I‘ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter in the past with mixed results. Often the goal is not met, or in some cases the people raising money fail to produce their product, only to keep the money.
A few months ago I backed a project on Kickstarter, the “Parashoot” portable HD camera. Sadly their campaign was cancelled by Kickstarter shortly before it was scheduled to end. Messages in the project comments questioned why their camera appeared to be an exact copy of a camera that was already available under various names such Unieye for less than a hundred bucks in some cases. I ended up buying one on ebay and it turned out to be a decent little camera. Some video from my unieye here.
Well the same guys started another campaign for the “Parashoot 2.1 camera” on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. This time they raised over 150k and promised delivery of the camera in November for early backers. The camera looked the same as the ones already for sale, with the exception of a smooth cover that was shown on some of their photos (but others showed the same face as the camera already for sale) No explanation as to how the smooth face version would deal with the microphone and speaker, which are now missing.
Anyhow, raised their cash, then missed their November delivery. Some folks questioned why they were not updating the development status on their Facebook page and in the Indiegogo comments for their project.
On December 11th they finally emailed an update to backers. (I backed their project so I received it)
Here is the content of their 12-11-13 update:
News and Update
We’re excited to share with everyone our latest progress. Given the great support and much feedback we’ve received to improve the performance of the ParaShoot to the maximum, we’ve pushed ahead to accomplish significant stretch goals for advanced hardware and software capabilities. Even though we did not reach the amount of funding we had laid out for these major upgrades from the outset, we realized it would be valuable to backers that we accomplish them now, rather than shipping the ParaShoot with the specifications/features as is. The following are the results of our ongoing labor:
We have been working feverishly to upgrade the hardware and software capabilities of the PS. Going down the list, here is what we are improving as we speak:
CPU – upgrade
DRAM – upgrade
Internal memory – upgrade
Camera sensor – upgrade (our prototype was a 1Mp sensor)
Video resolution – upgrade (this is exciting, we’ll post an update on specific progress in the video resolution area again soon)
Photo resolution – upgrade
App functions – upgrade (adding functions that will allow to enjoy not just time lapse photography, but additional awesome photo and video features – more on this to come)
App capabilities – upgrade (Adding ability to share/upload your footage to youtube/social networks)
New sensors – g-sensor, gyro, external gps (each serving a unique purpose)
Design – we are working to improve the enclosure (more on this to come)
Accessories – we are improving the accessories
Let’s not forget the skins – now is the time to share your input/ideas with us
In light of all these great upgrades, we realize now that our initial estimated delivery schedule was aggressive. The technical effort to advance the specs and upgrade the PS has pushed back the delivery timetable. We are now estimating that November early adopters will receive the first prototypes in January, and December First Backers will receive the PS in late January/February. We hope you look forward to getting and appreciating this awesome piece of tech as much as we can’t wait to get the ParaShoot your hands for your utmost fun and deployment.
I thought it was weird that they emailed this update rather than put it on their project page, like every other project. I also thought it was weird that they are adding a “G Sensor, Gyro and External GPS” to the camera when they never mentioned this during the previous months of promotion, and no user requested any of these pointless features. I questioned this in the comment section of their project page and all my comments were deleted within minutes.
To date they have not shown a photograph showing any progress of this project, no photos from their trips to China, no shots of the production, no proof that they done anything with the $150,113 they raised.
Even worse for these guys, the Looxcie 3 is now available, which looks to be exactly the same camera they were developing, with better software and cases, for $99. (Some people paid $500 for the privilege of getting 2 Parashoot cameras, roughly $300 more than what you would pay to get the two Looxcie 3 cams today) I mentioned on the Parashoot Facebook page and it was promptly deleted.
I hope these guys can deliver what they promised their backers. Their odd behavior with deleting comments, hiding updates from the public and getting their Kickstarter project suspended does seem a little odd. And the fact that you can buy a camera that looks just like the one on their campaign video today, for hundred bucks is pretty disappointing. Time will tell.