Aberford is a video game that is currently on Kickstarter. At the time I am writing this blog, it has 26 days to go. Aberford takes place in the 1950’s and all of the player characters are female.
The game was created by Sketchy Panda Games. Aberford is described as a graphic adventure game with brawler-style combat. Personally, I like video games give players a lot of zombies to fight against. It’s awesome that all of the player characters are female. I can’t think of any other video game like that.
Almost all of the player characters are post-WII suburban housewives who live in the town of Aberford. (One character is a teenager, and another is unmarried). So, what we have in this game is a wealth of diverse female characters who are ready and willing to fight and kill zombies.
The player characters you see in the video are Peggy and Betty. Peggy is a professional girl’s-baseball-player-turned-unhappy-housewife. Betty is a former Army nurse who is “the master of everything a 50’s housewife should be”. Other characters, who are not shown in the video, include Doris, who worked as a riveter and lost her job after the war ended. Sylvia is a former scientist (and mother of two children).
Sketchy Panda Games also has some expansion characters These characters play important roles in the main story and are playable in freeplay/multiplayer mode. Some of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter involve the creation of full side campaigns for the expansion characters.
There are four expansion characters. Norma is the manager of Ms. Butler’s Boarding House for Girls and Young Women. She fought in WWII before transitioning and is taking experimental anti-androgen. Mary is a third-generation Japanese-American who spent her teenage years in a wartime internment camp. Mary is not married.
Sixteen-year-old Patricia is a cheerleader and the daughter of Doris. Alejandra, who speaks very little English, fell in love with a Mormon missionary in Mexico and married him after she completed her degree in mathematics. This couple has just moved in to Aberford.
Friendship bracelets have been a popular item for girls for decades. When I was a kid, I spent time carefully braiding embroidery floss so I could give the finished friendship bracelets to my BFFs.
Today’s girls can enjoy the modern version of the friendship bracelet. It’s called Jewelbots, and its Kickstarter campaign has 27 days to go.
Jewelbots do more than let the whole class know that you have a best friend. They can actually teach girls to code! Out of the box, the Jewelbots can flash or buzz when it detects that friends are nearby, and it can be used to send secret messages to those friends.
Girls that want more from their Jewelbot can make that happen by learning how to code. Jewelbots are open source and can do anything a girl imagines it doing – so long as she figures out how to code it.
The bracelets come in ten different colors. The Jewelbot fits onto a bracelet. It looks like a cute flower design. The Jewelbot needs to be paired with a phone via Bluetooth in order for it to work. That same app can be used to modify the behavior of their Jewelbot. The app is free and compatible for both Android and iOS.
To start with, a girl can choose to make her Jewelbot light up, vibrate, or do both. She can choose if the light should flash, pulse, or spiral. Once she figures that out, she can use what she learned to have her Jewelbot do more things. Some suggestions include: indicating when she has a like on Instagram, or a message on Facebook, to send SMS, to get a weather update, or even to notify her parents about something.
The coolest thing about Jewelbots is that it gets girls interested in basic engineering logic and lets her collaborate about it with her friends. These friendship bracelets can inspire girls to get into STEM fields (at an age when many girls start dropping out of STEM).
The Apple Watch ranges in price from $349 to $12,000 depending on which model you want and what kind of band you select. One would assume that people would want to protect this rather expensive smartwatch. There is currently a Kickstarter for the SAGO cover – a protective shell that fits over the Apple Watch and prevents it from damage due to impacts and scratches.
As is typical on Kickstarter, the SAGO cover will only be funded if at least $32,400 is pledged by the deadline (May 24, 2015). At the time I am writing this blog, a total of $340 has been pledged. It has 24 days to goal.
The SAGO cover comes in four colors: Blanc De Blanc (white), Glacier Grey (grey), Bermuda (green) and Hot Coral (red). Each color comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm. The cover can be placed on the Apple Watch while the user is wearing it. There is a space in the cover that will accommodate the watch band.
The SAGO cover protects the digital crown, the touch display, the secondary input, and the heart rate sensor/charging contact (that is located on the back of the Apple Watch). Put the SAGO cover on the Apple Watch one way, and it covers the buttons that are on the side of the watch. Users that prefer to have those buttons accessible can flip the SAGO cover over so that the buttons are on the open side of the cover. It appears that people will need to remove the SAGO cover in order to view the display on the Apple Watch.
Some of the Kickstarter rewards for the SAGO cover include a microfiber pouch. It gives additional protection to the Apple Watch when it is put into a bag or purse and not being worn. The microfiber pouch can also be used to clean an Apple Watch.
Any seasoned watcher of Indiegogo and Kickstarter will know that there’s a fairly standard formula for product pitches, from the vocal inflections to the disembodied hands. This gives a great opportunity for lampooning those start-ups that take themselves entirely too seriously. Here’s Introducing Carrot, a new venture dedicating to bringing the orange root vegetable to the technorati. Not sure why they didn’t go with Carrt….
