Crowdfunding Spotlight: Hat Cat

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Hat Cat

Jun 20, 2014

With the popularity of Portal and its sequels it is a wonder that there are not more mobile games that are based around this physics warping premise. I have seen a few in development for the PC, but these games offer the ability to bring something truly mind-bending and fresh to the puzzle genera. This week we are shining the Crowdfunding Spotlight on a small game called Hat Cat that attempts to remove the silly ovally confines and gives you an entire resizable box to work with.

Instead of a gun and putting the two portals wherever one pleases, Hat Cat allows the user, with a simple drag of the finger, to place a square on the 2-D screen around the character. When the admirably hatted cat walks into a side of this box it appears on the opposite side inside the box. Essentially once the box is up the cat cannot leave, but one the user removes it the cat is free to roam. What sets it apart is that all four sides of the box can be used, which makes solving more vertical oriented puzzles quite the challenge.

Speaking of those puzzles the difficulty curve in this game is very gradual, but that is not to be confused with easy. The levels become quite diabolical, and force the player to use both axises simultaneously while also balancing the same conservation of momentum laws that govern the Portal series. There is a demo available for the PC and more than anything it illustrates how well this game will transition to the world of touch screens. Simple drag and drop controls are perfect for a game that does not necessarily try to appeal to a hardcore audience.

Hat Cat does not set it’s aim very high, with its target fund only set at $500 to cover the App Store and Google Play fees, and with donations set to $1 and $5 rewards only they certainly are trying to keep expectations tempered. This also means that for just $5 and donor can get their name in the “Special Thanks” screen of the app, which is definitely a pretty cool reward. So, please check out Hat Cat, and help make what has ultimately been a three year dream for a handful of young developers become a mobile success.

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.


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: ALYT

Crowdfunding Spotlight: ALYT

Apr 23, 2014

Even though sometimes these things seem impractical it is good to highlight those projects that are actively pushing the envelope and creating the foundation for the future in technology. This week I believe we have just that project in ALYT; a project that could be the dominating iPod-esque frontrunner 20 years from now or a necessary unsuccessful attempt that piqued interest but left room to be improved. We’re always hoping that these projects are successful of course and ALYT is bringing some serious innovation to a burgeoning field of tech that is beginning to show signs of cash grab mimicry.

The technology is Z-Wave and it is a standard that allows appliances and security systems to interact and create the futuristic, mythical smart-home. The technology is quite impressive and seems to has the benefit to watching the missteps of previous wireless standards such as wifi and Bluetooth. There have been a lot of developers hoping to gain an early foothold on this market which has lead to a lot of helpful products that unfortunately have not been very creative. Most of these are just simple modules that work with an existing security system, and there has not been much of an effort to make a device that ties all these devices together. This is what the ALYT aims to do. The ALYT‘s goal is to be the central hub of the house; the device that manages not just the security system but the lights, thermostat, and even the shopping list from a connected refrigerator. All these plans are possible because unlike a lot of other devices the ALYT has 512 MB of RAM which allows it to smoothly run its Android software and manage all the scheduling and security measures that accompany a fully operational smart-home.


Now this is obviously a piece of technology that is still a handful of years away from breaking into the average family’s ranch, but the ALYT seems like a very solid piece of hardware with some smart software and a very impressive looking app for both Android and iOS. It goes without saying, but as with everything now this is fully compatible with most smartphones, but what is interesting is that the ALYT comes with a 3.5G cellular connection and a battery backup in case of a power outage. It’s these little things that make me think that this little device can really embed itself into the middle of this emerging field, and it is definitely worth a look at its IndieGoGo page.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: SNAP!

Crowdfunding Spotlight: SNAP!

