability to set timers and capture “scenes,” or pre-set lighting and device states, that can be recalled with a single button press, making that one perfect set-up for your home entertainment system easily accessible anytime. The Droplit system is available with a backing of $129 and can be expected in June of 2015. The campaign is looking for $50,000 to hone their Bluetooth implementation and put the product into production.

Droplit expands on what Apple is doing by employing their own cloud service as an intermediary so that devices can be controlled from anywhere in the world almost instantaneously. Bluetooth devices within the home will also benefit, too, being that Droplit doubles as an access point which extends their range of communication. The company confusingly recommends multiple remotes to get the most out of their system, but that kind of seems counterintuitive to what they’re trying to do. In any case, cloud implementation is a clever move and could be what separates them from the pack.