"Circle Gives You Distributed Control Of Your Family's Internet So You Can Be Human To Each Other"-TechHub
WHAT IS CIRCLE?
Circle helps families balance their lives in our screen-driven world.
These days, we’re always connected. Circle is a device, managed by an iOS app, that enables you to choose how you and your family spend time online by using advanced filtering, time management systems and informing to answer the where, when, why, and how of your network's Internet activity.
Check out our video (above) for a brief overview of what Circle is and why you'll want one in your home too.
Circle is a brilliant product that manages how we use the Internet, every day.
WHAT DOES CIRCLE DO?
SMART FILTER: Ensure only age/user-appropriate content reaches your kids by setting individual filtering levels by category for each device on your network.
TIME MANAGEMENT: Circle can manage online usage by allowing timed access based on by category (i.e., social media sites, gaming, videos...etc) or by specific site.
INFORM & NOTIFY: See at a glance the amount of time your kids spend on certain sites or categories of sites. Set customizable notification schedules for both positive and negative Internet activity on the devices in your home from your app.
PAUSE MODE: Temporarily restrict Internet access to every device on your network. Pause Mode can be set manually at any time (i.e., dinner at 5pm).
BEDTIME MODE: Set downtime for individual devices on your network (i.e., son's iPad downtime from 10pm to 7am) where Internet access is disabled.
SAFE MODE: Safe mode automatically recognizes, and adjusts filtering settings, to Internet activity of children under 5 years old, who often use an adult's device for games and other activities online. Adults can easily unlock Safe Mode when they resume using the device.
AD BLOCKING: Toggle off web advertisements so they don't show on any of your devices or just those your kids use.
MANAGE: Manage Circle using a brilliantly simple, user-friendly app for iOS.
SIMPLIFY: Simple setup in your home with one login. Circle remains active even when unplugged.
Circle enables you to examine your household’s Internet habits by providing tools to improve your online experience.
WHY IS CIRCLE DIFFERENT?
Currently, our only options on the market are:
1) Software: Download parental control software onto each device with limited capabilities. This is very costly due to monthly subscriptions and setting up on each device becomes very cumbersome. Each device then becomes a separate entity in which we have to manually track down and remember to update.
2) Hardware: Install a router. Although this seems like a better option for content filtering, you often suffer wifi speed slow downs. You also have to manage the router’s features via a home-based computer – which a child can easily manipulate or simply shut off.
3) Manual: 99% of parents we surveyed said they don’t use anything for Internet parental filtering or family Internet time management. Most said they “look over their kids shoulders.” In this day and age, there has to be a better, simpler solution!
WHAT MAKES CIRCLE UNIQUE?
Time Management Capabilities
Device & App Notifications
Safe, Pause & Bedtime Modes
No other product – software, hardware or otherwise – offers these multiple, unique features.
WHY WE CREATED CIRCLE
We check our smartphones an average of 155 times per day.
Every minute, every hour, every day, much of what we do revolves around being connected to the Internet. Phones, tablets, computers, cameras, televisions -- all connected, all the time. And despite constant access to everything always, we find we’re not connecting with those around us as often as we'd like.
What if we could balance our screen-heavy lives with the real world experiences around us?
Technology isn’t bad – it’s a tool. So we don't have to ignore the Internet, unplug our computer, or toss our kid’s phones in the closest body of water. We just have to manage how we all spend time online. Our desire with Circle is to help families find the content appropriate for their family and build online habits they desire for their loved ones.
Circle gives you that opportunity. Simply. Beautifully.
Circle is not a router. It is a smart network device that “talks” wirelessly with your router and each household device continuously to filter and manage content based on the settings you desire. This means that Circle never needs to be plugged into your router via an ethernet cable and you can place it anywhere in your home.
The Circle device was designed with your home in mind. It's simplistic and understated design fits beautifully with any décor.
Circle connects to your outlet with a micro-USB and has an internal battery allowing it to work continuously when unplugged.
SETTING UP CIRCLE
Setup: Circle is very simple to set up. You simply activate Circle via the circular button on the back of the device. It then creates it's own wifi network which you are able to join on your phone. Open the Circle app, choose your home network and provide Circle with it's password. Already from here, Circle begins to work! You’re then directed to set up Users in your home and tag the devices Circle recognizes to those users and set any filtering, time management or notification settings you prefer.
Notifications: Certain notifications are reflected both in the app and on the device. There is a circular 360 LED array on the front of the device. These notifications are for the entire home, for example, a time limit being reached for a user, the internet in Pause Mode, or the device is in need of a reset.
