Kickstarter Spotlight: iPhone camera kit, heart rate monitor, and iPhone keyboard
[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 a high-end iPhone camera kit, a strapless heat rate monitor, and an iPhone keyboard case.
Specialty add-on lenses for the iPhone aren’t a particularly novel concept, but the 3RDi camera kit for iPhone 4/4S (funding through August 19) aims to offer a complete package that’s suitable for high-end needs.
The full kit (which will retail for “more than $230”) includes a case, a detachable flip cover/screen protector, wide-angle and fisheye lenses, and what the company claims are the world’s first “uniquely dedicated” circular polarizer and neutral density filters for an iPhone.
There’s also a lens grip that snaps onto the case for increased stability and one-handed operation. It also holds all of the kit’s lenses and filters and offers cold shoe and tripod mounts. (A basic kits leaves out the fisheye lens and ND filter.)
The promo video is slick, and the company behind the kit—Knight Vision Studio—specializes in high-end optics and camera accessories. Co-founder Ethan Knight is a professional documentary and commercial photographer, so the expertise seems to be there. However, Knight Vision is asking for a rather steep $150,000 in funding, and was less than five percent of the way to that goal as of press time with 22 days to go, so it may be a bumpy road on the way to a planned mid-November ship date.—Jonathan Seff
Any personal trainer will tell you that the absolute best way to gauge your athletic performance is by measuring your heart rate. Traditionally, getting an accurate heart rate while working out involves wearing a strap around your chest. This is not exactly the most comfortable experience, especially if you are running long distances. Say hello to the Alpha strapless heart rate watch (funding through August 9), a completely hands-free, strap-free heart rate fitness watch.
Project head Liz Dickinson made some made some pretty cool strapless heart rate watches a few years ago, but they required you to place a finger on the watch to measure your rate. The Alpha goes one step beyond and uses a precise light sensor to detect your heart rate while you exercise—no uncomfortable straps or finger tapping required.
As of Friday, the Alpha has more than doubled its funding goal of $100,000, but if the company raises $250,000, it plans to offer a second color choice beyond just the standard gray. And at $500,000, the company promises to build heart rate apps for Android and iOS. Perhaps the most intriguing goal, however, is FitBit integration if funding reaches $800,000. FitBit fitness monitors record calories burned, steps traveled and stairs climbed. I can see many athletes using both fitness tools so integration between the two is huge.
The Alpha is an ingenious idea, but compatibility with other fitness tools already available, like the FitBit, will make it even stronger.—Ginny Mies
From the moment the iPhone was announced, some users have bemoaned the lack of a physical keyboard on which to type. For those who’ve still not gotten over it, I present the Spike keyboard and protective case for iPhone (funding through August 11).
The Spike keyboard is integrated into an iPhone case, and measures less than 1/4-inch thick. Using its proprietary TypeSmart keyboard technology, SoloMatrix has come up with an add-on keyboard that requires no plugs, Bluetooth connection, or power source. It simply sits atop the on-screen keyboard (in portrait orientation) and lets you type on physical keys, even while wearing gloves.
SoloMatrix has designed three models. The Spike1 ($35) is a two-piece case with a hinged keyboard on the botom section that you can swing to the side when you want to access the entire screen, or you can detach the lower section, turn it around it, and reattach it with the keyboard in the back when you really don’t need it. The Spike2 (estimated at $60) offers the same keyboard, but in a design that lets you rotate and stow the keyboard flush in the back of the case when not in use. Both wil be available in black or white. The Limited Edition Spike3 will feature an all aluminum design in Neutron Gray and KickStarter Green, and includes custom engraving on the back.
Father and son team Cody and Robert Solomon have lots of experience in keyboard design and manufacturing, and the project has passed its goal with more than 1000 backers and two weeks still to go. Considering all of those factors, the September delivery estimate sounds reasonable enough.—Jonathan Seff