Kickstarter is an interesting way to get projects into the eye of potential investors. By pledging certain levels of money, as low as $1, investors get an item in return and the company gets some funding. Kickstarter has had some million-dollar successes.
In a unique merging of Kickstarter and printed electronics, Novalia is utilizing a Kickstarter campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/839415566/novalia-drum-poster) to raise £40,000 ($62,500) to go into limited production on two fully functional printed items, a Drum Poster with capacitive touch and a Switchboard system that connects to apps. The pledges from Kickstarter will fund the set up and production of the first print run.
The Kickstarter funding has raised nearly 20% to date, and ends on Aug. 28.
• For a pledge of £20, Novalia will send the investor a printed Switchboard controller and a download of the app.
• For £50, Novalia will send the printed Drum Poster, either as a standalone or the Bluetooth model, with its own integrated amplifier and speaker.
• For £129 or more, the investor will receive the Drum Poster, made with graphene-based inks.
• For £950 or more, Novalia will work with the donor to develop their own version of the poster, using customized images.
Dr. Kate Stone, Novalia’s founder and CEO, said that the decision to use Kickstarter came after she gave a presentation on the drum poster at the prestigious TED conference.
“I gave a talk at TED, and everyone who saw the Drum Poster wanted one,” Dr. Stone said. “We are always asked how production is going, and we figured this would be a good way to get that started. We want to make a few thousand of these posters, and the project needs kickstarting, and this can allow us to raise the money we need and get production started. Part of what we want to do is get what we have created in as many people’s hands as possible.”
In the Kickstarter video, the Novalia team shows random people on the street the Drum Poster, and the response is one of curiosity and happiness.
“Anyone who touches the Drum Poster wants to buy it right now,” Dr. Stone said. “People don’t really get how amazing printed electronics can be until they touch it. It is kind of like magic.”
There are two parts to the Kickstarter project. The first, the Drum Poster, features an amplifier and speakers which respond when the person touches each of the drums or cymbals.
“The Drum Poster is printed on paper, and we print using conductive inks on the reverse side and then laminate it,” Dr. Stone noted. “We think we have a platform that can do really good things.”
The Drum Poster led to the idea of Switchboard, which creates a printed card that allows the user to program buttons to control various apps.
“This led us to create Switchboard,” Dr. Stone said. “Switchboard can do whatever the user wants it to do. It connects to the app, and you can choose what each button does, whether it is playing a song track, changing volume, loading a video, sending a Facebook update or tweet, or much more. The question to people is what will they switch.”
Novalia is using printing processes such as flexography, offset lithography, gravure and screen as well as conductive and graphene-based inks.
“It doesn’t take long to design something,” Dr. Stone added. “What takes time is to invent a platform that is easy to use. The biggest issue is attaching print to conventional electronics. We designed the control module you place on the back of the poster. Our short-term goal is to manufacture what we are coming up with, and there are a few companies we are working with on this.”
Dr. Stone said that TED proved to be an ideal place to share Novalia’s vision.
“TED was so much fun,” Dr. Stone said. “It was such a privilege to share what we and so many others in the printed electronics community have done.”
Ultimately, Dr. Stone said that creatively using printed electronics can prove to be eye-catching.
“Our job is to make this as easy as possible using things that are around you,” Dr. Stone said. “At Novalia, we didn’t invent conductive inks, capacitive touch or printing. The difference is that we are really creative on how we bring these things together. Our number one priority is creating a magical device, and to see what peoples’ reaction to what a piece of paper can do is a joy. We really hope the Kickstarter community will be as enthused and energized as we are.”