Calm, cruel and connected: August’s best and worst of IoT

Crowdfunding is a noisy, cruel and crowded place, particularly in hardware where some ideas soar to great fruition and others bomb abysmally. There there’s those that leverage a decent amount of support but are hampered by long delays. Many of those funded struggle to scale and bring their creations to market in a timely manner, leaving the crowdfunders impatient and frustrated.

But it’s worth remembering that crowdfunding is an egalitarian market place with a few gems and a few products that are just so bizarre they blow my mind, particularly in the IoT space.

So take a look at these:

 

Mine Kafon Drone

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With the proliferation of air strikes and chemical warfare, it would be easy to think of land mines as a problem of another era. Yet every day at least 10 people around the world lose their life or limb to a landmine or another explosive remnant of war with over 60 countries around the world  contaminated by landmines. Pokemon Go players in Bosnia have even been warned to avoid certain areas which may be home to unexploded mines.

Up until now, traditional de-mining systems have been operated by humans or animals and are costly and slow, not to mention dangerous. The Mine Kafon Drone (MKD) flies over dangerous areas to map, detect and detonate landmines from a safe distance. The drone works autonomously equipped with three separate interchangeable robotic extensions.

These three methodologies combined makes the MKD up to 20 times faster than traditional de-mining technologies. As well as being safer, it also up to 200 times cheaper. MKD has several working prototypes which have been tested extensively, including tests in conjunction with the Dutch Ministry of Defense. This project is a fantastic example of IoT technology being used to solve a critical problem.

Verdict: HUGE Hit

Super Brain II

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The trend of wearables to aid sleep have been matched by those that aim to help us focus our busy minds when undertaking important work. Super Brain II claims to act as an alternative to “costly smart drugs,” a problem compounded, according to the product’s creator:

 “…because smart drugs are too expensive in some countries, the issue has been raised that students from wealthy families have an advantage over students from ordinary households in achieving good grades.”

Super Brain Ⅱ is a brain wave focused device that utilizes a magnetic headband. The creators claim it stimulates the creation of alpha, SMR, theta and delta waves by altering the frequency of magnetic fields. It’s based on the findings of Dr Robert O. Becker, anti-EMF (electro magnetic field) activist, researcher and surgeon. The creators appear particularly encouraged by his research on cats that found they react significantly to magnetic influence.

I struggled through the promo video so you don’t have to — a true act of endurance, thanks to the creepy background muzak that plays on a loop and the audio voiceover that fails to sync with the presenter’s mouth movements. The rather unfortunate 70’s-looking wearable headband is not helped by the people dancing in the meadows whilst wearing it in the video.

Transcranial Magnet Stimulation has been used since 2008 to treat  serious, pervasive conditions like chronic pain, pharmaceutical resistant depression, fibromyalgia, OCD, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia. It however relies on ongoing treatment under the management of a health professional. While there is nothing intrinsically dangerous with Super Brain II’s low voltage device, there is no compelling argument as to its efficacy considering devices in a medical setting rely on large machinery to be able to get through the skin and skull of the brain.

The product previously sort funding as “Super Brain I” but according to the creators, it was suspended as they send too many messages that were “considered spam.”

Verdict: Miss 

Omega 2

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Omega 2 is a Linux computer designed specifically for building connected hardware applications. It combines the tiny form factor and power efficiency of the Arduino with the power and flexibilities of the Raspberry Pi. Sure there are a plethora of tiny computers floating around, but at this kind of price, even if you never end up using it yourself, having it sit in a prominent place in your office just might inspire someone else to create something awesome.

Verdict: Hit

VylyV

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You may recall I reviewed a wearable product called Elvie last month designed to provide exercise therapy for women with pelvic floor dysfunction. Well, gender doesn’t always discriminate, now there’s a connected pair of shorts that’s designed to exercise male kegel muscles with the aim of boosting the wearer’s “manhood.” The founder Michael Wales, claims he hit on the idea after trying 20 penis enlargement devices (yes, 20). We writers love a story and this is one of the best bios I’ve read:

“Founder Michael, an avid gym-goer and men’s health enthusiast, always believed that ‘bigger is better.’ After trying over 20 penis enlargement devices, he realized in 2014 that pelvic floor exercises are the best approach to boost manhood…”

The shorts come with some tall claims including their ability to “entrench the hardness and glow with powerful ejaculations” and “unlock the mysterious quest for the most wanted experience of multiple orgasms.” They are equipped with sensors and a wireless tracker and there’s a companion app where the player can train the character “DerpBut” to run away from “HemorrhED.”

You can even buy two or more pairs of shorts, enabling you to train your, um, manhood, with your friends.

All puns and joking aside, exercising one’s kegel muscles is a good thing. But the requirement for a special pair of shorts seems rather extraneous.

Verdict: Miss

COWAROBOT R1

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Regular travelers know the pain of lugging around a wheelie suitcase. It can not only leave you with a stiff shoulder or wrenched arm but also the pain of longing for a hands free experience. Enter a robotic suitcase that utilizes a camera sensor and Bluetooth to follow its owner on their journey. The Cowarobot moves at a speed of 4.5 mph and is equipped for 12.5 miles of walking before needing a charge. It comes with a keyless locking function, can charge your devices and is equipped to dodge obstacles in its path.

Its price is a not unreasonable $400 and it’s easy to predict such suitcases becoming cheaper as they gain traction in the marketplace. If it only came with silent wheels to avoid a 4 a.m. wakeup thanks to noisy travelers walking on cobblestoned streets, it could be a huge hit.

Verdict: Hit

Kiss Phone

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With the abundant range of projects one could run a crowdfunding campaign for, it’s bizarre to see one that has been tried but failed. It’s been a while since I wrote about the Kissenger, a connected device to send a kiss to someone far away. However the idea hasn’t gone away, with an idea by another for a few device, the Kiss Phone described as “a great challenging idea which could reform the world or at least move the behavior of people to a more colorized direction.”

To be fair, if you’re the kind of person who likes to enter a project from its earliest days, then this could be one for you follow. With the trends in robotics and haptic technology, who knows how we’ll show affection in the future?!

Verdict: Miss

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