Ten new startup companies unveiled their hardware products at the HAXLR8R Demo Day in San Francisco last week. The latest innovations were heavy on robotics, targeting a young audience and even a household pet.
HAXLR8R (also known as HAX) is a mentor-driven, seed-funded technology accelerator that supports budding entrepreneurs. Participants develop their new hardware or software products during a 111-day program based in Shenzhen, China and then bring them to the U.S. to attract investor interest.
The November offerings were an interesting mix of products that covered home security, wearable monitoring, and learning tools for boys and girls. In the technology toy category, Linkitz showcased a colorful, modular bracelet that can be personalized with unique light patterns and sounds for girls.
The links snap together and can be wirelessly tied to a smartphone. Lyssa Neel, Linkitz founder, said she designed the new product for her young daughter to counter the current wave of technology toys aimed at boys. "We will own the toy aisle by Christmas, 2015," Neel confidently declared.
There were also two robotic-based toys of note. Keyi has created The Cell Robot, a modular and mobile robotic toy that allows you to attach wheels or a Wi-Fi camera, all of which can be smartphone controlled. "Get one before they get you," is the company's motto.
Robo consists of separate bricks with motors or sensors that a child can assemble into his or her own programmable robot. It's designed by a team of engineers from the London School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley.
It's not a toy, but KATIA (Kick Ass Trainable Intelligent Arm) was presented as an industrial robotic arm that can lift a camera or do 3D printing. "There are no affordable robots on the market today capable of real work," explained creator Rosanna Myers, as she talked about the motivation behind her new product.
In the area of home automation, Form's new product is a sensor driven house sitter called Point that represents "a softer approach to home security," according to CEO Nils Mattisson. Point tracks sounds, fluctuations in temperature and air particles and will alert a homeowner in case of breaking glass or fire.
A different take on air quality monitoring was demonstrated by Clarity. Their new device is being billed as the world's first wearable air quality monitor that will generate a crowdsourced collection of pollution data from around the world. According to Clarity team member Hannah Hagen, their product will be initially targeted for widespread use in China and India.
For people who work in scientific fields, there may be interest in OpenTrons, positioned as the first ever liquid handling automation tool. It's basically a lab robot that can fill multiple glass vials more rapidly, thus speeding up the biotech research and test process.
Another industrial product shown at HAX was a printer than can generate printed circuit boards (PCBs). Voltera claims they can generate a reliable circuit board in minutes or, as their presenter Alroy Almeida put it, "in the time it takes to go to lunch."
Prynt has an intriguing new product that harkens back to the days of Polaroid cameras. It's a smartphone case that prints photos on-the-spot from your cell camera. The creators envision interest in their product for not just photos, but postcards and personalized business cards as well.
Finally there is a product designed for one audience only: cats. Petronics has come up with Mousr, the "only robotic cat toy that can see and react to a cat like a real animal." It's basically a robotic mouse with 360 degree vision that rolls away when chased by a hungry feline.
Asked by the HAX audience how they came up with Mousr, creators Dave Cohen and Michael Friedman simply said, "We played with cats a lot."