Indiegogo's little piece of heaven in CES hell

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on January 8, 2014

From The News Desk

There are roughly 3,200 companies exhibiting at CES. It feels like triple that. The halls go on for days and days, one shiny chandelier after another. In the Las Vegas Convention Center, the big corporate fishes like Samsung and Cisco show off their curved TVs and Internet of Everythings.

But tucked away in the a small corner of The Venetian, in the back of Eureka Park, lies an area welcome to small-time startup founders. The clock turns 4:23 PM and Brits surreptitiously toast to celebrate with a Danish liquor called Fisk (Its wildly inaccurate motto: "Probably the most popular shot in the world"). Aqua blue and yellow globes pulse in one booth and beansack toss games litter the floor. It resembles a startup office as much as anything in a giant Vegas casino could.

It's the Indiegogo Zone.

For the first time at CES, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo has its own part of town, devoted solely to ten of the companies that crowdfunded through the site. "There's forty Indiegogo companies here at CES total," Slava Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo, says. Rubin has manned the section the whole day alongside his team, proudly showing off the Indiegogo companies to curious passersby.

Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform founded in 2007, is starting to come into its own. Although Kickstarter is arguably the most popular and well-known option, Indiegogo is rapidly becoming a tech company darling. It's open to any type of product, and its lack of restrictions make it a better option for fast-moving startups looking to test product market viability and raise as much money as possible. "No one does what Indiegogo does. We are an open platform where anyone can raise money for any idea in any country," Rubin says. "Open is really really hard."

Although CES may be better known for its hype, plenty of the little guys come here to get noticed too. While Indiegogo Zone has some lackluster companies -- a cord for charging your phone that has many competitors, and a Google Glass ripoff that is a clunky, unfinished prototype -- the Zone also has a few options that represent the best and brightest of early stage companies.

Here are my four favorites:

AIRTAME: AIRTAME is almost the most promising. It's an HDMI cable that plugs into any television screen to broadcast what's on your computer. It's like Chromecast, except instead of being limited to Chromecast apps you can view anything on your computer screen on your TV. You could say it's like a Smart TV, except it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It has almost the same functionality and works with any television set. The only drawback: It's not shipping for a long time -- it still has nine days left on its Indiegogo campaign. fits squarely into the emerging connected car industry. It's a device that fits into your car's port, extracting information about its performance, speed, location, etc. There are other apps like this -- Truvolo, Automatic, Zubie, and Fuse.

Here's the difference: allows developers to access that data through an SDK, so they can build apps people can use tied to their car. As an example, a spokesperson threw out the possibility of your home lights turning off automatically when your car drives away.

iLumi: iLumi is of the smart light family. Its bulbs turn different colors -- a key lime green, a warm hello, a perky pink -- via controls on a smart phone app. Set the mood however you like, much like Philips hue.

Panono: Panono is my favorite of the bunch. It's a 360 degree, spherical camera. No really. You throw it up in the air and it takes a flawless full panorama of the view. Said picture can be viewed on a mobile application which lets you turn it around in a circle with a tablet in front of you to experience the picture.

Put it above your head and you'll see the sky, put it towards your feet and you'll see the ground. The spherical photo puts a viewer immediately in a place, so that you feel like you're there and not missing anything.

The weird tech gadget world at its best.