Ampy and Juse

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Since man first learned to harness and use the electron, there has been a constant struggle to find new and more efficient ways to generate electric power.  The Greeks rubbed animal hides against amber (as they called it  ἤλεκτρον or ēlektron) while much later, European scientists devised the electrostatic generator and Leyden jar.  While these discoveries and technologies are elegant exploitations of the laws of physics (and great for entry-level electrical science courses), they were ultimately too inefficient to provide any real benefit to society.

As a result, we typically generate electricity by spinning the wheel of an electromagnetic generator whether it be by burning coal, damming a river, or digging a very deep hole in the ground.  We have also made major efficiency gains in our use of this power.  LED bulbs use less power than incandescents, and today’s smartphones can perform calculations millions of times faster than yesterday’s vacuum tubes using a fraction of the energy.

Some recent efforts have tried to combine these two themes by taking what was once a wasteful byproduct and turning it into an energy source making an entire process more efficient.  Hybrid and electric vehicles use regenerative braking where a car’s kinetic energy is captured and converted back into electric energy during stops, and in some gasoline cars, a turbocharger will use exhaust to compress the air going to the engine causing it to deliver more power more efficiently.

There are always a trade-offs though.  The methods used to capture waste energy are usually highly inefficient, so you need to seek out a large source of waste to make it worthwhile.  Sure, your breathing could be used to spin a turbine and a bodybuilder could be hooked to a generator instead of a weight machine, but the amount of energy created these ways compared to the cost and complexity associated with capturing that energy make them ultimately useless.

So let’s talk about Ampy and Juse.

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Indiegogo conducts brief survey on trustworthiness

If you log into Indiegogo today, you might notice a small survey pop up in the bottom left corner of your browser window.

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With campaigns as troubled as Ritot, Smarty Ring, and TellSpec, one wonders if Indiegogo is starting to feel like it’s garnered a reputation as a hotbed for scams.  Features like Flex Funding and the new Forever Funding show that they are doing everything they can to facilitate money changing hands which sets them apart from their competitors who are at least occasionally stepping in when problems arise.  Seems like the place to go if you want to run an additional fundraiser for no reason or copy another campaign entirely.

Let’s hope the results of this survey bring about some changes in Indiegogo policy.

Scribble Pen beta program persists despite double-shutdown

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If you’ve been following this blog, you already know all about the Scribble Pen project which has been ejected from two different crowd funding platforms for providing misleading information about their level of progress on their pen that can supposedly write in any color.

During their second funding attempt, the team opened a volunteer beta tester program.  The obvious question is how they could offer beta test units when they had no evidence of a working functional prototype in the first place, but that was far from the most confusing part of their campaign.

Now, months after shutting down and moving to “private investment“, the team has sprung back to life offering their beta testers access to test units for free! (with a $15 shipping fee).

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Scribble Pen shut down…again

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Thanks for playing folks.  I think this is the final nail in the coffin of the Scribble Campaign.  It’s not very likely that they’ll find another crowdfunding platform that will accept them.

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Scribble Pen video more deceiving than originally thought

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Minutes after the Scribble Pen campaign relaunched on CrowdTilt, the associated video went private and was then removed for over an hour before a replacement appeared without comment from the team.  We originally didn’t think much of it after the numerous missed deadlines and mysterious omissions from the project, but new information provided by a hawk-eyed backer reveals that the video has more to it than just crappy camera cuts.

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Unable to produce a better video, Scribble ditches Kickstarter entirely for Crowdtilt

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After a bizarre decision to completely shut down their Kickstarter campaign rather than simply produce a better product video, the team behind the Scribble Pen went virtually radio silent for over a week despite repeatedly broken promises to relaunch their campaign.  They finally broke that silence today revealing some unsettling changes to their project.

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Ritot projection watch

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Author’s note: Portions of the research for this project were provided by reader K.  Thank you for your help.

Every few weeks, we see another crowd funded campaign trying to revolutionize the way we look at our wrists to see the time.  While most of these products aim to add new features to a standard watch, Ritot claims that they can display the time in a whole new way.  Not content to look at the simple display of virtually every watch ever made, Ritot is trying to take it a step further with a watch that projects the time on the back of the hand.

Presumably, using the back of a hand provides a larger “screen” for displaying the time and other information, but anyone who’s tried to read a PowerPoint slide in a sunny conference room can think of at least a dozen problems with this solution.  Instead of providing demonstrations of their unique solution, all Ritot has managed to produce is misleading graphics and shady details about their level of progress.  This is one campaign where I wish I had a chance to dive in earlier, but with just three days left in the campaign, it’s better late than never.

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Color changing pen raises doubts, Kickstarter actually steps in

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The long anticipated Scribble Pen finally launched this week to immense if very short-lived success.  The project became wildly popular back in June when they first announced their product to the tech media, but several delays prevented them from launching their fundraising campaign until Monday this week.

The team’s marketing efforts paid off though as the pen, which allows users to scan colors off objects and then reproduce them in ink, reached its $100,000 goal in just a few hours.

Unfortunately, this magical ink/pigment mixing pen raised a few concerns among backers (this author included), and the comments section of the project quickly became filled with requests for a better demonstration of the pen’s capabilities.  The project’s video contained just two short clips of the pen drawing which many believed didn’t demonstrate the main feature of the pen which is the ability to change colors quickly.  Concerns were largely over how long it took the pen to change color and how much ink was wasted in the process. Continue reading →

As predicted, Carbon wristwatch solar panel smaller than originally indicated

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In a backers only update this week, the team at Carbon released drawings showing some more details on their proposed solar panel design.  As you may recall, the team’s solar powered wristwatch had a solar panel barely large enough, at its best, to charge a 650mAh battery in 8 hours.  We brought up concerns that creating a hole for the requisite watch movement to poke through the panel would require the panel to be split into a number of smaller panels as it’s impossible (or at least very hard) to drill a hole in a monocrystaline solar panel.  This would reduce the effective size of the panel due to the gaps between the sections drawing into question the original 8 hour charge time spec.

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SmartyRing ditches LEDs for e-paper display

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