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Summary:

The incubator’s second class of companies once again was heavily focused on connected devices, from a digital picture frame to a “smart button” that can trigger any action on a mobile device.

Photo by Signe Brewster.
photo: Signe Brewster

Highway1‘s second-ever class of hardware startups presented 12 devices today at the incubator’s spring demo day, ranging from children’s toys to an easily customizable robot.

The class continued to cement the incubator’s focus on hardware augmented by connectivity and making it easier and faster than ever for its companies to bring a device to market. Connected bike lock maker Skylock and smart cooking scale Drop also made an appearance, showing off the latest version of the devices they developed during their time in Highway1’s inaugural startup class. Cue also showed off its home health testing kit.

Pacific Coast Highway CEO Liam Casey. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Pacific Coast Highway CEO Liam Casey. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Here is a look at the 12 devices that debuted at the demo day:

Podo

Podo sticks to surfaces with suction. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Podo sticks to surfaces with suction. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Whether we admit it or not, a lot of us have been there: Stretching our arm out as far as we can to fit a bunch of people into a group selfie shot. Podo is a Triscuit-size camera that uses suction to stick to walls and other surfaces, giving users an exterior camera that they can still control from their mobile device.

“What you capture is up to your imagination and not the length of your arm,” president Eddie Lee said.

Podo can capture photos or video and be programmed to automatically snap images say, every minute during an event. It will launch on Kickstarter next month for $59.

Sensilk

The Sensilk sports bra. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Sensilk sports bra. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Sensors are now small enough to be woven directly into fabric, and Sensilk is taking advantage of their miniaturization to produce a line of connected clothing that can monitor their wearer’s heart rate and other vitals. Head of product design Karen Kaushansky pitched the product wearing the startup’s sports bra, which she noted was clocking her heart rate at 106 due to her stage jitters. Sensilk also plans to make a men’s athletic shirt before branching into other clothing types.

Wink Labs

A working prototype and design prototype of the smart picture frame. Photo by Signe Brewster.

A working prototype and design prototype of the smart picture frame. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Digital picture frames have been around for a while, but Wink Labs believes the companies behind them have been going about it all wrong. Wink’s frame is thinner than an iPad air and has an internet connection. It does not need to be connected to a computer to add photos; instead, the owner and friends can add images wirelessly via a mobile app. Someone with the app could take a picture of their child and then send it to their parents frame and have it automatically appear, CEO Brian Gannon explained.

“If we do our job right, this will become less like a frame and more like a communication device,” Gannon said.

Sugarcube

Sugarcube CEO Sri Gogineni. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Sugarcube CEO Sri Gogineni with a Sugarcube device. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Sugarcube is out to solve a universal, constant problem: connecting two devices. For everyone who has ever struggled to connect five different types of laptops to a projector, Sugarcube is for you.

The palm-sized device plugs into any electronics unit and then can connect to phones, tablets and computers via Wi-Fi, allowing you to stream content.

Modbot

The Modbot with a camera attached. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Modbot with a camera attached. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Google recently bought a group of robotics companies, and among them was Bot & Dolly, which creates robotic arms used in the film and creative industries. Modbot presented a robotic arm that resembled Bot & Dolly’s system on a smaller scale, with a twist: You can totally disassemble the parts and rebuild them into a robot that takes a totally different form.

Robots can be designed in Modbot’s software and programmed from mobile devices once built. The robot on display had a camera at the end of its arm, and spun and stretched to position the camera at different angles.

Switch Embassy

Switch Embassy's smart textiles can display artistic lights or even text messages. Gif by Signe Brewster.

Switch Embassy’s smart textiles can display artistic lights or even text messages. Gif by Signe Brewster.

Switch creates foldable and washable electronic textiles that can be made into shirts, bags and other clothing items. CEO Alison Lewis showed off a connected purse at the demo day that flashed different designs and could even receive and display text messages.

She added that the textiles’ connectivity opens up unusual chances for clothing to interact with its surroundings. For example, imagine watching the World Cup and having your shirt light up every time your favorite team scores.

Construkts

Construkts blocks snap together with magnets. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Construkts blocks snap together with magnets. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Construkts grew out of a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant, which allowed CEO Pamela Jennings and her team to develop connected blocks that interact with a computer. During the demo, a software program showcased a completed puzzle. As the blocks were put together to mimic the shape of the puzzle, the screen showed their shape in real time.

The blocks can be used to strengthen cognition and reasoning in children or for rehabilitation.

Shortcut Labs

The Flic wireless button. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Flic wireless button. Photo by Signe Brewster.

What do you use your phone for most often? Mapping how to get home? Calling a friend? Shortcut Lab‘s Flic is a physical button that can instantly execute a task, such as opening up Google Maps and launching the navigator. On stage, CCO Pranav Kosuri used Flic to start playing his favorite song on a mobile device. It was, of course, “Push the Button” by The Chemical Brothers.

Lumo Play

The Lumoplay projector. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Lumoplay projector. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Lumo Play already makes interactive games for children that are projected on floors and walls, but CEO Meghan Athavale said the company disliked that parents had to still go out and buy complex projector equipment. They decided to build the Lumo projector, and are also working on software that allows children to create their own games and landscapes.

PalateHome

A steak cooks on a prototype of the Palate Precision Grill. Photo by Signe Brewster.

A steak cooks on a prototype of the Palate Precision Grill. Photo by Signe Brewster.

It’s not everyday that a steak gets grilled on stage, but it happened today. PalateHome set out to take the guesswork out of cooking on a hot surface and settled on a grill that applies exactly the right amount of heat for exactly the right amount of time at exactly the right time.

The Palate Precision Grill will retail for less than $400 and is controlled from a mobile app that includes recipes and ways to customize directions to whatever is being cooked.

Keyboardio

The Keyboardio keyboard is split in two and has keys in columns. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Keyboardio keyboard is split in two and has keys in columns. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Keyboardio already has quite the following online among people who hate the keyboard options out there. The near-final version of the board sports a split butterfly shape, plus keys in columns instead of staggered rows to create the ultimate typing experience. CTO Jesse Vincent described it as a labor of love, driven by the team’s own dissatisfaction with keyboards.

The keyboard is open source and Arduino compatible, which means users can customize it however they want.

Sigsense

The Sigsense device has a modular head that allows different tools to be switched in. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Sigsense device has a modular head that allows different tools to be switched in. Photo by Signe Brewster.

A Sigsense co-founder recently had the pipes inspected in a house he planned to buy and noticed the absurd amount of equipment the technician needed for the job. After the technician worked his way through $70,000 worth of tools, each with their own very specific purpose, it then took two weeks for the results to be shipped out (on CD-ROMs).

The Sigsense looks a lot like existing sensing equipment, but its head is modular. Different tools can be switched in for different purposes. It’s also connected, allowing users to view a livestream of data on their phone before taking a snapshot. Data is automatically tagged with relevant information and uploaded to the cloud.

  1. Waiting to get my hands on a Keyboardio… I hope near final prototype means the wait isn’t going to be too much longer. :)

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    1. Jesse Vincent Thursday, June 19, 2014

      Heya Burs, Jesse from Keyboardio here.

      We’re doing everything we can to get them to you as fast as we can. We’ve made a ton of progress in the past few months at Highway1. Our next step is what’s called “DFM” — Design for manufacturing. We’ll be working to figure out how to make the keyboard easy to produce (and repair). After that, crowdfunding!

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