Crowdfunding Spotlight: MATRIX PowerWatch, a Smartwatch that Powers Off Body Heat

Crowdfunding Spotlight: MATRIX PowerWatch, a Smartwatch that Powers Off Body Heat

Nov 14, 2016

Say what?

Body heat?

That’s exactly what the crew behind MATRIX PowerWatch are saying: a watch that has all but solved the smartwatch charging conundrum by shifting the energy source to something more organic: harnessing thermoelectric technology via the body heat generated by the person wearing the watch. As such, is is currently being advertised on Indiegogo product page as the “first smartwatch that doesn’t need a charge.”

Not a bad goal, really. One of my biggest gripes with regards to fitness trackers and smartwatches in general is that I have to work around their charging cycles, no matter how small of a disruption that is. If the PowerWatch lives up to its premise, I can finally get something that truly does its job 24/7, as I have no cause to take it off.

Beyond the impressive no-charge feature, the watch is crafted out of aircraft-grade aluminum, wireless connectivity (Android and iOS apps), and also packs accurate calorie counting, sleep tracking, changeable watch faces, and water resistance up to 50 meters.

Is the PowerWatch just the beginning? If one listens to Matrix chief and co-founder Akram Boukai, one can only hope. “Matrix’s thermoelectric platform technology now makes it possible to power a wide range of products without the need for replaceable batteries or an external power source,” he says.

According to the Indiegogo, it has been a five year process from conception to campaign; the PowerWatch is slated to cost $167, but potential backers get in on the action for a featured support cost of $99. That gets one a PowerWatch, military grade strap and free shipping when the unit is ready to ship. The tiers go on all the way to a 100-unit $9999 distributor pack.

In any case, this one looks like an engaging project, one which we hope gets funded (at the time of this writing, it has garnered $25,950 worth of pledges against a $100,000 goal with two months to go. It is slated to be shipped in July 17th, 2017.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Spooly Magnetic Charging Cables

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Spooly Magnetic Charging Cables

May 30, 2016

Disclaimer: Android Rundown does not endorse any of the products in this segment.

More devices, more power… and more and more sync cables. It’s a 21st century reality. We need all the juice we can get, and charging paraphernalia are the new power accessories. literally.

The portable charge/sync cable that can attach to one’s keychain is hardly a new concept, but as the mobile gadget market continues to mature, we are seeing better ideas come to market. Toss in the premium product-building melting pot known as Kickstarter, and one might even get Scott McCormack’s Spooly (and the Spooly Keymaster and Spooly Evolution), a cool take on magnetic cables.

So what does Spooly do?

It’s a flat-ish style cable that is able to roll on itself tightly, such that is is smaller in width than a credit card and infinitely palmable. it comes with a tidy case as well, which allows it to be stowed in pockets and purses; it also works on the aforementioned key loops.

It has most USB connections covered, with lightning, micro-USB, USB C and reversible USB A. It boasts up to 3A output as well as a 10 Gbps data transfer rate, so it comes ready to party.

The prototypes come in various lengths across the three flavors, and one also has a choice of colors: blue/dark gray, white, black, red/dark gray and — in a cool, exclusive ode to Kickstarter backers — green/black.

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The campaign itself could already be considered a success from a goal-meeting perspective, as it is already well north of the $43,261 goal via 1500+ backers and just under three weeks to go. There are still opportunities to get in on the ground floor, with more than a dozen tiers ranging from $13 – $862.

All in all, it’s an engaging product that seemingly has plenty of upside. Isn’t that what Kickstarter is all about?

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dimple.IO on IndieGoGo

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dimple.IO on IndieGoGo

May 30, 2014

Technology is fickle in the way that certain features quickly fall out of style only to be missed just a few years later. Phones have gone from big to small and back to the phablet monstrosities we have today. Phones have been losing non-essential buttons for years and have left us with only an I/O button, volume controls, and a home button if we are lucky. With this push for buttonless phones there has been a small feeling that maybe a few dedicated buttons would not be a bad idea, especially because of the recent obsession in speed and workflow optimization.

