So in a sea of crowd-funding projects that can all start to look a little similar to each other, it happens that one rather simple idea can stand out as one of the most interesting and well developed Kickstarter projects out there. And, it doesn’t hurst that it has more than quadrupled its target funding, only half way through the campaign. It is called LaMetric and the company behind it, Smart Atom, used 3D printing as an integral part of their prototyping and related crowd-funding activities.
LaMetric is proposed as an answer to the data overload we can all suffer from in the digital world. It wants to take into the physical world only the information that is really (really!) important in a particular moment in time. Its concept is directly linked to the philosophy of 3D printing: instead of many items, only very few, very specific and highly targeted/personalized items should make their way into production. LaMetric applies this to information.
The device is a rounded horizontal block with a dotted screen (similar to the Nike+ Fuel band display). It can be used to display anything in real time, from new emails to stock information, training reps at the gym, Facebook likes and tens of other embedded options. The system is open, though, so you can hack any specific information you may need into it.
Smart Atoms, the young start-up that envisioned it, intensively used 3D printing to develop the correct final version. “In the course of several prototype iterations, we went from an ugly brick-like box to a rounded bar, after which most of the early adopters wanted to put LaMetric in their home or office”, the team explained to Shapeways, their partner for manufacturing the final prototype version. “We now understand Apple’s passion for rounded corners, this works well in the 3D world, too. Initially, we created the casing using an average domestic 3D printer, but the quality was not good enough for us to get profound feedback from beta testers, especially “look and feel”. We discovered the Shapeways service that quickly transformed our model into high quality device parts.
Starting with a good idea and the correct prototype, Smart Atoms relentlessly executed their funding plans. Strengthened by a solid, attractive prototype, the Kickstarter campaign literally blew past the initial funding goal of $69,000, to more than $320,000 at the time of writing, with over two weeks left to go. The super early bird price started at $89 but hundreds of backers have invested more than $200 and $300 to get their hands on multiple plug in and/or battery operated versions.
LaMetric’s ability to combine many strong technological trends (it also works and interacts with a mobile iOS app) such as mobile, 3D printing, crowd-funding, digital and social media, open source access in one single item was the key to its early success. Its simplicity in an overly complex world may be its winning feature.