Accelerators and incubators are now launching plenty of new software startups into the tech world, but fewer programs target companies looking to build cool new pieces of hardware.
HAXLR8R, an accelerator specifically designed for hardware startups, debuted its first class of nine projects on Monday, demonstrating the range of possibilities that exist for consumers when they have a piece of hardware linked to software on a mobile device. The startups had 15 weeks in China to build a prototype of their device.
Here are three startups integrating hardware with mobile software to watch for:
Surfers looking to quickly check wind speeds and share the information with friends should look no further than Shaka, a startup developing portable wind speed meters that attach to the iPhone. The device allows surfers to measure wind speeds at their favorite locations, and upload those speeds and wind conditions to social networks.
They can also plot the results or conditions on a map using the Google Maps API, which is then searchable by surfers waiting for wind at home. The device looks like a tiny fan attached to the top of the iPhone, and it’s easy to see how it would be useful to anyone whose livelihood depends on the wind — farmers, sailors, and construction workers, to name a few.
The Shaka founders said they hope to sell the device for about $60, and said they could see it expanding beyond the surfer community, since similar devices tend to be much more expensive and don’t always connect to the web.
Kindara is a startup looking to provide women with a simple way to track their fertility signs through an app for iPhone and iPad.
But it’s not just about apps: The company is also developing a thermometer that is awaiting FDA approval that would sync with the mobile versions.
The company uses a simple interface on the iPad and the iPhone where women can input a variety of data sets each day related to their fertility. Women can then display that data in a chart to better understand when they’re most likely to get pregnant. The company just launched its app in May, and had more than 1,400 downloads in the first month. It’s available in the iTunes app store for a free download.
Loccie is a startup that comes from entrepreneurs in Croatia and seems like a good solution for the spontaneous traveler looking for things to do in a new place. Loccie allows users to input basic information about their likes and location and then gives them suggestions for things to do a new city.
The hardware component then allows users to leave their phones at home and explore the city wearing a small GPS device that tells them when they’re close to their Loccie-suggested destination.
The GPS device seems less interesting (who really leaves their iPhone at home when exploring an unknown place?) but the web version of the app seems like a fun way to find entertainment. The GPS might also serve as a welcome respite from the constantly-connected feeling that a mobile device usually brings. Loccie is still in beta, but users can request a trial here.