Mar 26, 2014

I think everyone would agree that smartphone can be the most amazing and the most frustrating pieces of technology. Great for train rides, and yet not so suitable for bike rides. Sure, there are mounts for bikes, cars, tables, strollers, and almost every other applications, but these are all very specific products that are rarely inexpensive and might not always fit all devices perfectly. One of the problems with this is that there is no case or accessory that has some sort of standard coupling mechanism. By employing this the costs of all these mounts would be dramatically decreased because the worry of securing the phone would effectively be solved.

But where would such a device come from? Why, KickStarter of course. Welcome the SNAP!, a universal mounting system that is putting its chips on the logic that a strong ecosystem is the recipe to long term success. Of course a solid product is still essential and that is exactly what SNAP! delivers. The female connector can adhere to any device via a super strong 3M adhesive and all the other components can easily just snap into place. These accessories can be as large and creative as camera stands and car mounts or as simple as a money clip or headphone wrap.

The creators of SNAP! have made clear that community input will be vital into deciding which securing accessories are made first, and because effectively only the base of the mount is being produced these should be cheaper than competing products who have to also include the cost of the phone case. I can really see this project taking off and becoming something that could potentially in a few years become an industry standard. The project is being lead by three extraordinary inventors and developers who have plenty of industry experience and are more than capable of guiding this project to the promised land of tech accessories.

In conclusion, please give their KickStarter page a visit, because more-so than just being a worthy project, SNAP! is a product that could really change the way we use our smart devices.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dungeon Bash on Kickstarter

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Dungeon Bash on Kickstarter

Mar 19, 2014

After a few weeks over at IndieGoGo, AndroidRundown’s Crowdfunding Spotlight returns to its roots to spotlight an interesting new Kickstarter project called Dungeon Bash. As its name implies Dungeon Bash is an RPG dungeon crawler that aims to tweak the familiar formula by switching it up upon every play through. Steven Mathers is the developer who has created this game, and Dungeon Bash is his way of attempting to breathe new life into a beloved genera that is generally forgotten on mobile devices. Every time a new game loads up the player is assigned two random companions that can range from a wolf and troll to a slime monster and a mage. Only by working together as a team; as opposed to one strong leader with useful companions, will this trio make it out successfully.

As stated above, a big emphasis of the game is placed on working in unity with the two other assigned companions, and since this is all random each game can take on a different shape and force the player to progress slightly differently with each play through. Looking at the video on Steven’s Kickstarter page the game does not look like very much, but that is to be expected as there is nobody in charge of art direction at the moment. This is what the campaign aims to fund, and the entire coding half of the game has already been completed and tested. This is basically a finished game just in need of a fresh coat of paint.

While I am personally not a big dungeon crawler fan, I can certainly respect the genre and being a fan of games in general the simplicity of this game is sure to appeal to a very wide audience and not just those who grew up with Diablo etched into their hard drives. As it stands at the time of writing, Dungeon Bash is currently about 13% of the way to their goal with about 23 days remaining. This has to be a fairly promising start as there is still plenty of time to go. So consider giving what’s possible and help add the finishing touches to a fundamentally great game.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: IBOX

Crowdfunding Spotlight: IBOX

Mar 12, 2014

Given their rather simple construction and it is still a developing market, single board computers are a popular item on crowdfunding websites these days. Single board computers are devices such as the Apple TV, Raspberry Pi, or, technically, even the Chromecast. Unfortunately, many of these projects are simply underpowered, cheap money grab attempts, and there are very few innovative ideas; which is partly responsible for the small number of established names in this field.

This week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight shines on an established idea with a creative twist. Enter the IBOX, a single board computer that is powerful, stylish, and comes with a 32-pin multi-function expansion interface. That last item might not seem like a big deal, but for the more tech savvy this is something that is incredibly useful. With the help of a breadboard and some minor soldering now this tiny micro-PC can display all sorts of laboratory instruments or other technology accessories.

The IBOX is comparable with many Arduino cores which add to it’s versatility, and the possibilities of it’s use are endless. It is also a legitimate desktop entertainment box with the included HDMI out and the IndieGoGo webpage has links to different operating systems depending on it’s use. There are two kinds of Android listed as well as a lightweight version of Linux. On the front of the box is an IR sensor which will make the box compatible with remotes, and the SD expansion slot ensures that the movies will never stop coming.


