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?

Nyrius Smart Outlet Hardware Review

Nyrius Smart Outlet Hardware Review

Feb 17, 2016

Someday, not too far in the future, it’s quite possible that all our devices, peripherals and appliances will be connected to a central hub. Maybe even voice activated. Wake up, ask for espresso, and have it ready before one’s hair is dry.

Heaven on earth? Maybe. For now, we have stuff like the Nyrius Smart Outlet to give us a taste.

It’s a simple tool: a plug that can be manipulated from one’s smartphone, and thus can control most things plugged into it wirelessly.

The review unit Nyrius sent us reveals the unit in its retail presentation; in the box one gets it and documentation. The unit itself is white, shaped somewhat like a small brick but with soft edges. Its single three-pin entry point is on the bottom, and it also has an LED on outward-facing surface.

A big part of the solution is the companion app hosted on the Play Store called Nyrius Smart Plug; this app more or less works as the controlling conduit for the hardware. After installations and launching, the app looks to toggle on the requisite Bluetooth, and then it looks to use the wireless standard to connect to an available Nyrius outlet.

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When it’s all connected, it’s a cinch to control the main unit via the software. The app is clean with a lot of open space and bathed in the signature blue as it allows on to turn the plug on and off, tweak proximity and even set timers, which is a pretty useful feature. It all works well together.

From a usability perspective, the access holes being on the bottom does provide a bit of a challenge, especially considering the unit’s size. In a conventional wall unit (with two slots stacked vertically), one might be tempted to use the bottom slot so as to have the top one unencumbered. Well, that means whatever is plugged into this unit will poke out the bottom, and, depending on placement and usage, might cause some strain on plugged in electronics cable. On the other hand, creating semi-permanent solutions is one thing this looks to fix, so once one has it all working, one need not adjust much.

The proximity feature is great in theory, but is subject to bluetooth range restrict, and the ability to control other units would be most welcome.

Overall, simple pieces like these are what make the concept of a connected home a tangible reality, and that is why it is easy to like in several scenarios.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: UBIK UNO Smartphone Hits 75% Mark, Adds Stretch Goal

Crowdfunding Spotlight: UBIK UNO Smartphone Hits 75% Mark, Adds Stretch Goal

Aug 10, 2015

One of the cool things about having a mostly open-sourced OS that can be used across manufacturers is that one can see it legitimately appropriated on varying hardware.

Which leads to one of my hobbies: raiding Kickstarter for Android-powered smartphone projects. I am a huge fan of crowdfunding — it is the ultimate ode to responsible consumerism — and seeing it manifested in new mobile technology pieces is somewhat gratifying.

UBIK hit the wires a short while ago with an Android project to adore: an unlocked smartphone named UNO. Interestingly, UNO has already hit the 75% funding mark; specifically, it has raised more than $150,000 of its $200,000 goal via more than 500 backers, which is especially impressive considering the fact that it still has more than three weeks of funding time left.

It’s not too hard to see why the upcoming device is garnering the support of tech enthusiasts willing to put their cash where their mouths are. It’s Kickstarter website also doubles as a portal with which the company keeps a pulse on fan sentiment. One result of this feedback led the company to reduce the price point of the device from $345 to $298.

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UBIK is also using incentives (like including a free case with a pledge for the UNO for sharing the campaign on social media), and has added a stretch goal that bundles a free tempered glass screen protector if 150% funding mark is reached.

So, what does the UNO bring to the table? Of course, one gets our favorite mobile OS, specifically stock 5.1 Lollipop, one piece no-bezel frame, 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 Gorilla Glass display, an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 16GB onboard memory (expandable to 64GB via microSD), 20MP main camera and other consumer-friendly trappings like NFC and Bluetooth. In other words, it doesn’t seem to be sacrificing the extras due to price.

This is one folks will really want to keep an eye on.

We know we will.

Upcoming Game Space Food Truck Gets Gameplay Trailer

Upcoming Game Space Food Truck Gets Gameplay Trailer

Jul 24, 2015

Space Food Truck is an upcoming cross-platform game from One Man Left Studios that’s making the rounds on Kickstarter.

