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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.