Strangely, the Smarty Ring that we covered a few weeks ago showed up again on Indiegogo last week with an entirely new funding page. We’ve seen copycat projects before, but this time the copycat page is actually from the original founders.
Apparently not content with the $299,349 they raised on their recent Indiegogo campaign, the team behind Smarty Ring decided to launch a second ten day campaign to pick up any stragglers “who all are missed [their] previous campaigns (sic)”. We’ve seen several projects run more than one campaign, but this has historically been only as a response to an original campaign failing to reach its goal in time. The second go-round often includes more polished marketing or a better product. This is the first time we’ve seen a team who far surpassed their self-imposed funding goal run a second campaign. I’m surprised Indiegogo allowed them to do this as it seems to undermine whatever purpose a fundraising time limit serves.
Looking closer, it gets even more bizarre. This new campaign is an exact copy of the original with the exception of the small note mentioned above and a few new perks including the vague $60 “V2.0 upgrade”.
This upgrade is offered to those who backed the original campaign for $175 and offers them the ability to get a new version of the ring for a total of $235 as opposed to the $275 they’re currently asking. The only explanation given for what exactly V2.0 means is the phrase “with scrolling display”. The original ring certainly showed an LED Matrix display on several of its mockups including those pictured in the campaign video as well as the circuit board layout.
Can this display not scroll for some reason? Obviously curious about why they have been asked to spend an additional $60 on a project that they have already backed, many backers had some questions for the Smarty Ring team which they laid out in the comments section of the original campaign:
The team’s responses haven’t been stellar:
So it would appear that while the original version of the ring does have a LED matrix display, only the new version will support callerID. So is this a firmware upgrade?
This is a little strange considering the PCB they’re showing for the V2.0 ring apparently matches the layout from the original ring. What’s the deal with the display on the first ring? We aren’t the only ones with that question:
Would have been nice to have doubts cleared before shelling out an additional $60.
This is not surprising news for a company that has offered so little detail throughout the last few months. Despite the vaguery of their product description, they maintain that they will ship this new V2.0 ring along with the V1.0 rings to those who didn’t upgrade by their original April 2014 deadline. So…less than two months.
The team has offered a few real-world updates including some images and even a video. From the images, we can see that they have printed their PCB and it matches up more or less exactly with the original layout:
Furthermore, looking at the size of the LED display drivers, the size of the circuit hasn’t changed significantly from our original estimations of 56×7.5mm:
They’ve also posted some pictures of ring enclosures which seem to match up with their original size specifications of 13mm long and 4mm thick:
As predicted in our original post, at least one backer was misled by their grossly inaccurate computer models:
These rings look very rough as they don’t have any of the glass display covers or icon overlays shown in their models. It’s certainly a first step to delivering a product, but they have a long way to go. Doubly so when you consider that they haven’t even soldered components to their PCB to see if it works.
Finally, they provided a video demonstrating the included wireless ring/phone charger:
While it doesn’t demonstrate anything particularly novel, it is interesting to see that the phone is using a Chinese service provider indicating that the team has at least made it to China to begin manufacturing.
The Smarty Ring team has really taken gross liberties with the trust of their backers. While a lack of product definition early on can give backers the feeling that they’re getting in on the ground floor of something big, pricing and feature changes this close to shipment date draw major concerns from even the most optimistic backer.
Curiously, one thing the team has not done is changed their shipment date which is usually the first thing to go. They’ve actually doubled down on that guarantee considering that the second batch of rings to be delivered to those just joining in the second campaign will apparently be shipped only a month later in May.
We won’t hold our breath.