The Backerjack Podcast, Episode 7, with Ross Rubin and Steve Sande

It’s time for Episode 7 of The Backerjack Podcast. This week, Ross and Steve take on three projects:

  • It’s an LED light bulb, it’s a pico projector, it’s Beam. Insert it into a standard light socket and then project your content just about anywhere. It’s cool enough to put goosebumps on your gooseneck. Find out why we think it’s a a particularly bright idea.
  • More impressive than The One discussed in Episode 6, the Neo Smart Jar tracks the nutritional value of its contents and even suggests recipes. Find out why it’s at the leading edge of  IoT.
  • Pigeon takes another stab at the connected picture frame. Will this grannytech fly or wind up as roadkill?

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NFC-enabled Memento Pearl makes a world of messages your oyster

Technology often elicits negative feelings bolstered by claims of anti-social and insensitive behaviors. But with technology being as ubiquitous as it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean sentimentality is out the window — contrary to what many may believe.

The Memento Pearl by Galatea is a perfect example of the sort of technology aiming to connect families, friends, and couples rather than serve as a barrier between them. The hand-crafted white freshwater or black Tahitian pearl pendants, rings, or earrings come set in a variety of materials like sterling silver or 14K gold, and feature an NFC chip within. Thoughtful types can record messages using a companion app that will playback from the pearl itself when tapped to any NFC-enabled device. Sterling silver options range from $130-$150 while 14K gold and other, more luxurious options are available at similarly luxurious price points. The campaign is looking for $50,000 and is expecting to ship the product in April of 2015

For now the system will only work with Android phones since Apple’s NFC is locked down, but offers a compelling and sincere take on modern connection. Most connected jewelry has a focus on fitness, but the Memento Pearl does something a little different and should get some attention for it.

Solo Tester zaps potential electrical wiring problems

The hassle and expense that comes with calling an electrician to resolve home electrical problems can be enough to make a person want to go back to using old fashioned oil lamps.

The makers of Solo Tester tout their product as simple enough for the average homeowner, but quality enough for a professional electrician. They designed the testing device is to test low to medium-range voltage electrical wiring, and it can help resolve power function and circuitry problems. A long-range audible signal allows the user to remain at the problem area and test for the problem at the source at the same time.

It’s a useful product for those who are handy where home repairs are concerned. Backers with do-it-yourself skills might also like to check out CaulkKnocker, T-Rex and Gatr. This campaign seeks to raise $25,000 by March 26, 2015. For $75, backers get one product with an expected delivery of April 2015.

Among VR headsets, CMoar does more with controls and expansion

Virtual reality headsets are a arriving in all sorts of materials from cardboard to more robust constructions using neoprene or metal. Every variation has its own pros and cons, which is why there are more and more being made every day.

The Cmoar is yet another alternative, aiming to impress with a smartphone-based virtual reality headset that offers 2D and 3D capability with an expansive 105° field-of-view. The team claims that the high-quality sensors inside eliminate uncomfortable drifting by improving the product’s head tracking ability. Although it’s a bit bulky, the wealth of control options on the outside of the device help with the small stuff like navigate menus, control volume, or control a smartphone’s camera. For everything else, USB ports allow for devices like Leap Motion to be installed. A Cmoar headset is $99, and is expected to ship in June 2015 if the $100,000 campaign sees success.

The headset impresses on many fronts, from media content to gaming, but isn’t the first to do so. Products like the Viewbox and Pinć VR offer experiences that aren’t as fully featured but are unique in the type of virtual reality they offer. Something that helps Cmoar is the ability to stream console and PC games right to the headset, along with its proprietary gamepad, a Wiimote rip-off — both of which help differentiate the product from the pack.

You can 3D-print your OwnFone, but forget about fancy apps

Many people like to express themselves with their clothes. But outside of supporting particular brands or buying a licensed cellphone cover, it’s pretty difficult for people to use cellphones to express themselves in a similar way.

The London-based developer of OwnFone is out to change that by allowing people to 3D-print the phone itself versus just a cover. The company allows consumers to either design the device using its maker’s FoneBuilder App website and let his company make it for them, or design OwnFones themselves at home using the company’s PrintFone Dev Kit.

