KickStarter Spotlight: tōd

KickStarter Spotlight: tōd

May 16, 2012

Living with young children can be a nightmare in public. Most parents have that never-ending fear of turning around and seeing their child has vanished, and unfortunately as these children mature there is a second wave of worries; like what time did little Johnny come back home last night? There are plenty of creepy parent/child tracking devices available, but there are none that are intrinsically simple and come with multiple applications. Enter tōd, pronounced “toad”, a small Bluetooth 4.0 beacon that has a wide array of functionality which is not limited to merely tracking teenagers. The tōd app can be programmed to alert the user when a beacon has wandered outside of a specified range, when a phone arrives in a beacon’s range, or trigger a specified action once a beacon is sensed.

Beacons are designed to be both a permanent resident and something mobile. For example, by keeping a beacon in the car, texting can be automatically disabled from the moment the driver gets inside. Placing a tōd on a young one ensures that the moment they should happen to wander away out of a specified zone the parents will be instantly alerted. The possibilities are endless, and with a promised simple and intuitive app layout, designing custom commands and responses should be a snap. Imagine ending the headache of waiting up for a teenager by simply placing a tōd inside the front door; ensuring that their nighttime arrival is noted for later discussion.

The uses for tōd extend well beyond just personal and family use. Like most apps, social integration is a big goal, and the plan is to have vendors and stores offer promotional deals that are discovered whenever a tōd user walks into their shop. The KickStarter page offers a list of great uses for tōd including reminding a child to do their chores when they arrive home from school, finding a car in a parking lot, automatic social networking check-ins, and even delivering reminders if someone has a gift card to the store they are entering.

As of writing this, tōd has 17 days left and it’s very close to its goal. So, for anyone finding these possibilities exciting be sure to give tōd a look and possibly help push it all the way over the finish line.

Griffin and Dijit Introduce Way to Control TV From Android Phones and Tablets

A trend among accessory designers has been to turn smartphones and tablets into universal TV remotes. The touchscreen makes for a perfect interface for accessing the many controls today’s advanced devices require. Griffin has announced a new accessory for Android users that allows them to use their phone or tablet as a remote control as well.

Unlike other similar products which use an IR blaster that goes in the headphone port, Beacon connects with Android over Bluetooth. Note that while a similar product for iOS exists, Android devices require the Android-specific Beacon. Griffin promises that no dongles or cables are needed to use the Beacon. It runs on 4 AA batteries for up to 2 months.

The Beacon uses an app called Dijit for remote TV control. TV functions can be controlled from the Android device of choice. As well, TV guide listings can be viewed from within the app, and then the TV can be changed to that channel with a single button press. The app is usable without Beacon, as well, for just viewing TV guide listings. Tablet owners will enjoy the split interface, with basic TV controls available on the right side of the screen, and TV listings on the left side.

Of course, the question is whether there’s any advantage in ease of use with having to connect over Bluetooth versus using something like an IR dongle; in large rooms, this could be an issue. Still, having tablet support along with phone support makes this a possibly incredibly useful accessory for all Android owners. Of course, for those who already have the iOS Beacon, it seems odd to think that despite the standardized Bluetooth protocol, Android couldn’t be used to control those devices. The Griffin Beacon is available now for $69.99 from Griffin’s website and from retail locations that sell Griffin products like Best Buy. Note that the Dijit app requires Gingerbread or higher in order to run.