If that’s not enough, Ikea’s BookBook, is both a fabulous parody while promoting a real product. Total genius, though it has been around for a little while.
Finally, Mike Frey‘s My Life Vs…GoPro is a great antidote to GoPro’s videos, jumpcutting between their adrenaline-fuelled action and mundane reality.
A key point is that the creator of a project has a legal obligation to the people who back the project on Kickstarter. Unsatisfied backers can potentially take legal action against a creator who raised funds but never produced the product. This isn’t new, it is simply being pointed out in an extremely clear way.
They are also going to be held accountable in other ways. Creators who are unable to complete their project must post an update that explains what work has been completed, how the funds were used, and what prevents them from finishing the project as planned. Other requirements include being able to demonstrate that they used the funds appropriately and that they made every reasonable effort to complete the project on time. This would be helpful in situations where a person had something tragic and unexpected happen that prevented them from finishing the project.
My Ouya finally came late yesterday afternoon. First a little background from me, I am not a gamer, I have no hand to eye coordination so I am not very good, but I enjoy playing them. I have been without a gaming console for a couple of years now and I miss not having one. I had thought about buying a Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3 but I couldn’t bring my self to pay $400 to $500 on a console that I knew was going to be replaced in a short time. When I heard all the noise about the new gaming console that was a Kickstarter project called Ouya I became intrigued. So, at the beginning of April after the Kickstarter project had become successful I preordered one. The email I received from Ouya stated that I would not receive the console until June, which was fine with me. I was aware how Kickstarter worked. However I have to admit when yesterday rolled around and I started seeing articles that the Ouya would be available for purchase at places like Amazon, Best Buy, Target and more I was a little upset that I hadn’t received mine yet. I was therefor very happy when my husband came in with it, saying it had been thrown in the bushes.
The Ouya comes in a small box about the size of a shoe box but slightly narrower. In the box you get the console, one controller, a power cable, a HDMI cable and a brief instruction book. The Ouya console itself is quite small. It is only three inches by three inches by three inches and is square with a rounded front. The console is made of plastic, but feels fairly solid and heavy for it size. There is a fan on one end and the power button on the other end. On the back there is a HDMI port, a power input, an ethernet input and a USB input. I was actually pleasantly surprised that a HDMI cable came with the console, although it is fairly short. The controller, which is bigger then the console does feels cheap. You can tell that it was made from a mold. The buttons on the controller are placed similar to how the Xbox controller is set up. Because it is so large and I have small hands (although normal I think for a women) it does feel a little awkward to me.
The setup went fairly smoothly after and initial hiccup. Because the Ouya is black I didn’t see the power button on the front, so when I first plugged the Ouya in and connected it to my monitor and nothing happened I was quite upset. I even tried a different outlet and still nothing. I was getting ready to send it back, when I took a closer look at it and noticed the indentation on the front face and when I pushed it the power came on. A simple red line around it to indicate power would have been appreciated. That problem solved the rest of the set up went fairly quickly and without a hitch. It does take some time since it has to be updated with the latest firmware. During the setup process you do have to provide a credit card number so you will need to have one available. Once setup is done you have to pair the controller. I had no problem with that once I figured out that the batteries went into the wings of the controllers. I have noticed also that the controller loses its pairing with the console occasionally. Not when playing a game but when I restart the console I will sometimes will have to reconnect the controller to it. Once you fire the Ouya up the first screen you will see is the management screen on it there is an option to play the games you have already chosen, discover new games, make a new games (if you are a developer) and manage your account, and the system.
Most of the games you will find on the Ouya are not ones you will recognize, unless you play a lot of independent games. However there are some that will feel familiar to you even if the names are different. There is one called Polarity which is a lot like Portal and another one called Puddle which reminds me of World of Goo my iPad. There were a some games I did recognize like Final Fantasy III, You Don’t Know Jack and Canabalt. I played a little bit of a couple of games, including Polarity and Puddle and everything seemed to work fine. The reaction time between when I pushed the button on the controller and the movement on the screen was a little slow, but not terrible. If this had been a $500 machine I would have said it was pretty bad, but for $99.00 it is fine. That is the one thing I would tell anyone who buys a Ouya to remember is that this console only cost you $99.00 and if you compare it to an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3 you will be highly disappointed. However if you remember that it is a $99.00 console I think you will have a lot of fun playing the games that are available on it. You may even find some independent games that you really like. Overall despite the few problems, so far I am happy I purchased the Ouya. If you are looking for a gaming console you can play on your TV and it will not break the bank, then the Ouya is worth a look.
