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Ampy and Juse


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.


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.

Ritot projection watch


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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As predicted, Carbon wristwatch solar panel smaller than originally indicated


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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Smarty Ring runs second fundraiser. Allows backers to pay more for confusing upgrade.


Strangely, the Smarty Ring that we covered a few weeks ago showed up again on Indiegogo last week with an entirely new funding page.  We’ve seen copycat projects before, but this time the copycat page is actually from the original founders.

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Angel announces four month delay


Perhaps not too surprisingly, the incredibly sophisticated Angel wristband that we covered a few months ago has unapologetically pushed its delivery date back from mid-April to mid-August nearly doubling the waiting period backers were promised in November. The team has apparently made some strides in other areas however as they promise to deliver their first SDK by March 28 and have also completed what they claim is a fully featured development prototype.

More details in their announcement.

The Fin ring


Headlining on Indiegogo right now is the Fin wearable bluetooth ring. While it may not keep you up to date on your messages like some other ring projects we’ve looked at, the Fin aims to be a super lightweight and unobtrusive user input device for any number of bluetooth gadgets.  It took some work to figure out how it works, but even with that information, one wonders if they will really be able to deliver the performance and user experience they’re advertising.

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Atlas Fitness Tracker doesn’t understand what an endorsement is

Just noticed something on the Atlas Fitness Tracker campaign.  It’s a textbook example of a crowdfunding project mistaking a quote for an endorsement.

atlas quote

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Skulpt Aim


You should buy a Skulpt Aim because “you can’t improve what you can’t measure.” Or so they say.

But do they measure something worth improving? They claim to record body fat percentage but cite no evidence their method is accurate (or that it even works). They claim to measure muscle quality – a metric they appear to have invented – but don’t bother to define the scale.

We’re expected to watch their parade of very fit half-naked models and take their word.

That said, while it may be snake oil, it’s not necessarily a scam. The technology behind Skulpt has been used in numerous peer-reviewed studies to assess disease-induced changes in muscle composition, including several projects by Skulpt’s co-founder Dr. Seward Rutkove, Professor of Neurology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

So let’s play along, shall we? What exactly does Skulpt Aim measure?

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