When you think of the development of new gadgets and devices you tend to turn your mind to the larger tech giants like Google and Apple. These are the companies which traditionally have the resources to invest in ground-breaking ideas and the experience and the technical know-how to know what will sell. But if you attended CES 2013 then you may have noticed a slightly different trend starting to develop as more and more of the most impressive devices on show there were developed in quite a different way. Companies that no one had ever heard of before like Occulus and Pebble Technology were there for instance, and in some ways the technology they had developed was more trailblazing and interesting than anything that Samsung or Sony had on offer. So what’s going on?
By now you know what crowdfunding is and you’ll probably be aware of several of the incredible success stories that have come out of sites like Kickstarter. It seems incredible still though that many of the projects launched this way actually made it as far as CES and managed to make a real splash. These are ideas that individuals and tiny start-ups have had, that have been able to use the power of the web to appear on the same platform as big companies like Samsung and in many cases even outshine them.
One impressive bit of kit on display for instance was the Occulus Rift which generated a lot of buzz among the gamers present. This is a 3D virtual reality headset that began its life on Kickstarter and is in the very early stages of development. According to early reports the kit was incredibly immersive and if you imagine combining this thing with Kinect then it could be truly unbelievable.
Then there was the Pebble Smartwatch – probably the highest profile project on Kickstarter. The device is an e-paper wristwatch that can sync with an Android or iOS device in order to show notifications and e-mails, but which can also run its own apps for a range of purposes. While the concept is old news now, Pebble Technology used CES to announce the date the products would be shipping (23rd of January) and the price tag ($150).
Kickstarter didn’t corner all the fun though, as an Indiegogo project called ‘Shine’ also had its chance to… ahem… shine at the event. This one comes from ‘Misfit’, a small company focused on wearable computing. It is basically a calorie counter and pedometer that looks like an innocuous button with attractive little LED lights.
The Direction of Tech Development
All this is pretty amazing and for anyone hoping to one day release the next killer gadget. That dream is now more achievable than ever. More to the point though it’ll be interesting to see how this affects the market – with indie developers willing to take bigger risks and with the ‘crowd’ funding the projects they want to see developed this could lead to more rapid innovation and more designs available to the consumer than ever before. If nothing else the sheer increase in competition that comes from letting more people get involved will mean that the big tech companies will have to increase their innovation in order to stay relevant. Complacency really won’t be an option if this is anything to go by.
Crowdsourcing also making it’s Splash in Market Validation
And it wasn’t just crowdfunding that made its presence known at the show - there was also a bit of crowdsourcing on display too. The Razr Edge is an impressive gaming tablet that’s coming from Razr and that promises attachable controllers, top-of-the-range PC specs and a Windows 8 Pro operating system so that you can play Crysis 3 in bed or on the train during your morning commute.
What’s remarkable about it? Well the Razr Edge started life as a concept design that was uploaded to Facebook and Razr stated that they would only go into manufacturing the device if the image received a certain number of likes. This way they tested the market before committing to what would be a very expensive piece of kit to manufacture and this is something that more tech companies might want to learn from if they’re going to stand a chance of keeping up with those trailblazing indie developers and crowdfunded projects.