But enough about us: The first Backerjack reader poll

Hey, Backerjack readers! We’ve been covering the best — and some of the less-than-best — in crowdfunded and preorder gadgets since the beginning of last year. Now, we’d like to ask for a bit of feedback to understand you a bit better. We’ve got four quick questions following the break. We’re not asking for a dime, but the only reward tier we’re offering is a better experience, so please help build a better Backerjack by clicking through to the post. Thanks!

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SmartMatrix LED display trips the lights fantastic

Once, thethe pixel a common companion in the lives of many, but the race for higher density displays across the devices in our lives has squarely relegated the pixel to an afterthought. Still, many still have soft spots in their hearts for the blocky phones screens, Pac-Mans, and Marios of yesteryear.

That nostalgia still lives on today through a plethora of retro-styled games and art, and the SmartMatrix LED board is positioning itself as the best way to display it all in the home. The SmartMatrix’s 9″ by 9″ frame contains a compact 32 RGB LEDs working in tandem as everything from a music visualizer to a video game art display to a GIF display, making for some seriously throwback light shows.

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Kokoon headphones get comfy with you in bed, measure your sleep

A countless number of people around the world suffer from trouble sleeping, with 70 million of them in the United States alone. Obviously, getting enough sleep has been an issue since the very beginning of time, and as such people are constantly looking for new tools to help.

One such tool is the Kokoon, sleep headphones made in partnership with audio giant Onkyo. This partnership has birthed what are claimed to be stellar sounding headphones for everyday use. In addition, they’re also EEG-equipped headphones that not only help people fall asleep, but provide clinical quality sleep data, too. A Bluetooth 4.0 connection to a smartphone facilitates the use of the Kokoon app, allowing users to set intelligent alarms for power naps, recovery naps, or a full night’s sleep, depending on the need. These alarms, in addition to its range of sleep aids and techniques makes the Kokoon the complete sleep package.

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Nuimo dials up a gesture-sensing disc that can control anything in the smart home

editors-choiceWith the number of apps for it slowly increasing, the smartwatch has a shot at supplanting — or at least complementing — the smartphone as the control point for the connected world. But smartwatches aren’t really communal objects around the home and navigating them can often be laborious.

Nuimo seeks to address those issues. The simple control disc, available in a black or silver-white combination supports four main modes of interaction. Users can click them, rotate them, swipe their surface, or perform gestures above their surface. The last three gestures support multiple directions. The campaign video shows Nuimo responding to a music volume command by having the user raise her hand above the surface of the device.

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Phree lets you scribble on any surface, saves notes to your phone

editors-choiceWhat do Texas and mobile device interfaces have in common? Everything’s bigger there. Touch screens such as those in nearly every smartphone and tablet today set a new bar for ease of use. But their fingertip friendliness came at the price of precision compared to the mouse, which could pinpoint things on the screen.

patent-claimedPhree, however, takes a fresh approach to the idea of a pointing device for smartphones. Unlike other smart pens that work directly on the surface of the smartphone or on paper, Phree allows scribbling on virtually any surface and sends its output to the screen and is compatible with existing pen-aware applications.

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EVOL sees no evil in creating a modular phone case

They may be called smartphones, but — unlike we humans — they can’t really improve based on what they’ve learned. The capabilities they’re born with are the capabilities with which they’re discarded, at least when it comes to their hardware.

That said, the iPhone may soon be able to tap into a range of performance-enhancing modules thanks to the design of EVOL, a case that can accommodate up to four rectangular add-ons. This resulting design looks somewhat like a metallic Hershey bar. EVOL modules include the expected battery and flash memory as well as a more powerful camera flash and some specialty lens modules such as fisheye and wide-angle. EVOL touts its slim form factor and integrated charging with the iPhone. As such, it’s come out with a dock that can charge both the modules an phones as well as the Apple Watch. Money is the root of all EVOL. The company seeks $50,000 by June 23rd,  A standard bundle available in black or white is $69 with an expected delivery of July.

As the world waits for the likes of Project Ara, crowdfunding campaigns are attempting to bring the benefits of the modular phone to existing popular models. EVOL is notable for its relatively slim profile that attempts to preserve the iPhone’s form factor even with modules attached. However, as with Nexpaq, it faces many obstacles in trying to build out a third-party selection of modules.

 

Remocam looks over a human family, controls its own device family

Once upon a time, the idea of a camera ready to capture anything in a home would have sounded like something out of 1984, But the past few years have seen no shortage of connected indoor security cameras that allow for surveillance of those unwelcome in a home or ways to check up on those who are welcome.

Remocam looks a bit like a levitating black golf ball. It includes night vision capabilities, takes a unique approach to the security cam market, going beyond watching to doing. Some of this is handled by the camera itself, which includes a speaker for, say, singing your baby to sleep remotely  But to take full advantage of the system, users will need to buy in to the company’s eclectic collection of smart home gadgets that include mainstream outlet adapters and bulbs, but also an automatic pet feeder called RemoPet. The latter is at least aggressively priced. The company seeks $50,000 in its Indiegogo Flexible Funding campaign. The basic Remocam is $199, a $50 discount off the expected retail price.

Remocam represents a middle ground between simple cameras and cameras loaded with home security sensors such as the Oomi Hub. That system also works with its own family of devices, but can also tap in to any Z-Wave device. Both systems have a great opportunity to take advantage of a larger family of devices in the connected home.

Nano Heated Wireless Mug keeps it hotter for longer

No morning is complete without a cup of hot coffee. The big challenge is always figuring out how to keep that coffee hot all throughout the morning.

patent-claimedThe Nano Heated Wireless Mug provides just such a service. Using a charge, it keeps coffee hot for 45 minutes. The technology Nano uses allows for the coffee (or tea) to be heated evenly. In addition, the battery remains good for seven refills. To charge, one can use any standard USB cord. This thermos also features a handle, snap lid, light weight, and food grade plastic so it’s safe for consumption.

There are many wireless heating mugs around, but most focus on actually brewing coffee on the go, like the Hey Joe Coffee Mug. Nano is more versatile in a way because it works with whatever beverage the user craves at the time, including tea. One will cost backers a donation of $39 for delivery in August 2015. Nano is looking for a funding goal of $40,000 with the help of Kickstarter.