Feature Friday | Bifolds are for Fathers! May 22 2015, 0 Comments
This week in our inbox we were thrilled to see Wally Bifold featured in the Brit + Co Father's Day Gift Guide alongside cute cards, DIY kits and more. So many awesome ideas!
Wally Bifold was also recently named among Business Insider's Top "Dapper Wallet" picks. And not just that – Wally Bifold made the list on TrendHunter and GetDatGadget, too! So whether he'd rock the classic wallet or one for his iPhone or other smartphone, there's a Wally for every Dad out there, including yours.
Tell Dwell: What's your favorite way to celebrate the outdoors? May 19 2015, 0 CommentsSpring has given way to Summer here in Charleston, and we've already been enjoying some quality porch-sitting here on our studio's tiny 3rd-floor patio. After a particularly crazy day a couple of weeks ago, we relaxed over a cold one and a quiet moment with the latest issue of Dwell at the time –
We really soaked up the 'How to Make It in America' article (cue Charles Bradley sweating it out live on KEXP), which featured these adorable Geo Stands by Rachel and Andrew at Yield Design Co. The Retail Therapy segment shared picks from Erin and Kerry of the amazing Charleston shop The Commons. And boy was it was exciting to see the beautiful spread showcasing thetranquil NC home of our friends The Clarks – that porch!
Well, the new issue of Dwell is out today – and we're part of the #DwellOutdoor party celebrating the things we love most about the outdoors. It's a bit of a #latergram, but we submitted our favorite things from that fresh-air session: Barefeet and the Bertoia Chair that Lindsay found at a county surplus sale (2 for $10 if you can believe it)! To be totally honest, our favorite way to celebrate the outdoors is with a view of the ocean...
May is Bike Month! Here's How DU Rolls All Year Long May 14 2015, 0 Comments
While May is officially Bike Month, for us at Distil Union, every day is bike day. We each live in downtown Charleston, which is only about 2 square miles in size, and our studio at King and George is pretty much smack in the middle of town. For the most part, here it's not just easy to get around on your bike – it's often better than driving a car. A slower pace and the breeze in your face... So in celebration of Bike Month, we thought it'd be nice to share with you our rides and a few DU bike facts:
When we joined together to launch Distil Union in 2011, Nate lived just north of the city in Park Circle. When we found a big live/work space on King St, it gave him the perfect excuse to live downtown again and upgrade his on-occasion bike to one he really liked the look of. A search for "white bike" on Craigslist was all it took; that same day he had this tall drink of water. Best improvement? The Little Lifter by Walnut Studio that makes it easier to tote up and down the long studio stairs.
Favorite cycling route "I like taking the straight shot down King Street to the Battery, then winding my way back on random streets."
Longest ride 26 miles in Park City, Utah. (Note: not on the above bike, which Lindsay calls The Stormtrooper)
About nine years ago, Lindsay found this bike in her neighbor's trash (it's not weird, Charleston has astoundingly good trash). Christened "Winnie Cooper" after the dream girl of The Wonder Years, this mid-century dutch bike was made in Austria by Sears. Lindsay's been making improvements to Winnie over the years – first was new brake lines, white-wall tires and a basket, then cork grips and a standing kickstand, a Brooks saddle, a second basket...
Next bike improvement Gropes to replace my grungy cork grips (thanks for the tip, Brian!)
Longest ride "16 miles round trip to the Coast Brewery with Nate for the Pint Pedal – but I'd like to try biking to Sullivan's Island someday – if Winnie's up for it."
This is Brian's third bike since moving to Charleston in 2009. He was enjoying accumulating parts to build his own bike when his brother shared with him this beauty in Columbia. Easy button! It's a fixed gear – "not because of the ideology," he says, but because "the wheels are for track riding, so it's a solid, quiet ride around the neighborhood." Lindsay has not yet come up with a name for this copper penny-colored bike, but is strongly considering Lincoln.
Next bike improvement "I love that the frame color matches my wheels, I'm addicted to buying wheel sets..."
Favorite ride "Through my neighborhood. Anywhere really – biking's a really nice way to explore Charleston."
So, are you in the two-wheel club? Is it how you get to work? What do you love most about cycling – and what could your city do better for cyclists? If you're not already involved with an advocacy group like Charleston Moves in your town, why not reach out today to some like-minded pedal pushers to bring us one pair o' pedals closer to safer streets for everyone.
