If you want to discover the latest and greatest cutting edge tech before it even becomes real, check out Kickstarter, a crowd funding website that helps people find funding for their projects. Kickstarter also helps people find interesting projects and tech well before they arrive on the market.
All sorts of projects can be launched on Kickstarter including film, art, design and fashion projects. But as you came to read about tech, Kickstarter tech projects are what you’ll see here.
Even if you have no intention of forking over your hard-earned money to inventors, you still may want to check out Kickstarter to get a glimpse of the future. Kickstarter shows you inventions before they get to market.
Kickstarter itself has been a source of significant funds for inventors. To date, Kickstarter has provided funding to over 30,000 projects for a total of $350 million from over 2.5 million people. Examples of successful Kickstarter tech projects include the Makey Makey, Pocket TV, Elevation Dock, Smarter Stand for iPad and Printrbot.
Check out Best Kickstarter Projects of 2012 for other fascinating projects that were funded through Kickstarter last year.
How Kickstarter Works
You can search Kickstarter for projects based on category, such as tech, games, art, theater, etc., or by designations such as Recently Funded, Popular or projects that are local to your area.
When you find a project that interests you, go to the project page to find out more information about the project. The project page will show you the funding goal, how much money has been raised already and how much longer until the deadline for reaching the goal. The right column shows different funding levels, from the lowest to the highest, with rewards for the different levels.
If you find a Kickstarter project you think is worthy of your funding, you can support the project. If you believe in the project and want to help bring it to market, expecting nothing in return, you can pledge funds supporting the project. The lowest pledge amounts, generally a few dollars, allow you to help fund projects you believe in out of the goodness of your heart.
For many projects, you may want a little something in return. At higher funding levels you often can get one of the first items to roll off the assembly line. The ideal is that you discover a really cool gadget, pledge your funds, and be the envy of your friends as you have the most awesome tech that everyone is talking about.
The funding is all or nothing. If a goal is reached, then the project will be funded. If the goal isn’t reached in time, then the inventor gets no funding.
When you make a pledge you aren’t charged until the funding goal is reached. If the deadline expires before the project is fully funded, then you’re not charged for your pledge. As soon as the funding goal is reached, then backers are charged their pledge amounts and the inventor is committed to completing the project.
Pledges are paid through Amazon Payments and are available to anyone worldwide. Inventors must be in the US or UK.
After you’ve made your pledge, you’ll receive updates from the inventors, sometimes even before a project is fully funded. Inventors may update backers with blog posts, videos and email status reports about the progress of the project. Sometimes the news is to inform you of a delay due to unforeseen circumstances. You’ll begin to understand the complexities of bringing a product to market and learn about the challenges of development, production and delivery.
When you finally receive your reward, you’ll feel as if you were part of the process as you enjoy your cutting edge tech.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
What You Should Know Before Investing in a Kickstarter Project
Patience is a Necessity
If you find a Kickstarter project you think would make a great gift, don’t count on it arriving in time for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or any other event in 2013. Inventors are often new to the demands of business and pesky issues such as manufacturing, tooling, shipping and other matters often delay delivery of final products. At the end of last year it was announced that 84% of Kickstarter projects were delivered late.
There Is No Guarantee that Projects Will Ever Be Delivered
Although cases are rare, some projects that were funded on Kickstarter were never delivered. Inventors may have had the best of intentions, but the realities of bringing a project to market may be much more expensive or challenging than were initially anticipated. Kickstarter doesn’t independently investigate the feasibility of projects nor guarantee their completion. Fund wisely and realize that you’re taking a risk.
Funding Isn’t Investing
By pledging money you do not buy a piece of the inventor’s company or profits. You are financially backing a project in the hopes that the project will reach its funding goal and the project will be completed.
Your reward will be the knowledge that you helped an inventor achieve his/her goal. If you fund at a level to be rewarded with an item, then that, in addition to emotional satisfaction, can be your reward. But don’t expect to get an equity share in the company or receive dividends when the inventor strikes it rich. Your best reward may just be bragging rights that you spotted the hottest tech ever to hit the market before your friends even knew it existed!
A Failed Kickstarter Project Is Not Necessarily a Bad Project
Check out Why It’s OK to Fail at Kickstarter at Mashable for an insider’s perspective on a failed Kickstarter project.
Sample Kickstarter Projects
A project that is currently seeking funding is the iPen 2, a pressure-sensitive stylus that works with the iMac or the iPad 2, 3 or 4. This pens allows you to draw on the screen as if you were using a pen, allowing for greater creativity and a writing experience closer to pen or paper. The stylus is “angle agnostic,” good for right- or left-handed people, and can record up to 1024 levels of pressure.
Here’s how it works:
The iPen 2 has a goal of $360,000 but is only funded with $105,000 with 15 days to go (as of this writing). The business, Cregle, Inc, has successfully funded two previous Kickstarter projects, but with less than one-third of its goal funded, the chances for the iPen 2 to be successfully funded don’t look to promising at this point.
The most successfully funded Kickstarter project ever is the Pebble watch by Pebble Technology. The Pebble watch has an eInk screen and connects wirelessly to your iPhone or Android phone using Bluetooth.
Functions of the Pebble watch include:
- Incoming Caller ID
- Text messages on both Android and iPhones
- iMessage (iPhone only)
- Calendar Alerts
- Facebook Messages
- Weather Alerts
- Silent vibrating alarm and timer
The inventors have allowed third-party developers to create apps for the Pebble Watch, increasing the potential functionality of the device. Pebble Technology has developed an app so the watch can be used as a bike computer and developers are working on an app to use Pebble as a golf range finder.
Pebble’s initial goal of $100,000 was easily surpassed, with the funding eventually totaling over $10 million from 68,929 backers in May 2012. The initial projected delivery date of September turned out to be a bit unrealistic however. After numerous delays, the promised ship date is now January 23, 2013.
Here’s a video with more information about the Pebble Watch:
Stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech for a full Pebble review after the launch of the device.
Indiegogo – A Kickstarter Alternative
Kickstarter isn’t the only crowd funding game in town. Also check out Indiegogo for other interesting tech projects to fund.
If you want to help fund tech projects, get cutting edge tech before it comes to market or just see what the future may hold, check out Kickstarter. Stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech for fun and interesting Kickstarter and Indiegogo tech projects.
Have you ever funded a Kickstarter project? Do you like the idea of helping inventors make their dreams come true? What sorts of projects would you be interested in funding, if any? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Rob Shoesmith’s Indiegogo Project
Rob Shoesmith, author of Bin There Done That and Digital PR Director of app developer MEDL Mobile, has embarked on an Indiegogo project to help fund his next adventure. The man who received worldwide attention for camping outside the Covent Garden Apple store in London for 10 days prior to the launch of the iPhone 4S has a new idea: visiting every Apple store in the UK and having his picture taken in front of each one. He hopes to raise £7000 to fund the project. The story of his journey will be made into a book.
Backing for the project is available at levels ranging from £1, which gets you an email of appreciation from Shoesmith to £2000, which could fund a trip to Cupertino, California (home to Apple headquarters).
You can see Shoesmith describe the project here:
If you want to learn more about Shoesmith’s project, check it out at Indiegogo.