Campaign provides plus whole-home integration of audio
Welcome to this Thursday's Crowdfunding Critic here on MacNN and Electronista! We promised that every Tuesday and Thursday we'd highlight a new crowdfunded project -- this week's campaign is the Lightfreq LED light bulb with what the company calls HD audio. We aren't endorsing projects, nor have we been compensated to write about them -- everything we talk about is just something we think might be interesting to our readers. As with all crowdfunding campaigns, even funded projects come with risk, so do your research before you commit!
Home automation solution ties together existing products like Hue, Nest
Welcome to Tuesday's edition of the Crowdfunding Critic. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the staff at Electronista and MacNN take a look at a few crowdfunding requests to offer up a project that we find interesting to our readers. It's important that this isn't taken as an endorsement of the project, but rather a neat find that we think people could have an interest in. As with all crowdfunding campaigns, the ones we talk about come with risk, even if the project reaches its funding threshold. With that word of warning out of the way to encourage smart investing, this time we'll be talking about a home automation solution, the Airfy Beacon.
Campaign funds a second low power screen for Android devices
It's time for Thursday's edition of Crowdfunding Critic. Every Tuesday and Thursday here on MacNN and Electronista, we're going to look at crowd-funded projects that we find interesting. Keep in mind that we aren't specifically endorsing anything, or telling you that there aren't any risks in funding a prospective project, we're just pointing out projects we found that we like. Please do your research before investing! Today's selection brings an underused technology, E-ink, to smartphone cases -- the InkCase Plus by Oaxis.
System has days to go, and several thousand dollars is still needed
Historically, MacNN and Electronista have covered few, if any, in-progress crowd-sourced projects unless there was something unusual about them, like making 100x their goal. Starting this week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we're going to look at crowd-funded projects that we find interesting. Keep in mind that we aren't specifically endorsing any projects, or telling you that there aren't any risks in funding a prospective project, we're just pointing out something we found that we like. Please do your research before investing! That all said, our inaugural crowd-sourced project this week comes to us from Kickstarter -- the Pond Wireless Charging device for iPhone 5/5s, Android and Windows.
Acme Made introduces Ergo Book for iPad Air and iPad mini
Accessory design company Acme Made has introduced the Ergo Book case for iPad Air and iPad mini. Measuring 17mm (0.67 inches) in thickness, the Ergo Book includes a variety of utility functions, such as a hidden swivel mechanism that allows for 360 degree rotation, and a stretchable strap for ergonomic use. The case's frame slides out for taking photos, protecting the camera when not in use, and removes the need for camera hole in the back.
QiPack mobile inductive charger now available for pre-order on Kickstarter
Today marks the official launch of QiPack, a mobile inductive charger that charges without the need for cables or wires. Available for pre-order through its Kickstarter, the QiPack can inductively charge enabled devices, such as the Google Nexus, by placing the device on top of the charger. Devices that are not equipped with built-in inductive charging capabilities can use the QiPack in conjunction with a coil receiver. "Early bird" pricing begins at $45, with shipping anticipated for next month.
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds now available or coming to market soon
Continuing our look at some of the more interesting devices and services we ran across at Macworld in San Francisco last month, MacNN and Electronista staffers will periodically write about items and vendors that caught our eye at the show that we thought our readers would like to know about. Today's focus is on two successfully-funded Kickstarter campaigns: The Roost stand for notebooks, and the iMacompanion USB port from Wiplabs.
French hardware company reveals its year-long malware security breach
LaCie, a major retailer and tech company from France, has confirmed that its website has experienced a security breach for over a one-year period. Informed about the security violation on March 19 by the FBI, transactions between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014 are thought to have been affected. Customer names, addresses, email addresses, and payment card numbers with their expiration dates are at risk, in addition to usernames and passwords. LaCie began notifying affected customers on April 11, and its digital store is currently closed while fixes to its secure payment infrastructure are under way.
