Ed. Crowdfunding Combat (formerly Kickstarter Kombat) is a new recurring series on the TRANSLOGIC blog that profiles two active campaigns on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and asks readers to vote on the idea they like best. The TRANSLOGIC blog staff does not endorse or contribute to the campaigns featured within the Crowdfunding Combat posts. Reader votes will have no direct bearing on the outcome of the featured campaigns.
Over 100,000 accidents each year involve drivers who were distracted by their phone. Yet millions of people in the United States still use their phones while driving. Even using your phone as a GPS while it sits in your cup holder takes your eyes off the road long enough to be dangerous. That's why this edition of Crowdfunding Combat pits two projects against each other that both offer a solution, in different ways.
One of the biggest drawbacks of having turn-by-turn navigation on smartphones is how much battery it uses. You can unplug your phone in the morning, use it to get to a friend's place across town, and by lunch you have a warning saying there is only 20% battery left.
Enter the iPack. Developed by i18Technology, the iPack is a combination of a solar charger and a dashboard mount that works with both iOS and Android devices.
The iPack uses a small solar-powered battery pack that charges while you drive in the sun. The battery connects to your smartphone via a small cable and charges your phone.
As you can see above, the iPack's dashboard mount holds both the smartphone and the portable, solar-powered battery pack. This allows the driver to use the phone as a GPS without having to take their eyes off of the road. Once the phone is connected, the iPack can turn so that the phone is horizontal or vertical.
One of the coolest things about the iPack is that you don't have to be in your car to charge your device. The solar powered battery pack is removable from the car mount, allowing you to take it anywhere. This could come in handy if you use your phone frequently throughout the day and don't want to deal with bringing your charger everywhere. Or if you like Instagramming while camping.
For those who like driving at night, during which the solar charger would obviously be rendered useless, the iPack can also be charged by plugging into the cigarette lighter receptacle. Outside of the car, the removable solar-powered battery pack can be charged using any home phone charger and can be used as a backup for any device.
One of the downsides to the iPack is that, judging from the video, it doesn't seem all that sturdy compared to other mounts on the market. It's hard to say without actually having one in use, but the option to fit larger phones and the ability to swivel may cause some problems with phones falling out while driving. That being said, the fact that it is truly universal and can hold even the largest smartphone out there shows that a lot of planning went into this product.
The iPack's Kickstarter page says that the retail price for the iPack is $49.95 and will include the iPack solar battery, the phone holder and three types of phone connection cables.
At the time of this post, the iPack has raised over $2,000 of the project's $50,000 goal with 7 days left of funding.
It is always a bold statement to say that something is the best, but that hasn't deterred Synergy from describing their product as the "World's Best Wireless Smartphone Charger."
With a title like that, we can't help but wonder what makes this charger better than the countless other chargers on the market.
The answer is found in its design.
Synergy looks to solve multiple problems that plague the modern cell phone charger. It's wireless charging system, for instance, eliminates the need for cumbersome connectors. Each Synergy includes a wireless receiver module for your phone.
Synergy's docking system appears much simpler and sturdier that snap-in systems. Instead of a traditional dock, Synergy uses a "high-powered, rare Earth magnet placed behind the charging surface, coupled with special foam to yield a superior hold," according to its Kickstarter page. Synergy claims this results in an incredible grip on your phone, while still allowing the user to take the phone off easily.
Another problem with many chargers is that they tend to move around when you attach and detach your phone. To solve this problem, Synergy uses a vehicle base that can be mounted to the windshield of your car, and a 1.5 pound metal base for use at home.
While the phone itself doesn't require a cable to charge, Synergy has to get its power from somewhere. Luckily, once either the vehicle base or home base is installed, Synergy can attach and detach easily, so you really only have to deal with cables while charging the Synergy.
Another drawback is that, unlike what was shown in the video, not all phones are able to charge by just attaching to Synergy. Phones like the iPhone and Galaxy S4 require an additional receiver module in order to accept a charge.
According to Synergy's Kickstarter page, you can get a Synergy wireless charger for an $85 pledge. For those who need a receiver (i.e. the millions of iPhone users out there) a $95 pledge is necessary.
As of the time of this post, Synergy has over 300 backers and nearly $30,000 pledged of their $150,000 goal with over 2 days left of funding.