If you needed more evidence that hardware is a “thing” again, a peek into last week’s DigitalFocus show in New York might convince you.
Digital showcase organizer Pepcom hosts such technology events every season, giving electronics makers a chance to impress analysts and the media. Gadgets that have already been around the block turn up at these things, but a few novel devices also come through. The slideshow above features a few of the devices that caught my eye at last week’s show.
More and more toys seem to be about creating and controlling new devices. TinkerBots are pieces and blocks that connect together in whatever shape the user can devise. Then the bot can be “taught” how to move around. TinkerBots have what its maker, Berlin-based Kinematics, calls a “power brain” built in that learns to repeat movements shown by physically twisting or rotating the different parts. An app can also be used to remotely control TinkerBots via Bluetooth signal. Passive building blocks such as Lego bricks can be snapped onto TinkerBots.
TinkerBots can work with Arduino open-sourcemicrocontrollers, but does not require any programming by the user. “You can code [Tinkerbots] but you don’t have to,” said Matthais Bürger, CEO of Kinematics.
Just last week, Kinematics launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for TinkerBots—and has already exceeded its goal with some 40 days still on the clock.
Fans of the show “Shark Tank” may recognize a connected device from Santa Monica, CA’s DoorBot. With a built-in camera, the DoorBot lets homeowners use their smartphones or tablets to see who is visiting. The device connects to homeowners’ Wi-Fi networks, and in turn allows mobile devices with the app to link up with DoorBot. When someone rings the bell, the homeowner can see a live video stream of the visitor and speak to them with two-way audio through their mobile device.
DoorBot can be combined with Apigy’s forthcoming Lockitron, a device that lets homeowners use smartphones to lock and unlock the door it is attached to.
From afar, iGrow looks like some sort of protective gear from the future. Taking a look inside, though, reveals an array of red lights, low-level lasers and LED diodes, designed to help regrow hair. The device is designed to be used at home, in 25-minute sessions every other day.
While lasers have been used for sometime as a means of hair removal, Apira Science’s iGrow uses a different wavelength that the company claims will stimulate hair follicles. The helmet is also equipped with headphones so the user can listen to tunes while sitting for treatments. Apira Science in Boca Raton states results should appear within six months. But the company says the device cannot restore hair if there are no live follicles left to stimulate. Sorry, Mr. Clean.