Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 25.

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Interact with your computer in a whole new way. Play a favorite game or app using light, motion, magnets and more. No coding required!

 

Here's what people around the world are saying about us

"[The] possibilities seem endless." Tom Spendlove, Designer Edge

"Verve lets you play games like you never have before." Vegard Ottervig, Teknofil

"[The] interface makes customization the absolute easiest thing ever!" Grant Lahaie, EpicPodQuest

"The VERVE has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with our computers." Justin Arnott, SlimGamer

"Hackers, makers, tinkerers (is that a word?), programmers, and general noodlers should check out the VERVE Kickstarter project." Julie Strietelmeier, The Gadgeteer

"VERVE's strength is that you do not need engineering skills to use it." Manuel Dorn, Korben

"Programming the sensors ... is as simple as a couple clicks of your mouse." Colin Druce-McFadden, DVICE

"It is an entry point for people who have no technical or coding skills." Samantha Cook, Geek Mom

What is the VERVE?

The VERVE is a product that lets you connect the world around you to a computer using almost any type of sensor. When plugged in to a computer, the VERVE behaves like a standard keyboard and mouse. Plug in any sensor (light, force, motion), and suddenly you're controlling the computer by squeezing, waving, pressing, dancing... You get the idea? You have complete control over how to interpret the sensor information and convert it into meaningful keystrokes or mouse actions to control your favorite application or video game. Everything is easy to use and no coding is required.

The standard VERVE kit comes with a VERVE unit, seven useful sensors (adventurous users can make their own--we'll show you how), two banana clips for the touch sensor, seven cables to connect the sensors to the VERVE unit, 5 extension blocks, and a USB cable to connect to your computer. The VERVE unit comes with an App that makes it easy to configure the sensors, as well as a “quick start” guide that contains step by step examples on how to use the system. Once you configure the sensors for your application, *no software is needed*. The VERVE will work with ANY device or software that accepts keyboard and mouse, including Macs, PC, Linux, Raspberry Pi, etc. Furthermore, the sensors settings are stored as a human readable text file to share with friends. 

Beginners can control any game or app (including web pages); techie's are free to write their own apps. Our goal is to have you playing with sensors and controlling your computer within minutes after opening the kit. Anyone can use the VERVE. Below, one of our first inventors shares her project with you.

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Velostat touch pad: You may have wondered what that black material was in the “Gigantic game controller” application. It’s called Velostat and it enables you to make some really cool touch pads. Simply cut the Velostat into any shape and size and connect it to the touch sensor via alligator clip.

Below is a short video for the inner musician in all of us. For this application we used a touch sensor connected to Velostat, a light sensor, and a motion sensor (to detect jumping). We used http://www.buttonbass.com/Drums1.html to turn the keyboard commands into drums. 

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Who is it for?

The VERVE is four things in one. First, it is a recreational gadget that allows you to have lots of fun playing with your computer in new ways. Second, it is a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit for students and inventors to prototype or build new technical solutions to problems. Third, it is an educational product for budding engineers and scientists to learn about science, sensors, controls, computers, and technology. Finally, it is a new kind of creative medium. This kind of “physical computing” device empowers artists and creators of all kinds to explore new ways to delight and share our humanity in ways beyond traditional forms of artistry. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it!

Fun 

Since when did it make sense to control a video game with a mouse? Why not play a baseball game with a baseball bat? With VERVE it’s easy. Attach a sensor to your favorite sports toy and use VERVE to translate your activity into game controls. With VERVE, people come up with all kinds of amazing ways to play their games: Jumping, swinging, slapping, and even touching hands.

Practical

The VERVE lets you try out ideas quickly and prototype new systems. VERVE can be as serious as you want. The same easy-to-use interface allows you precision control of the sensitivity of your sensors and up to 10 actions per sensor channel. In minutes, you can set up a system that tracks your movements, detects a burglar, or even monitors a factory. Almost any kind of sensor works with VERVE, so there’s no reason not to think big.

Educational

The VERVE dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for learning about physical computing systems. Even elementary school children can use sensors, control computers, design technology, and measure the world without the need for a degree in electrical engineering. The VERVE experience builds intuition about sensors and computing systems, and generates excitement about technology from the start. An educational pack, prepared by award winning educators and scientists, is available for teachers, complete with lesson plans and projects designed to teach children about science and technology in a way that is natural and fun.