In terms of being a straight up computer, the specs may seem slight, but the dual-core processor and 1GB RAM will be enough to power the lightweight Linux through single-application processes. This is especially useful for possibly an educational setting where just a few small apps are being used, and for the basement tinkerer the IBOX has the possibility of becoming a vital, cheap tool.

Speaking of the cost the IBOX was debuting with products shipped at donations as low as $50, but that has climbed up to $70 with what I would guess as a final retail price somewhere below $100. This puts it more expensive than it’s closest rival, the Raspberry Pi, but it is close enough where it’s aesthetic and performance advantages could be enough to persuade potential buyers.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Enfojer on IndieGogo

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Enfojer on IndieGogo

Feb 26, 2014

This week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight focuses on a project that, honestly, blew my mind. I have always been interested in film photography, and I recently started collecting old cameras, and something that has always eluded me about digital is the lack of that hands on, tactile nature of film. A design group from Croatia has created a way to develop real, black and white analog photographs from the snapshots saved on smartphones. Seeing as mobile camera technology has advanced so rapidly in recent years it really has become a viable way to take above average photographs, and what could be better than being able to go into a darkroom and make prints of those high quality photographs. What Enfojer is, essentially, is a stand that, when combined with the free app, turns most smartphones into an automatic exposure machine. Also included are trays, tongs, film, and a red darkroom light; everything needed to develop homemade prints save for the chemicals which are easy enough to find. The phone sits in the top of the stand and at the literal snap of fingers the screen turns off allowing for safe placing of the film. With another snap the screen turns on displaying the photo which is magnified via a lens to fill the size of the film and a timer configures the perfect exposure amount. When the screen again goes dark it is time to begin the three washes which are automatically timed as well.

The app gives full control over exposure settings while still offering assistance when needed. As someone who has spent time in a development lab, the addition of timing the ensuing steps is an much appreciated step that easily could have been overlooked. The entire package, including 100 pieces of Ilford quality photographic paper, was given for a $200 donation, and I can see that price rising, but not by much, and even then it would still be a tremendous deal considering all that is included.


The bad news here is that this project was not successfully funded on IndieGoGo, but money has come into the project and they have stormed ahead nevertheless. Parts have been injection molded and final designs have been going out after initial delays due to some structure reinforcing due to a lens change. Their website is up and running, and with an email address one can leave an email to be notified when the final product will be ready for pre-ordering.

I hope that everyone who reads this goes and shows their support for this incredibly ambitious product, because this is the kind of project that is made possible only through crowdfunding. This is a product that will inspire creativity, and for those with younger children, introduce a whole new generation to the fading art of film photography.

IndieGoGo Inquiry: Chronic Wellness

IndieGoGo Inquiry: Chronic Wellness

Nov 27, 2013

Surprise! This week our usual KickStarter Spotlight has been replaced by a selection from the other popular crowd-funding website IndieGoGo. This week’s project revolves around a helpful aid to those suffering from chronic illness. I was surprised to learn that 50% of adults in the United States suffer from some sort of chronic illness, and knowing this it is surprising there has not been a greater effort put forth to address this. This lack of tools for sufferers is why ambitious web developer Lindsay Pera created the Chronic Wellness website that has already helped hundreds of people.

Lindsay herself is a chronic pain sufferer and to help cope with her pain she became nearly addicted to ‘tracking’. Tracking is a way to learn more about a personal illness by learning more about how different treatments, medications, diets, or exercise affect ones body. By keeping a detailed record Lindsay was able to make real headway into keeping her condition as painless and under control as possible. Tracking makes sense, and adds a completely empirical way to measuring the body’s reaction to a changing variable.