Power: Circle is powered by micro USB through a power adapter, or plug directly into a computer. It will charge a lithium ion battery so Circle can be both portable and not turn off when unplugged.
Initiate/Reset Button: There is a circular button on the back of the Circle device that acts as an initiation button for when the device is first brought home and turned on. Once turned on, it acts as a reset button if hardware or software issues arise.
Wireless: Circle wirelessly connects to the wifi router already in your home. This means no Ethernet cable is needed to provide connectivity, and no need to place it near your router. It works anywhere in your home.
THE CIRCLE APP
Manage Circle using a beautiful, brilliantly simple, user-friendly app for iOS. Circle's app is designed with "at a glance" functionality in mind. There's no need to spend lots of time sifting through URLs, simply open the app and easily get an idea of how your family uses their devices.
Each member of the family has their own profile so you can easily see how they manage their time and update their filter settings and time management quite easily.
Circle App Features:
User Profiles (includes user activity, devices & individual reports)
Device Profiles (includes profile & user information)
Time Management (per device & user profile)
Device Modes (Bedtime & Safe)
Network Pause Mode
Circle was designed with enterprising kids in mind. The reality for a lot of homes as kids get older is the kids know more about the technology in the home than their parents. That means disabling filters and restrictions to content can often be done quite easily without the parents knowledge.
Circle has no off button, so it cannot be turned off.
Circle cannot be unplugged from the router because it works wirelessly.
Circle, if unplugged, will not shut down because it has an internal battery.
Circle's administrator will be notified via their iOS app when Circle is running low on battery.
The only place to adjust or change Circle's filtering or time management settings is via the iOS app which can only be activated on one device at a time and is protected by a 4 digit pin.
Privacy is incredibly important to both us and our future users (You!). This means we, Elameno, the company behind Circle will…
Never sell your data for any reason whatsoever.
Never store your data on our servers or in the cloud without your permission (explicit opt-in).
Never sell or direct advertising either via the iOS app or on your device.
Never do anything with your browsing history, user profiles, device settings, and anything else that is considered sensitive information without your direct consent.
Dimensions: 3” tall x 3” wide x 3” thick
Weight: approx. 1 lb
Materials: HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), special edition bamboo body for Kickstarter campaign.
Center Sleeve: ABS
Front and Rear Face: HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
Rear Rubber Button: Santoprene TPE
Main PCB: 2" square, 4-layer, masked
WiFi Chip 802.11n: Atheros AR9331
Processor: Atheros AR7240
White LED array
Triple Axis Accelerometer
Ambient Light Sensor
Battery: 2200 mAh Lithium Ion
Storage: 4gb flash memory
Charge Cable: Micro USB to USB-A
Charger: 120VAC to 5VDC USB
Circle is a Linux-powered device, designed and programmed to inspect data requests made by any device on a wifi network. At startup, Circle broadcasts its own wifi hotspot for the administrator to join via an iOS app. Once connected, the administrator chooses their home wifi network, enters the login credentials, and Circle configures itself for the network it is managing, all taking place over wifi.
Circle acts as a wifi client for all devices on the managed network, sending out network packets to each connected device, informing them to send all packets to Circle. Circle's proactive communication overrides the passive communication of the wifi router, which means, when a device on the network begins to request data, Circle intercepts this request and inspects the TCP/IP packets.
Circle references the packets against its database (stored on Circle) and, based on the settings the administrator has configured, Circle either grants or denies access. Accepted downstream traffic then moves directly from the wifi router (not through Circle) to the device making the request, keeping bandwidth maximized.
A cloud-based server manages updates and communication between the Circle device and the network administrator's Circle app. User data, like browsing history, is stored locally on the Circle device.
WHERE ARE WE CURRENTLY?
We’ve been working on Circle for over 2 years. We have a working prototype and are currently in ongoing development. With your support, we can bring Circle into households worldwide. Your contribution will help fund:
• PCB Engineering • Mechanical Engineering • Parts & Tooling • Large component order • Finalizing the iOS application
PRODUCTION SCHEDULE & DEVELOPMENT TIMELINE
We’ll start shipping in Fall 2014. Here’s our schedule for Circle delivery:
September: Make final product refinements October: Begin PCB engineering November: Final Mechanical Engineering December: Continue iOS development January: Finalize manufacturing facility & Vendors February: Finalize Software Development March: Place component orders April: Process Validation May: Test Units June: Finalize iOS development July: Testing & Refining August: Begin assembly of first batch September: Implementing final bug fixes October: Ship out first batch of Bamboo & White Circles. Order 2nd batch white Circles
Our goal is to manufacture parts and assemble Circle in the US. Our cost estimates are currently based on this goal, but above all we would like to offer Circle at a reasonable price everyone can afford. Therefore, we may look overseas for other manufacturing options. We will certainly be keeping our backers updated on this entire process.