Creative

Many artists are discovering that technology is the new medium for creative expression. But getting to use that medium has traditionally required the artist to face formidable technical obstacles. The VERVE changes that. With the VERVE, artists can produce incredible multimedia experiences that connect with people through touch, movement, sound, and interaction—all without having to write code or configure computers.

Meet the sensors

All of our sensors are designed to be easy to use, right out of the box. Plug in a cable (provided) and the sensor is ready to go. We’ve picked the most useful and fun sensors for you. But we’re adding more all the time, so you should be able to find a sensor to fit your needs.

How does it work?

First, plug your VERVE into your favorite computer’s USB slot, then pick a sensor and plug it to one of the seven sensor slots on the VERVE. The VERVE kit comes with seven useful sensors ready to go and you can order more from our website. 

Second, open the up VERVE application and see how each sensor responds in real-time. This comes preinstalled on the VERVE device.

 

Third, choose what you want your sensor to do. You can make each sensor look like any keyboard or mouse action. Simply move the bars on each sensor channel to set a threshold. Then click on the area above or below the threshold bar to choose your keyboard or mouse event.

And that’s it!

......But I want more power! Alright, you got it.

Simply click on the individual sensor tab and you’ll find more advanced mappings options. Here you can increase the sensitivity of each sensor, assign up to 10 keyboard/mouse commands, and tell the computer how fast/slow you want each action to happen.

Why Kickstarter?

We think Kickstarter is the ideal place to launch this product. Kickstarters are our kind of people--forward looking, tech savvy, doers who aren’t content to wait around for things to happen by themselves. VERVE is an idea whose time has come. We need Kickstarters to help us get our product into production, thereby enabling a generation of technical and creative people to make awesome technology and creative projects. If we hit our funding target then we can afford to build the devices at costs low enough to be affordable enough to put these devices in the hands of anyone who wants one – and in time for the holidays!

Our Story

The VERVE project started at the University of California Irvine as a research project in exergaming systems for health applications. Under the guidance of Professor Mark Bachman, then-UCI students Nizan Friedman and Jordan Linford developed sensors and games for exercise bicycles, treadmills, ellipticals, and other equipment. However, the in-house games just didn’t seem to match the quality and fun of commercially available games, and the team felt disappointed in the results of their effort. Eventually, the team moved its attention to using commercial and open-source games with beautiful graphics and immersive gameplay. To accomplish this, at first the team simply hacked a game controller (which worked great). However, it quickly became evident that a dedicated electronic unit that could map sensor inputs to game controls was a far better solution. The team spent many months developing the first prototype on a breadboard.
VERVE V1: Early breadboard prototype of the VERVE. This unit could map sensors to computer controls. However, it was not easy to configure by non-experts, did not use a standard sensor interface, and was not suitable for widespread use.
VERVE V1: Early breadboard prototype of the VERVE. This unit could map sensors to computer controls. However, it was not easy to configure by non-experts, did not use a standard sensor interface, and was not suitable for widespread use.

Over the course of 18 months, the team improved the design, started getting printed circuits made professionally, and made the system capable of saving configuration files on an SD card, so that sensor settings could be saved.

VERVE V2: This PCB prototype was much more robust than the breadboard. However, this unit still required custom sensor development and did not allow for an easy way to map sensor inputs to computer controls.
VERVE V2: This PCB prototype was much more robust than the breadboard. However, this unit still required custom sensor development and did not allow for an easy way to map sensor inputs to computer controls.

The unit was a great success--any kind of exergame could be created to match any kind of gameplay. These units are now used in several exergaming projects at UCI and other institutions.

Jordan demonstrates an early version of the VERVE on standard exercise equipment at UCI. This unit showed the promise of a user-programmable device for mapping sensors to game inputs.
Jordan demonstrates an early version of the VERVE on standard exercise equipment at UCI. This unit showed the promise of a user-programmable device for mapping sensors to game inputs.
After Nizan and Jordan graduated, the team felt that it would be a great idea to convert this project into a commercial product that could be made affordable and easy to use. With this in mind, the team developed the VERVE, a device that can be mass manufactured, has internal storage, can fit in an enclosure, and accepts seven standard 3.5 mm jacks for sensor input. In addition, the team developed pre-calibrated, plug-and-play sensors designed to be easy to use with the VERVE unit.
Version 4: After four design cycles, the VERVE is ready for production. It is robust and easily connects to sensors. The unit can be controlled and updated from any Mac or PC. The circuit board is housed in a portable and attractive aluminum enclosure.
Version 4: After four design cycles, the VERVE is ready for production. It is robust and easily connects to sensors. The unit can be controlled and updated from any Mac or PC. The circuit board is housed in a portable and attractive aluminum enclosure.