In Space Food Truck, players work together to warp around a procedurally-generated galaxy of 100 planets in search of exotic ingredients, then scramble to the planet craving each dish to complete their recipe objectives. There are four roles to choose from: Captain, Engineer, Scientist, and Chef; each with their own unique focus and objective. To win, your team must finish every recipe objective before your ship is torn apart by meteors, invaders, wormholes, space pirates, dancing, corrosive sludge, the terrifying monster that lives in your vents, and more. We’ll have 3 difficulties to choose from in the final game: Rare, Medium, and Well-Done.

Gameplay is primarily card-based, with each player adding new items and powers to their own deck every turn. Choosing new cards wisely is critical to doing your job, crafting recipes, and surviving the escalating hazards of deep space.

The trailer is below:

Zoombinis to Launch on Android in August

Zoombinis to Launch on Android in August

Jul 14, 2015

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We’ve been keeping an eye out for Zoombinis, the classic educational game that was slated to arrive on Android this summer. Well; it looks like after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, it is due out on Google Play on August 6th.


Zoombinis is developed in conjunction with the world class designers at FableVision Studios, an award-winning educational transmedia developer, along with Learning Games Network.

“Together we have recreated the Zoombinis adventure so that it can be shared with a whole new generation, in a touch screen format,” said David Libby, Director of Technology, TERC. “With the advances in technology since the Zoombinis first appeared in the Â’90s, we were able to craft the perfect blend of problem solving with entertainment that can be enjoyed in mobile or classroom setting.”

Numbering in the hundreds, the Zoombinis need your help. The small blue creatures, each with distinct personalities and appearances, are all imprisoned by the evil Bloats who took over their home – and you need to help them reach the safety of Zoombiniville. Using logic, data analysis, pattern finding and problem solving skills, children and adults will face a series of increasingly difficult challenges set within entertaining environments such as Pizza Pass, Titanic Tattooed Toads and Mudball Wall. Help the Zoombinis travel in groups until all 400 of them are safe in Zoombiniville.

Per the press release, the game will cost $4.99.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Comet, an Android Phone that Floats

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Comet, an Android Phone that Floats

May 20, 2015

For folks like us that spend way too much time on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the like, this should be interesting: we hear that we’ll soon be seeing Comet, an Android device that comes with water resistance and buoyancy as part of its core functionality set. It incorporates fins that pop out when the device hits water.

It’ll have Android Lollipop and will sport two 16 MP cameras (one each on front and back), a screen with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 and a 2.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 4GB RAM.

It’ll come in two flavors: 16 GB and 32 GB.

Beyond that, the device also adds some features new to Android. According to the press release, the device will also pack a border of Turquoise LED lights that light up when a user receives a call or message, pre-installed messenger for communication, app-enabled ability to measure body temperature and gauge mood, and a quantum lock that utilizes 256-bit AES to encrypt voice communications.

The Comet is expected to cost between $300 – $375, and will be available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

CometCore Chief Prashanth Raj Urs mentions reflecting users personalities and being able to take one’s device everywhere.“We developed Comet to be a phone that people could truly take anywhere,” he says. “We also wanted Comet to really reflect its users’ personalities, so we made it as customizable as possible- Comet is functionable, but it’s also a really fun phone to use.”

We admit it: we are intrigued. The hardware seems to be compelling enough, and the the buoyancy is more than a simple cherry on top. The advertised ability to use it on three of the major networks is definitely a plus. Other specifics (connectivity, expandable storage, etc) will help define the device if included.

Comet should be landing on Kickstarter soon, and we can’t wait to see how it does.

[Source: CometCore Press Release]

Classic Educational Puzzle Zoombinis Looks to See Revival on Android this Summer

Classic Educational Puzzle Zoombinis Looks to See Revival on Android this Summer

Feb 18, 2015

Zoombinis, the popular educational game from a while back, is looking to make comeback on — amongst other platforms — Android OS; it is set to be revealed this summer via Kickstarter funding.

The award-winning game tells the intriguing tale of the Zoombinis, small blue creatures with differing characteristics. Children and adults test their logical reasoning, data analysis, pattern finding, and problem solving skills as they help Zoombinis complete unique challenges, escape imprisonment from the evil Bloats, and reach the promised land of Zoombiniville. On their epic journey, they must face a series of increasingly difficult challenges, including Pizza Pass, Titanic Tattooed Toads and Mudball Wall. The Zoombinis travel in groups across multiple levels until all 625 blue creatures are saved.

