Awesome Stuff: Tech At Home

from the no-place-like... dept

For this week’s awesome stuff, we’re looking at some crowdfunded technology that stays put in your house and makes life a little easier.

SnapPower Charger

In-wall USB power outlets are one of those little details that everyone would love to have but rarely seem worth the effort to actually make happen. The SnapPower Charger aims to make them a little more accessible by taking the “hard” out of hard-wired: rather than requiring the installation of a whole new specialized outlet, the SnapPower is simply a faceplate with a clever USB extension that draws its power from the screws on a regular wall outlet. Unfortunately, it’s currently limited to a 1A current for charging regular smartphones but not high-power tablets, phablets and the like — but the creators are looking into creating a 2.1A model in the future.


There have been lots of attempts to redesign the alarm clock over the years, with any number of products promising the most peaceful and/or un-ignorable wakeup call possible. I can’t speak to the success of those, or of this, but the Wakē does offer something novel: a solution for the problem, in shared beds, of being woken up by your partner’s alarm. Mounted to the wall above the bed and controlled by smartphone, this two-person alarm clock uses an infrared body heat sensor and a parametric speaker to locate one of two users and direct its stream of music and lights towards them and them alone.


One thing that bothers me about a lot of cool modern tech, including a lot of fledgling projects on Kickstarter, is a near-total reliance on remote servers and web services for storage, processing and control, even when it’s not clear that this approach is at all necessary for the task at hand. So it’s nice to see something like the Neobase, which is all about doing the exact opposite. It’s a compact, all-in-one server and network drive that runs its own custom-built Facebook-like software, so you can set up your own completely private social network. It’s entirely self-contained and doesn’t store anything on any third-party servers, but you can access it from anywhere via encrypted connections. There are some limitations to this, certainly, both by design and by virtue (or curse) of reliable broadband availability, but I’m excited to see such devices move beyond the generic “personal cloud” offerings and into more specialized and powerful out-of-the-box solutions like this.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Tech At Home”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: screws?

It contacts the two screws on the sides of the outlet that the neutral and hot legs are connected to.

Ah, OK, so if you’ve got back wired instead of side wired outlets you’ve got to change out your outlets first. Want a genius idea. Not. It think I’ll just stick with plug-in chargers.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 screws?

Most standard outlets have screws on the sides even if you have pushed the wires into the holes in the back. I have their nightlight covers and I must say that they are brilliant and work great.

My house was built in 1962 and has a mix of outlets and their covers worked on all but one – and that was because the box was bent.

As far as a fire hazard – since the contacts are inside the electrical box, there is no more risk than any of the other wiring in the box. These are all fully approved for home use, installed as easily as replacing the face plate, and the night lights at least are great.

I’d be surprised if these didn’t become the standard for home use in the very near future.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Wakē

Some sound always bounces, and a parametric speaker will never be entirely perfect outside a fully-controlled environment — but it’s not “magical”, that’s silly. Parametric sound is a real thing and it works, and I see no reason it couldn’t work in this situation, though common sense dictates that there are many factors that could make the isolation less than 100%. As for them, they say this in their FAQ:

“Wakē’s parametric speaker has a very narrow beam, however the sound it directs at someone can bounce off their cheeks, nose or forehead and create a little sound bleed, although it is many times quieter. “

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2015 @ 12:51pm

I try to keep sensitive equipment behind surge protectors and as far away from heavy machinery as possible. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect solution, surge protectors can only do so much, but as a general rule of thumb that’s what you want to do.

Really if you want to be pedantic you want to unplug your sensitive equipment when running heavy duty equipment or during lightning storms altogether and the next best thing would be to go to your power box and use that to trace which outlets associate with which switches and keep heavy machinery on different circuits than those of sensitive equipment. But who’s gonna do all that. But having a blender on the same outlet as a sensitive USB device is a much more obvious no no and is much more likely to degrade or even ruin your sensitive devices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2015 @ 12:51pm

Also there is something similar on Amazon for (as of now) $20 to what this is, though it requires you to change the entire outlet (but how hard is that?) in opposed to just the cover. So a little less convenient but now you have something built into the outlet/house itself.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2015 @ 12:51pm

power conditioners are a real thing and not hokum, but they do something different from surge protection. They’re more about “cleaning” your power: removing noise & restoring waveshape, reducing the effects of under or over-voltage, etc. This can be useful if you have poor quality power and/or for certain types of equipment that are sensitive to dirty power. Most ordinary people won’t get any real benefit from using them, though.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

I meant electrical plugs in general. USB adapters don’t stick out much further than the plug on a lamp cord. If the furniture is so close to the wall that it would block the use of a USB adapter, it would probably block just about anything you tried to plug into the outlet.

Also, it didn’t occur to me before, but the raised portion at the bottom of their plate, where the USB outlet is, will block the use of a “wallwart” power supply in the lower outlet. You could turn it upside down, but then it would block the upper outlet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: USB Power Outlets

But all those require swapping out the whole assembly, which although it takes only a minute’s worth of turning a few screws, is apparently too difficult for some people.

It’s a wonder why no one, it seems, makes a telephone-line-to-USB power adapter, so people could recharge their batteries in emergencies during power outages (telephones use their own electric source). It’s quite simple DC-to-DC transformer, though no doubt the telephone company would not appreciate people using their free electricity for non-approved uses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: USB Power Outlets

It’s a wonder why no one, it seems, makes a telephone-line-to-USB power adapter

1) The available power is very little, below that required to make much progress charging a device. That is why DSL modems etc. need their own power supply.
2) Drawing power is the same as taking the phone off of the hook.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t understand why Kickstrter does not automatically cut off funds at some point. When a funding project goes 15x over the stated goal, it’s obvious that this has become an online shop rather than a begging bowl. It would indeed be very funny if a project like this, that went way over it’s funding goal, ended up failing to deliver.

But if that happened, no one would have a right to complain, because after all, as we are constantly told, Kickstarter is a tip jar, nothing more.

EEEnthusiast (user link) says:

Kickstarter quality has gone down

I’ve been a huge Kickstarter follower from day 1. We saw a lot of great project emerge from the platform, but I found that lately, we’ve seen a decrease in quality in a drastic way. If you read my Kickstarter Review, you will realize that the projects seem to be almost “weekend” deals. Also, we’ve seen a lot of simplified products emerge such as Fitted T-shirts

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Monitor Everything (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Cool Components (1)
12:42 Tech Companies Ask European Commission Not To Wreck The Internet -- And You Can Too (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Play & Listen (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Beyond Chiptunes (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Updated Classics (3)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Celebrating Cities (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Crafts Of All Kinds (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: One Great Knob (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Simple Geeky Toys (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Gadgets For The New Year (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Post-Holiday Grab Bag (0)
13:34 How Private-Sector Innovation Can Help Those Most In Need (21)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Towards The Future Of Drones (17)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Artisanal Handheld Games (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A New Approach To Smartphone VR (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Let's Bore The Censors (37)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Open Source For Your Brain (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Final Piece Of The VR Puzzle? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Internet... Who Needs It? (15)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Light Non-Switch (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: 3D Printing And Way, Way More (7)
13:00 Techdirt Reading List: Learning By Doing (5)
12:43 The Stagnation Of eBooks Due To Closed Platforms And DRM (89)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Modular Phone For Makers (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything On One Display (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything Is Still A Remix (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Great Desk Toy, Or Greatest Desk Toy? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Sleep Hacking (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Voice-Operated Household Assistant (19)
More arrow