Charming, surprising, intriguing finds coming to market soon
Now that we've had time to recover from the fury of meeting so many vendors at this year's Macworld, MacNN and Electronista have had a little time to reflect on some of the products and services we saw there. Many have yet to come to market -- a running joke was the number of projects crowdfunded last summer that will be arriving in stores soon -- some have won awards, and some are just little gems we were delighted, intrigued and wowed by. First up in this ongoing series is a successful Kickstarter startup, Glowdeck.
Consumer-oriented 3D printer includes self-levelling, configuration
A small 3D printer that launched on Kickstarter reached its crowdfunding goal within 11 minutes. The Micro, a compact 3D printer that hopes to offer the same printing options as the MakerBot Replicator series and other devices but with a more user-friendly approach, has soared past its $50,000 target with 29 days of the campaign left to run.
High-fidelity music player PonoPlayer sails past original Kickstarter goal
The PonoPlayer, a music playback device backed by musician Neil Young, has doubled its target on Kickstarter shortly after starting its campaign. The high-fidelity player has so far raised over $1.6 million on the crowd-funding site, beating the $800,000 the campaign originally asked for within 24 hours of launching, with the pledging period set to continue for another 33 more days.
PonoPlayer to be available for pre-order via Kickstarter campaign beginning next week
Musician Neil Young has founded a high-fidelity digital music service, and with it an accompanying playback device soon to be available for pre-order. Entitled PonoMusic, the company encompasses both an online music store and a playback device (PonoPlayer), which is set to be available for pre-ordering through Kickstarter starting next week. The PonoPlayer offers the ability to play high-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for purchasing on PonoMusic.com. The aim is to deliver audio quality that is far superior to other audio file formats, such as the standard MP3.
Kickstarter funded device shipping a year after estimated date
The successfully-funded Instacube, tagged as "as living canvas" that pulls photos from a user's Instagram feed in the campaign, will finally start shipping units in April to backers -- more than a year after the estimated shipping date. The product, which pulled $621,000 from backers on Kickstarter, was funded in September 2012.
PrioVR gaming suit Kickstarter raises well over its fundraising goal
Motion-based game controller suit PrioVR, has surpassed its funding goal with $75,000 with 40 days remaining in its campaign. Consisting of a suit that can be configured in three ways -- a half-body suit, or two full-body styles adding leg movement -- PrioVR translates body movement into gameplay. Early-bird pricing for the full body suit is sold out, however the upper-body version, PrioVR Lite, can still be pledged for starting at $250. Delivery is expected in June, with the campaign ending on March 31.
Payment details not taken by hackers in Kickstarter intrusion
Customer data from popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter, famous for helping launch the Ouya and Pebble smart watch, has been taken by hackers, the company has revealed. Usernames, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords of a number of accounts were accessed in the intrusion, though the company stresses in a blog post that payment information, such as partial credit card numbers, were not taken in the attack.
Dash Bluetooth earbuds offer water-resistance, fitness tracking
Bragi's wireless "smart" headphone set, The Dash, has wildly surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $250,000, with 43 days still remaining in its fundraising campaign. The Dash wireless smart headphones are in-ear, and offer audio playback with the ability to store up to 1,000 songs in its embedded 4GB song player.
Kickstarter for alternative cloud service and device combo exceeds its campaign goal
San Franciscan siblings Karisma and Sam Nagar have successfully crowd-funded their cloud device and service Pixeom, with eleven days to spare in its Kickstarter campaign. The Pixeom Exchange Device is a prototype that offers an alternative to corporate cloud services that require access to its users' information to use its digital space. Aiming to facilitate a new type of data exchange for Internet users, Pixeom functions by centralizing one's own cloud network in a personal home device, as opposed to a large, remote data center. All of a user's cloud service needs will be supported within the device at a one-time purchasing cost, facilitating storage, social networking, and online auctioning functions that focus on privacy.