With our daily lives increasingly dependent on the Internet, we find ourselves missing out on real world experiences.
Rather than watch first steps, home runs and run through the sprinklers, we often choose to scroll through blog posts, watch cat videos and post pictures of our homemade pies. Instead of relaxing with friends and family, laughing and sharing love or simply getting lost in our thoughts, our heads look down at our screens, silently, in the same room.
Let’s be balanced. Let’s stay connected – to each other.
Join the Circle. Reconnect.
Risks and challenges
As with all hardware products that have a software component, there is a lot to consider. The following are the main challenges we face in developing Circle to a "ready to ship" state.
US vs. China:
This is less of a Challenge than it is a choice. It's our desire to make as much of this product in the United States. This means there are higher costs associated with certain items and labor but it enables us to be as close to the manufacturing process as possible. Our plan is to get all of our electrical components from overseas and do the tooling, part manufacturing, and assembly right here in the US.
This product has been in development for a long time and most if not almost all main technical hurdles have been traversed, like wifi data request interception, database sorting, server infrastructure, categorical filtering, and device recognition. But it's always the last 5% that requires the most work. We still need to do extensive bug testing, time tracking tweaks, and refinement of how we reduce traffic to metadata for long term analytics all stored on the device.
A product like Circle that enables you to manage the connectivity of all the wifi devices in your home takes on a lot of responsibility to work seamlessly. To ensure this headache-free experience, we'll be testing range and positioning of the device within large and small environments. We'll put our time management features through the ringer to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. With many new devices coming out all the time we'll be constantly testing through development device compatibility with Circle. Speed is an additional high priority for the Circle iOS app and we'll test it and refine it so there aren't long waits for data to download every time you open the app.
Circle will not slow down your wifi. No Internet data packets are filtered through the device so there’s no bottlenecking your Internet connection. Circle simply grants permission for every web request and then allows traffic to stream to your device directly from your wireless router.
No. We designed Circle with enterprising kids in mind. There's no off button, only a reset button that recycles within seconds. There's also an internal battery so when Circle is unplugged it will remain on until the battery life runs out. In addition, when it's unplugged, you'll be notified immediately via the iOS app with subsequent alerts at 50% and 10% battery power left.
When a site is blocked the user is presented with a screen that informs them why they've blocked (i.e. what category of site) and they have the option to click on a previously visited site, recommended site, or send the admin an “unblock request” to grant them access. The admin will receive a prompted notification via the iOS app of the unblock request and from there can grant access to the specific site. Admins are also able to permanently remove the site from the filter list, while maintaining a block on the sites category.
All computers, tablets, smartphones, TV streaming devices, and MP3 players... if it has a wifi connection, Circle works with it. There are other types of devices like game consoles, smart TVs, blu ray players, and thermostats (ie. nest) that don't have traditional web browsers but do connect to the internet. For these devices, Circle is able to perform specific functions relating to each device’s Internet connectivity. However, Circle does not perform functions that aren't web related. (i.e. Circle monitors the length of online gaming that takes place on a game console but is unable to monitor gaming with discs on the same console.)
Absolutely. During the early stages of developing Circle we noticed it also applies to small business environments for employers to manage employee web traffic and what sites they would like to filter for workplace efficiency. While this isn't an enterprise-specific device, it can do wonders for keeping staff on task while allowing for the boss to give perks like a specific amount of social media time a day.
Devices that the entire home have access to (smart TVs, streaming boxes, family computers, etc.) can be categorized as "Home" devices, meaning they are not attached to any one users profile within the app. You'll be able to enable settings by device. Typically these devices would be set at the highest filter setting so as to accommodate all the users in the home.
Circle only pairs with one phone, for one Admin. Should you lose or switch mobile devices, you'll be able to use the same PIN on your new phone to login to the Circle app. Once you are logged in, you can easily disable the old phone connected and enable your new phone to pair with Circle.
At it's core Circle is designed to allow everyone to manage screentime as well as block or filter unwanted content. Ad blocking is one of Circle’s best and most useful functions that works for everyone. You can also set a specific amount of time you personally want to spend in social media sites a day and not exceed. Maybe you just want an idea of where and how much time you're spending online to better yourself... And you don’t need kids to do that.
Visitors on the wifi will be filtered at the default level set for home devices automatically. You don't have to register them, it'll just be recognized. If you'd like to modify their filter settings, you'll be able to directly on the app.