If at first you don't succeed: Glowdeck makes a second bid for release
By Paul Ridden
April 8, 2014
Last August, Justin Kaufman hit Kickstarter to try and get his intriguing wireless phone charger and Bluetooth speaker system into the hands of mobile music lovers. Sadly, the campaign was not successful. But rather than give up, Glowdeck's creator went back to the drawing board and tweaked the design before trying again. A revamped device has hit the popular crowdfunding portal again, and this time managed to blow past its funding goal in just 3 days. So what's different this time around?
Since his last outing on Kickstarter, a new five-person Power Light and Sound Company team of product designers and engineers has reworked just about every aspect of Glowdeck in preparation for a new launch. The hardware inside the box has changed, improved software is now running the user interface and mobile companion apps have been developed.
"Last time, I decided to go to Kickstarter before I had fully realized my vision for this product, expecting the Kickstarter community to help me get it the rest of the way there," revealed Glowdeck's creator. "Despite the failed campaign, my faith in this product never waned, and I devoted myself full-time (full-time is probably an understatement) to getting this product to the point where I could honestly see it sitting alongside other finished products on retail shelves."
The center third of Glowdeck's upper surface acts as a charging platform for Qi-compatible smartphones, or devices wrapped in Qi-enabled charging cases. There are also two USB charging ports for those not fortunate enough to have a compatible phone. Where other Qi wireless chargers might continue to pump your phone's battery with juice long after it's full, users can connect the mobile device to Glowdeck via Bluetooth and it will disable the charging surface when the battery reaches 100 percent.
This version of Glowdeck will be capable of charging one device at a time only, where previously single and double device versions were offered, and there's no Glowdeck mini offering this time around, though Kaufman is open to adding the latter as a reward if there's enough demand.
The latest version lacks the built-in battery of old, too, so users will need to make sure that they don't wander too far from a wall outlet. The unit will come supplied with a 12 V adapter. Of course, having Bluetooth 4.0 built in also means that users can stream music from a device's library from about 100 ft (30 m) away, with sounds being thrown out from two 5 W full-range drivers powered by a Class D amplifier (though the developers are currently testing improved speakers).
An integrated noise-canceling microphone is ready to turn the Glowdeck into a speakerphone, or to receive voice commands, and there's a multicolor LED lighting array to the bottom, which can be synced with the music or act as a visual prompt for notifications, or even app-controlled mood lighting.
The 2.2-inch (non-touch) LCD display to the front of the unit can be used to show the time, and can, as Kaufman puts it, "display high resolution images and graphics nicely," but will also be capable of acting as an information feed, showing updates over Wi-Fi from news and weather services, social networks, calls and messages, and emails. Such things will all be set up via the Glowdeck Streams app for iOS and Android (a web-based computer version is also on the cards). Users concerned that notifications might be displayed even when they're nowhere near the unit can set a privacy mode so that Streams alerts are only displayed on Glowdeck's screen when a connected phone is located nearby.
At the time of writing, the already-funded Kickstarter campaign has about three weeks left to run. Most of the early adopter pledge levels have all gone, though there are still some beta developer boards left (US$85) and a black acrylic version of the fully-assembled Glowdeck ($190). A pledge of $215 will currently place your mark against a Glowdeck beta edition in walnut, maple, or cherry. If all goes to plan, backers can expect to receive their dev boards in June, with the first fully-assembled units down for shipping in August.
You can watch the campaign pitch video below.