When Supermechanical turned to Kickstarter to crowdsource funding of its Internet of Things project, it’s doubtful even company co-founders would have thought that they’d reap nearly a half a million dollars — more than 1,000 percent of goal — with time to spare.

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When Supermechanical turned to Kickstarter to crowdsource funding of its Twine project, its co-founders were no doubt optimistic. But it’s hard to believe even they would have expected that pledges amounting to nearly a half a million dollars — way more than 1,000 percent of the funding goal — would roll in with time to spare.

Still that’s what happened. As of 5:00 p.m. EST Jan. 2, some 3,548 people had pledged $497,939, with 20 hours to go before the deadline.

That money will make it possible for Supermechanical to bring its Internet of Things-related project to fruition by paying for the manufacture of the small modules needed connect everyday objects to the web. Technologists depict IoT as a world of connected appliances, rooms, cars, medical devices, even clothing. That connectivity will enable devices to share information so that they can be monitored and controlled remotely.

Supermechanical’s 2.5-square-inch Twine modules come with Wi-Fi, on-board temperature and vibration sensors, an expansion port to connect to other devices, and a small micro USB port. Once installed, those modules communicate wirelessly over the Internet to Spool, a web application that collects incoming data and alerts the user as needed to emergency events. A Twine-equipped basement, for example, will ping you if it detects flooding.

According to the company’s Kickstarter pitch:

Twine is the simplest possible way to get the objects in your life texting, tweeting or emailing. A durable 2.5″ square provides WiFi connectivity, internal and external sensors, and two AAA batteries that keep it running for months. A simple web app allows to you quickly set up your Twine with human-friendly rules — no programming needed. And if you’re more adventurous, you can connect your own sensors and use HTTP to have Twine send data to your own app.

Supermechanical was founded by David Carr and John Kestner, both alums of MIT’s Media Lab.

The Kickstarter funding model is innovative because it spreads the risk around and lets people make small investments in projects they believe in. The minimum pledge is $1, but people can give as much as they want and those ponying up more than $99 will get a Twine module. Higher rollers will get more than one device. The Twine modules will be available in March, according to the Kickstarter site. As GigaOM’s Ryan Kim reported early this year, Kickstarter backs all sorts of projects in return for 5 percent of funds raised.

The whole IoT scenario will not come about as advertised unless there is a way to affordably make heretofore dumb and disconnected devices smarter and connected. That’s the problem Supermechanical is attacking here with Twine and Spool.

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  1. What exactly does it do? I’m confused..

    1. i’m sorry if unclear. The Twine project (linked in the story) aims to put web-connected sensors on everyday objects so they can communicate their status to their user/owner. That’s the whole Internet of things angle.

  2. This is Internet of Things – monitoring sensors via the web. Also check out GreenGoose and tech by IOBridge. IOBridge does control as well as monitoring in the same fashion as Twine.

  3. Jeremy Zawodny Monday, January 2, 2012

    I’m a big fan (contributed over $100) but am still surprised by how much money that raised. Talk about a previously untapped market. Congrats to them!

  4. Fantastic idea but I don’t get Kickstarter – do “pledges” convert to “shares”?

    1. my understanding is that you don’t get shares, but you get product and other stuff — twine contributors get eithe rone or more of the devices (depending on contribution) plus t-shirts etc… there’s more on the model here: http://gigaom.com/video/kickstarter-independent-creators/

  5. I’m a contributor to Twine on kickstarter, and also surprised by the public interest. IoT community is clearly growing (arduino, adafruit, sparkfun, etc), but seems there’s an untapped market of non-geeks wanting to participate without having to open an IDE and use lines of code..

    James: not really. Depends on the types of pledge the author is offering. Sometimes you’re just want to donate a few bucks to someone awesome to realize his/her dream, with no strings attached. Some other times you’re actually purchasing an earlier version of a new product.

  6. Supermechanical Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    It’s true – we’re optimists, but this was unreal. We are humbled by the response we’ve gotten – the final tally is $556,541. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, we’re taking general pre-orders now at http://supermechanical.com/twine
    Thanks for a nice writeup, Barb! We see Twine as allowing non-nerds to easily network and monitor things in the real world.

    1. wow. Do you know if this is a record? i’ll have to ck w/ Kickstarter.

      1. The iPod Nano on a wristband project (TikTok) is over 6000% oversubscribed with over $900k pledged as of today.

        Regardless, great news for Twine, the Internet of Things. and Kickstarter!

  7. So does this mean a stove can email you or send sms when the element goes bad? or when the washer is done?

  8. Frode Marton Meling Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    What plastic molding did they use to make this prototype? I am making a prototype myself, but can not find a good tutorial on how to build a plastic box like that.

    1. @frode, i think you can reach out to the twine guys directly, email links on the site: http://supermechanical.com/about.html

  9. Untapped market? GROWING market!!! I just came across Monnit, which has sensors that do the same thing and it appears their software offering has the edge over Twine. This market is only going to get bigger.

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