Almost all of which seem to be on presale/crowd-funding deals.
Once you’ve got your head around arduinos they’re fairly easy to make as well, although the one above has a couple of bells and whistles… eg: long battery life, nicely polished apps.
The reason I like this one though… is the video… because it IS actually acting as a Tamagotchi… but instead of having a “virtual” animal that gets sick/healthy… there’s an actual plant.
The other thing that’s interesting about this is the 6000 strong database of plants… although this doesn’t become interesting until it’s open-sourced… which ought to be simple enough to do – just a matter of defining a micro-format really.
Whatever happened to micro-formats?
In the future, every tree will have its own gardener. (might not be human)
Which I find interesting for all sorts of different reasons… eg:
1) It’s telepresence… which as a platform has possibilities going off in a million different directions… eg, spider safaris. Or remote tourism. Or weird proxy wars. Whatever. Probably has some sort of porn-application as well… eg: a Gopro mounted on a miner’s hat. God, that would be weird. I bet some people would like it though. Perverts etc. Gopros are already wifi-capable.
3) It’s running the Kickstarter Model (ie: pre-sales) without going via Kickstarter (which is the Facebook-of-crowdfunding) (and for this reason, I’m fairly suspicious of it)(and they still don’t have an RSS feed coming out of it, so I’m going to hack one together myself)(There’s a love/hate relationship for you)
I think running the Kickstarter model outside Kickstarter is a very good thing. The blogosphere kindof has this reputational-system (like ebay) built in… the quick-silver speed and efficacy of crowd-sourced sleuthing. This was what shot the Kickstarter DIY drone project down in a matter of days. Sure people will get ripped off, but they’re getting ripped off by various projects on Kickstarter anyway. Delivery is not guaranteed… but crowd-funding is where all the energy is. The (entirely feudal) VC model sucks. Distributed crowd-funding has a special sort of in-built intelligence that top-down-control simply cannot do.
Combine distributed crowd-funding with the abolition of (or at least total contempt for) copy-monopolies, then you’ve got a system with a really dynamic set of biases. Really dynamic innovation-drivers… not just of products, but of building blocks.
A good (early) example of this is the the Digispark thing
which has absolutely aced their target (~$90k from a target of $5k… with 20 days to go), and introduced (an emergent phenomena) Stretch-Goals, in which they’re offering a whole mass of additional PCB shields. Calling it a “deft bit of upselling’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s cross-pollination and community waiting-to-happen. I don’t know how pre-planned this technique was for them, but for a lot of projects going forward, it will be.
Speaking of going forward (or not)… I’ve now received the 2nd board from my first Kickstarter sponsorship… Romotive… and it doesn’t fecking work, and their support forums don’t offer any actual support… what is the opposite of telepresence?
This is a phenomena that I’ve noticed a couple of times… there’s a community of people who are engaged in an activity… they bumble along, then suddenly – in a very short period of time, they get to be really good at it – so much so, that it transforms the culture (or at least the discourse), rendering the previous culture almost unrecogniseable.
Now this may just be an error of observation on my part… I just don’t notice things improving until they hit a WTF threshold. I’m not sure though – I suspect there’s something else going on. It’s almost like a 100th Monkey thing… where there’s a sudden explosive change… started by a few individuals, then within a couple of memetic iterations, everyone is doing it.
I first noticed this in Camden Market in the 1990s. It went from being a tatty little place selling goth scarves etc to a hive of boutiquey type places. Money got involved. It’s seems to be a fairly common thing with markets in fact – where visual attention rules… Etsy is another prime example. It went from “crafts” to “boutiques” very quickly.
The whole effect seems to be a combination of
1) Competition for attention.
2) No “IP” – ie: ideas are free to propagate without state constriction.
3) “Seed Geniuses” who make the first quantum leap – people with vision and… ability.
This effect has become quite noticeable in a bunch of different spheres online, some notable examples being:
This also demonstrates a leap in video quality… anamorphic, dolly-shots, well lit etc. This particular example also include Process… which seems to be a crucial part of memetic virility – playing on the “I could do that” factor. The first time I felt “WTF” over lego creations was lego rubics-cube solvers… and now? The Incredible has become quite common.