QuadStick video game controller for quadriplegic gamers succeeds Kickstarter goal
Complex mouth-based controller for quadriplegic console gamers, QuadStick, has succeeded in reaching and surpassing its Kickstarter goal of ten thousand dollars. Composed as a single joystick, four sip-and-puff sensors, a lip position sensor and a push switch, the controller outputs to both USB and Bluetooth, and then into gaming hardware. QuadStick will be compatible with PCs, Android devices and PS3s, and with the addition of an adapter, Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well. Controller configuration is available,with pre-arranged setups built in. Users can use its straws to shift between different control methods.
New 12 and 26 piece toolkits for Mac, PC and iOS available from VisionTek
VisionTek has announced the release of its latest custom portable toolkits for upgrading and repairing PC and Mac computers this week. Offering 12 and 26-piece toolkits, each provide the tools needed for executing computer upgrades and repairs at home.
Belkin offers Black Friday customers discounts on purchases from online store
Belkin, an electronics accessory manufacturer, has announced their upcoming promotional offers for Black Friday this year. Customers shopping online can receive deals such as $20 off every $100 spent, up to $500. Buyers at Belkin's online Factory Store will be able to receive an additional 15 percent off orders placed on Black Friday. On December 2 -- 'Cyber Monday' -- buyers will receive 30 percent off everything between 6AM and 10AM PT.
LG G Pad 8.3 heading to retail in the UK and Ireland
LG is launching its G Pad 8.3 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, in time for the holiday shopping rush. The tablet, with an 8.3-inch 1080p display, a quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB of RAM, 5MP and 1.3MP cameras, 4,600mAh battery and 16GB of storage, will cost £260 ($415) when it goes on sale.
Kickstarter campaign aims to bring tiny TouchFire to iPad mini
TouchFire, makers of the TouchFire screen-top keyboard for the full-size iPad, are now back with a similar offering for the iPad mini. The company has reached its funding goal in a Kickstarter campaign for the iPad mini add-on, and the device will likely begin shipping to early supporters soon. In addition to a removable keyboard attachment for the iPad mini, TouchFire has branched off into a line of cases for full-size iPads and the iPad mini.
Samsung's HomeSync media platform priced at $300
Samsung Mobile has announced the US-wide launch of its media centre platform, HomeSync. Consumers can use their Galaxy smartphone or tablet to control entertainment choices on their TV, as well as upload and download mobile content using its 1TB secure storage. Originally unveiled in February, the $300 device is set to be available across the US beginning October 6, 2013.
Changes to come after freezing, releasing Indiegogo campaign funds
PayPal is pledging to overhaul its policies to improve how it deals with crowdfunding campaigns in the future. The payment service is looking into what it needs to change in order to preserve security while also allowing for such funding events to take place, after it recently and publicly froze funds destined to prominent crowdfunded projects.
PlayJam hopes to avoid same late console delivery issue as Ouya
The GameStick Android game console has started shipping to backers on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. PlayJam also revealed that the portable game system will be available to buy at retail stores and websites with a tentative global release date of September 30th, following an initial pilot test run on the system's controllers.
iblazr now offered with cold shoe mount option
Ukrainian company, iblazr Lab, has added a cold shoe mount option on its Kickstarter for its iblazr LED constant flash. The company has met its target goal with six days left in the campaign, but consumers can pre-order the multi-functional synchronized flash by backing the project. The iblazr originally was intended just for smartphones, tablets and laptops, but the cold shoe mount allows for the flash to be added to any DSLR that has video mode and to portable cameras with a hot shoe mount. Considered the smallest constant light system available (in terms of luminosity), the iblazr with shoe mount package can be pre-ordered for $50 in plastic, $70 in aluminum, and $100 for both. Estimated delivery on the project is December 2013.
Crowdfunded smartwatch touts built-in 3G data connection, 5MP camera
Another smartwatch has taken crowdfunding platform Kickstarter by storm, beating its initial $100,000 funding request within its opening days. The Omate TrueSmart is billed as a "truly standalone water-resistant smartwatch" that is able to work independently of smartphones, thanks to its built-in 3G connection.
