5 Asian IoT crowdfunding campaigns you should support now (Geektime (Israel))

Imagine. You are sitting in a quaint coffee joint one fine afternoon, the sun warm on your face, sipping Earl Grey. After setting the gramophone’s stylus to an Ella Fitzgerald record, you begin work on your Steinbeck-esque novel.

There is just one problem – the year is 2015, not 1940. Your medium of writing is an incongruous typewriter that your great-grandfather used to hammer out war reports in the trenches of France, not a sleek laptop with a foldable screen.

“My words will inspire millions to take up pipe smoking.”

After taking a casual Instagram selfie with the hashtag #afternoondelights, you start to contemplate, “What if there was a way to mesh old world technology with the new? What if I can help more people experience the wondrous joys of writing on a typewriter by allowing it to connect to Tumblr or Facebook?

Well, now you can! Thanks to crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, the hitherto dreams of many are now not just lofty aspirations, but within the absurdist realm of the startup universe. Hurray to the power of the people and down with the corporate bigwigs!

Crowdfunding is a culture, country, race, sex, class-agnostic platform. Within Asia, there are many who are using it to fund anything — from films to proprietary tech services or products.

Here are five Asian IoT startups that we think you could put your money behind.

(Disclaimer: We are not responsible if the campaign goes up in a puff of smoke.)

1.  HAZ: The world’s 1st motorized smart equipment – Taiwan

Umbrellas have been around since the time of Christ and their purpose hasn’t evolved since then. An umbrella shields you from the rain and more importantly helps to ignite romantic sparks between you and your date.

Your umbrella might pop open at the push of a button, but does it close all the way too? Created by Taipei-based HAZ Digital Inc, the HAZ Umbrella claims to be the world’s first motorized umbrella. With the aid of the integrated precision motor and a Li-ion battery, this umbrella opens, closes, and retracts the canopy with the push of a single button. On a single charge, it can open and close 150 times and on standby, it can last up to six months.

It helps you to locate your umbrella by connecting it via Bluetooth to your smartphone with the HAZ Umbrella app. In addition, the app notifies you of the weather forecast and reminds you to take your umbrella if rain is expected.

It’s almost like a surrogate mother

Currently, its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has only a day left. It has already surpassed its funding goal by 25 per cent – putting it at US$18,687.

Why you should fund it

Tired of fumbling around with the umbrella, trying to open it, especially with strong winds blowing against you? This nifty IoT device might be the cure to your woes, although, it doesn’t give any assurance on its durability and strength.

Plus, think of how awesome you would look when you walk down the streets and coolly open your brolly without breaking a step (wear a tuxedo and shades for added effect) when it starts pouring.

It also gives you the option to fully customize your umbrella. You can choose to buy a car charger, engrave your initials, or create a customized canopy printing.

No word on whether you can affix a deadly toxin to the tip to take out your foes…yet.

Naturally, this techie brolly comes with a fairly hefty price tag – $69.

Unless you are living in a land that is experiencing a heavy drought, this premium product might be a suitable complement to your designer bag, sunglasses and whatnot.

2.  SFIT: Fitness and skin care advisor – South Korea

There are heaps of health IoT devices in the market – such as the FitBit or Xiaomi band – that allow you to keep track of your exercise, eating, and even sleeping habits. Who needs a gym or fitness instructor when you can practically monitor almost every facet of your health 24/7 with these inexpensive devices?

Now Seoul-based GPower wants to put skincare consultants out of a job with its SFIT device and band. The device’s UV and skin-moisture sensor allows you to monitor the health of your skin through Bio-Impedance measurement technology, which analyzes the water and oil content of the skin by measuring the flow of a micro current through the tissue.

Its ability to provide precise measurements of moisture level on the outermost layer, the skin, allows users to hydrate or moisturize at the right intervals through real-time feedback via SFIT’s smartphone app.

The app will also alert you if the UV rays are high, reducing your chances of becoming another unwitting victim of the sun god’s wrath. Likewise, it can alert you to get your bum off the couch and go outside for a good dose of vitamin D. The app even allows you to select the tanning color to achieve your desired skin tone.

Why you should fund it

The waterproof SFIT device is small and is ‘modelled like a surf board to reflect the free spirit of those long summer days at the beach.’ Being lightweight and tiny also means it can be attached anywhere, such as a bracelet, a hip necklace, or shoe, allowing you to bring out the surfer dude (or dudette) in you.

For professionals who are chained to a computer, a little prodding and reminder with the help of such a device could go a long way in improving your overall health.

Besides skincare, the SFIT app also functions as a workout companion, measuring the workout distance and calculates the calories burnt.

SFIT is actually GPower’s second iteration of its skincare wearables; its first product is called SKINPET.

Currently the SFIT device costs $79, $99 gets you both the device and a silicone version of the band, and $119 provides you with the leather version.

Its Indiegogo campaign closed $12,479 shy of its goal of $30,000. We wish the company the best.

