Kickstarter Spotlight: Android keyboard, iPad stand/case, and iPhone Bluetooth grip
[Kickstarter is changing the way tech products get made, but it's hard to tell which projects are worth backing. For every sure-fire hit, there are dozens of flawed ideas and inexperienced teams. Our Kickstarter Spotlight series highlights a few projects worth checking out, and gives you an idea how they might turn out.]
In this installment of Kickstarter Spotlight, we take a look at an Android-powered smart keyboard, a multi-position iPad case/stand, and an iPhone case with Bluetooth-triggered grip for taking videos and pictures.
The Grip & Shoot Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone is a cool idea for anyone who uses an iPhone 4/4S to shoot video. You put the iPhone in the Shooter case, connect the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Grip to it, and then use the grip in conjunction with the iOS app to trigger video or photo capture (as well as activate the iPhone’s digital zoom). The grip itself is threaded for mounting on a tripod.
There’s also a separate tripod mount that you can use to secure the iPhone to many standard accessories (or you can use it as a standalone unit), and then use the Bluetooth 4.0 grip to trigger remote capture from up to 100 feet away.
Because the grip is BLE (a feature of the Bluetooth 4.0 spec) the inventors say the grip has enough power from a single small battery for up to 10,000 grip clicks. —Jonathan Seff
The Grip & Shoot is the endeavor of what appears to be a father and son engineer team, Robert and Ben Zajeski, with their own manufacturing company. Their experience and working prototype give the product a good fighting chance, but the relatively lofty backing goal of $275,000 could prevent the Grip & Shoot from seeing the light of day.
A solution in search of a problem, the Wingz Hybrid-Keyboard stuffs a high-res display and Android operating system into the middle of a Bluetooth keyboard. The rationale is simple: tablets and phones are great, but typing on touchscreens is a chore and always will be. So this device will sync with your tablet or phone via Bluetooth, or work as a basic keyboard on a computer via USB plug.
Why build in a CPU, touchscreen, Android, and apps? A justification is never really given. Running custom apps seems like a neat idea, but if the whole point is to type on a tablet or smartphone, wouldn’t you rather just run apps on that? Nobody’s going to pull out their keyboard to post check Twitter. Embedding a touchscreen and processor capable of running Android just drives up cost and drains the battery faster.
It seems like it would make a lot more sense to simply have a spot where you can dock your phone, and iOS/Android/WP7/Blackberry apps to run on a synced phone or tablet to do handle key remapping features and the like.
Creator David Prokop has a long history with Microsoft Research. He can probably build the thing, but the odds of it being a great product aren't very high. A wireless keyboard that duplicates the functions of the tablet or phone you're using it with, and only lasts for 6-8 hours on a charge? No thanks! —Jason Cross
There are a million iPad cases on the market, and I’m sure there are a million more in development. What makes the FlipSteady for iPad case stand worth our attention is that it’s designed to provide a sturdy platform for interacting with your iPad at a number of different angles—in both landscape and portrait mode to boot—and looks like it can deliver on that promise.
The FlipSteady is a combo flip cover and stand with laser-cut aluminum panels laminated between ultrasuede and polyurethane fabric. It looks incredibly useful for those who like to use the iPad in a variety of different situations, from FaceTame chats to typing to reading.
The FlipSteady Grip is the basic version, while the Pro models includes magnets both for locking/unlocking the iPad when you open the cover, and for attaching the case to a metal surface such as the front of a refrigerator.
The case/stand was designed by Isaiah Coberly, an industrial designer and 3D modeler, who appears to have the chops to bring this product to market. And judging by how quickly the project has blown past its funding requirements, it looks equally promising. —Jonathan Seff