Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Innovation City or Kickstarter is amazing....

I Love KickStarter

This week has been tremendous.  I find very little in the way of new software, hence the lack of writing for a while.  But a new website, actually one that is a few years old now, has caught my attention and raised my awareness about the ingenuity of people who continue to work in garages.  I have taken the time to join Kickstarter and support a few projects that have been offered.  The beauty of the site is that the crowd becomes the Angel Investor in a small company.  Usually the company has failed to attract the financing needed to go the extra yard.  To be honest, there are a lot of companies out there that are not ready for prime time.  Whether they are not ready or because they have an audience that is too narrow - so called niche players, the usual  Angel Investors - mainly from Silicon Valley - will not pay attention to them because the reward/risk ratio is too low.   This is where crowd sourcing comes in and where Kickstarter leads the way.

The way this works is that you invest as much as you can and if the investment hits one of the goals specified - which could be either a letter of thanks (usually a $1), a gift or the actual product itself - you receive a response from the inventor.  The one caveat is that the company has to make its goal otherwise no one gets anything.   And you, the investor lose no money.  Your credit card is not touched.  It's a relatively fool-proof way of garnering an investment and getting your company off the ground.

So, I became a crowd source Angel Investor in a Start up company, along with others.  It's really interesting to see, because the investing also applies for non techie stuff as well, such as movie makers, book and song writers who offer thanks in their credits.   You get to choose what you want to invest in.   Of course, there is some room for fraud, but a recent attempt at fraud was rooted out "by the crowd." Apparently, with crowd sourcing, the companies that are in tech at least have a track record of some type and people know and trust them from previous endeavors.  If something sounds fishy, there is a loud and cantankerous roar of disapproval in the comments section.  Remember, nothing gets paid to the seller/creator, until/unless the goal that was set from the onset of the offering is reached.

With that introduction, I want to tell you about a few products that I am absolutely crazy about:

1. The Pebble

Photo-littleFirst of all, I never thought that I would fall in love with something like this.  I hate watches.  I haven't worn one in over 10 years.  But this company appears to have made a watch that will deliver on the pr
omise of a changeable device that can make you keep your phone tucked away some where.

First of all, although The Pebble is a stand alone watch, its main functionality is its direct link to the iPhone (or Droid).  The functions can be programmed and the company is touting the ability for the watch to receive SMS messages via the phone.  Unfortunately, SMS messages are not allowed to be transferred to the watch from the iPhone, but will work with a Droid.  But I believe iMessages can.  So you can receive an SMS message, information on who is calling you, while being away from your phone.  There is no microphone, so the phone is basically using information gathered from itself and sending it via short distance by Bluetooth to the watch.

The downside is that the company will use Bluetooth 2.0 instead of 4.0.  Although the power consumption is lower with 4.0, the older Bluetooth will be used for the initial model, unless things change.  A full listing of things that the watch can do are listed below:



Apps bring Pebble to life. We're building some amazing apps for Pebble. Cyclists can use Pebble as a bike computer, accessing the GPS on your smartphone to display speed, distance and pace data. Runners get a similar set of data displayed on their wrist. Use the music control app to play, pause or skip tracks on your phone with the touch of a button. If you're a golfer, feel free to bring Pebble onto the course. We're working with Freecaddie to create a great golf rangefinder app for Pebble that works on over 25,000 courses world-wide. Instead of using yourphone, view your current distance to the green right on your wrist. These apps will be the first, with more in the works!


Pebble can change instantly, thanks to its brilliant, outdoor-readable electronic-paper (e-paper) display. We've designed tons of watchfaces already, with more coming every day. Choose your favourite watchfaces using Pebble's iPhone or Android app. Then as the day progresses, effortlessly switch to the one that matches your mood, activity or outfit.


If you need to stay on top of things, Pebble can help with vibrating notifications, messages and alerts. Dismiss a notification with a shake of your wrist. Don't worry, it's easy to disable all notifications.
  • Incoming Caller ID
  • Email (Gmail or any IMAP email account)
  • Calendar Alerts
  • Facebook Messages
  • Twitter
  • Weather Alerts
  • Silent vibrating alarm and timer
Android users can also receive Text Messages (SMS) on their Pebble. Unfortunately iPhone does not expose this data. Have any suggestions for other notification types? Leave us a message in the comments!


Want your watch to tell you when your next bus is leaving? Maybe you're jonesing to see your compile status or recent github commits.. Think push notifications, directly to your watch using the data connection on your phone. Want to check-in on your watch, or create an app that can monitor your sleep? Pebble can send data from the accelerometer and buttons back up to the internet.
Pebble can receive simple alerts and notifications from if this then that (ifttt.com) or our web-facing RESTful endpoint. More adventurous developers can use the Pebble SDK, with its Arduino-like abstractions and simple C structure, to gain full control of the watch. Multiple apps can run on Pebble, along side watchfaces and regular notifications.
  • Load apps using Bluetooth 
  • 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
  • Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
  • 4 buttons
  • Vibrating motor
  • 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection
  • Distribute apps via Pebble watchapp store
Detailed SDK specs are available on our Pebble Dev Blog. 

2. The Slingshot

This was my second buy.  I think that I laughed this one off for a long time until I watched the video of the device.  The Slingshot is essentially an iPhone bracket that can be used to stabilize your videos as you take them.  I though that this was tacky, until I saw the other uses for the device.  These included various flexibility options to make the Slingshot bend in different shapes for difficult shots; disconnecting the handle portion of the device enabling the bracketed iphone to install upon a standard Tripod - That was the deal maker for me!

You have to see the video for this, particularly if you feel that this is a bit of a joke, as I did initially.  In addition, I could not believe the price --- $14, including shipping and handling.  I've seen worse, offering less for more!  I couldn't help but donate $14 to the project.  Charles Waugh, the founder of the company is quite a character as well.   I'll write a review on this when it arrives this summer.


Pop over to Kickstarter to see all of the fun:

The Slingshot http://kck.st/H7NbML
The Pebble http://kck.st/HumIV5



  1. They just hit the $10 million dollar mark, a record for any Kickstarter project. Congratulations on getting yours. I bought one today also. Very exciting time.

  2. You have provided an awesome site.
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  3. Thanks for the update. I purchased mine about two weeks in. Looking forward to it.


I will be trying unmoderated comments for a while. If this gets ridiculous, then I will have to move to moderating the comments once again.