The next great motherlode of technological innovation won’t be from Apple, Samsung, or Google. It will be from Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Those are the websites where passionate inventors can appeal to you, the public, for funds to turn their prototypes into shipping products. The inventors’ vision isn’t diluted by lawyers, or marketing concerns, or too many cooks—so the products that reach the market tend to be focused, simple, and effective. Examples include the Pebble watch, the OUYA game console, the Zooka Bluetooth clip-on speaker, the Elevation Dock, and the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset that Facebook just bought for $2 billion. And, of course, all the products I’ve reviewed on our Kickstarter Reviews page.
And now there’s another one: the Piper home security/home automation camera. It was a huge Indiegogo success story, and now it’s a shipping product—$240 from its website.
Piper is a white or black plastic video camera that you can perch on a shelf somewhere or mount on a wall or ceiling. Then you can monitor what it’s seeing on your phone, wherever you happen to be in the world.
A wide-angle view
There are plenty of Internet-connected cameras like that (Dropcam, for example). But the Piper’s standout feature is its 180-degree lens. It sees the entire room, even directly to its right and left, above it and below it.
No, you don’t necessarily want to view your home with a fisheye lens, as though through an apartment-complex peephole. But using your fingers on your iPhone or Android phone, you can flatten out the scene by zooming in, up to 10X. And you can scroll all around, as though it were a virtual reality camera.
With one tap, you can also break up the phone’s screen into four panes, each of which you can zoom and scroll independently. The result looks convincingly like you have four cameras aimed at different parts of the room.