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7/3/2014
01:45 PM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Geekend: A Tiptoe Through Kickstarter

Kickstarter is place where dreams go to become reality ... and to be mocked by the Geekend.

You bet. Introducing the MindRider, a product right out of MIT's Media Lab.

The MindRider is a smart bicycle helmet that helps you know exactly what you're getting out of your ride. Sensors mounted in the helmet monitor your brain activity to determine how relaxed or engaged you are on your ride. The helmet maps your brain activity in real time relative to your route to tell you later on which kinds of ride areas are optimal for you.

For instance, as you ride through the park, it could determine that you were relaxed and happy, but while you were riding through dangerous city traffic, you might be nervous. As you go by beautiful buildings, you might be engaged in the ride as you enjoy the scenery. Eventually, as it maps these feelings onto specific spaces using a smartphone app, the app can tell you where to go to get the kind of ride you're looking for. Want a relaxing ride? It can steer you to nearby places you've enjoyed before. Looking to be inspired or excited? It can steer you to those places as well.

Presumably, as the helmet becomes more sophisticated (prototypes already do everything described above), it could function as an exercise device or a safety device. If it sees you're distracted or agitated, it might be able to get you off the busy streets or remind you to pay attention before you have an accident. Eventually, it could be used for other activities as well, helping you map out your stress levels throughout your day.

One of the potential long-term goals could be to collect the information anonymously and see how city layouts affect way of life or how public spaces could be better designed to improve well-being.

Of course, there's one major problem: No one would want to wear the dorky hat if not on a bicycle or similar vehicle. The developer would need to reduce the bulkiness of the helmet to make it a sensor you can wear comfortably while walking or driving.

But MindRider has potential to help design better cities. It likely won't get there, as it has attracted a little under $12,000 of the requested $100,000 in funding. MindRider has only a week to meet its goal.

What do you think of our little tiptoe through Kickstarter? I didn't get a chance to talk about the Geek cookbook or the card game to help you learn to code. Or dozens more wonderful and crazy projects. Would you buy any of these products? Would you fund any of them? Have you ever funded anything on Kickstarter? If so, what did you fund? If not, why not? Comment below.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2014 | 6:00:01 PM
Ricky the cockroach
Perhaps folks named Ricky will throw some money at the project, just so they can see their name in a book.

I was intrigued by the statement at the end: I can't help but wonder, what kind of mistakes has the author made in life?? I'd give some money to find out...

This book reminds me of an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie makes up an excuse to meet up with Big's Ex-Wife just to see what she is like. Source: IMDB:

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: I didn't know you were into children's books.

Carrie: Well, who doesn't love children's books?

Carrie: [in her head] Five minutes of bodice-ripping material out the window. So, I did what any writer would do... I pulled an idea out of my a$$.

Carrie: Well, my story's about a little girl... named Cathy. Little Cathy.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: And what makes Little Cathy special?

Carrie: Well, um, she has these magic... [looks at cigarettes in her purse]...cigarettes.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: She has magic cigarettes?

Carrie: Yes, "Little Cathy and Her Magic Cigarettes". And whenever she lights up, she can go anywhere in the whole wide world. Like Arabia or New Jersey! Of course that's going to be worked out.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: You want to write a children's book about smoking?

Carrie: Yes, it's a children's book for adults.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
7/4/2014 | 9:48:21 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I'm debating whether to kick in some $$ to Shipman for her Ricky story. But I digress...

Was wondering if it were possible that the Handy Reach by Donald Walters to help you pull down the strings on your attic stairs will reveal where your creepy relative [brother] [cousin] hid all those bodies. Watch out for unintended consequences. Stephen King, listen up, a tool for your plot lines...

Teqball will be the next big thing, and is a client of Sterling, Draper Price.

I'm running out to get a Qwerkywriter – the best thing I've seen next to those fake pay phones that hang on the wall. It's wonderful!

>> Is there anything really big and special going on Kickstarter?

Well, there remains, and will always be, Kickstarter itself.