A Lighter Load | The Reluctant Joy of Being Un-Connected May 08 2015, 0 Comments
This Wednesday we ventured out of the studio to the USS Yorktown for the Rise of the Rest stop here in Charleston, SC. The tour is being "driven" by Steve Case of AOL fame, which got us thinking about The Internet (capital T, capital I) and its impact on our daily lives, particularly as small-business owners and entrepreneurs.
Did you know that in 2014 there were more than 600 million websites, and in September of last year we hit 1 billion?! A year ago, the average working person received 120 emails per day. People spend more time on Facebook than they do on their pets – a statistic that shocked us, and made us grateful for our studio cats who jump in our laps for a cuddle when they (and we) need it. Here's Louie on Lindsay's lap, purring his way through the day:
Getting out from in front of our computers for the day was a total treat, though we were still tethered to the rest of the world thanks to our iPhones. We cheered on the local businesses who pitched for the Rise of the Rest $100,000 check. We connected with folks over cold beers and a sunny view of the Charleston harbor. We headed back to the studio for an evening playing catch-up with what was happening while we were "away."
As we worked and reflected on the day, we watched our studio kittens snuggle and play and not have thumbs for texting, and we wondered – Could we go a full day, week, or even month without firing up the computer, checking our phones, or just having something beep, chirp or vibrate at us? It's hard to imagine. Frankly, it's terrifying, even though there was a time not that long ago when we had no idea what a text message was, and businesses of all sizes were built without websites or iPhones...
When is the last time you were completely and totally un-connected? What would happen if you stepped away from your tech? As Sherry Turkle wonders in her TED Talk, with exponential advancements in technology, are we better connected? What is it that we're connected to exactly, and what are we sacrificing?
“What technology makes easy is not always what nurtures the human spirit.” — Sherry Turkle
We at Distil Union are with you in the desire for a simpler, less distracting environment. Having the space and the oxygen to focus on something – or nothing in particular. A chance to reflect, to breathe, to smile, to look around and be happy – which could very well be the source of greater success anyway! Hopefully, you find DU products are designed to help you simplify things a bit, and not just what's in your pocket. By making it easy to carry less, Wally's meant to take you one small step closer to making life a little lighter.
Our April Instagram Highlights April 30 2015, 0 Comments
+ On April Fool's Day we announced our new "partnership" with KangaRoos -- meet WallyRoos!! See the making of this year's gotcha product on our feed...
+ On National Beer Day, we enjoyed cocktails in the studio with the help of the Studio Neat Ice Kit.
+ We found out that our studio cat, Pemba, has excellent taste in music. Of course.
+ This year we are honored to be named among Charleston's 50 Most Progressive in CHARLIE Magazine – and we shared a few outtakes from our crazy "union" photoshoot with the talented and endlessly energized Sully Sullivan.
+ We showed off one of our very first Wallys – which is now a handsomely #WellWornWally. Show us yours!
Follow us on Instagram to be the first to see behind-the-scenes and personal Distil Union pics.
DU in the News: Charleston's 50 Most Progressive April 29 2015, 1 Comment
This year we are honored to be named among Charleston's 50 Most Progressive CHARLIE Magazine! Dubbed "The Innovators," we're beyond happy and humbled to be included alongside so many amazing local creatives, entrepreneurs, movers and shakers who constantly inspire us.
We spent an evening with our friend and photographer Sully Sullivan, who conceptualized our "union" as two halves of a whole. And in true Sully style, everything you see here is real – from our half-painted faces to Sully's own bowler cut in two:
Then we sat down with Jason Zwiker to fill him in on what we do in a nutshell...
It’s happy hour on King Street! Grab your phone and you’re out the door! Then it hits you: Oh. Yeah. I.D. and some cash or a card might not be a bad idea.
That’s pretty close to the a-ha moment that inspired Distil Union’s Wally Wallet Case. One of those random “don’t you wish someone would make a __________ that actually does what I need it to do?” thoughts that we all have.
Except that in the case of Lindsay Windham and Nate Justiss, they scratch out the “someone,” pencil in their own names and rig up a paper model. See if they can make it work.
