In this regular series, we’re sharing the hottest gadgets and tech startups you can find on Kickstarter. In previous installments we’ve brought to you the tiny camera that lets you photograph the universe and everything that’s in it, and the underwater drone that live streams from the depths of the ocean. Continuing to bring you the latest awesome stuff from Kickstarter, all of these are looking to make your life easier when you’re not contemplating Orion’s Belt or submerged in the Mariana Trench.  We’ve got for you a wireless curtain device, a smartwatch to keep the hacker in your life happy, and a keyboard for laptop-phobes. Let’s do this! 

SwitchBot Curtains: smartening up your curtains

In short, the SwitchBot:

  • Works with 99% of curtains
  • Is controlled via app
  • Is compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and Siri
  • Possible to set unlimited schedules
  • Home automation with IFTTT/SwitchBot Scene

Plenty of companies have launched products aimed at getting you out of bed in the morning, and SwitchBot has come up with a neat way of bringing natural sunlight into the mix. This motor attaches to your curtains and pulls them open or closed based on your commands, meaning you can have your curtains pulled open to flood in the morning sunshine and close them automatically as you climb into bed. You can even set your curtains to close when the afternoon sun hits your windows, keeping your space cool and reducing the need for air-conditioning.

SwitchBot. Image credit: Kickstarter

There’s no difficult installation needed; you just connect the gizmo to your curtains and your phone’s app to the gizmo and your away. The app means you can tell Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri to adjust your curtains and they’ll duly oblige. Your phone isn’t the only way of pulling the strings; you can give your drapes a tug by hand and SwitchBot will finish the job of opening or closing them for you. Also included is a Bluetooth button remote so you don’t need your phone to activate things from a distance.

Want to get one for your window dressings? The lowest pledge on the Kickstarter campaign was for $49, but that’s all been filled. But never fear, you can still pledge $69 for the kit which is still a 30% reduction from the planned retail price. SwitchBot aims to get shipping by next April if all things go as planned. 

Your pledge will get you:

  • A SwitchBot Curtain
  • 2 Pairs of Hooks
SwitchBot. Image credit: Kickstarter

Bangle.js: hack away at your wrist

A quick rundown of the Bangle.js:

  • Blockly-based, easy to code and debug wirelessly using JavaScript or graphical editor
  • Held together with four screws
  • IP68 waterproof for up to 10m underwater
  • 40kB RAM to store programs and variables
  • Heart rate monitor included
  • Hand gesture enabled

Smartwatch fans know the best game in town is with the Apple Watch and other WearOS devices. However, there’s a new player on the block, in the shape of Bangle.js; a hackable smartwatch kitted out with an open source OS. 

The hardware inside the Bangle.js is all off the shelf, including an NRF52832 processor, a 3-axis compass, an accelerometer, GPS, a heart rate monitor, Bluetooth LE, and more. By using a simple API written in Javascript, the developers have kept things sleek and accessible, and although the device is nicely compact it’s easy to pop it open for quick fixes or any replacements that may be needed. Even if you’re a novice at the coding game, you can use programs like Blockly or Node-RED to customize this tech. There’s even a Bluetooth App Store created by Espruino where developers can send their creations to be shared. 

This project has been made with experimentation in mind, with NearForm also demoing their Clinic.js project that allows the smartwatch to help doctors in the diagnostics process. They claim that the Bangle.js “has the potential to kickstart a community-based health platform where anyone can build or use any compatible device and everyone owns their own data.”

Shipping on the watches is expected from March 2020 and those lucky enough to have got in early grabbed the beta version for $142. Now, the lowest tier pledge of $61 dollars gets you:

  • A Bangle.js 
  • Choose the color of 9 pixels on Bangle.js’s About Us page
  • Starter instructions
Bangle.js. Image credit: Kickstarter

NuType: Rethinking how to use your laptop

NuType in brief:

  • Key switches are 42% shorter than the standard keys
  • Works perfectly with MacBooks and Surfaces
  • Can still use Touch Bar, Touch ID and F keys
  • Pairs with up to 3 devices with Bluetooth
  • Elegant looking case included

Unhappy with the current tying experience on laptops, Hard Cider LabsNuPhy division has come up with a mechanical keyboard that’s a perfect fit with Apple’s MacBooks and Microsoft’s Surfaces. 

The mechanical keyboard from NuType has been designed to fit snug over your current keyboard; it’s got a solid bottom connection and is compact and easily portable. To get technical for a moment, the switches – the things that transmit the pressure from your fingers into the computer – are made by Kaihua Choc and are 42% smaller than the standard ones, giving a lovely tactile feel when typing whilst also keeping your keys nice and quiet. The design has a 64 key layout and still lets you access your computer’s trackpad, Touch ID, Touch Bar, and the function keys.

There’s a lovely looking case to carry your new piece of kit in and it’s compatible with a host of laptops, including

  • Apple MacBook
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro (USB-C series)
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Surface Book
  • Surface Laptop
  • Android devices

The crowdfunding stage of the project kicked off on November 11th and you can still get in there with a pledge of $90 to secure yourself a:

  • NuType F1 keyboard
  • SmartCase for your NuType F1
  • USB-C to USB-C Cable (0.13m)
  • USB-A to USB-C Cable (2m)
NuType. Image credit: Kickstarter

That’s our top picks of what’s new and exciting on Kickstarter at the moment. The site is full of quirky and innovative stuff so there’s plenty of surprises coming your way. Make sure you follow us for updates so you can check out the coolest tech gadgets featuring on Kickstarter. See you soon!