Happy Fourth @dave
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 4:43:33 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I think that crowdfunding is a great way to see if an idea can get traction with people. But I am wary of it as an investment vehicle. If some of these ideas are so good, then why did traditional investors turn them down? That's the caveat I have always been concerned with in regards to crowdfunding.

Sometimes, it's not even the idea that is the problem. Process, marketing and other factors can come into play and doom a potential project. 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2014 | 10:23:34 PM
regarding the helmet
"Of course, there's one major problem: No one would want to wear the dorky hat if not on a bicycle or similar vehicle."

I would think the other major problem is the technology that is actually reading the brain. That makes me nervous. Not sure I would want anything reading my brain for more than a few seconds.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2014 | 10:26:35 PM
city planning?
"One of the potential long-term goals could be to collect the information anonymously and see how city layouts affect way of life or how public spaces could be better designed to improve well-being."

What if your reactions have nothing to do with the place you're in? Suppose you feel stress because you're in a rush to get your child and then happiness/relief when you find a great parking spot. Would those two brain readings are a result of your personal life, not related to the city. Would that really help with city planning?
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 7:27:12 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I don't see Kickstarter as much of an investment vehicle.  Most of the funds I see put in to a Kickstarter project are to buy the actual product should it get enough funding to pull off.  I've made one off items to solve problems around the house because I hate paying people to do things that are relatively easy or I have someone shock me with what they say it will cost to service an item.  Could I mass produce and sell some of those items, probably.  Can I afford to build thousands of units in the hopes that they will sell, not even remotely.  So that is where I see the strength of Kickstarter, people will ideas that won't require too much funding but more than they can easily pull out of pocket to start a company.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 10:23:26 AM
Re: A Tiptoe Through Kickstarter
I was wondering when we'd get a bona-fide Kickstater-themed Geekend post. You've certainly written about crowdfunding before, Dave (it's a hard topic not to), but I was hoping we'd get to jump in the deep end sooner or later. Here we are, although I suppose we could go a lot deeper than this - there's some pretty crazy stuff out there, and Kickstarter can be a fickle and mystifying place. Sure, Ricky the cockroach might not be the best idea, but 0 dollars? And the typewriter keyboard got $130,000... and the mind-reading helmet that could change the world got $12,000? There's a lesson about human nature in here.

It's no secret that video games are a big draw on Kickstarter, and the Geekend seems like as good a place as any for a tie-in on that subject. The Ouya (which I own) famously raised 8 million  dollars on Kickstarter, and then subsequently came out and more or less sucked the big one (I still have mixed feelings about mine). My nominee for craziest game Kickstarter has to be 'bob's game' ; in development for the better part of ten years and supposedly made by just one guy (named Bob), the game has a storied history of 'viral' (or terrible) marketing, setbacks, and crazy rants from the developer all leading to people questioning if the game ever even existed. Yet, somehow, Bob managed to raise $10,000 for the game on Kickstarter just this May... and has since gone radio silent. I'd love to play the game, but at this point I'm having fun just watching the story unfold.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 2:50:33 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@danielcawrey

 "If some of these ideas are so good, then why did traditional investors turn them down?"

I'm guessing that no one had previously turned them down because they probably never went do traditional investors in the first place, either because a. most people wouldn't know how to secure investment capital in a traditional sense and b. why would you bother if you can post something to the internet and perhaps achieve the same end almost instantaneously.

That's my guess...
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 7:20:53 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@vnewman2, That's probably a good guess.  I know people who have great ideas but don't go anywhere with them because it's more trouble than they want to deal with.  Kickstarter puts the control back in their hands and lets them work at a pace that they are comfortable with so I can see the draw in contrast to submitting ideas to a traditional investor.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 1:22:44 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@vnewman2- It works because both cockroaches and 2nd hand smoke cause childhood asthma so we should make both. :)



I was intrigued by the statement at the end: I can't help but wonder, what kind of mistakes has the author made in life?? I'd give some money to find out...


Maybe you should offer to kickstart her autobiography instead. :)
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