“The first one we made was like a pop-up book,” Lindsay says, with a laugh. “Like the kind we read when we were kids.”
“We work with it until we sort out the problems,” Nate adds. “Then, we move on to a more refined prototype and start working with that. It takes pretty much all our waking hours, but it doesn’t feel like work.”
That’s the secret to their success. They’re two creative, talented friends doing what they love to do: find solutions to everyday problems. How to “snooze” an iPhone alarm with one tap of an easy-to-find button. How to slim a wallet down. No, really slim it down. How to make an iPhone case double as an ultrathin wallet.
On any given day, Nate might be working out the final specs on a new item while Lindsay designs packaging, builds a marketing strategy and writes a product description. Or the two of them might just be bouncing ideas back and forth.
“We’re always refining based on the feedback we receive,” Lindsay says. “We don’t just want to make things that look cool. We want to make life a little easier.”
Words by: Jason A. Zwiker
Photographer: Sully Sullivan
PSA: Are you an indecisive fashionister? Wally Duo can help. April 28 2015, 0 Comments
Are you an indecisive fashionister? Suffering from style mood swings lately? Well have no fear - Wally Duo is here!
When you’re deciding between your navy or tan jacket, the last thing you need is the stress of wondering whether your wallet is going to match your outfit. We know you need options, that's why we created Wally Duo:
Our Wally Duo is made with Argentine leather, changes seamlessly from Black to Brown, and is guaranteed to be a perfect pair for your wardrobe.
Some of you might be thinking, “If it's two colors in one, is it bulky? I don’t want to carry around a giant wallet in my pocket.” Don’t worry, we’re way ahead of you. Wally Duo's simplified construction is substantially slimmer than any wallet you’ve tried – so go ahead, slip it into your front pocket.
If you’re still not convinced, just wait. For easy access to your cards, Duo has our unique Wally pull-tab action, allowing you to essentially “eject” your cards and cash. Then, simply by pushing your cards back in, the tab retracts. It's like a pop-up book, but for adults.
Now you can relax knowing that Wally Duo has your wallet needs taken care of in any fashion situation. So go ahead, buy that new jacket in all the colors because Wally Duo is here for you no matter what you choose. And check out our Pinboard for The Modern Man for more fashion and lifestyle tips and tricks.
Mother's Day Shopping Made Easy April 27 2015, 0 Comments
Our friend Amy is a new mom who recently told us how her Wally Case has made her life simpler – having everything in one hand streamlines the diaper bag and gives her one less thing to juggle at checkout. Nate's mom Kathy tells us all the time how much she loves her original Wally Stick-On (she was a Kickstarter backer, of course!). And Lindsay's mom Bev's favorite is Wally Jr (in it she carries a few Distil Union business cards and tells everyone to buy a Wally, of course). Truly, our moms are our biggest and best fans – WE LOVE YA, MOMS!
For Charleston locals (and online shoppers alike), here's a quick roundup of some of our favorite shops for gifts she's sure to love:
Letterpressed cards and classy cocktail supplies at Sideshow Press.
Gorgeous hand-made gifts from American craftsmen at The-Commons.
And our favorite idea, if only our moms lived in Charleston: Take a candle-making class together at Candlefish! This place has so many wonderful candles and smells – it's around the corner from our studio, we love taking a short stroll there for a sniff break...
Feature Friday | Run Around Tech April 24 2015, 0 Comments
"If you’ve been turned off by iPhone wallet cases because of their bulk then the Wally Stick-On for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is worth a look. The genuine leather looks and feels great and the thin form factor means you won’t feel like you’re carrying around a brick in your pocket." - Run Around Tech
But as Run Around Tech put it, "If you liked the look of the Wally Stick-On Wallet but need a little more protection than perhaps the Wally Wallet Case for iPhone 6 Plus is for you."
Good work, Wally. You did it again.
Show us your #WellWornWally April 22 2015, 0 Comments
Calling all Wally fans! Do you love your Wally a whole LOT? Has he been there for you through thick and thin – and it shows?
We've put our Wallys through the ringer over the years, and they've stood the test of time:
Wally's tanned leather develops a patina that's unique to each Wally and the person who loves him – so if you have a seasoned Wally, be proud!
