SHADOW: Project Update #3


Link to original review

SHADOW reached its goal of $50k and still have 37 days to go.

I received “Project Update #3” last night:

Hello Team,

What a crazy 24 hours, we hit our goal just before midnight last night and we’ve been working around the clock to get everything in place.


01 iOS won our little competition and we started developing today, the team was super super excited, the ambition is high and the focus is deep.

02 ANDROID you have about 40k to go which is very possible in 38 days, Android tell your friends and help make this reality, and WINDOW PHONE, we have a way to go but it’s not impossible, rally your team WINDOWS PHONE.

03 Lar Nielsen emailed us and suggest a +1 prize means you could gift access to another person.  So we added it, thanks Lars great idea!

04 For all you New Yorker Fans out there I’m doing an interview with them for Talk about Town, this is magical because essentially the energy we created as a team is getting recognized at the highest level.  A++++ Team!

05 Heading to Las Vegas Thursday to meet Tony Hsieh from Zappos.  If anyone is in Las Vegas let me know and we can organize a little meet up!

06 thank you team!  we are doing it, now let’s break some records, more to come in the AM.

Sleep well,

-hunter lee soik


They’re only now starting development?!

From what I’ve seen, the most successful crowdfunded projects already have a product and are raising the capital to start manufacturing or scale their infrastructure.  The projects that take money for an idea and need cash to fund their R&D are the ones that tend to disappoint their backers.  It’s not hard to see why – ideas always shrink when confronted by the limitations imposed by real life budgets and obstacles.  When the people behind SHADOW mention their product in the same breath as the Mars rover, they’re setting their backers up for disappointment.

Which is too bad.  This is a nifty idea, and it’s possible I’m not giving them enough credit – maybe they’ve already thought through their technical implementation and have deliberately chosen to tap into our society’s collective obsession with phenomenology – but I doubt it.  They have some interesting challenges ahead of them for their data analysis implementation.  For example, they’re planning to select keywords from each description and push them to a “big data cloud”…

Artist's rendition of a big data cloud

Artist’s rendition of a big data cloud

…I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Anyway, they plan to store keywords from each description in a database and perform some kind of magic to look for “major themes and trends” across all users.  This is a bit different than I had imagined initially, which was a more personalized look at a given individual’s thoughts.  (I assumed, perhaps naively, that users would record their dreams to gain insight into themselves.)  Even this more limited analysis of a much larger dataset is tricky.  For example, I might dream that I died in a shipwreck, while little Jimmy dreams that he died in a car crash.  The theme is clearly anxiety, but how will SHADOW pick that up from our groggy retelling of the narrative using disparate keywords like “drowning” and “fiery impalement”?

Similarly, they mention comparing the content of dreams across cultures as one of the key uses of their app.  Unless their entire user base is English-speaking, such a feature would require sophisticated all-to-all translation.  I don’t know much about the state-of-the-art for this kind of thing, but based on my experience with Google Translate, I’m skeptical it can be done well enough to derive anything meaningful.

I’ll give them credit though – they sure know how to make a well-produced video.

I also happened to notice this little thing at the bottom of their page:

shadow_smart_phone_dev_26_sept_2013Are they implying they will not start Android/Windows development until an additional $50k is raised?  That’s a steep price for an app considering most of the backend work is already covered by what they’ve raised so far.  I wonder what percentage of the backers who voted for Android know this…

{ 2 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. They got iOS because most of those users are the most gullible.

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