Giving users the most unobtrusive means to add a few physical buttons is this week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight project Dimple.IO. Using NFC, which is quickly becoming a common feature in new smartphones, the Dimple.IO sticks to the back of any phone or case and instantly provides two or four physical buttons that can be assigned to nearly any desired function. Because of this the device can be placed anywhere without affecting performance making it incredibly convenient. As with most recent projects the accompanying app has an ultra-modern dual-chromatic style and an open SDK. What’s more the Dimple.IO extends functionality beyond just a simple click. For example, a button can be programmed to bring up a grid of different commands which allows for more than just a simple 1:1 relationship, and there is also integrated Tasker support for automation. Their IndieGoGo page states that the Dimple.IO v2 will come out at the end of this year with gaming compatibility.

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Obviously, because of the use of NFC this product will only be available for a limited section of the smartphone market that consists of mostly fairly recent phones and unfortunately does not include the HTC One M7 & M8. But as this technology becomes more invasive and widely used there is no doubt that there will be a plethora of devices that take advantage of NFC’s benefits. As with most crowdfunding projects there still is room to be cautious; we still don’t know much about how well it adheres to the device and at the moment it will not work until the phone is unlocked. That said, a stretch goal phone-specific case with imbedded buttons looks very tantalizing and may well end up being more popular than the actual individual product. Because the Dimple.IO has already been fully funded this is what I am most excited about and is much more exciting than the other stretch goals of additional colors. The cases will be for Galaxy devices as well as bringing support for the HTC One M7 & M8.

So please give Dimple.IO a look on their IndieGoGo page and consider helping these innovative entrepreneurs realize their more ambitious visions and not just their current project.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: SmartWood

Crowdfunding Spotlight: SmartWood

May 28, 2014

Everyone likes building with their hands; the tactile feeling of cutting and joining two pieces of wood is something that is an innate experience as human beings. Now instead of a nice bedside table or cutting block wouldn’t it be nice to have a fully functioning RC car that communicates with virtually any smartphone? The technology is more than out there to be able to do this, and it is something that avid hobbyists have been doing for years. The problem is that even though it may seem simple enough from the surface it is a task that pulls from a lot of disciplines, computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, and, of course, the ability to build a car from wood.

Fortunately, for the rest of us mortals the duo of Elad an Gili have created SmartWood which is essentially like a wooden K’Nex set. Simply labeling it as that, however, is selling the project short as it is much more complex than merely snapping a few pieces together and letting it go. Experience with hardware is a requirement as there are varying levels of gluing and screwing depending on which one of three designs is assembled, and for some SmartWood could make a great father/son bonding project.

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Did I forget to mention that by the end of this there is a fully functioning RC car? Yeah, that is pretty awesome. This is done by means of an Arduino which connects with the SmartWood app via Bluetooth and gives the user full control of the vehicle right from their phone. This might not be complex, or exceedingly hands-on, but the ability to have a working Arduino powered motor assembly that natively works with a smartphone opens the doors for those who are looking to create more complex bodies and take this whole concept to the next level. So if one ever becomes bored with the standard tank, dragster, and truck offerings they are more than welcome to let their creativity shine with the assurance that they will have a reliable way of locomotion.

There is still 45 days to go and SmartWood is already nearly 20% funded so it is safe to say that it is not in desperate need of funding, but the stretch goals are fairly attractive and nothing is ever fully assured. Also, the rewards start at $39 for the control unit and $59 for the tank, or crawler. These seem reasonable and the quantities are limited so be sure to get in on the action before they are all sold out.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Codemancer on Kickstarter – Q&A with Developer Robert Lockhart About How the Game Will Try to Teach Kids to Code

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Codemancer on Kickstarter – Q&A with Developer Robert Lockhart About How the Game Will Try to Teach Kids to Code

Apr 30, 2014

Robert Lockhart and Important Little Games recently launched a Kickstarter for their game Codemancer, which is obliquely designed to teach players – particularly kids – to learn how coding works. It’s an ambitious objective for a game, and I spoke to Lockhart about why he’s making this game, why he chose Kickstarter, and how important Android is for this multiplatform project.