If your Wally could take a selfie, he would... Help him out – tag @DistilUnion in your Instagram and Twitter photos and use #WellWornWally. We want to see how your Wally looks, and will be re-sharing our favorites!
Our Journey for the Best Leather April 20 2015, 0 Comments
In just two years, we've gone from knowing less than the next guy about leather, to visiting Italian tanneries and working closely with craftsmen here in the US. As designers, our responsibility is to understand materials as best we can in order to create the best performing products possible. It's been an education and a journey to say the least, and Wally is a better man – er, wallet – because of it.
The very first Wally was a stick-on leather pocket launched on Kickstarter in January 2013. He crushed his original goal of $12,000 by raising $90,472 – go Wally! For the first two production runs we used a vegetable-tanned cow leather sourced from a tannery in Italy, which Nate (the product designer for Distil Union) was lucky enough to visit!
I should stop here and say that there is an entire world of leather out there, and we've spent the last 2 or so years learning about it along the way! We rely on testing and feedback from actual Wally users, along with consulting with some excellent makers and craftsmen who have been kind enough to talk leather with us.
So after a good year of use and feedback, we began researching chrome-tanned leather as we launched the first Wally Case for iPhone 5. While vegetable-tanned was making most folks happy, we weren't able to get the leather as thin as we wanted to for an even slimmer Wally. Turns out vegetable-tanned leather can rip or tear if cut too thin, whereas chrome-tanned is more pliable. This would give Wally more give, or flexibility to better hold a slightly wider range of cards for people.
We learned that chrome-tanned also wears differently with use, without scratching or marring – though since it's made of cow hides, there's still variation from one part of the hide to another, as well as among hides. We're not alone in thinking this variation is one of leather's more desirable qualities – it's nature folks, and variety is the spice of life! We also learned many Italian tanneries get their cow hides from northern climates (less warm-weather bug bite scars!), and that supposedly an animal's brain is large enough to tan its own hide – the original tanning method, and while grotesque, speaks to the heritage of leather tanning and utility this material has afforded us for centuries.
"A large number of different tanning methods and materials can be used; the choice is ultimately dependent on the end application of the leather. The most commonly used tanning material is chromium." – Wikipedia
Here are some quick qualities of the two leathers we've used:
- Develops a patina that deepens dramatically over time
- Character varies greatly on and across various hides
- Will show surface wear; can scratch easily
- Over-exposure to water causes hardening
- In a word: Wabi-Sabi
- Durable; resistant to wear and tear
- Flexible and pliable, with a bit of stretch
- Most popular and readily available leather
- Develops a modest patina over time
- In a word: Versatile
All other things being equal (colors, cost, our ability to source), you can see that the decision comes down to which leather will be best suited for your product's utility and purpose.
One quality of the chrome-tanned leather we especially liked was its durability and high resistance to wear. It will darken and develop a sheen, or patina, though not as dramatically as the original brown vegetable-tanned leather – which for many Wally backers is by now as dark as the black leather!
And although the leather of Wally's iPhone 5 Case was closer to what we were looking for, we found that it swung a bit too far away from the vegetable-tanned leather everyone had grown to love. Too much flex, and leather can feel artificial. Turns out even genuine leather can stray too far, and even if it displays the qualities you're after, one must weigh the cost. With material quality and user experience topping of our List Of Things That Are Important, we knew our search for the perfect leather wasn't over yet. We kept looking, and we found this:
It was for the new iPhone 5 Wally Stick-Ons that we introduced a chrome-tanned leather sourced from Argentina, which we then used on the iPhone 6 Cases (above) and the Bifold and Sleeve wallets. And with great results! The flex and durability are right on. The leather more quickly relaxes and forms around whatever an individual is carrying, which results in an even slimmer wallet after use. On the Bifold, for example, the leather also conforms around the money clip, so the spine of the wallet develops a slimmer profile. This was a pleasant surprise.
What would a vegetable-tanned Wally Bifold be like? It's an option we'd like to explore, and we'll continue to work with our suppliers and craftsmen, not to mention our friends and family on whom we rely for honest feedback from their beta tests. There could very well be more pleasant surprises awaiting us – and you!
