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Gold mine for start-ups: Tech inventors take to Kickstarter

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Kickstarter? crowdfunding? start-up?

Tech inventors are going online to raise sums of money in order to bring their projects into fruition. Known as crowdfunding, platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo act as matchmakers between pledgers and projects. Today, tech projects represent 25 per cent of the total campaigns on Kickstarter, noted executives at ARM Tech Con.

Among Kickstarter's best-funded projects were Pebble and Oculus Rift. Pebble, a customisable watch, received $10 million from over 68,000 backers. Oculus Rift, now Facebook-owned, amassed just about tenfold its original $250,000 funding to prototype the development kit of the virtual reality headset.

"I think Kickstarter is a great way to build a community of developers. A lot of hardware developers and people who enjoy working with these kinds of developer boards congregate around Kickstarter looking for the next thing they can build something with," Nick Yulman, Kickstarter's technology and design community manager, told EE Times.

Many Kickstarter users are building ARM-based developer platforms such as MetaWear, a chip for embedding in wearables, while some are developing prototyping tools like Bot Factory's Squink, a rapid circuit board printer. Yulman said the creation of tools to create future products is particularly exciting.

"I think the nature of design communities around embedded are going to get interesting, because as these abstraction layers with APIs are raised, and as Internet connectivity becomes more of a feature of these devices, people are looking at problems from a system level and maybe from a product perspective rather than just simply embedded programming," ARM Embedded strategist Dominic Pajak said. "I think the communities are going to form now, and I think Kickstarter is an example of that community spreading out."

ARM may be the choice for prototypers because of the wide range of low-cost devices the company provides. Pajak said the availability of ARM-based Raspberry Pis and Arduino Zero boards makes the chips attractive for a variety of use cases.

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