The Internet is an incredible place. People shop online, read news articles, educate themselves, communicate with their friends and family and so much more. The one thing that never crossed my mind, however, is using the Internet to fund creative projects designed by anyone from hobbyists to professional designers looking to branch out on their own; that’s what Kickstarter is all about. To better understand what this all means, it’s important to go over how Kickstarter works.
As a project owner, you can create a free profile on Kickstarter with a certain monetary goal. With that goal, a time limit is set to ensure that people who fund the project, or backers, are not required to pay anything unless the project receives the funding it requires. A project owner is also obligated to deliver on certain pledge promises that typically give backers some sort of incentive to invest in the project. This whole process is referred to as crowd funding, and so far Kickstarter has successfully funded over 20,000 projects.
The story isn’t really about Kickstarter, but instead about one of the recent projects being funded on the website called Pebble. What started as a $100,000 project has now earned over $5.5 million in pledges—the most successful project the site has seen—and it continues to attract hundreds of new backers each day with over three weeks of funding remaining. So what’s so special about Pebble, you ask? Well, Pebble is being marketed by its five young designers as an e-paper smartwatch for iPhone and Android smartphones. Pebble isn’t the first smartwatch in existence, but it’s arguably the most well thought out version in comparison to its competitors.
A video on the Kickstarter project page showcasing a Pebble prototype promises consumers intriguing utility. Besides being an attractive watch in its own right, the Pebble is capable of displaying notifications, caller ID information, text messages and more using Bluetooth connectivity via an iPhone or Android device. A small motor inside the watch allows users to configure the watch to vibrate on their wrist when receiving any number of notifications, making it especially useful for people who tend to miss a lot of calls or texts with their phone in their pocket. The Pebble also uses an e-paper anti-glare display to deliver over seven days of constant use before requiring users to recharge the watch.
As funding continues to increase, the Pebble team is working on simple modifications that will make the watch more attractive to potential buyers. Features like water resistance, something unexpected for a device of this nature, are being added in response to the incredible amount of support from project backers. It’s obvious that the Pebble team is enthusiastic about their product and has been very responsive to comments and messages left by backers. With a project funded so successfully, the Pebble team now has the opportunity to push out a quality product to over 38,000 backers and to the general public later this year.
It’s an exciting time for small ventures like Pebble. With websites resembling Kickstarter allowing consumers to connect with and fund innovative projects like Pebble, it’s a major boon for innovation in the marketplace. Kickstarter is exactly what the economy needs right now, and hopefully the success of Pebble and similar projects will spread the idea of crowd funding to an even larger audience.