Wally How-To Videos April 15 2015, 0 CommentsWe've recently updated our FAQ with more quick and helpful videos, shot by Brian "The New Guy" Stetson. Here's just one example:
Annoyed by a frayed thread? No sweat, a simple clip and burn will have your Wally in ship shape stat. This video and more can also be found on our Distil Union YouTube Channel.
We hope we've done a good job putting answers at your fingertips – search the Distil Union FAQ for answers to other burning questions (har har). And if there's something else you'd like a hand with that we haven't addressed on the FAQ, we're here to help so please give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wally Wallets: The Perfect Graduation Gift April 13 2015, 0 CommentsWhether you know a high-school or college graduate, chances are there's a Wally Wallet that would make the perfect graduation gift!
For the High School Grad we recommend the Wally Stick-On iPhone Skin. Available for iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (and other phones), not only does this Wally work with the case they already have, but once Wally's in place, your student can keep their college ID and some folded cash hidden in plain sight – right on their iPhone – and never be caught without 'em (because you know they wouldn't go anywhere without their phones).
For the College Grad we recommend the Wally Bifold. With two pull-tab pockets and interior money clip, this slim billfold-style wallet has been elegantly refined from the billfolds of yesteryear. Carry cash, credit cards and business cards in a minimalist profile that's front-pocket friendly. This ensures their back pockets stay free from wear, and they'll always have a business card on them for important interviews and impromptu networking opportunities.
Kickstarter Pledges We're Making (or are Strongly Considering) April 11 2015, 0 Comments
• A compelling documentary called Color of Fire by Dorian Warnick at Charleston's own Lunch and Recess (so you know it's good). They just reached their goal today, yay!!
• The noble efforts of the Lowcountry Street Grocery to get food to those who need it most here in Charleston.
Although the Apple Watch bands are our favorite thing about the Apple Watch, what if you could use any watch band you wanted? Well, there's an adapter for that! It's called Click – coincidentally the sound of watch-band makers everywhere rejoicing.
Absolutely loving the unibody design of the Tiko 3D Printer, but we're still holding out hope for our The Buccaneer.
The SnapPower, a super easy DIY that adds a USB charger to your outlet. Looks beyond easy – Lindsay's favorite kind of DIY.
Last week we were lamenting the last third of the lotion bottle that's always sacrificed to the pump gods, and then BOOM! Here's the Zero Waste Cap simple solution! A cheap n' easy Kickstarter to get behind.
And last but not least, this Best Prank Birthday Card Ever is exactly that. Warning friends, we're considering a few 10 packs... and their new holiday cards...
Finding Design Inspiration at Distil Union April 08 2015, 0 Comments
Not only do we find inspiration from these established design greats but also from our fellow designers on Pinterest. It seems like every time we log on to Pinterest there's a new product that's interesting, unique and inspiring – like the Alex Bottle or the quite literally brilliant T1 Bicycle helmet by Torch, both of which happen to be successful Kickstarter products!
These fellow designers move us to design new, useful and clever products for you. To check out a few more of the products that get us excited, visit the Distil Union Pinterest board: Products That Inspire.
WallyRoos – The Shoe/Wallet Partnership of the Century April 01 2015, 0 CommentsWe're thrilled to announce a partnership imagine what a partnership would be like with Distil Union Wally and KangaRoos – introducing WallyRoos! Nate and I both loved Roos as kids; sure the shoes looked rad, but it's because they made our imaginations ran wild with all the things we could sneak into those tiny little shoepockets – coins, keys, game tokens, paperclips, pieces of nature, a penny for scratch-off cards... but as much as we loved them, it could be tough to get our treasures out! We had such a blast with RunniPad last year for April Fool's Day, this year we decided to take the time to modify our own pairs of Roos with pull-tabs for Wally's well known easy-access action!
We went straight from prototype to final product in one step – because our rule for April Fool's Day products is start to finish in ONLY ONE DAY! As always, when there's glue or sharp objects involved, Pemba the studio kitty hops in to "help"...
Then we hit the streets! Brian Stetson, Distil Union's new Awesome Manager, was the photographer for today's blitz. As with any good April Fool's photoshoot, there was fake blood.
Oh, we need pictures of video games and game tokens? Sweet, time to hit one of our favorite Charleston spots, The Alley! But wait, their machines use quarters, not tokens? NOT A PROBLEM – use this 20-cent Euro coin, I have one right here in my WallyRoo! It's all about creativity and convenience here, folks.
