Crowdfunding has been a boon to people with a big idea but little means to make their dreams realities.
A guy tinkering in his garage now has the opportunity to raise millions of dollars he is in no way equipped to handle, then misallocate it and watch his newly founded business leave backers high and dry.
Since Kickstarter popularised holding products to ransom (if it’s already been made) or pre-selling non-existent pieces (if it hasn’t), we’ve been so close to a future of convenience and new technology. Unfortunately, it turns out that money can’t make you happy or make dreams come true. Some of these ideas were straight up scams, while others were just inconceivable or beyond their budget.
Let’s take a look at some of these ill conceived children.
Backpacks have been around as long as people have owned things (source: an un-Googled assumption), but now it’s time we took backpacks from the stone age and built some batteries into them for some reason. Here’s the amazing sizzle for the iBackpack: “WiFi, Many Batteries, 16 USB Ports, Bulletproof, Car and Wall Charger, High-Tech USB Cables + More”.
So what happened to the bags? Well, according to the FTC, the crowdfunded money was used on things “such as making Bitcoin purchases and ATM withdrawals, and paying off personal credit cards; for marketing efforts to raise additional funds from consumers; and for other business ventures.”
This is my favourite in terms of how big of a deal it would have been if it was real. The triton was a triumph over the military industrial complex when it’s initial campaign came out claiming that it used microporous hollow fibre with the ability to extract oxygen out of the water. Inside, a micro compressor takes in and stores the oxygen. This would revolutionise diving forever! It turns out though that these early claims were hyperbole, and in fact it worked with the help of air tanks that had 45 minutes of air. The campaign recouped peoples costs and started a second more honest campaign with this new information.
Here’s a product everyone’s actually gutted never came to fruition, cause it’s genuinely kinda cool. The CST-01 was heralded as the world’s thinnest watch. It was going to be an 0.80mm thin flexible wristwatch with an E Ink display housed in a single piece of stainless steel weighing only 12 grams. It was so thin it had no buttons or dials, which gave it an austere simplicity that would make even Apple envious. Any tweaking of the time (such as changing to 24 hour time) had to be done via the base station. The engineers did their best to make it happen, even sleeping in a van outside the factory to save money. But costs were doubled as only about half of the assembled watches were operable, essentially doubling their costs. Also, they were having trouble keeping the design under 1mm thick. The updates are heartbreaking, and in 2017 a final apology was left for backers in a closing letter.
Skarp Laser Razor
I could probably do with this particular product right now. Skarp promised “The first ever razor, powered by a laser. For an irritation free, incredibly close shave.”
The final production model was planned to have a high performance precision manufactured fiber powered by an AAA battery. This would enable it to cut hairs by targeting the chromophores in hair by transmitting it through the optical fibre. The prototype COULD cut hair, albeit slowly and pretty much one by one. After scrutiny, Kickstarter got edgy about the whole thing and cancelled their campaign. Skarp jumped to Indiegogo to continue bringing in capital. To this day, it looks like they’ve been able to produce a final product.