Back for more: 3 Kickstarter second-try gadgets
Some two years after launching wildly successful campaigns, three companies are back with follow-up products. But not all sequels improve much on the original.
Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter have been helpful to many consumer device companies in getting their prototypes onto the mass production runway to retail sales. As the platform's history advances, we are seeing a number of companies that have run successful campaigns return to it with improved or updated versions of their initial campaigns.
Here are a few high-profile examples of companies that are once again courting the crowd.
HiddenRadio2. The first iteration of the HiddenRadio Bluetooth speaker lit up Kickstarter. Its campaign blew past its goal of $150,000 and raised almost $1 million. But although the HiddenRadio device met with acclaim for its design, it got only so-so marks for its audio quality. Moreover, it arrived amid a glut of portable Bluetooth speakers that encompassed $39 models sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, premium design-heavy pieces from Jambox and Beats, and volume-packing powerhouses such as the Soundmatters Dash 7.
In what may be the most ambitious Kickstarter second pass, creators John VDN and Vitor Santa Maria have stayed true to their winning design but taken heed of the audio quality concerns, optimizing their own drivers for the sound chamber that the rising HiddenRadio2 shell creates. The company assures that the 90 decibels of sound that the speaker sequel produces an ideal mix of bass and treble. It's also added a few things seen elsewhere such as top-mounted capacitive controls and multipoint capability. But surely the gee-whizziest feature added is the ability for the speakers to automatically lift their shells, revealing the grilles once they begin to play. The HiddenRadio2 will retail for $199 but is still available for $149 for the rest of the campaign, which ends on February 5.
Torso. Charging cables are practically a necessity for getting through a long day with a smartphone, but they invariably get tangled up in your pocket and do little else to justify their being carried along. Jason Hilbourne flogged a combination tripod portrait stand and charging cable for the iPhone called Twig. The clever tripod stand/cord wrap/cable captured over $168,000 from backers, but the time it took to get to market made it something of a victim in Apple's switch to the Lightning connector -- the Twig sported the older 30-pin favorite.
Twig is now back as Torso, and the product is virtually the same, except that it's available in a Lightning version. However, in order to physically support the iPhone 5 series, it now has a little claw encircling the connector. Alas, this disrupts the product's flat design a bit, but it's still handy and available in MicroUSB for those favoring iPhone alternatives. Pledges for the product range from $17 (MicroUSB) to $25 (post-early bird Lightning) until the campaign wraps up at the end of January.
Woxom PocketShot. Following an initial, failed Kickstarter campaign for a versatile smartphone video shot stabilizer named Glyde, Charlie Waugh raised over three and a half times his funding goal for SlingShot. While there have been many camera and smartphone stabilizing devices on Kickstarter -- many of which stabilize better and are certainly pricier than SlingShot -- few can match the product's simplicity and versatility when it comes to accommodating a wide range of cell phones without any extra adapter.
Now, Waugh has brought his quirky campaign video proclivity to pitch a similar follow-up called PocketShot. It retains the same basic design of the SlingShot but enables the part that cradles the smartphone to fold up when not in use for greater portability. Woxom has also improved stability by spreading the miniature T-Rex armlike tripod legs a bit further apart and making the grip a bit heavier.
The PocketShot campaign has a basic but slightly confusing reward structure. $24 will get you the product in May, while an additional $4 will bump up delivery a month earlier.