That's a wrap! Thanks for playing along and indulging our funny bones :) Hope you got had by some great April Fool's pranks today!!
This Week in Instagram Photos! March 29 2015, 0 Comments
+ Found out the Distil Union office kitties like bubble tea. Meet Pemba + Louie! Plenty of studio-cat photos sure to follow...
+ Our friend Tall Paul demonstrated how he uses Wally Stick-On - stuck onto his Lifeproof case. Paul's not only tall, he's a lefty – so he pulls his cards out with his iPhone facing him. It was an ah-ha moment for us designers of the right-handed persuasion.
+ Have decided that while on break from designing, an afternoon brew with matching shades is a must.
Follow along over on our Instagram to enjoy similar snazzy DU pics in your feed.
Spring Break! Which wallet will you carry? March 26 2015, 0 Comments
It's that time of year when collegiate minds take a break from months of concentrated studying and venture out across the sea for a quick backpack around Europe or a staycation on one of America's fine beaches. Spring Break!
When traveling abroad, your faux French accent may not be the only thing that's a little awkward... foreign currencies like the Euro are larger in size than the dollar bill, so your everyday wallet probably won't match up. Transition with ease with the Wally Euro. Slim in design but sized for international currencies, the Wally Euro billfold comes in two styles: one with two pull-tab card pockets, the other with a squeeze-lock pouch for carrying coins.
Or if you're staying stateside, the beaches of Miami are always muy caliente! Wally Duo and iPhone Cases made a splash in the Funkshion VIP swag bags this past weekend. The minimalist designs are perfect front-pocket wallets – which as it turns out, is better for your clothes. Since our Spring Break was spent here in sunny Charleston, we'd like to thank @graphographics and our buddy Josh for the images from Miami!
Quote of the Day March 23 2015, 0 Comments"The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in." –Henry Green
Sure Henry Green was actually talking about the fine art of writing fiction – but we find the same thing to be true of your wallet! You don't have to carry around with you every day the receipt from that burrito you got a few weeks ago. There are ways to lighten your load, as we discussed in this post of 5 Tips to Slim Your Wallet and Carry Less. Minimizing your daily carry is what Wally pull-tab wallets are designed to do, so we decided to subtly feature this quote on the inside of every box as an encouraging reminder.
We posted the above photo on our Instagram, but can't resist sharing this outtake: Here Pemba, one of the DU studio kittens, could no longer contain her curiosity...
Feature Friday | Tailored Techies March 20 2015, 0 CommentsThe gentlemen at Tailored Techies gave Wally Case a try on their iPhone, and guess what – they loved it!
This glowing review based on their experience is music to our ears, as Tailored Techies is a men’s style site which prides itself in highlighting "tech and performance menswear, some of the latest information on wearable technologies, well-dressed individuals, and everything else in between." So we're especially pleased that they're pleased. Everyone is pleased! Good job, Wally.
"It’s a rare occasion that a brand has both a quality and fashionable product that catches our eye. Finding a case that is both functional and low-profile at the same time is hard to come by. Good thing we found the Wally Wallet Case from Distil Union." –Steve L. Jackson at TailoredTechies.com
Be sure to check out Tailored Techies, the place where men's fashion and technology meet.
We'll be Virtually Attending South by Southwest March 13 2015, 0 Comments
There's so much greatness happening at South by Southwest Interactive this year. The DU team is bummed not to be there, but we've got our eye on what's in store and are looking forward to being inspired by what comes out of it.
As we mentioned in our recent rant/ramble about the Internet of Things, SXSW has identified IoT as one of the top 2015 Trends. And with the coming release of the Apple Watch, we're curious what those crowds really think about wearable tech – what do the folks who are attending SXSW actually wear and use?! Lindsay would take to the streets with a microphone and reporter's notepad.
Beyond steeping herself in geek research, Lindsay would rush the stage at Courtney Barnett. And take messy notes at the How To Be a More Inefficient Designer presentation by the brilliant guys at The Made Shop. Nate would balance all the techness by watching a bunch of films – especially documentaries. Instead we'll be listening, watching and logging on for some live keynote speakers from the comfort of the studio couch... with the kitties (who will surely start a blog of their own once they figure out how to 3D-print thumbs).