The team also developed a beta version of a user interface software that makes mapping from sensor inputs to computer controls a breeze. With these changes to the initial designs intended for research, the team feels that it has made the project accessible and affordable for everyone to use.

The project cannot continue without funding. The team still has to complete software development for a bulletproof user experience, get professional enclosures produced, manufacture the units in large quantities, and package everything together. However, the project is mature enough that most of the headaches usually associated with developing a new project are taken care of.

Production and Fulfillment plan:

We want to be perfectly transparent with you every step of the way. Here’s some information on how we will be turning this product from an idea to a product that you can hold in your hands.

Production and fulfillment will be handled in a three step process.

Step 1: Manufacturing: Printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication, PCB population, enclosure manufacturing, and packaging will all be handled through NOA Labs. This manufacturing firm has a proven track record. They have worked with giants such as BMW and Airbus as well as countless small businesses and start-ups. To personally vet the company, we purchased an initial sample run of printed circuit boards and enclosures (shown in VERVE V4 picture). The company is ready to produce up to 50,000 units per month and quoted us a lead time of 10-12 days for production. Shipment will take another 3-5 days. In parallel, we will order the colorful sensor cables, the cable extenders, and the mini-USB cables from a trusted electronics supplier. We received initial sample units of all these components from this supplier and they too are ready to ship at a moment’s notice. Their quoted lead time is 5-7 days with another 3-5 days for shipment. The second you help us hit our funding goal we will begin this process.

Step 2Assembly. We will begin assembly the same day the units arrive from both NOA labs and our electronics supplier. We will program the microcontrollers, add the VERVE software to the flash memory located on the PCB, and test each sensor, board, and cable to make sure that everything works perfectly. We then package this item in the supplied retail box. We already have 10 people signed up to help us out with this step. This process is expected to take between 3-5 days depending on the number of orders.

Step 3Fulfillment. We partnered with a local fulfillment center that is ready to ship out all the units. This process will take 1-2 days. It will take an additional 3-5 days for UPS to get the item to your door.

We will push as hard as humanly possible to get this item to you before December 21st. If we hit our funding goal before the end of the Kickstarter campaign, this will greatly improve the chances of us reaching this deadline.

 Who you're funding

The inXus Interactive team consists of Mark Bachman (left), Nizan Friedman (middle), and Jordan Linford (right). Mark is a faculty in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and also in Biomedical Engineering at the University of California Irvine. In addition, he is the Director of the eHealth Collaboratory at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) Irvine. Mark is expert in human computer interface (HCI), sensors and sensor systems, as well as microtechnology for biomedical and health applications. Mark brings his technology vision, expertise in sensor and computing systems, and past experience with managing startups to this project.

Some textile sensors developed in the Bachman lab for body-worn sensing. Mark is passionate about using physical computing to make our world healthy, engaging, and interesting.
Some textile sensors developed in the Bachman lab for body-worn sensing. Mark is passionate about using physical computing to make our world healthy, engaging, and interesting.

Nizan holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine which he received for developing sensor systems and video game applications for post-stroke hand rehabilitation. His award winning music-game rehabilitation system has been clinically shown to be up to three times more effective at improving hand function after stroke than conventional therapy. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, on the cover of Interface magazine, and in Popular Mechanics magazine. He is also a co-founder of the successful startup Flint Rehabilitation Devices, LLC. Nizan was actively involved in the original development of VERVE while at UCI, and has experience working with manufacturers (in US and overseas) to produce consumer quality products. Nizan brings his technical experience, management expertise, and entrepreneurial experience to this project.

Early version of Nizan’s sensor glove used with a custom video game-based hand rehabilitation therapy regimen. Sensor systems connected computers have amazing potential to transform health care.
Early version of Nizan’s sensor glove used with a custom video game-based hand rehabilitation therapy regimen. Sensor systems connected computers have amazing potential to transform health care.

