Drop Kicker Mop Up – 03 January 2014



It’s time for another installment in our occasional “Mop Up” series, a review of crowdfunding news that caught our interest. In this issue:

  • Project Aire – An overambitious smartphone
  • Magnoplug – A safer power cord
  • myLIFTER – A BLE-enabled lifting device
  • Bluetooth LED Dog Collar – You have to respect descriptive product names
  • Bringrr – A Bluetooth Low Energy location tag
  • OpenBCI – EEG for the people
  • No More Woof – Read your dog’s mind

Project Aire

In our previous Mop Up, we expressed concern that Project Aire was promising a $245 smartphone with custom OS and custom hardware by March 2014 with only $5k in capital. It all seemed a bit fanciful. Then, suddenly, Project Aire was gone:




“Magnoplug is an extension cable with a magnetic safety break.” A damn good idea – one can imagine how useful Apple’s MagSafe connector (US Patent 7311526) would be for extension cords, lamps, and the like.

Unfortunately, Apple is infamously litigious (their little tiff with Samsung is just one example), and they unarguably own exclusive rights to the MagSafe technology. Magnoplug claims to have consulted a patent agent, but even if they’re in the right, could they really survive a challenge from Apple?



myLIFTER is a “smart” lifting device that you can control with your smartphone, though it comes with a separate remote if your phone is one of the many that does not support Bluetooth Low Energy.

I wish more campaigns would dedicate the bulk of their video to clips of their prototype working as designed. It’s not without risk – $50k is not much money to spin up manufacturing at scale – but the level of polish up to this point inspires confidence.

Bluetooth LED Dog Collar


A dog collar with four LEDs! It’s a cute idea, but it looks to be the creators’ first significant project and one worries they may be getting in over their heads.


The creators are are promising to ship in April and have not described a plan to scale up production if and when they get funded. Then again, perhaps the bigger worry is my pup chewing through the electronics and eating the battery…



Another BLE location tag dohicky – it literally does everything Lapa and a host of similar devices claims to do. As far as I can tell, its only distinguishing feature is that it’s taken the “dropped e” naming convention to a whole new level.



OpenBCI is an open source 8-channel EEG platform. It’s Arduino-compatible, which will be welcome news to many hobbyists, and their campaign video features a very convincing, no-bullshit demonstration of their prototype.

I hope this campaign succeeds – I look forward to seeing what the DIY-crowd can do with accessible brain-computer interface technology.

No More Woof

The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (excuse me, N2rdic S0ciety for Invent1on and Discov3ry) is converting canine EEG measurements into spoken language interpretations of mental state. So far, they can detect “I’m tired”, “I’m excited”, and “I’m hungry,” mental states I could never have decoded otherwise.

At least they are very clear that you’re not buying a finished product.



{ 3 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. Umm, everyone knows Apple’s “magsafe” patent is crap. My 20 year old Sunbeam kitchen fryer had a magnetically attached power cord well before the idea was even a wet spot in Jobs’ boxers.

  2. I have an old desktop lamp from former Yugoslavia. It also has magic magnetic cord thad disconnects itself if you trip on it. I think it 40+ years old lamp. We all know what Apple does 🙂

  3. I’m not a lawyer by any means so the following might be full of errors, nor am I a fan of Apple’s magsafe patent either but keep in mind that the patent itself cites patents going back to 1939 (as well as several in the 1970’s) and does the usual “…for a computer” (kind of like the good old “foo” …”on computers”) thing that I suspect makes it work. Defeating this patent (if possible) is going to take a lot more than some prior art due to the way the US patent system works. I suspect that it would be better to show that there’s nothing novel about it or to find that the application had technical/legal errors that shoot down some claims, rendering the remaining ones useless or easy to work around. I’m not sure that magnoplug is going to be able to do that but they might be able to cite Apple’s patent and then be different enough that they can make their own claims.

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