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Quirky’s Nimbus: Reaching for the stars

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Quirky’s Nimbus

Rating:
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This article’s title may seem like the author is mixing meteorological and astronomical metaphors. Yet, in reality, while the Nimbus name alludes to its connection with cloud computing, the product is unlike anything in this world.

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Also, in terms of nomenclature, the company that creates this product, Quirky, is appropriately named, as they are going against the traditional business model. Quirky utilizes crowdsourcing to design goods and then rewards all involved via a share of the profits. In the past, some of Quirky’s “inventions” were improvements for existing products (e.g., Pivot Power – a surge protector that adjusts to fit a variety of plugs and Cordies – a desktop cable management system).

Accordingly, many brick and mortar retailers seemed confused on how to display such items and, based on the author’s experience, would locate them in an “as seen on TV” section or similar aisle endcap. Nonetheless, the aforementioned had not stopped these products from being greatly successful with the former earning $428,497 for the inventor ($708,094 for the community) and the latter making $265,295 for the inventor ($370,319 for the community).

The Nimbus ($99.99) breaks from other successful Quirky goods by not being a re-invention but a brand new product. It physically appears as a time zone clock (and can be setup as one) or a cluster of four gauges and is available in either an external color of white or black. On either model, the faces of the dials are black and the rotating, clock-like arms are clear (i.e., to not obscure the digital display) with a small white line on the tip of the arm for added visibility. Three-quarters of the way down each gauge is a small digital display that can exhibit the following:

• Time - robust list of cities around the world
• Weather - again, for cities aground the world, but only in Fahrenheit
• Traffic – either live traffic or time to destination based on driving, walking, biking, or public transit
• Calendar – time until next event or time of next event
• Email – number of unread emails
Facebook – unread messages, friend requests, likes or comments from most recent post
Instagram – again, likes or comments from most recent post
Twitter – retweets of most recent post, mentions, or direct messages
Fitbit – sleep duration, calories burned, or steps taken

Even setup was painless and independent of a computer, as the Nimbus uses an app (iOS and Android) in a completely unseen way. One enters his/her Wi-Fi network name and password into Quirky’s Wink app then places the smart device’s screen on top of the powered Nimbus’s home-shaped sensor. Thus, the phone/tablet’s screen communicates by quickly flashing light, thereby, programming the photosensitive-capable Nimbus.

Customization of the four dials was streamlined with Quirky’s Wink App; one merely drags from the list of nine optional displays to the gauge where he/she wants the information to appear. Independent of any of the dials, the Nimbus has an alarm that, too, is set via the application.

In addition to the previously mentioned light sensor, the Nimbus responds to tactile input via its two, button-like feet. For example, a single tap on top of the product will snooze an alarm or display additional information for a particular gauge. Alternatively, holding down the top of the Nimbus allows one to dim the backlight. As an aside, thank you to the designers of the dimmer feature, as the default setting is star-like in brightness and has the luminesce to light up this author’s entire bedroom!

With any new product there are bound to be some hiccups. On one occasion, this author experienced an issue where the Nimbus did not refresh its displayed information (i.e., the time was a few hours off) and required a hard reset by unplugging the device from the wall’s outlet. Moreover, another time closing the Wink app unlinked his device and the Nimbus, in turn, requiring him to reinitialize the setup process. Also, ideally, in the future Quirky will expand the gauges to support more than the nine current options.

Nonetheless, even with these normal growing pains (sans Alan Thicke), the Nimbus’s unequaled functionality as a standalone display for cloud data transcends the troposphere. This product is both useable as well as beneficial for one’s daily life and is recommended for purchase.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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