PARIS -- The Internet's global reach means it's a golden age for inventors trying to bring a new product to market -- at least until Kickstarter gives you the boot.
Kickstarter is a "crowdfunding" site that lets ordinary people back inventors, creators, and others with a new idea. On September 19, two of those inventors were Apigy co-founders Cameron Robertson and Paul Gerhardt, creators of the Lockitron Net-connected door lock.
That was the day the pair finished two years of work and began the process of promoting Lockitron on Kickstarter, Robertson recounted today at the LeWeb 2012 conference here. But on September 20, Kickstarter tightened its listing requirements and on September 21, Apigy found out that Kickstarter rejected their idea because it was related to home improvement.
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Over the next week, Apigy scrambled for an alternative. The company decided on crowdfunding on its own site. The result: 14,704 Lockitron units have been reserved for a payment commitment of $2.2 million.
"Kickstarter laid out the behavior for crowdfunded projects, but consumers were ready to do it on our site," Robertson said. The company doesn't actually get the money until it ships the products.
And the company decided to let like-minded others benefit from its work. "We open-sourced most of our code to Selfstarter," he said.
The Lockitron, which people can preorder for $179, exemplifies the Internet-of-things idea, in which any number of devices are connected to the Net. The lock mechanism itself is retrofitted to an ordinary deadbolt using a metal plate that fits between the door and the deadbolt latch.
Once installed, people can set it up so that homeowners can grant particular people authorization to enter even if they don't have keys. The system can be operated with a smartphone app or, for those with more primitive phones, with text messages.
Using Bluetooth, it can be set to automatically open when the homeowner approaches the door. It uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Net, and can issue alerts to the homeowner, too.