Tech Of The Town


By Michael Benninger

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In March 2014, Forbes magazine named San Diego the nation’s best place to launch a tech startup. A surprising decision to some, but not to the local companies developing game-changing products in industries ranging from fitness to furniture, lights to liquor and dating to dining. Here are a dozen new products developed here in America’s Finest.

Nanoleaf Bloom ($35-$90/bulb)
See life in a new light while watching your carbon footprint fade with the Nanoleaf Bloom, a dimmable light bulb that works in any standard fixture, doesn’t require a dimmer switch and pays for itself in no time. The brains behind this bright idea believe that, to increase adoption of energy- efficient advancements, new products must be more convenient and innovative than existing offerings. Touted as the world’s most energy-efficient light bulb, the Bloom has no hardware to install or apps to download. Simply remove the bulb from its box, screw it into any existing fixture and adjust the level of illumination by turning the current light switch on, off, and then on again. Even at full brightness, the Bloom consumes only $1.53 of electricity per year.


RockMyRun (staring at $2.99/month)
The perfect companion for the active San Diegan, the cross-platform RockMyRun mobile app employs innovative music technology to help people save time, enhance performance and have more fun while exercising. RockMyRun regulates the tempo of soundtracks to stay in sync with the user’s pace or motivate an increase in speed and exertion. Enjoy seamless mixes from professional DJs, or discover new beats based on genre or other criteria. RunRockers (the company’s term for the app’s users) can adjust any RockMyRun mix to better match their pace or effort level, regardless of the type of exercise they’re engaging in. The app harnesses data from smartphones’ accelerometers, calculating steps per minute and helping health nuts hit their stride.

Cue ($199)
Gain a greater understanding of how sleep, diet, and exercise affect the human body with the help of Cue, a groundbreaking new device that gives users an insight into their health at a molecular level. Here’s how it works: Use Cue’s Sample Wand to collect a tiny droplet of blood, saliva or other bodily fluid, and then slide the sample into the appropriate Cue cartridge. The device’s microfluidic system and advanced biosensors then convert the samples into digital data, demonstrating a degree of technological sophistication previously unavailable to consumers. Cue then transmits its findings to the thoughtfully designed smartphone app, affording users the ability to visualize their biological trends in gorgeous, interactive charts. After crunching the numbers, Cue offers meal and activity suggestions to assist users in achieving optimal health, effectively putting the power of a health science lab in the palms of users’ hands.

CleverPet ($279)
Why teach Rover to rollover when he could be developing his paw-eye coordination on his own? Meet CleverPet, a WiFi- connected game console for canines that employs behavioral science to reward Lassie for learning. The concept is simple: putting a pup’s morning meal inside the CleverPet lets homebound hounds earn food by solving simple puzzles while their humans are away. The console contains three responsive touchpads, which illuminate and then dispense treats when tapped by noses or paws. A cutting-edge algorithm enables CleverPet to educate Fido, engaging his body and brain and adapting to his skill level. At first, dogs tap one light to get food. As they progress, catching kibbles requires touching two or more lights - and in the correct order. CleverPet also claims to help man’s best bud cope with separation anxiety, thereby reducing destructive behavior. Owners can monitor their pet’s progress via CleverPet’s mobile app or website. When Fido starts winning at Halo, though, it’s time to get worried.

Pond Wireless Charger ($179)
Charging a smartphone is now a beautiful and effortless experience thanks to the new Pond Wireless Charger. Offering Qi compatibility, the standard in wireless charging, the device works with dozens of Androids and Windows phones; when used with the Stream charging case, it works with iPhones, too. The Pond is wireless, but needs to be plugged in every few days to keep the juice flowing. Its elegant design and portable nature allow it fit almost anywhere. Simply set your phone (and keys, wallet and whatever else) on top, and it will be ready to go when you are.

Steaklocker ($999)
Billed as the world’s first commercially available fridge that combines old-world techniques with modern technology, Steaklocker produces professional-grade prime cuts of dry-aged beef. Combining fan-forced air technology with humidity and temperature controls, the Steaklocker enables owners to control the aging process and save more than 70 percent on retail prices of dry-aged beef. The carne cooler also features a Himalayan salt wall and silk spice pouches that season meat with additional flavors and aromas. Patented sensors and Steaklocker’s smartphone app lets grill masters track the fridge’s temperature and humidity levels in real-time, sending alerts if critical temperatures exceed recommended levels.

