Extending smartphone storage with a third-party device is not new, but it's becoming more challenging as smartphone device makers such as Apple limit the ability to insert a micro SD card or connect an external hard drive. However, security remains a concern.

This is where iLuun comes in. The Dallas start-up came up with a wireless USB 3.0 flash drive, called iLuun Air, which enables users to wirelessly access their photos and files, stream videos and music, and transfer media content to and from their mobile device.

iLuun launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the next phase of its business as a way to validate that a market exists for the product, which the company believes is the first its kind in terms of capacity, connectivity and features, founder and CEO Harold Stewart told EE Times. Prior to the iLuun Air, he said, mobile storage was limited to bulky hard drives that require wires and cables, or cloud-based services that require the Internet to access its data, which can be costly depending on the user's mobile data plan if not connected to Wi-Fi.

iLuun Air integrates a built-in Wi-Fi network that enables users to wirelessly access and transfer media content to and from their mobile device without the need for internet or cables. Leveraging Wi-Fi means it doesn't matter what hardware changes companies such as Apple or Samsung make to their devices, said Stewart.

iLuun Air 01 (cr) Figure 1: iLuun Air is now available on Kickstarter in capacities of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB with a starting price $49.

The iLuun Air's multi-platform wireless streaming enables users to share content and media on up to six devices simultaneously; Stewart said device reflects the desire of consumers to not be tied to a specific laptop or desktop to enjoy their personal media collection. The device also includes a built-in media player to stream HD videos, photos, and music to all connected mobile devices, he said, including increasingly popular 4K video.

The growing volume of mobile 4K video has already seen companies such as SanDisk and Samsung develop different approaches to address the demand for faster smartphones with more storage capacity in the past year or so.

Other features of the iLuun Air include a one-step backup and restore function that enables users to free up valuable space on their mobile device, while its USB 3.0 supports improved power consumption, data rate, security, pairing reliability and importantly speed, said Stewart. Users can control the device with a simple iOS or Android app.

iLuun has set a goal of $50,000 for the campaign that will run through Nov. 16 to finance the manufacturing iLuun Air. The product is now available on Kickstarter in capacities of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB with a starting price $49. The initial concept for the device goes back 18 months, Stewart said, and the company is preparing for its first production run, having completed its fifth prototype.

Crowdfunding has become a popular method for individuals and small companies to raise money, whether it's comic book artists and writers funding their next graphic novel, a restaurant looking to fund its new kitchen space, or the Smithsonian Institution looking for financial support to preserve Dorothy's ruby slippers from the 1939 for the MGM musical version of The Wizard of Oz.

Leveraging crowdfunding platforms to get new products to market is not limited to small start-ups and individuals. Arrow Electronics, Inc. announced in August that had partnered with Indiegogo to launch what the companies call a “crowdfund-to-production service" designed to accelerate the pace of innovation for technology and Internet of Things entrepreneurs, who can now apply for Arrow certification on the Indiegogo platform; Arrow engineers will analyse the design and manufacturability of each application.