Lighting Smart Home

The Back-Off: Reinventing the light switch

Welcome to The Back-Off, where Backerjack contributors weigh in on two or more products being crowdfunded concurrently.

What. Smart lighting is becoming a regular craze in the smart home community. What is already out on the market doesn’t always do the job right, and so those who want to simplify their home through technology have a couple new options to consider. Both Bluegic and iOn have a new take on changing the most basic electric necessity of any home.

Why. Bluegic’s solution to home lighting is similar to some other crowdfunding projects, using Bluetooth as a way to control lighting even while away from home, using a mobile device to set timers as well as turn on and off lights. The inclusion of a push-button light switch alternative is also a unique personal touch of the Bluegic system. iOn on the other hand is more like traditional light-switches in the sense that one has to be in proximity to the switch itself to control it, but is anything but traditional beyond that. Using a capacitive field, iOn panels can be installed behind art, behind walls, and can be completely out of sight. Users then make a motion within that field, or place a capacitive item in the field that can be touched to turn lights on or off. Bluegic switches range from $54 to $69 depending on how many buttons are on the switch, iOn switches start at $40 a piece.

When. Both projects were launched on March 25th and have the same funding goal of $100,000, but Bluegic’s campaign is running 45 days instead of iOn’s 30. Bluegic also plans to ship in June, while iOn switches won’t reach backers until August.

Winner. In terms of what they offer, the Bluegic system is more flexible, but other options are out there that do the same thing. iOn is a much more refreshing take on the modernization of home lighting, and while it certainly could have its faults in terms of accidentally tripping the lights, would be more cost effective to put into a home and not require any other devices. iOn gets the edge here for its innovation and cost.

Accents Imaging

The Back-Off: Modular frames come down to a photo finish

What. The photo frame industry continues to survive, even in the digital era, by providing a physical home for digital memories. However, the proliferation of digital images from smartphones have overwhelmed the ability to keep up with framing. Two Kickstarter projects – Fotobit and Republic Frames – each have a similar take on this problem.

Why. Both Fotobit and Republic Frames have the same idea: modular frames that can be clipped together to create unique “storyboards” to tell a tale through photographs. Fotobit’s uniform squares — optimized for Instagram — look ultra-modern, like a kind of photograph Tetris that can be installed with a single nail and include a clip for a bubble level to make sure they’re straight. Republic Frames uses stainless steel and clear magnetic clips to hold photos in place and arrange them in any 3D paneling scheme. A 3-pack of 4”x4” Fotobit frames costs $30, while a 2-pack of 4”x6” Republic Frames is $79.

When. Both of these California companies launched their Kickstarters within a day of each other, and are both running 30-day campaigns. Republic Frames was first to post, but Fotobit expects its product to ship in May 2014 compared to Republic Frames’ June.

Winner. The number of options the Republic Frames setup offers is more convenient, with frames for two different sizes of photos and a host of configuration schemes that do more than rest on walls as the Fotobits must.

However, there’s something to be said about the uniformity of Fotobit when you can get roughly four times the frames for the same cost. Plus, there’s something about the way the Fotobits can still be creatively deployed, but that boils down to a matter of personal taste. In terms of price and shipping date, Fotobit looks like the winner here, but Republic Frames is a close, close second.