3.  Saent: Be less distracted – Hong Kong

Being in a highly-connected work environment, we are constantly bombarded with alerts from social media or email. It’s tough to be free from distractions when everything is begging for your attention.

Hong Kong-based Saent seeks to be an antidote to those annoyances. With its minimalist design, the Saent device serves to provide one very important function – to send a signal out to everyone that you will eviscerate them if they disturb you now.

The device has only one button and connects to your computer via Bluetooth. By pressing it, it locks you into the app or websites that are applicable to your job and blocks out unnecessary apps such as social networking sites (unless you need it). It sends out pop up reminders if you attempt to access these unproductive sites.

Very soon, it will also become your overlord

It also helps you optimize your work habits by recommending breaks and work sessions, which it adjusts based on analysis of previous work sessions.

Why you should fund it

The benefits of achieving a highly productive day is immeasurable, and it costs only $39. Focusing on one task at hand can lead to a higher quality work output.

If you are afraid of being stressed about not attending to other potentially critical tasks during a work session, it also sends out a report afterwards that alerts you on what you have missed out.

Saent’s Indiegogo campaign has raised $51,321 so far, achieving 102 per cent of its funding goal.

4.  LIVALL: The first smart and safe cycling helmets – China

Bicycle helmets are a piece of essential equipment for all cyclists and can make all the difference on whether you become a vegetable or come off relatively unscathed after an accident.

The LIVALL Bling Helmet is taking it to a whole new level and implementing smart technology that is almost reminiscent of Iron Man (although it has no plans to remotely fire off heat-seeking missiles).

Housing a Windbreak Mic, 3-axis G-sensor, Bluetooth speaker and LEDs on the top and back of the helmet and operated through an app, it helps you to answer or make phone calls and communicate with other cyclists. Text messages sent to the cyclists will also be converted into voice messages, allowing you to always maintain your grip on the handle.

Now you can exercise while breaking up with your girl/boyfriend over the phone

Its built-in Bluetooth speakers enable you to listen to songs that matches your riding speed, although it may be a hindrance if it becomes a distraction and you end up crashing into some unsuspecting pedestrian.

One very neat function is its 3-axis G-sensor: it can help to send out distress signals if you fall or collapse while cycling alone.

By measuring a sudden change in gravity acceleration, the helmet switches on its emergency signals and sends out an SOS to your emergency contacts automatically.

The helmet also features LED lights that help drivers or pedestrians notice you at night and even allows you to indicate which direction you are cycling with its LIVALL Bling Jet function.

Why you should fund it

For any cycling enthusiast, it gives you so many functions that it would not be too preliminary to say that, in the future, such smart helmets will become the norm among the community and may even drive people to take up cycling.

Of note, it also has a device called the Nano Cadence Sensor that attaches itself to the bike’s crankset hole, allowing you to monitor your cycling habits and calculate the calories burnt via the same LIVALL Riding App.

It’s no surprise that its Indiegogo campaign is already at 764 per cent of its goal, amounting US$152,941 with 16 days left on the calendar!

5.  Accutension: Smartphone-enabled blood pressure kit – China

High blood pressure is a global illness; an estimated 40 per cent of the  world’s population suffers from it and relies on automatic blood pressure monitors (BPM) to monitor blood pressure.

According to Accutension, these are not very accurate and reliable. In fact, the discrepancy in readings between different monitors can be as high as 40 per cent, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result, cases of misdiagnosis are not uncommon.

What do you do then? File a lawsuit? Take the BPM monitor out to an open field and bludgeon it with a baseball bat? Not the most healthy option if you are suffering from high blood pressure.

Luckily, Accutension may have the solution to end all solutions. It claims to provide the first truly accurate blood pressure kit for home use.

How? Through the use of listening (auscultating) to the sound of blood flow – similar to how a doctor would do it – as opposed to basing off algorithms on a traditional BPM.

Accutension works with a traditional sphygmomanometer or an automatic BPM or as an independent blood pressure kit with its own cuff. By attaching the tube of the stethoscope to the microphone jack of your smartphone, the Accutension app can record the blood flow sounds, visualise them and provide an analysis.

Other purposes include being a substitute for a stress ball

You can also use Accutension to check the accuracy of your automatic BPM or pressure sensor with its Classic kit.

By attaching its pressure sensor module to the upper arm of a BPM, Accutension is able to make comparisons with its stetho and verify readings with the app. Likewise, by attaching the pressure sensor module with a conventional gauge, you can also check the accuracy of its pressure.

Accutension also offers a full blood pressure kit if you purchase its cuff and hand pump option.

Why you should fund it

If your health is paramount to you, then US$59 should be easy to part with for a stress-free (at this point, it should be your only concern) blood pressure measuring option.

The campaign is now currently at 121 per cent of its funding goal which amounts to US$12,098. And there’s still 17 days left on the calendar.

This post was originally published on e27

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