Don’t expect a lot of fancy-functionality, though. OwnPhone is a voice-only mobile phone that works on a 2G mobile network; the product has already been available in the U.K. since 2012. U.S. consumers can now buy one for about $100, and can select from a version with word buttons, image buttons, a number keypad, Braille buttons, or a few other configurations. OwnFone will ship in the U.S. in July. Its maker is trying to raise £200,000 (~$308,000) by March 21.

There is likely a market for custom-made cellphones such as OwnFone. One large segment that will likely find it appealing is kids. But there are likely many parents who won’t be willing to shell out $100 on a mobile phone for their children. There are also likely many people who will opt to spend $100 on a low-end smartphone than a nice custom-made phone with limited functionality.

 

Übertüb lets you ride the waves, doesn’t offer tub service on demand

Pool rafts, inflatable beach balls and inner tubes all make for added fun in the summer sun. But the air often escapes and they deflate within a few hours.

Übertüb stays inflated until the user deflates it, and it can be used for more than just water fun. Multiple features set this multifaceted outdoor toy apart from the others. The redesigned air intake system allows for nearly any inflation method, though it also comes with its own inflation tool. The updated valve means that it won’t scratch the user or rip their swimwear, and it deflates quickly when it’s time to pack up. These tubes have been designed for several types of recreation. So they also work well in the snow and on dry land. Several color options and three sizes are available: the small size is 28 – 30 inches, medium is 36 – 38 inches, and large is 42 – 44 inches.

The product updates and reinforces a simple and classic source of outdoor fun. Water-loving backers might also like to check out Hydropacer and Towel’On. This campaign seeks to raise $65,000 CAD (~51,900 USD) by March 31, 2015. For $79 CAD (~63 USD), backers get one small Übertüb with an expected delivery of August 2015.

Coolest Clock immodestly takes its time, projects it on wall below

Having a projector in the home is a big deal. An adjustable screen capable of displaying all kinds of content in sharp, high quality fidelity is something anyone would be happy to have, mainly because of the versatility it affords. It turns out that magical things happen when projectors are combined with other things, too.

The aptly named Coolest Clock mixes a projector with a clock to offer people a little bit of everything when they look up at the wall. The name is a bit misleading, though — it isn’t only a clock, and for all intents and purposes it’s everything but a clock. Think of it as the home screen on a smart device, only bigger and littered with widgets for everything from  social media notifications and live weather to breaking news and quotes. The Wi-Fi enabled module can hang anywhere on the wall, and both its projection size and clock skins are completely adjustable when used with an iOS app or web interface. The Coolest Clock is going for $179 now, shooting up to $199 later. The product is scheduled to ship in December 2015 if the $20,000 campaign goal is achieved.

The Coolest Clock is very multi-faceted and unsurprisingly boasts some other, useful task-oriented features like to-do lists and scheduled reminders. Unfortunately, the product lacks sound notifications unless a stretch goal is reached, a feature that should be in the main build anyway. The SmarTock is a similar product, but the Coolest Clock trumps it on sheer variety of options, making it an interesting purchase for those wanting something unique in their home.

Where’s Wallet calls home to your smartphone to avoid being misplaced

Forgetting or misplacing a wallet can be a major inconvenience — especially if it’s left in a public place and has a lot of cash and credit cards in it.

Where’s Wallet is a twist on the increasingly popular Bluetooth item finder that solves that dilemma. It’s a wallet that features a hidden sensor inside. Users just have to download a free Android or iOS app, set a notification range, and their smartphone/wallet will beep to alert them the moment they step beyond that preset distance. Its maker is fielding the product in three versions: a $49 slip model, a $69 bi-fold version and a $99 clutch version. Each will ship in August. Its maker is trying to raise $30,000 through Kickstarter by March 22.

Where’s Wallet is a clever entry in the Bluetooth tracking device category. Applying the technology to a wallet is a no-brainer, and should be especially appealing to consumers with a tendency to misplace their valuables. However, the specific application has a drawback in that some consumers will prefer a small tracking device like TrackR Bravo that can be attached to the object of their choice. For example, folks who are more likely to misplace their keys than their wallet.