New hardware at TechCrunch50

While most of the start-ups at the TechCrunch50 conference are focused on what's happening in your browser, a select few have a hardware angle.

SAN FRANCISCO--Most of the new ventures launching at the TechCrunch50 conference are standalone Web sites, but not all. In years past there have been the few hardware launches, and this year is no different. Here are two new bits of hardware, and a new hardware platform that are gunning to make their way into your living room and office in the coming months.

The iTwin splits up into two USB sticks that are paired to talk only to each other iTwin

iTwin is a two-piece bit of USB hardware that acts as a "cableless cable" allowing two computers to connect and share files as long as they have an Internet connection. There's nothing to set up, since both halves of the device are paired together and stay constantly connected. Users just plug it in, and can begin dropping files large and small into a shared folder.

The product will be available beginning early next year for $99, and comes with two paired sides that interlock when not in use. If users lose one of the two sides, they can lock down their account with an SMS message, or by disconnecting the other piece. They can also purchase an additional side, which can be re-paired.

ToyBots is a new gaming platform that lets toy manufacturers plug in their toys to an online network. Much like the Pleo, the personality of the toy can be altered by firmware upgrades, which are directly connected to the Web. Users can then play games and get feedback from their toy, as well as purchase and download new personalities and applications.

The company is hoping to get toy manufacturers on board as partners, and get them to start using the standard firmware profile across their entire line of toys. This would do two big things: let users re-use firmware or applications they've purchased for one toy, onto another, as well as keep money coming in even after a consumer has purchased a toy.

ToyBots' founder demos a toy running the prototype firmware. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Spawn Labs lets gamers play console games over the network. Users connect their home game console (the Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, GameCube are currently supported) to a $199 home appliance which is hooked up to the Web. The appliance then beams back control information to a site where users can manage all of theirs, as well as their friends' networked consoles. It also lets several users play and watch on a console at once, piping both the imagery, and controls over the network.

Spawn Labs lets gamers access their home consoles over the Web. Caroline McCarthy/CNET

The service pipes 720p HD footage over the Web, but can also scale it down dynamically depending on your connection. Its creators have designed it for users who want to access their console while away from their house, or continue to use it if someone else in the house needs to use that TV.

Spawn Labs is similar to OnLive, a product that made its debut earlier this year at the Game Developers Conference. However, OnLive puts the consoles and software in the cloud. In the case of Spawn Labs, the proposition is a little closer to something like LogMeIn, giving users a quick way to use their own hardware and existing software library.

You can view all our coverage of the show here.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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