Android Rundown: What was the impetus behind creating Codemancer? Why is it so important to teach people how to code?

Robert Lockhart: Programming is a form of literacy. There was a time when reading was optional, because books were rare (pre-Gutenberg). Then the written word became more common, and now of course it’s hard to imagine getting through life without being able to read. Well, we’re getting to the point where software is as ubiquitous as books became after the printing press was invented, and yet most of us, essentially, cannot read code.

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With the coding the game teaches, how are you trying to make it applicable to situations outside of the game?

The design goals of the rune language that the player uses to write spells were: 1) That syntax errors will be impossible – things that don’t work together simply won’t fit 2) That it looks mystical and runic, rather than code-y and 3) That it translates easily to a real-world programming language.

I think that Codemancer actually does a better job than most learn-to-code games at #3. The syntax is pretty similar to what you’d see in a language like lua or python, but the tokens, the units of meaning within the language, are altered to feel more fantastical, and also to eliminate the need for reading a natural language like english. The truth is that most spells would translate 1-to-1 to a real-world language simply by replacing certain symbols with the appropriate words.

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The target for the game is children, but will this be a game enjoyable by adults as well?

I worry about that a lot – I’m definitely going for a tone that is inspired by young adult fiction like Harry Potter, Mistborn, Sabriel, and TV shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. One of the great things about that flavor, if I can get it right, is that it appeals to both kids and adults. I just hope I get it right.

Why use crowdfunding to help fund the project? How will it help the project come to life?

Crowdfunding is really about accelerating the project. I plan to make Codemancer whether or not it gets funded, but without the support of backers, it would probably take me five years or more. With the help of people who care about the project and think it should exist, I can simply pay my artists, sound designer, composer, etc. instead of saving up for a few months, then paying for more assets, then repeating.

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Why is Android important for you to release Codemancer on?

There are a lot of reasons to release on Android tablets. One of the most important to me is that my Mom has one, and I like to be able to show her the games I make. Also, Android tablets are the most common kind of computer to be used in school 1-to-1 programs, where each student is given a computing device that they can use however they like. I’d really like whole groups of kids to play the game and swap spells with each other.

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Thanks to Robert for his time. Codemancer is now on Kickstarter.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Table Zombies on Kickstarter

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Table Zombies on Kickstarter

Mar 5, 2014

Augmented reality is one of those things that has gone sadly underused in gaming, having largely been used for novelty purposes. However, Table Zombies wants to use augmented reality to help make gaming more immersive with the help of their Kickstarter project, which is this week’s featured project on Crowdfunding Spotlight!

Table Zombies is an aerial zombie shooting game, where players must defend their posts from the oncoming undead. By pointing their camera-enabled device at a printed augmented reality square, this creates the environment and allows players to take out enemies from anywhere with a flat surface. Hence the name Table Zombies.

The cool thing about augmented reality for this purpose is that by creating a virtual world with the AR marker, players can get in and look around the world, interacting with it to a greater degree than if it were just on a screen. It looks like it pops out of the real world. As well, the marker can be turned in order for players to get to rotate the world as they will, which is a rather clever twist – pun intended!

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The pledge system is interesting in that it’s not just possible to get one copy of the game at this point, but by paying a minimum of $5 AUD, backers get four free copies of the game for Android, which they can then give to friends. The plan is for the game to launch at $1.99 AUD, so this is still a discount. A $1 tier was available for the first 8 backers. Higher tiers can chances to vote for zombie model designs, get AR-enabled postcards, and even AR-enabled t-shirts, because who doesn’t want a zombie uprising happening on their chest?

The Kickstarter has already reached its funding goal, with over $2800 AUD pledged toward a $1500 goal. The funding will go toward developing more environments and zombies for the game, along with fulfilling backer rewards. A demo for the game already exists and can be downloaded now: get the game from Google Play here and the AR cards (preferably printed on A3 paper) from here, and give the game a shot, then decide if it’s worth backing, but do it before the end date of March 24th.