First cross-platform video messaging app released
Described as "the world's first video walkie-talkie," Runface's Vtalkie is a cross-platform video messaging app that offers free, unlimited chat, with no international SMS costs. Utilizing usernames, users can add friends and find others who are nearby. The app was launched for Android and Windows 8 platforms this week, and joins the existing version 2.1 for iOS. The iOS update offers increased video preview size, and bug fixes.
Ouya offers Kickstarter backers $13.37 credit as launch apology
Ouya is providing Kickstarter backers with store credit, after a number consoles were delivered to backers after it launched in retailers to the general public. E-mails sent to backers contain a redeemable code for $13.37 as an apology for the bungled launch, with the account credit usable to buy games or in-game content through the console's Discover store.
JOBS clip depicts inception of the Apple brand
A new clip from the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs, has been posted online. In the scene Jobs and Wozniak, played by Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad, are driving while debating names for their new company. Jobs rejects any names related to Star Trek, threatening to drive the car off the road, but then grasps onto the name Apple arguing that it is "the fruit of creation" and "comes before Atari in the phonebook." While obviously fictionalized, this depiction does pull information from both Wozniak's and Job's stories of how the Apple name came to be.
Bounty of $100,000 offered to Ouya game with highest pledge total
Crowdfunded game console Ouya is hoping to improve the quality and number of games on its service, by providing funds to developers raising money on Kickstarter. The new campaign will see Ouya matching funds raised through the crowdfunding platform, in exchange for a six-month exclusivity period for the console.
Cost of virtual reality headset could be offset by games, content
The CEO of Oculus hopes to offer its virtual reality headset to customers in the future as close to free as possible. Brendan Iribe suggests that the Kickstarter-backed Oculus Rift could end up being given to users at no charge in the distant future, with the possibility of games on the device eventually subsidizing the cost of the headset itself.
Jet Black Pebble on sale at first, others to follow after Kickstarter orders completed
The Pebble smartwatch will be hitting retail for the first time this weekend, allowing potential owners to pick up the device without waiting months for a pre-order to be fulfilled. The Kickstarter-funded watch will be appearing at Best Buy through an "exclusive retail launch partnership" with the retailer, with stores receiving stock of the watches for sale on Sunday, July 7.
OUYA meets retail target, disappoints hundred of early backers
Indy console OUYA has reached retail on time and has quickly sold out at Amazon UK. The Android-based game console, which first launched on Kickstarter to much fanfare, is also available at a number of other retailers including Best Buy, Target, Game (UK) and the OUYA online store. However, hundreds of early international backers have yet to receive their first-edition consoles despite promises that they would have them before the console hit retail stores.
Smartwatch able to communicate back to smartphones
Pebble, the smartwatch that started life on Kickstarter, has received an extra $15 million in funding. The additional funding from investors, on top of the $10.2 million received through its Kickstarter campaign, comes at the same time as the company updates its SDK to include two-way communication for third-party Pebble apps.
Backers will receive shipping notices for Ouya via e-mail
The Ouya game console has started shipping, with the first wave of shipments being sent today. The commencement of sending consoles to Kickstarter backers follows announcements that Game, a computer game retailer in the United Kingdom, has opened up pre-orders for the device, both in-store and through its website.
Pebble firmware update fixes showstopping bug
Kickstarter-funded smartwatch Pebble has received an update to fix a showstopping bug. The new 1.9.1 firmware came into being following reports received by Engadget of users finding their timepieces stopped working after shutting down, and is said to fix the issue. Customers with watches on older firmware that do not switch back on can request for a replacement through e-mail or the companion Pebble app.
Ouya CEO says she wants to see gaming come back to the television
Gaming on devices such as Apple's iPad and Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy S IV lacks the emotional impact of traditional console gaming, according to one gaming executive. Speaking at Engadget's Expand conference, Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman lamented the lack of depth in mobile games. The Android-powered Ouya console, Uhrman says, will bridge the gap between the accessibility of mobile gaming and the emotional depth made possible by traditional consoles.