The Internet of Things | What is The IoT, and when will it start making my life better? March 13 2015, 0 Comments
The Internet of Things. It's a phrase that has worked its way into the mainstream vernacular lately, becoming a bit of a buzzword. During the upcoming Interactive week at SXSW, there are more than 70 sessions scheduled that touch on this topic. As with most unfamiliar things, let's consult Wikipedia...
The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.
So, objects that interoperate... what does that mean exactly? It means not just your smartphone is "smart" anymore. How about a smart home? Connect everyday physical items and devices so you can control them from afar, and so they can interact with other devices – a network of your things.
Now you get it – and now imagine the possibilities! Changing your Nest thermostat while you're out running errands is old news. If you and your friends get the Apple Watch, you can capture and share your heartbeats with each other. Because.. well, we're not sure why, but we're ready to admit that there's more going on with the Apple Watch than the average watch-reader is prepared to understand (or need). To see if the kids are brushing their teeth as they should, invest in a new Mother, which comes with Cookies and admittedly ups the IoT's creep-factor even beyond sharing heart beats.
Source: iScoop. Infographic Source: NCTA
The Internet of Things is exploding, popping up in products from Kickstarter to Home Depot – but is the public embracing it? Is it making our lives better, or at least easier? There are some big hurdles for the IoT to overcome. For many, it's hard to wrap their brain around the paradigm, much less apply it to their lives. It often takes a bit of skill to set up and successfully use those curtains that connect to your wifi – so we let the custom installers do it, and now there's something pricey in our homes we potentially can't fix ourselves. Like broken escalators that are still perfectly functional stairs, will we find ourselves fiddling with our Apple Watch trying to get the curtains to close?
Beyond the general public's hesitance or resistance to adoption, there's another speed bump: There's not yet a universal standard for devices and how they communicate with each other. Instead, we have a clumsy collection of separate things solving separate problems employing their own separate apps, all with the promise of connectivity. Alton Brown would call them 'unitaskers' – a melon baller sure does make good balls of melon, but that's all it can do, and arguably they are a poor investment. Many of these "smart" devices use their own hub systems and apps, which could easily end up cluttering our lives and our phones.
Luckily, the smart people already saw this coming, and there are companies out there making strides to create commonality. In fact, a Charleston-based company and friends of ours, ISI Heatworks were sort of a big deal at TechCrunch last year, and this year at CES where they were part of Qualcomm's Internet of Everything. Their revolutionary tankless, digital water heater called Heatworks MODEL 1 uses AllJoyn for connection and automation – for example, saving custom temperatures for each family member's shower. The AllJoyn system enables you to connect and control all sorts of digital IoT devices for customized experiences and smart events around the house and even on the go. Now that's hot.
So for now, the IoT promises more possibilities than clear-cut solutions. Will it be huge? Definitely (and it already is in many industries). Are there potential pitfalls and drawbacks? Again, definitely. But meanwhile we're enjoying this generation's version of the automatic coffee maker that brews your morning joe before you open your eyes. Why set a timer when there's an app for that! Just make sure your operating systems are up to date and you've synced your latest bean-grind settings to the cloud. Oh, and that your internet is working *shakes fists at Comcast*...
Flashback Friday | Connecting to Capital March 06 2015, 0 CommentsIn early February, we participated as panelists on the Connecting to Capital workshop hosted by Lowcountry Local First. The workshop was a wonderful opportunity for locals to learn about a variety of funding sources in a one-stop-shop setup. As proud Lowcountry Local First members, Distil Union was there in full force (both of us!) to represent crowd-funding and share our experiences across four successful Kickstarter campaigns. Many thanks to our fellow panelist for their insights -- and thanks to the attendees for their great questions!
Wally Jr | The Universal Stick-On Wallet March 04 2015, 0 Comments
Don’t have an iPhone, but want in on the secret wallet party? No sweat, Wally Jr Stick-On has you covered.
Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Blackberry, LG, Sony, Nokia , Xiaomi – name most any smartphone and Wally Jr loves 'em all! Easily adhere him to any smartphone with a flat area the size of a business card. So, unless you have the uber tiny Zoolander phone, Wally Jr will most likely work for you.
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