Loveseat (Free)
Finding furniture in San Diego has never been easier thanks to Jenny and Chris Stanchak, the husband-and-wife team behind Loveseat, a website and iOS app that provides a safe, secure environment for conveniently buying and selling couches, chairs, tables and more. Sofa-seeking users can launch Loveseat’s app or browse the selection online; those with chairs to spare can easily create listings to unload their own furnishings. Loveseat doesn’t charge listing fees and only collects only a modest commission when transactions take place. Payment processing, delivery options and communication channels are all built into Loveseat’s easy-to-use, attractive interface, which helps users find ideal items through curated feeds and push notifications. Find a footstool you love? Make a secured credit-card offer that the seller has three days to consider. When the seller accepts the offer, contact info is exchanged, and you’re that much closer to putting your feet up.

StrongVolt (starting at $49)
Stay powered-up wherever life takes you with a StrongVolt Solar Charger. Designed to keep devices charged when no outlets are around, the lightweight and foldable StrongVolt chargers are easy to use, built for adventure and come with convenient grommet holes to anchor them almost anywhere. Each solar panel sports a USB port that can connect to any Android or Apple device, as well as myriad other smartphones, tablets, e-readers, GoPros and more. The three-watt model will fully charge a smartphone in about five hours. And thanks to its SunTrack technology, clouds and shade don’t affect its ability to produce power, even if the sun doesn’t come out tomorrow.

OwnPhones ($199-$399)
Listen up. The days of buying one-size-fits-all earbuds are over. A San Diego-based company has pioneered the world’s first 3D-printed wireless earbuds, custom-fitted for your ears and designed to match your personality. OwnPhones exist at the intersection of 3D printing, Bluetooth technology and personal audio. Here’s how it works: The OwnPhones mobile app converts smartphone cameras into 3D scanners that guide users through the process of taking 3D photos of their ears. Photos are then uploaded to OwnPhones, which precisely prints one-of-a-kind earbuds for each customer, giving audiophiles not only a perfect fit, but also thousands of creative design combinations to choose from.


Wyldfire (free)
Slide aside, Tinder. There’s a new dating app in town, one that promises fewer creepers, d-bags and dick pics. Wyldfire is an invite-only dating network that pledges to present female users with decent dudes by asking women to hand-select men who are eligible to join. Women on Wyldfire can give good guys virtual “feathers” that enable them to get in on the dating action. Currently available exclusively in San Diego and coming soon to select cities, Wyldfire also lets users see their city’s most sought-after singles and offers a streamlined messaging system that lets potential couples start chatting right away. Advanced statistics show singles which of their approaches are working... and which aren’t. Who has your feather?

SingldOut ($299/year)
SingldOut is a new dating service that brings actual chemistry into the matchmaking process. Single professionals sign up for the service via LinkedIn and receive a complimentary DNA testing kit in the mail. They then spit in the tube, which they send back to SingldOut, and complete an online personality assessment. SingldOut then matches individuals using the latest scientific advancements in genetic and psychological research, helping users find partners with the greatest likelihood of a stable, long-term and sexually compatible relationship. Users can search SingldOut’s database for a mate that matches their preferences, and then discover their level of genetic compatibility. The company claims that singles with complementary genes are more likely to experience a heightened level of physical attraction toward each other and have greater odds of a lasting relationship.

TapHunter (free)
An apt app for San Diego’s booming beer scene, TapHunter lets users see what brews are on draught or available for pickup at bars, restaurants, liquor stores and tasting rooms around town. This robust beer scout lets users find their favorite suds by name, location or brewer. See what’s on tap at any listed location and mark brews as favorites to get notified when kegs are tapped. TapHunter also offers bar owners and managers a full suite of online tools to help manage and market their beverage programs. Although TapHunter has been around for a few years now, look for their refreshed logo in late-October along with a revamped app that incorporates spirits and cocktails among a slew of other new features. Cheers!