Crowd-funded game console to ship on time
The Ouya game console will start shipping to its first non-developer customers on March 28. The Android-based console, funded through over $8.5 million in pledges on Kickstarter, will be shipping on-time to the first wave of backers, with the device expected to arrive in all customer mailboxes before the end of April.
Nokia starts Music+ subscription service in US for Lumia phones
Nokia has started up its Music+ subscription service in the United States, after launching in other territories in January. The subscription, costing $4 per month, expands on the existing free Mix Radio service on Lumia devices by offering an unlimited number of track skips for mixes, and allowing for downloads of multiple mixes. The audio quality is said to be eight times that of the free tier, and provides the option of allowing higher-quality streams to be played over a Wi-Fi connection compared to a lower quality over a mobile network.
Allows tracking, funding of Kickstarter projects
Crowd-funding service Kickstarter has launched its first iOS app, currently only for the iPhone and iPod touch. For the general public, the title lets users find new projects, track existing ones, and commit pledges. People can also watch project videos, and receive updates from friends.
Kickstarter game console gets support from Best Buy, Target
The Ouya game console will go on sale in stores, shortly after it ships to backers of it's Kickstarter drive. Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop and Target will be stocking the Android-powered console when it goes on sale to the general public in June, after orders on the Ouya website ship in April, and after the Kickstarter backers receive theirs in March.
Preview shots from an iOS or Android device
Photography is always a popular theme at the Macworld Expo, where Hyper brought its CameraMator wireless viewfinder for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. MacNN has taken a closer look at the Kickstarter-funded device, which enables users to preview snapshots or trigger the shutter from an iOS or Android device.
First 500 watches despatched, delayed over airport paperwork
The Pebble smartwatch has started shipping to Kickstarter backers, though less than initially estimated. The low shipment numbers problem is accompanied by news of a possible delay in the iOS app for the watch, limiting what actions backers will be able to perform on the device once they receive their orders.
Factory creating 15,000 Pebble watches per week
The Pebble smart watch will be shipping to backers on January 23rd. Company CEO Eric Migicovsky made the announcement at CES, adding that the e-paper timepiece will be shipping in batches, and is good news to Kickstarter backers that have waited for the wrist-based gadget, including through a number of production delays.
Dev version of console features transparent case, microUSB port
Developer editions of the Android-based, open-source gaming system called Ouya have shipped on time. People who pledged $700 to the extremely-successful Kickstarter campaign will be receiving a developer's edition of the console, as well as early access to the Ouya Development Kit, three months before mainstream editions will be sent to donors.
Revision of rules allows Lightning and 30-pin dock cables in same device
Apple today formally updated its specifications on the Lightning manufacturing licensing agreement that allegedly torpedoed a Kickstarter project. The company said it is now allowing the Lightning adapter found on the iPhone 5, iPad (fourth generation), and iPad mini to be used in conjunction with the older 30-pin dock cable on the same accessory.
Refunds for device offered by designer's own crowd funding site
A high-profile iOS charging accessory Kickstarter project has been cancelled by its inventor, even after raising well more than twice the requested funding. The POP Charger, designed by Edison Junior representative Jamie Siminoff, saw an update to the funding page for the first time in over a month. The update stated that the company would not be able to build and engineer the device, since Apple was not going to approve Lightning connectors in use in parallel with the now-outdated 30-pin connectors.
Rooted, first-run units to ship December 28
Ouya, the open-source, Android-based gaming system will apparently be shipping on time, with early supporters of the system's wildly successful Kickstarter campaign slated to receive the first units in late December. Supporters who pledged as little as $95 are still expected to receive their units in March of next year. Those that contributed more to Ouya's campaign, though, will get first-run, rooted developers' systems with early SDK access.
Claim by 3D Systems alleges patent infringement
A manufacturer of 3D printers is suing Formlabs and crowdfunding site Kickstarter for an alleged patent infringement. The suit claims that the Form 1 3D printer infringes on a US patent owned by 3D Systems relating to stereolithography, and comes less than a month after the printer finished its highly-successful Kickstarter funding drive.