Author's Archive

Four Japanese Startups Visit Me At The Bates Motel During SXSW 2015

exiii Operating out of Room #4 at the Bates Motel at SXSW 2015 (this is another story), I got the opportunity to interview a few fascinating startups that traveled from Tokyo to Austin, TX over the weekend to show their hardware-based concepts. During a rapid-fire demo session, I was able to see eight different startups and four really struck me as doing some novel work. Read More

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Jay Donovan

March 18th

Gadgets

Metaio’s Thermal Touch Gets A Little Bit Smaller At MWC 2015

metaioThermal1 We first reported on Metaio’s Thermal Touch concept for Augmented Reality (AR) interface control last spring. Still in its infancy, the concept relies on thermal imaging cameras to track residual heat your body leaves on surfaces that it touches and uses those heat signatures to control AR interfaces. The next concept version demoing this week at the Mobile World Congress is now… Read More

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Jay Donovan

March 2nd

Gadgets

Mobile

This Entrepreneur Quit His Day Job To Make A Little Rubber Thing For Your Headphones

Spoolee A cursory search under “headphone management” will bring up virtually hundreds of products. Spoolee’s novel contribution to the category is a twig adrift in an ocean of competition. This seems like a small and unusual product for us to cover but there are three things that make this product stand out and that are worth mentioning: Read More

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Jay Donovan

January 24th

Gadgets

Metaio’s Thermal Touch And The Future Of Augmented Reality User Interfaces

Metaio is demoing a new possible future in the evolutionary path for input control of wearable computing devices and it should be no surprise that Augmented Reality plays a role. There is a known UI problem with which many software and hardware makers have grappled: What is the best way to interact with the HUD (heads up display) and to control it, for example, if you are looking at a… Read More

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Jay Donovan

May 22nd

Gadgets

Metaio’s Thermal Touch And The Future Of Augmented Reality User Interfaces

Metaio is demoing a new possible future in the evolutionary path for input control of wearable computing devices and it should be no surprise that Augmented Reality plays a role. There is a known UI problem with which many software and hardware makers have grappled: What is the best way to interact with the HUD (heads up display) and to control it, for example, if you are looking at a… Read More

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Jay Donovan

May 22nd

Gadgets

Correlated Magnetics Research Brings MaxField Polymagnets To A Wall Near You

We first told you about Correlated Magnetics Research's programmable magnets last year. The company's patented technology allows them to flexibly control the magnetic field shape of the magnets they create. In essence, the company can program the north/south polarity of the magnets as though they are "printing" it on them. It allows for many different configurations and has many industrial… Read More

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Jay Donovan

April 1st

Gadgets

The Eye Tribe’s Strategy Is Larger Than Their $99 Eye Tracking Hardware Unit

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Jay Donovan

September 13th

Gadgets

The Eye Tribe’s Strategy Is Larger Than Their $99 Eye Tracking Hardware Unit

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Jay Donovan

September 13th

Gadgets

Like Us Network, A Pacemaker, Mark Cuban, And A Vending Machine: A Mobile Payments Journey

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Jay Donovan

September 11th

Gadgets

Mobile

The FitBark Pet Activity Monitor Is A Reasonable Device For Pet Owners

FitBark

I don’t want to awaken the ire of any committed pet owners — because I think you can do whatever you want with your pets (and your money) — but I would be lying if I said I didn’t cringe a little bit when I hear about extreme pet products and services like doggie treadmills, pet psychiatrists or pet fitness centers and the like.

In a quick conversation behind the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, an unofficial, unscientific, non-statistically sound poll indicated that “if you don’t have time to walk your dog and need to outsource that to a health club…maybe you just shouldn’t have a dog.”

I concur with those results.

Still, I came across FitBark on the floor of the Hardware Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 and while it could, at first, seem “extreme” I found that after talking to these guys and hearing their explanation, their little device actually seems pretty reasonable.

What is the FitBark? From a technological standpoint, it is a wearable accelerometer that you put on your dog’s collar to monitor their activity. In most ways the product is very similar to products like the Nike Fuel + Band or the FitBit, however the strategy behind it — and this is the reasonable part — is quite different.

FitBark is not designed to be a performance indicator or weight loss utility or competitive device for animals. Instead, it’s just an activity monitor so loving pet owners can make sure their dogs are getting enough activity.

How it works is that, as the dog moves about, their activity is captured and stored on the device (up to three weeks of data can be stored).

Whenever the FitBark comes into the proximity of the owners iPhone’s or optional homebase unit — via Bluetooth 4 or Wi-Fi — the data is transferred off of the FitBark, passed through the FitBark app on the iPhone and transferred up to the cloud where that data is stored.

The historical data can then be visualized on any of the iOS devices that are allowed to view the data. In this way, dog owners can have real-time info about the pet’s activity.

Another hint that the FitBark is reasonable is their one-time pricing model. There are no ongoing monthly service fees or memberships required. You buy the hardware device upfront ($99 from their Kickstarter page), and you get the data it produces for free. I”’m guessing they have worked their data hosting costs into the hardware price.

In this way, it really seems like a tool for care and not a stingy racket for recurring fees.

I’m not sure this is a product I myself would ever use, as I tend to think dogs are evolutionarily equipped to survive living in what James Brown would call “a man’s world.” However I can see how loving, caring and yes, reasonable pet owners might like to see this data about their dogs. Because of that, the FitBark seems like a useful piece of hardware.


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Jay Donovan

May 1st

Gadgets
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