Tapping into the power of the Android crowd

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a few items showing up in my inbox that are announcing crowdfunding campaigns for future potential Android products, rather than press releases for finished products that are due to launch.

More and more these days, people with ideas are testing the water by heading to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Previously, taking a product to market the old-school way meant raising a bunch of capital from investors and then producing the product itself before actually knowing whether or not the buyers would be there. With crowdfunding, the products will only go into production after a certain number of potential buyers say “hey, I’d buy that!”.

Of course, crowdfunding isn’t just about bringing together the people who’d be interested in the final product, but also about raising profile. Recently we saw an exception to the typical crowdfunding storyline when the Quasar IV failed to raise enough money in crowdfunding but went to production anyhow when it caught the eye of a larger corporation willing to invest. But that’s probably still the exception; most crowdfunded projects will still sink or swim based on interest from the public.

Recently I’ve seen two new products of special interest.

The first is a product called Vybe, which has already met its crowdfunding target and is scheduled to go into production in winter 2013/2014.

For Vybe, the concept is simple enough: it’s a bracelet that you pair with your smartphone, which vibrates every time you have an incoming message or phone call. While that seems a bit simplistic, it’s worth asking yourself how many phone calls or messages you’ve missed because your phone wasn’t in your pocket, or because you were involved in a situation where your phone’s ring or vibration wasn’t readily apparent. (I’ve missed plenty of calls in the car, for example.)

Pricing for the Vybe starts at US$39, which includes the Vybe plus one wristband in the colour of your choice. If you’re feeling fashionable you can spend US$49 to get the Vybe with three different colours of strap, or US$74.50 for the Vybe and all seven colours.

It’s worth noting that, unlike the multi-function Cookoo watch (which features two-way communication with your smartphone), the Vybe is simply a notification system, and the lower pricing reflects that.

The second crowdfunding project I spotted recently was for Ottawa-based Nuvyyo, which is launching the Tablo, a product designed to give you HDTV, no matter where you are.

Tablo is an alternative for those who are paying a bunch of money each month to cable companies, but who live in markets where HDTV is available for free over the airwaves. It provides PVR functionality for over-the-air HDTV programming, and then dishes it up either to a television set or to an app on your smartphone or tablet.

The Tablo will connect to your antenna (for the HDTV signal) and a hard drive (to save all of your content). Then, you can control it from your tablet or smartphone to play it back on the television, or directly on your mobile device. A slick interface on the mobile app should make navigation a breeze.

Unlike the Vybe, the Tablo is still waiting to hit its crowdfunding target, which means if you want to see an over-the-air HDTV PVR that works with your Android device, you may want to head over to the Indiegogo site and check out the various levels of support.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthershttp://www.globalhermit.com
Sean Carruthers is a freelance writer, video producer and host based in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he was a Senior Producer at butterscotch.com, where he was responsible for the conception, writing, production and editing of a number of web video shows, including Lab Rats, How Do I?, Status Update, The Noob, and more.

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