2) Rube Goldberg Machines
Started out as marbles on wires, now there are dozens of examples like this:
The “related videos” in the youtube side-bar have lots of other examples… back to Lego
These are just examples that have taken me a bit by surprise – because I’ve seen the “before / after” situation… there are doubtless countless others… I suspect quite strongly that Kickstarter is starting to show a similar effect… though this is more to do with polish of presentation than really world-beating ideas.
Worth comparing and contrasting though – quirky.com (where the “IP” is poisoned by default), and kickstarter.com – where there’s a tendency to open-source. Kickstarter is on an entirely different planet, in terms of both capability and money. I’m still a little wary of it becoming the facebook of crowd-funding… but I’ve also noticed the odd site here and there offering pre-sales outside the kickstarter environment… and I’ve “invested”. eg:
But anyway… Quantum Quality Leap… these days I’m keeping 1/2 an eye out for other places where this might crop up… obvious suspects being microcopters, or 3D printing. There’s also a massive drift (noticeable in kickstarter) towards creating building-blocks for The Internet Of Things… this is happening even faster than the wave of really cheap 3D printer kits that started about 6 months ago.
Well, my latest kickstarter “investment” looks set to be a record-breaker.
At 8am this morning I received their first update email… which said “Woohoo! We made our target!”… 5 hours later, they’ve doubled it… and they have 30 days to go.
So far on kickstarter I have funded:
1) extruded Aluminum rollers – for CNC machines and Camera Sliders
2) a smartphone controlled robot
3) a universal smartphone to tripod attachment
4) a recycle plastic to make feedstock for 3D printers machine
5) a floating ecosystem/machine to create biofuels
6) open source, web-based video-editing software.
7) indestructable, modular earbuds
On indiegogo I also punted $100 to Jeniferever
I’ve also punted money to Wikileaks, and The Real News Network. I think that covers it. If America decides to <airquotes>call</airquotes> wikileaks a terrorist organisation, than I have materially aided terrorism and can be deported/imprisoned etc… but then so can a lot of people, and really, the only way out of this one is for everyone to go into Spartacus mode… everyone donate.
Still… two of the things I’ve donated to in the list above were just $1 – because I think they’re interesting projects and want to be kept on the mailing list. Of the things where I’ve pre-ordered… the only thing that’s turned up is a T-Shirt from Jeniferever… which is fair enough, since I gave them $100 and it was me that suggested they go on indiegogo in the first place.
As to the others? The roller-bearings should have been here ages ago. I’ve talked the bloke… apparently as I’m a donor, I should jump to the top of the queue…. still… vaiting vaiting vaiting. In the time that it’s taken this thing not to turn up, someone else (who did apparently get what they asked for) has made an entire 3D printer.
I’m not impressed with turnaround times… even if these things are still in development. I can remember when the standard mail-order delivery time was 28 days. Every magazine that had adverts for mail-order had 28 days as a standard policy. Amazon.com kicked that one right out the window. Now it’s A-fucking-SAP. I’ve ordered things off Amazon UK and had them turn up in the letterbox the next day. For my own mail-order stuff, I try to get them out the door same day that the order comes in. I find it really stressful having to wait 10 days for parts to turn up (If I’ve run out). It looks to me as though crowd-sourced funding could do with the same kick up the arse that Amazon gave mail-order. I know development takes time, but it doesn’t take that much time.
So… Kickstarter. Not a good way to do your shopping.
In terms of investment? If they make this helicopter, then the whole thing is worth every penny… in fact if any of these things come off then it’s worth every penny… but particularly the helicopter.
ps: And Kickstarter STILL doesn’t have an RSS feed even though I’ve told them twice that they need one – and their navigation is kindof crap… all about “staff recommendations” and “popular”. I’m not interested in “staff recommendations” or “popular”. I’m only interested in every single new thing that turns up, preferably filterable by category, and I don’t want to have to manually revisit their site looking for updates. That’s last-fucking century – so instead of finding new things through their site, I’m reliant on other people’s blogs, and twitter.
So that’s today’s complaining out of the way.