HAPILABS has created a specialized fork that can help people to monitor their eating habits, and potentially lose weight as a result. It is called HAPIfork, and it has a Kickstarter that will gather funding until June 1, 2013.
Those who cannot wait to get their hands on the HAPIfork have the option of pledging $89.00 (or more) to the Kickstarter in order to get their very own “smart fork” for $10.00 off the regular price. HAPILABS will begin shipping those out in September of 2013.
The HAPIfork monitors and keeps track of your eating habits. It pays attention to “fork servings”, which is described as “every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth” (with the HAPIfork). It will note how long it took for you to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” you took per minute, and the interval of time between each “fork serving”.
The data is then uploaded via USB to your Online Dashboard, so you can track your progress. Each HAPIfork comes with the HAPILABS app and a coaching program that will help you improve your eating behavior. There is a HAPILABS mobile app for Android and Windows mobile that will keep track of health, fitness, sleep, relaxation, and physical activities. Data can be loaded to the app via Bluetooth.
Eat too quickly, and the HAPIfork will vibrate to let you know that you need to slow down. It is subtle, and I think most people would prefer that type of notification instead of a loud sound or a flashing light that would instantly attract the attention of everyone else in the room. When your meal is over, you can wash HAPIfork either in the sink or the dishwasher.
The primary concept is to encourage people to eat more slowly in order to avoid digestive problems, weight gain, and post-operative complications. This amusingly named “smart fork” sounds like an interesting device to use if you are hoping to lose some weight.
It’s not often that technology is so new that it’s only a few hours old but in this interview, Andy McCaskey chats to UrbanHello about their Kickstarter launch for their Home Phone.
The Home Phone is a DECT-based cordless speakerphone designed for family group conversations where everyone can take part. The 360 degree HD speaker produces great natural sound and not only is the Home Phone functional, it looks modern and stylish. The coloured part at the bottom of the phone comes in a range of interchangeable colours to either match or contrast the interior decor.
Don’t take my word for it, the Home Phone took Design and Engineering Honors at CES 2013 and it’s 27% funded with about ten days to go.
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There’s a pretty good chance that if you are a 40+ British geek, the mere mention of “Elite” will roll back the years to hours of gameplay in front of a BBC Model B, flying a wireframe starship around an almost limitless universe. Trading, fighting, arms-dealing, slavery, whatever it took to get respect and the coveted Elite status. Even now, I still feel a small hint of pride in my own Elite achievement, over 20 years later.
Created by David Braben and Ian Bell, Elite was the first 3D game and eeked every last ounce of performance from 8 bit processors and 32 KB of RAM, even less once the OS had taken its share. There were tricks such as making all the objects in the universe concave, which significantly reduced several calculations in techniques such as hidden line removal and despite being largely only in monochrome, it was totally amazing for its day.
The successor to Elite, “Frontier”, never gained the same traction as the original Elite. In some ways it was too big and just wasn’t as immediate as the original Elite.
Returning to the original ethos of Elite, David Braben has launched a Kickstarter campaign for “Elite: Dangerous” to raise £1.25 million ($2 million) for the development of a new game in the canon, aiming for delivery in March 2014. Elite: Dangerous will be a multi-player game in a massive universe and initially the game will be for the PC, but other platforms will be looked at.
As usual, there are various funding levels, but £20 gets you a copy of the game plus the opportunity to reserve your commander’s name. But if you were looking to get lunch with David Braben at £5000, I’m afraid that all five slots have already been taken.
Let’s say you’re a crack team at Palm who suddenly has nothing to do because HP decides to get out of the mobile device market. What do you do to follow up on the Treo, the Centro, WebOS and the TouchPad? You create Hiku, a pebble-sized gadget that “turns everyday grocery shopping into something modern, magical and fun” and fund it via Kickstarter.
What is Hiku? Basically, it’s a barcode scanner with built-in wifi that’s intended to send your shopping list to your mobile phone so that when you are in store, you can get everything that you need. And if you don’t have a box or tin handy to scan, you can talk to Hiku and tell it what you want.
Out of the box, it’s going to support iOS with Android coming along soon after launch. There’s also integration with Evernote and Remember the Milk. Check out some of the videos on Kickstarter or YouTube – they show what the Hiku can do and it is really cool. More advanced features include checking prices on the Net and showing where a product can be bought cheaply.
One of the cleverest things is how you program your wifi settings onto the Hiku. It uses Electric Imp‘s BlinkUp technology which uses light pulses to transmit information and the light pulses are generated by your smartphone. Amazing – there’s a video of the prototype working on YouTube.
I’m backing this project partly to support the ex-Palm guys, but mainly because it’s such a clever kitchen gadget. The Kickstarter funding round closes in about 2 days and they need another $24k-odd to hit the $80,000 target. $99 gets you on the list for a Hiku so if you are thinking of ordering one, get your pledge in now.