Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sensor Mania! TechCrunch Disrupt Hardware Day!

Taking advantage of Sensor Mania! – the exploding wireless internet of things – TechCrunch Disrupt featured a special Hardware day on September 12, 2012 at its annual conference held in San Francisco, CA. 29 companies in a wide range of areas presented their hardware products, as 26 had at a similarly successful event in New York in May 2012. If underwhelming in ‘new new thing’ innovation, the startups at least appeared commercializable for the most part. Perhaps the biggest similarity in the eclectic mix was the high number of Kickstarter projects (the new alpha customer sales and financing platform).

The biggest interesting category of startups was biosensors, including a consumer EEG company (InteraXon), a sports sensor training program (GolfSense), an integrated biosensor platform for personalized pain management delivering the equivalent of white noise stimulus to nerve endings (Thimble Bioelectronics (integrating the Somaxis muscle sensor)), and a pedometer watch and social gaming fitness app for kids (Sqord).

Another interesting category of startups was internet-of-things companies. Ninja Blocks (‘the API for atoms’) was providing a standard offering of an internet-enabled console block plus five home sensor units (with distance, temperature, motion, camera, etc. sensor capabilities) for $200. Similarly, knut was providing a small, battery powered, Wi-Fi enabled sensor hub for real-time monitoring in the home environment for $80.

Figure 1: Electric Skateboard from Boosted Boards

The other companies were a mix including electric skateboards (Boosted Boards as shown in Figure 1), kitchen products (sous vide cooking (Nomiku) and high-end coffee brewing (Blossom Coffee)), standing desks, flashlights 2.0 (HexBright), rear-view cycling camera unit (Cerevellum), iPad kiosks (Lilitab), and the expected photo, audio (Vers), and gaming-related apps.

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