So it looks like the reason that Kickstarter pulled this project is not (as I’d thought) that they took fright at the legalities, but because the people involved were quite possibly bullshit-artists.
Which is a shame. Still. There you go. The excoriating eye of the internet is a tough one to fool once it’s got you in its sights.
Apart (perhaps) from the German Ginger Catweasel… who seems to have a slightly French Accent, with a large dash of Scandinavian. Swiss then.
Seriously though, this is a really cool toy. Possibly steals a bit of the thunder from the Twine thing
THAT MADE OVER 1/2 A MILLION $ ON KICKSTARTER!!! even though it actually looks like a the sort of wax that you use to make skis go faster. The strength of Twine though is that it provides an interface a bit like an Email “Message-Rules” interface… which is actually a bit of a quantum-leap I think… and an application that would have a lot of traction in smartphones… because 5 years from now, there’s probably going to be quite a lot of them lying about not being used… and they have FAR more sensors and smarts than Twine, already built in, already with drivers, already working.
Speaking of which – I managed to sell over $1000 worth of Golden Mean Calipers in one day a couple of days ago… so am finally cracking and getting a smartphone. From no cellphone at all to $800 smartphone in a single bound. I kindof needed to anyway because I’d bought one of those little smartphone robots from Kickstarter…
Something I felt semi-obliged to do, even though I didn’t have a phone myself, because I’ve been predicting this would happen for the last couple of years.
The last thing I invested in in Kickstarter was the 3D Printing Filament From Recycled Bottles project… I just punted them a single dollar (they’d already made their goal) because I want to be kept up to date with how they get on. I’ve actually paid to be on a mailing list… although obviously the motivations are a little more complicated than that.
Back to the modular toy robot… although that’s really cool, when I say “Steals the thunder from Twine”… what I mean is “It doesn’t really”… because what Twine is, is a general-purpose device… so is therefore more configurable etc. One is really good for putting on a coffee table and playing with… kindof executive-toy-like… the other potentially has real-world applications. Additionally, the Modrobotic thing currently costs $160 for a minimum set… and the benefits of having more than one set multiply… so it’s possibly a bit expensoid to be hacking into real-world apps.
Interesting though. Kindof gives the lego concept a whole new dimension. When I was a kid we had a lego-like system made up of 1cm cubes that could click together (probably still got it somewhere). This is kindof like that, but each cube can actually do stuff.
a) It isn’t US-only.
b) It doesn’t have a “if you don’t reach your goal, you get nothing” model. Kindof a risk for the investors maybe… but it favours conversation between investors and inventors.
2) People get a really cool little reprap for like $500. If I’d known this was going on, I would have bought one. I think. I still might – though I’m really more interested in a laser-cutter.
3) It really fucking worked – they got more than double what they were asking for – and they’re only 1/2 way through the alloted time.
4) Open-Source hardware is looking likely to be A LOT more lucrative than open-source software. Just so long as (dear god) we can keep the greed-head “IP” people out.
5) I’m not sure if this is good or bad: Indiegogo (in this instance) is being used for straight retail, rather than crowd-sourced investment.
So um… does that mean that Nike can “crowd-fund” a new shoe? That kindof fucks the idea of Indiegogo if they can. It’s basically being used as an advertising channel for existing businesses – which is not in the spirit of the thing.
I wonder if there would be any traction in a bitcoin version of this… could be interesting, given the massive volatility of bitcoins at the moment. If you’d d.onated $100 in bitcoins yesterday, it would be worth $150 today, and by “yesterday” and “today”, I mean yesterday and today. Literally.
Bitcoins crashed over the weekend… lost about 70% of its value… probably because you can’t get money into the system on the weekend… so the only money in Mt Gox (the main exchange) is from people who “had some lying about” or who have just panic-sold. It went from $30 down to about $10… and is now back up to $20. Usually Mt Gox turns over about 1 million $ a day. The rally yesterday saw it turn over 2 million $ – and that’s with people not being able to get money into the system.
It’s seriously volatile. I’ve got a couple of thousand $ in there – which is about 10 times what I originally invested (almost all of which is from Golden Mean Caliper sales)… but for me it’s more of a donation. I just want to see the thing work – as an exchange currency, not as a storage-currency.