Fans of the adorable Zoombini creatures can pledge their support for the game on the newly unveiled Kickstarter to expand future platform support. If successful, it will assure that the modern remake reaches an audience beyond the iPad and Android tablets to include PC, Mac and tablets of all sizes. The full Kickstarter campaign details and how the game is evolving are available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/zoombinisgame

To pledge support, one can check out the funding page. We look forward to getting more details as they become available; in the meantime, we have a teaser trailer below:

[Source: Kickstarter Page and Press Release]

Vaavud Mjolnir Wind Meter Hardware Review

Vaavud Mjolnir Wind Meter Hardware Review

Sep 10, 2014

Say what you want, but I believe measuring the elements is a manly pursuit. As such, at the risk of stroking my ego, I just had to check out the Kickstarted Vaavud Mjolnir Wind Meter.

The review piece itself comes in decent packaging; the wind meter itself is surprisingly light, almost scarily so. The exterior is mostly plastic, so if one was looking for something of similar heft to Thor’s Hammer, this might be a shock. The review piece fits in the palm, and made me think of Mickey Mouse’s hat, what with the red top unit with cups that logically rotates about the axis. The bottom base unit is black, and tapers into a 3.5 mm male audio pin. Altogether, the pieces are loose, but not badly constructed, and I did like the labeled carry pouch that came with the packaging. For reference, it also comes in green and white.

To use the meter, the companion app Vaavud Wind Meter needs to be installed from the Play Store and running. With the wind meter intuitively inserted in the audio jack of the device running the companion software, the user needs to tap “start” in the app, and then the hold the device above his/her head to catch the winds in the cups. During this time, the app uses a progress bar to note the progress of the data collection; when it stops, the information can be consumed in graph and numerical form. The sequence can then be repeated if wanted.

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The app itself has different segments; the first (as described) measures the wind. The second is a visual map, and the third is a listing of historical readings. To access the latter, it is necessary to register an account with Vaavud.

I found the whole system to be a fun diversion, but there were a few times it was quite useful: radio-control helicopter flying, kites, even while measuring gusts of wind on the soccer pitch. The system boasts the ability to read 2 – 20 m/s (up to 48 m/s on some Android phones) with a precision of +/- 4%. I was not able to scientifically measure that, but my informal testing did rack up similar readings at the same time.

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My biggest gripe is that it does not work on all android devices (it requires the device to have a magnetic field sensor,and a compatible one at that). The plastic build did give me some pause, too, but to be fair, the lack of electronics in the hardware was actually a good thing in my book. Overall, it works well, is a great science lesson on its own, and can be used both for leisure and otherwise.

The Mjolnir Wind Meter is available for $40 via the Vaavud website.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Pocket Dock-It

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Pocket Dock-It

Sep 3, 2014

Unfortunately, for all of the wondrous computing power of our smartphones, there is one major setback and that is, has been, and likely always will be, battery performance. Heading over to a friend or relative’s house for a few hours or nights usually involves packing a phone charger before anything else. Regardless of what those Samsung commercials tell you, all smartphone batteries are not doing so hot after a full work-day of use. The standardization of micro-USB charging ports has been a godsend for the smartphone industry, but that does not solve the responsibility of having to keep track of both the cord and the wall adapter.

This week we shine the spotlight on a great new KickStarter campaign that makes traveling with a smartphone just a bit easier. The Pocket Dock-It is, in its simplest definition, a wall plug that has a charging port built right in. The micro-USB, or Lightning connector for iPhone users, flips up and rests at an angle which allows the phone to rest against the wall that the outlet is attached to. My first reaction is that this did not seem very practical for most uses because a lot of people have their phones plugged into wall outlets that reside behind furniture or on extension lines. This is all true, but it is not what the Pocket Dock-It is for. When traveling, just grabbing this little guy out of the drawer is much easier than fumbling behind the bed-side table for the USB cable and wall connector which then has to be reconnected upon returning from the trip.

Another use for the Pocket Dock-It is for places where your phone could use a charging, but the surface may not be present or is not suitable for a delicate smartphone. I know that in my kitchen by the sink there is an outlet on the wall and I could definitely see myself using this product as a way to keep my phone visible, but out of harms way at the same time. Another such location would be the garage work bench which can get dirty in a hurry and is not a place where I would want to leave a piece of tech that costs nearly $800.

