This piece was originally written on behalf of the Orange Live Blog during a Press trip at Mobile World Congress 2013 last week
No, you’re not deaming! The SticknFind startup raised closed to 1 million dollars on the Indiegogo crowdsourcing platform.
And The founders of SticknFind are no rookies either for they have been pioneers of Bluetooth products since 2003 and 2004 and they have been working for the automotive industry and have won many awards since then declared Jimmy Buchheim in his introduction yesterday. He and his teams have also developed the Blutracker project in the past can track various items within 2,500 ft range also funded through Indiegogo ($180,500 were raised for that project) as well as Meterplug, an intelligent plug which measures your real electricity consumption and displays the consumption in local currency (close to $128,000 on Indiegogo too). “This has been a very successful company” CEO and founder Jimmy Buchheim said. He started the new company in early December: “it wasn’t easy” he said, but he looked very pleased with the funding he got from the crowdfunding platform. Indeed, I know of few people who wouldn’t be happy with that!
why go through crowdfunding?
“The most obvious way, apparently, was to design our product, produce it and pitch it and then sell it to some industrialist, but this wasn’t easy for us to do. So we decided to go the crowdfunding way because the input from the users is sometimes more valuable than what you can get from a company” Buchheim said. He added “industrialists want to change the product to suit their needs and not that of their clients, and talking to VCs ends up with having too many cooks in the kitchen and this is how it starts to get bad!”
So, what is that innovation which users have found worth investing one million dollars into?
- First and foremost, it’s about an “amazing tracking feature” to put it in the words of Buchheim’s: “a lot of Intellectual Property went into the tracking mechanism” he said. What it means is that it gives users the ability to measure very precisely where an object is located : “the resolution is amazing, the system is able to measure very short distances”,
- Secondly, the find it feature which enables the sticker to send a notification if the paired object comes into range. Users get alerts on their phone if they leave the object behind them. You can place the sticker on a camera; on your car keys etc. and you can even measure the temperature of an object too (this would, for instance, tell you whether the object is outside or inside),
- Thirdly, the easy zooming capability enables one to find keys in a 150ft (45 metres) range but SticknFind was able to extend that reach to 300ft (90 metres). Based on feedback from users, they produced prototypes with 3 different manufacturers. “It took us a lot of tuning” Buchheim added, “they are made of very small parts and it required extensive work but we eventually identified the right kind of plastic so as to find the right mix [i.e. neither too rigid or too rubbery] in order to increase the reach”.
SticknFind will start shipping next week. The company started production last month, that is to say early compared to their initial promise (end of March), and the device will be available from retailers in April. This is the first generation of trackers, Buchheim said, “we are creating a new market and it will trigger huge applications. People and companies are losing a lot of money with stuff they lose” he said. What of generation 2 then? “It will be even smaller”, Jimmy Buchheim promised,h “you could even have it on your toothbrush!” in said in jest.
“This is the true Internet of things” Buchheim declared. The price for 2 stickers is $49 and $89 for 4 and there will be packs of 10 available. The app will be free and available on Google Play and IOS and it will be working on the Blackberry Z10 too (April release). And the battery lasts for two years so won’t even need to change it that often. A free SDK will be released to developers. The SDK will also be made available for Mac OSx (by March) and Windows 8 (from April onwards).
There are many applications for SticknFind, including industrial applications such as the keeping of inventory (100 and even 1000 items can be working at the same time the SticknFind CEO said).
The system, because it uses Bluetooth 4.0, only works with newer phones (Iphone 4S or newer or Samsung Galaxy SIII etc.) but no additional accessory is required to make it work. “The only way to make the battery work for 2 years was to use the new generation of Bluetooth, otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days” Buchheim declared. As for security, pairing is limited to devices when they are 1 m apart and “you have to tap it to activate it so that it’s safer”.
This technology is really innovation at its best, it fill in a requirement, is available right now, and is both simple and ground-breaking; no wonder they raised so much money from Indiegogo.