Jordan holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UC Irvine and graduated with honors. While a student at UCI, he studied under Professor Bachman’s guidance and became the “guru” of electronics in the Bachman lab. Jordan has received several awards for his work in electronics design. While a senior at UCI, his team (which he led) won top honors for designing an Android-controlled industrial plating system with advanced pulse plating capabilities. Although highly recruited by local companies, Jordan has decided to take a shot at participating in a startup with the VERVE project. Jordan brings his electronics design, troubleshooting, and software development skills, as well as his enthusiasm, to this project.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We’ve worked hard to minimize the risks associated with this project. The product has already gone through several design/prototyping stages and beta tests with target users. We are officially ready to manufacture. We have qualified our manufacturers and first-level fulfillment partners. If we can raise enough funds, we are confident that we can ship the product in time for our customers to be playing with them (or giving as gifts) before the holiday season. We have verified prototype level manufacturing, but we need large orders to bring the manufacturing costs down to an affordable level.

If setbacks occur, we will contact our customers to keep them informed of possible delays. If orders are slow to arrive, we will ship to customers in order that they committed funds.

Acknowledgements:
A special thanks to Miguel Castaneda and his crew for filming, directing, and editing the video.

We also want to send out a big thanks to all the inventors who have helped spark the maker movement. To inventors of products like the Arduino, little Bits, Makey Makey, ATOMS toys and all the other awesome makers tools in between. You have inspired millions of people around the world -- us included!

FAQ

  • The VERVE works with ANY computing device that accepts USB keyboard or mouse, including Mac, PC, Linux, Raspberry Pi, etc. Any app can be controlled, even apps running on a web browser. Programmers can develop custom apps in *any language* that respond to the VERVE, since the VERVE sends standard keyboard and mouse events.

    The user friendly sensor mapping app runs on PC or Mac. Sensor configurations can also be edited by hand since they are stored in in a human readable text file

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  • In order to make the VERVE as affordable as possible, this version is wired. The kit comes with all of the cables you need, and we even supply some cable extensions in case you need more range for your sensors.

    We recognize that there is a lot of demand for wireless and we are planning to add it to a future version of the VERVE.

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  • VERVE does not ship with an "API" because an API is not needed to use the VERVE. The VERVE sends out USB keystrokes and mouse events commands that are EXACTLY the same as any other keyboard or mouse. So, any device that recognizes a mouse and keyboard can be used with the VERVE without changing anything. Our user-friendly mapping software is used only once to determine the mappings for the sensors. Users can also modify a human readable .txt file instead to map the sensors. So developers, feel free to go to town and develop your own applications for VERVE!

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  • Yes. You can plug in a VERVE unit into each USB port on your computer. Use a USB port hub and you can plug in many VERVEs at the same time. Our user interface lets you easily switch between each one.

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  • Yes! You will be able to purchase individual sensors on our website or though Amazon.com. Also, expect to see other types of sensors pop up in 2014. They will all be compatible with your VERVE unit. In addition, we'll show you how to build your own sensors, if you're the adventurous type!

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  • Yes. The $89 pledge is an early bird special intended for the first 100 supporters. The $99 pledge comes with the exact same items.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    17 backers

    EVERY BIT HELPS: Your support will help make the VERVE a reality. In return, you may see more happy people inventing crazy gadgets around you. We’ll send you a postcard and add you to our mailing list.

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    5 backers

    T-SHIRT BACKER: Instead of doing laundry, get a fresh and clean VERVE t-shirt.

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    296 backers Limited (4 left of 300)

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Get one (1) VERVE in retail packaging in time for the holidays. Includes all seven sensors (motion, turn, button, force, light, magnetic, and touch), the VERVE hub, 7 cables, 5 extension blocks, VERVE software, and instruction manual. VERVE is expected to retail at $139.

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    26 backers

    THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: Electrify your holiday season with the VERVE. Get one (1) VERVE in retail packaging. VERVE is expected to retail at $139.

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    23 backers

    DOUBLE SENSOR PACK: Are you sensor hungry? You get 14 sensors (2 of each) with your VERVE board.

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    EDUCATOR'S KIT: In addition to the VERVE kit you get an exclusive temperature sensor and voltage sensor tailored towards conducting science experiments. You also get a lesson plan consisting of 12 lessons/tutorials designed to teach science and technology with the VERVE. You will also receive a special media kit with videos to assist in teaching. A bulk kit containing 10 or more educational VERVE kits will be available on our website in early 2014.

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    PARTY WITH A FOUNDER: The founders are generally known to be super fun people. We also have a Ph.D. in engineering. Get a face-to-face with us. One of the founders will personally fly out to your destination (in the continental US) and teach you and your friends how to use the VERVE. Educators, this is a great way to set up an educational program with VERVE, and train your instructors.

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Funding period

- (33 days)