from the maybe-awesome dept
Given July 4th yesterday, we’re taking an extended holiday today as well. We normally post our weekly awesome stuff post about cool crowdfunding campaigns on Saturday, but with the extra off-day, we figured we’d post this one on Friday. Enjoy.
Last week’s awesome stuff post was about ambitious projects, which generally meant really “big” projects that others were trying to build. This week’s set of projects were all ones I’d considered for last week, but they’re “ambitious” in a different way. While the projects we discussed last week were big centralized things with no “products” going to the supporters, the three projects this week are all for products. But the reason I classified them as “more info needed” and possibly ambitious is that they all seem a bit “out there” and my gut reaction on all of them was, “well, that could be cool, but it would help if there were a lot more info…”
- First up, we’ve got The Cardboard Bike. It is exactly what it says. The design is really quite impressive looking, though there’s little to no information beyond that: how well does it ride? How durable is it? In fact, the project’s main video is much more about how the two guys who teamed up to do this have a vision of building all sorts of things out of cardboard and “changing the world” with cardboard. It’s a lovely vision, but… it seems like they skip over the first part, about convincing people that the product they’re offering, the cardboard bicycle, is actually worth buying. They just keep talking about how cardboard is a “game changer” for building anything. That might be true, but if I’m buying a cardboard bicycle, convince me that the cardboard bicycle makes sense first. They admit that the whole reason they build one in the first place was because everyone said it was impossible, but then they don’t explain how they get past the limitations of cardboard. They just leave you wondering. So… more information needed.
- Next up, is the Wie-Phone, which they claim is the “perfect” phone. It supposedly does amazing things like providing “free communication worldwide.” Their pitch says: “Free as anywhere, anytime. Free as no charges, fees, subscriptions or pre-paid cards, no roaming fees, no data plans.” But they don’t explain how. That seems like a massive giant question mark. They just say: “We are sorry that we cannot disclose details how everything functions, but we have to protect ourselves.” That always sets of warning bells. Often (though, not always) when companies are totally secretive about key aspects of what they’re selling, and claim to have done something amazing, it means that they’re missing something big — something that people would tell them if they’d just share.
The phone’s “design” looks potentially interesting, with things like four cameras (two front, two back) that allow you to do 3D photos and video, identical buttons on the top and bottom (so it’s never “upside down”) and a few other things look potentially neat as well — but it’s all renderings. No actual product. Another set of alarm bells go off. The creators claim to have built amazing phones in the past, but they can’t show an actual prototype here — just a rendered design. That’s great, but it gives no suggestion at all about their ability to actually make the phone. A rendering is great, but getting from rendering to actually built involves an awful lot of challenges, and many of those challenges could necessitate big changes in the design and functionality, and they give no indication that they’re aware of this. Also, it’s pretty difficult to decide to buy a smartphone when you can’t even see what the final design looks like.
- This last one may be the least speculative of the three projects. It’s GlassUp, an augmented reality set of glasses. If that sounds like the infamous Google Glass, you’re right — though their design and focus is somewhat different. Also, kudos to the creators of GlassUp for addressing the Google Glass issue head on, pointing out that they were well into designing the product when Google announced Glass, but decided to plow ahead anyway. They highlight the differences, including that GlassUp is more a notification-only type device — so seeing info, text messages, email, etc., and it doesn’t have a camera for recording (so you don’t have the “privacy” fears of Glass). Still, it does seem like there’s a lot of information needed. It’s not quite clear how these glasses work — and the images mostly seem to place the glasses strategically at an angle where it’s difficult to see the main data mechanism and what that part looks like, which could have a big impact on how natural these glasses actually look. They claim that they’re still working on the final design, and promise that it will be small and look great, but… it would be nice to actually see what you’re getting.
Ambitious projects can be great, but they also can fail spectacularly. All of these projects could be awesome, but they also might never actually deliver a product. To some extent, that’s always the risk with any crowdfunding project (some big ones have failed, and many others have been delivered much later than expected). However, when projects have this many questions at the beginning, supporters need to have a high tolerance for risk and the potential lack of payoff.