The Pocket Dock-It can be ordered at the discounted price of a $30 donation, but this package is only available in limited quantities and there are already over 980 of the 1000 spots taken. I encourage a visit to their KickStarter page to see if the Pocket Dock-It is a product that, while not revolutionary, is deserving of being funded successfully.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Boss Monster: Dungeon

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Boss Monster: Dungeon

Aug 22, 2014

Boss Monster is a physical card game that was successfully funded on KickStarter, and has since gained a substantial following in the gaming community. The game is quite revolutionary and turns the traditional dungeon crawling genera on its head by putting the player into the role of the evil villain who is tasked with building as treacherous a dungeon as possible. These are then invaded by well-meaning adventurers at the end of each turn, and the winner is the player who has the last “Boss” standing.

While I have no personal experience with the game, it seems to be beloved by fans and because of its inventive premise it is something I could really see myself getting into. The crowdfunding project we are shining the spotlight on today is the attempt by the developer of Boss Monster, Brotherwise Games, to build a digital version for the iPad and Android tablets. Having spent considerable time with the Magic: The Gathering app for the iPad recently I understand how well these tabletop games can translate onto the large tablet screen.

It makes sense for Brotherwise Games to be creating this app at this moment, as the ubiquitous accessibility, as well as the spontaneous nature, of app stores can greatly increase their footprint and create a larger legion of Boss Monster fans. I will admit that I was not initially sold on the initial card game KickStarter, but with the addition of a cheaper and more convenient mobile app the odds of me investing in Boss Monster has definitely increased. Included in the game is the ability to battle against up to three AI opponents, and this feature is essential for a card game who’s main draw is head to head competition.

The first thing that struck me while perusing through the KickStarter page is how the app easily conveys the atmosphere of the retro dungeon crawlers it is based off of. The graphic design is spot on, and the audio, which is being recorded by a professional studio, is nearly indistinguishable from late-90s PC adventure games. As of the time of writing, Boss Monster is over halfway to their $85,000 goal; so please, considering supporting this innovative game and its incredible developers by visiting their project page and possibly earning some cool limited edition digital cards in the process.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Sense

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Sense

Aug 8, 2014

As an American I feel that it seems that we are sometimes destined to not get enough sleep. We wake up early for work and then spend all day chugging coffee only to quickly try and fall asleep so we can start it all over again tomorrow. There are plenty of apps for smartphones that allow the user to keep a record of their sleeping habits, and I have tried a handful of them myself. One of the biggest problems with these is that the phone has to physically be on the bed with you, and because it is constantly recording data is should also be charging. Sometimes these two things are not very convenient, and it puts the impetus on the user to set everything up before going to bed which, from my personal experience, is the area where I tended to fall short the most.

Enter the Sense. A beautiful, spherical device that sits on the bedside table and analyzes sleep not just through motion, but through ambient light, sound, and temperature. The Sense knows the perfect environment for sleep and will display what factor was most likely responsible for a poor nights sleep. This will allow for corrections to be made which should improve sleep quality.

The Sense comes in three parts, there is the base station that houses the brains as well as almost all of the sensors in the system. The actual motion sensor comes in a clip that discretely attaches to the user’s pillow and constantly communicates to the base station during the evening. The final piece of the puzzle is the smartphone app that is almost a given now days, and this displays a myriad of information for consumption by the user to digest. Featured prominently is a number that is the score for that night’s sleep measured out of 100. The app looks great, and it truly seems to be a joy to use.

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My favorite feature is the smart alarm that times the user’s natural sleep cycles and knows the right time to sound the alarm. Simply put in a range of acceptable alarm times and the Sense will know, based on that night’s sleep pattern, when the sleeper is at their shallowest cycle; aka. when they will wake up easiest.

As always, the biggest selling point will be the price; will the Sense be cheap enough that somebody would justify splurging for it or getting it as a quick birthday or holiday gift? With the pre-order price set to $120 this is sitting right on that line. Maybe for a big Christmas gift or college graduation present, but the Sense is definitely not something most people would buy on the spur of the moment. All that aside, however, this is a great product and I can see it really taking off and becoming a massive hit in the tech community; especially those of us who work for a living.

Kickstarter for Project 13 Reaching Completion

Kickstarter for Project 13 Reaching Completion

Aug 8, 2014

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Subject 13 is an upcoming adventure game from Microids, featuring a thrilling story, courtesy of Paul Cuisset, and beautiful visuals, courtesy of Unity engine. The game has already reached its starting goal and will be funded on the 8th of August. So, if you want to chip in and help it reach new milestone, or just want to check it out, head here: Project 13 on Kickstarter.