Getting little curies is always a good thing, in terms of finding something better in the Geek's world.
For the last past years, we could see a bunch of brands that hit Kickstarter and Indiegogo, lured first backers of a promise to become really upgraded urban travelers. To manage this, the new set of functionality came from a small piece of leather. The leather that kept our cards and bills become really smart.
First attempts to become a smarter wallet on the Earth, scored Bluetooth powered wallets. They bit the ones that only focused on functionality including being the slimmest or just cheapest on the market. The use of Bluetooth was widely used by Ekster, Wallet Losing your wallet, myWalli, Volterman, and Wallor. Each of the brands went in a different direction. So what is for the users? I believe that after reading this, everyone will pick the one that works for him.
Woolet - A Designer Edition wallet that gets smarter.
How to describe your own child without spoiling the father's image of it? To be fair with you, I'd say - this is not a perfect product at least in my eyes. But doesn't mean that the goal to have the best range smart accessories for men is not in our reach.
There is one thing that Woolet Bifold shares with competitors - a very lousy technology called Bluetooth. The problem with Bluetooth is to get notifications while disconnected (means left behind). So when we keep the connection with a smartphone, there is visible battery leakage. Also, more external circumstances can alter the position visible in the app (getting to some WIFI that uses external IP, moving in a car/train).
This causes unwanted notifications. So what we did was that we had to change the way Woolet was communicating with the app. There is a method of checking and using time intervals if the app sees the wallet. If it does, nothing happens, but when there is no connection, set a GPS stamp and don't send notification unless the user reaches 200 meters from this point. This extra feature works great, but if someone thinks that there will be an instant notification, he might get angry.
As I said - there are no perfect solutions, but wait. Adding an extra source of information about the location is key to where Woolet wants to go. So first of all, we are adding extra checking by using Crowd GPS. When the silent mode of lost item meets the user of our cloud - LostFound, there will be an automatically sent GPS update on this and if the user sets this in an app - get a notification.
GPS, M-LTE, App-less - it's a new way to make this service future proof. New devices of Woolet will get GPS along with Bluetooth, another will get M-LTE (5G support), so there won't be a need for using the app. As we know, the app needs to be updated all time due to new Android and IOS politics for security, Bluetooth and so on. With just a web browser, push, and email, we can have full control over our Woolet, even on smartphones.
MyWalli smart wallet - "Never Lose Your Wallet Again"
Scoring $500K at Indiegogo is a great achievement. So, why did the Company stop pushing this product to the market? I can only imagine, but based on my experience with launching Woolet, I can imagine a few things.
1. Bluetooth technology. Using BLE connectivity for anti-loss functionality is a bit tricky. The issue lays in BLE technology itself. There are factors like getting a WIFI that uses IP in different places (like getting to a shopping mall) that triggers information that we left the wallet while we keep it in our pocket. Driving a car could fool the app and again - notifications are getting on the screen. So, are smart wallet really smart? In terms of having a mixture of other technologies - I'd say yes. Adding RFID or like in myWalli case, "Card Slot Detection" solves some problems and make the owner smarter.
2. Design. Everyone has their own opinion on the perfect shape, size, and functionality of the wallet. In terms of myWalli, I as a backer wanted to feel the leather, smell it, and try the app. As Chinese guys say “copying is the highest recognition act.” I wanted to benchmark this wallet with Woolet and finally got one. The leather smelled like chemicals that made me dizzy. The good thing was - a price around $89 was acceptable and shouldn't pay attention to this detail. One color with a green thread around reminds me of my first wallets covered with round red thread. This is great for the geeks but not for the fashion-orientated guys.
Ekster wallet - The great marriage of TrackR and Ekster popup wallets.
Taking a popup wallet that keeps a few cards, adding external tracker and we got a smart wallet. With a little help, TrackR - the Social Boost of this Dutch Company got on a new level of scoring Kickstarter goals.
1. Technology - what can make better tracking, than a Company that sells trackers? With its "Crowd GPS" system, it can be a replacement of real GPS only in big cities and airports. There are no instant findings, but once a day, some localization update could make the user happy. The only pity that there is no shown history of movements, so we can learn from it for the future sakes.
2. Design - listed as the slimmest smart wallet is a mistake considering that the latest Ekster 3.0 tracker card has the size of 3 credit cards, and itself fits there maximum 6. When you add folded bills, the wallet remains still small in size but very bulky. There is no way to use coins or a key, but for minimalists works great.
3. Limitation - wallet belongs to the surprise market, not only geeks but women buy their boyfriends, husbands, and fathers wallets. Without personalization like engraving, this is a missed opportunity.
Volterman - the superman around wallets
Wow - watching these successful campaigns that originated from a small country - Armenia (surrounded by Turkey and Georgia), gave me a hope that there is a wallet that can be a right competitor for the Woolet. With functionalities like:
Built-in Power Bank
Distance Alarm System
Thief Detector Camera
Global Wi-Fi Hotspot
Global GPS Tracker
This mighty wallet is a dream to every Geek. With more than $2 Million, the Company raised the bar and gave me sleepless nights. So what can we say about the wallet that is packed in technology, usually met in smartphones?
Technology - working GPS that is something better than just the use of BLE and GPS with the last location. It just works. No more "Crowd GPS," relying on the other users. Built-in Power Bank - love it, but it costs a price. With all of the cool features, the wallets become a brick. Adding cards, bills make it even thicker and heavier, so everyday use is unbearable. There is a bigger problem. It's the software. With so many functions, the working software for such a device requires money. Do you remember "Pebble watch?" They got more money from Kickstarter, but the software killed the project. Using Global WIFI Hotspot, Tracker, Thief Detector Camera, and Distance Alarm System is too complex to make it right without resources. The price listed at Indiegogo was not enough to cover the R&D and production costs. Why do I write this? I have been there, done that myself with Woolet. Where we had to rewrite the code, change the UX to overcome the bad Bluetooth technology and still - there is a lot to do. I hope that someday the product will be on sale and the backers will receive the working products.
Design - This wallet looks and feels very good for a Chinese product. A little lie "Built-In Powerbank to fully charge your smartphone both wired and wirelessly. Extremely lightweight and thin", comes handy, but disappointed users already show the real thickness. Kudos for the wireless charging (like Woolet), having more designs (Bifold, Travel, and Cardholder) explains a very mature approach to the business. Funny seeing Volterman Cardholder and a red tag protruding from the wallet. It reminds me of Italian Hardgraft tag branding in their products. So why do I wait for the better version? First of all, UX needs to be processed again. To use the wireless charging, the function for battery bank inside the app needs to be always activated. Keeping the wallet connected drains the battery very fast. It's better off using some functionality without the need of synching to, with the smartphone.
Compare Smart Wallets