Hardware is hot, and nowhere is that more evident than in the startup scene. But most startups don’t have the requisite experience needed to handle sourcing materials and managing a supply chain — basically taking their products from prototype to mass market product.
To help them out, consumer electronics manufacturing company PCH International announced last summer that it was launching a hardware accelerator, Highway1. And today in San Francisco, we saw the second batch of startups to graduate from it. The four-month program includes a small monetary investment, work space for the startups to develop their products, and a trip to Shenzhen to make all the connections needed to get their products built on a mass scale.
Here are the 12 companies to participate in Highway1’s second batch:
Construkts is a learning platform that includes physical blocks designed to improve hands-on learning by connecting the virtual and physical worlds. It enables children to challenge themselves with software puzzles that connect to the blocks to improve learning.
Keyboardio makes a programmable keyboard designed for comfort and beauty. After dozens of prototypes, the company has created a keyboard that puts columns in rows under your fingers and an enclosure made of anodized aluminum with wood-grain hand rests.
Lumo is an LED projector that is installed on a wall and enables interactive gaming. The device was created to get kids, who now spend about eight hours a day on screens, to play with a giant surface area on the floor. In addition to the games that come with the device, kids can buy and make their own games.
This startup wants to make creating robots quick and easy by making available a number of essential building blocks to consumers in an easy-to-assemble package. The key to the product is its servo core technology, which packages all the machinery needed to run a robot into a single unit that makes building one 10x faster. It also has a mobile app to help in the creation and control of robots you build.
PalateHome makes next-generation cooking appliances for home chefs, starting with a connected grill designed to ensure the correct temperature and doneness throughout a piece of meat. You control the grill through an iPad app to select the type of meat, cut and preferred level of doneness, and it automatically finishes just the way you want. Because it’s connected, you’ll also be able to share recipes with friends.
Podo is a portable camera that connects with smartphones via Bluetooth to enable users to shoot photos that aren’t limited by the length of your arm. The device is a tiny square with micro-suction cup backing that works like a sticky pad and allows you to place the device anywhere and send a live feed of what it’s capturing to your phone. It can do video and also time lapse, and you can connect multiple cameras in different places in a room.
This company is seeking to make smart clothing with natural silk fibers to sense movement and give feedback to motivate people wearing it. Today Sensilk has created a sports bra with a heart rate monitor built-in that connects with your smartphone. The belief is that in 10 years, more data will be generated by clothing than by devices. Along with the clothing, the company has developed a proprietary fitness score to help users exercise smarter and make the most of their workouts.
Shortcut Labs has built a product called Flick, a wireless shortcut button that can be used to launch shortcuts for virtually any application on a smartphone or Internet of Things devices. Priced at $19, Flick will allow users to push a button and launch applications on their smartphones like navigation while in their cars or an emergency button to notify friends and family of their GPS locations. The company is also releasing an API to enable third-party developers to build applications that connect to Flick.
sigSense is hoping to bring big data to field service, with a new type of device that makes gathering data for technicians incredibly easy. That starts with an instrument that has changeable module heads, which connect to the technician’s cell phone to collect data and then upload it to the cloud. It will provide a field-service dashboard to users, as well as an open API so customers can use the data in their own third-party applications.
Sugarcube is a pocket-sized media device that enables users to share content from any device to their TVs. As a tiny HDMI dongle, the device is being targeted at universities and other places where people deliver presentations. The company will be live testing in the next month and hopes to launch later this summer.
SwitchEmbassy is working on making fashion technology smart. The first product is a white leather handbag that enables users to upload designs or display animations. The handbag can have texts sent directly to the product and could be used to charge your cell phone or locate your purse. But the company hopes to design other products, like shirts and other devices that have the same display technology.
The company is taking on an existing $2.5 billion market for digital picture frames, enabling users to instantly share and relive moments in a passive way. The first product has a walnut base with a slight incline, connected to a 10.1″ high-resolution display. The display connects to an app that allows users to take pictures and send photos in moments. Wink plans to ship early next year.