Backed to Business: When gadgets accept a gesture

Earbuds that understand your nods, a mouse controller you can wear, and a keyboard that has the trackpad under the keys are among the gesture-aware devices that have made the crowdfunding rounds.

As sensors burrow deeper into our lives, they're giving rise to new means of input and new features for tried-and-true products as well as emerging product categories; both have a home on crowdfunding platforms as recent projects demonstrate. As always, exercise caution when backing a crowdfunding campaign and don't pledge what you can't afford to lose. 

Palmcat Pero

If you're looking for more flexibility or distance from your laptop's trackpad, Palmcat's wearable bracelet Pero acts as a mouse as well as a program controller. Other models of wearable pointing devices include the gesture-reliant Padrone Ring, but Pero's design offers more practicality even if it is quite bulky. In contrast to the Tap Strap 2, which can also be used for pecking out letters in addition to controlling the cursor, the Pero provides a full 360 degrees of rotational control. Both products have a learning curve. But they might even be good complements to each other and sound options for those who experience wrist pain or disabilities that prevent mouse and keyboard use. As the Pero's crowdfunding video shows, it's also useful for hands-free scenarios like driving.

Users can easily personalize Pero's functions by assigning specific gestures to commands and is compatible with all major operating systems and apps. Palmcat is offering Pero through Kickstarter starting at $79 and expects to deliver the product in November.

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Mobiko Folio

With iPadOS now supporting touchpad input, there's more demand for input devices that include trackpads. However, trackpads can take up a lot of room on a keyboard. Innopresso's cross-platform Mokibo Folio is a sequel to the company's first keyboard that lets the keys themselves act as a touchpad as your fingers dragged across them. In its second-generation product, a precision touch sensor underneath the entire right half of the keyboard recognizes and distinguishes between gestures such as swiping, scrolling, and tapping. Mokibo has also worked on making its product feel more like a typical keyboard and enabled automatic activation of the trackpad when the keys detect swipes. In addition to removing the extra space a trackpad requires, the company points out that its approach yields a larger touch area than even the largest trackpads.

Innopresso offers the Mokibo Folio for iPad Pro 11-inch model and the iPad Pro 12.9-inch model as well as a universal option that doesn't wrap around a device. Following its successful Kickstarter campaign, it's now offering the product through Indiegogo for $99 and expects to deliver the product in December.

Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture

Earbud makers have stuffed many functions into various combinations of taps, double-taps, and held taps. They do everything from skipping songs to summoning Siri, but they can't help you much if your hands aren't free. To address this, Mobvoi has introduced Earbuds Gesture. The true wireless buds look much like the company's previous AirPod-like Ticpods and boast long battery life as well as IPX5 water resistance and some basic noise cancellation in addition to common touch gestures. Their standout feature, though, is the ability to accept and reject calls simply by nodding or shaking one's head. While that represents limited functionality, the company's tying of the feature to the event of an incoming phone call reduces the chance of confusing the intent of the gesture.

Mobvoi is offering the Earbuds Gesture starting $69 through Indiegogo and expects to deliver the product in October, a good bet since it is an established company.

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