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Her success lead her to create a website, for the 50% of Americans just like her. The website includes various ways to track a specific condition, and has a plethora of plotting and visual ways to browse what is and is not working. The web-app is very intuitive and it is not hard to see why Chronic Wellness has been so successful.

This IndieGoGo campaign, however, is not for the website, but instead a companion mobile app. Tracking is something that is best done in the moment, after a change has been made and the body’s reaction is prevalent. Having to wait to get home to a computer while at the gym is not exactly the most practical method. Given the quality of the website, I have no reservations about the effort that will go into this app, and I am more than confident that it will be an exceptional mobile tool.

Again, this project is on IndieGoGo, and not KickStarter, but do not let that be a deterrent. For anyone suffering from a chronic pain or illness I would highly recumbent looking into this app, both on the web and potentially for mobile. With less than 9 days left, Chronic Wellness still needs about $13,000 to reach its goal, and it would be a shame if this great service was denied.

Announcing LiTeClick, A Bluetooth Lighting System

Announcing LiTeClick, A Bluetooth Lighting System

Oct 29, 2013

Liteclick 1

LiTeClick is a bluetooth-controlled system of LED lights and lightbulbs that can be controlled with a mobile device. The project is still in the works, but everyone interested can see its capabilities and future characteristics here: LiTeClick Official Website.

The Ubuntu Edge: Canonical’s Proposed Ubuntu Android Phone With a Lofty Crowdfunding Target. $32 Million Lofty.

The Ubuntu Edge: Canonical’s Proposed Ubuntu Android Phone With a Lofty Crowdfunding Target. $32 Million Lofty.

Jul 22, 2013

Ubuntu’s parent company Canonical has made a lot of rumblings over the past couple of years about Ubuntu for Android, their concept of a mobile OS that would be adaptable to mobile-friendly interfaces while functioning as a standard desktop OS when docked. While news has come out and even test builds have made their way on to Nexus devices, a concrete plan for Ubuntu for Android has not been realized until now. Canonical wants to launch the Ubuntu Edge phone, but needs more crowdfunded money than anyone else has ever gotten.

First, the phone: while it’s currently still a concept, the specs they’re targeting would make it the fastest phone on the market. 128 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM, “the fastest multi-core CPU” all on a 4.5" 1280×720 display. Granted, this is all targeted for next year, but that’s not a bad set of planned specs. Not real yet, but planned. Interestingly, the phone is intended to launch with the ability to dual-boot Android as well as Ubuntu, which is quite possibly the best part of this. Have any issues with Ubuntu lacking apps? Well, good news, they’ll be on Android. Even just as a phone that could run Android when needed as a phone and work as a desktop when necessary, that’s not a bad combo.

Now for the sticker shock: the price? Planned to be about $830 for the unlocked version. Or $600 for those who back Canonical’s $32 million IndieGoGo project for the Ubuntu Edge on day one.

Yes, Canonical has decided to take the maxim “shoot for the moon; even if you miss you’ll be among the stars” to heart. This could conceivably be the biggest crowdfunding project of all time and it could still fall well short of its goal. Of course, the scale is massive. Hardware crowdfunding projects have done big business before: look at the Ouya and Pebble watch. Still, those were fractions of the price of the Ubuntu Edge. It’s a lofty goal, but pledges are coming in, with over $850,000 pledged as of writing. Despite being on IndieGoGo, which has more flexible funding options than Kickstarter, this is using the same “all-or-nothing” fixed funding model: if they don’t get at least $32 million, they get squat.

And right now, if they don’t fund the Ubuntu Edge, the plan for an Ubuntu phone is dead. Ubuntu for Android will still exist, as they’ll keep targeting release on other hardware, but their own flagship device won’t happen. The chances that they succeed with this project are slim, as getting people to part with $830 for a phone that has an estimated release date of May 2014 isn’t easy, and no one has ever come close to this sort of crowdfunding money, much less away from Kickstarter. But Canonical is an established enough company that it doesn’t seem impossible. Just highly unlikely.