I love hardware. That’s why I want you guys to bring some of the coolest hardware projects imaginable to Disrupt NY this year. That’s why I want you guys in our Hardware Alley.
Hardware Alley is a one-day celebration of hardware start ups both young and old. The goal has always been to show off amazing hardware that we have written about over the past few months, as well as a few surprises. Last Disrupt we featured the guys from Thermovape, Makerbot, and Lit Motors. This year we want to fill Disrupt NYC with more amazing companies.
For more details on Disrupt head over here. We’re looking for new or even unlaunched products, as well as potential Kickstarter projects. Prototypes are fine as long as they’re amazing.
You can see the previous Hardware Alley participants here. You can sign up here. Bootstrappers can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a break on price. Hope to see you in the alley… the Hardware Alley.
Our sponsors help make Disrupt happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our amazing sponsorship team here email@example.com.
Last May, Incident Tech launched the gTar, a guitar with real strings that connected to a smartphone for some amazing sound processing. In the last few months, the founder, Idan Beck and his team have been busy preparing the 800 guitars he pre-sold on Kickstarter for shipment. Theirs is a story of creativity, cool, and the next generation in music technology. I spoke with Idan briefly about his Disrupt experience and how it felt to go from zero to shipping in less than a year.
TC: So how have things been going since Disrupt?
Idan: Things have been extremely busy and going well! Shortly after disrupt we shifted our primary focus on getting the gTar into mass production out in China. While we had already been going out there for nearly a year at that point, we spent the next 6 months hammering out every issue imaginable in production and learning about how much goes into making a thousand of something.
Now we’re starting to get units out of China in batches and fulfill them out to our amazingly supportive and patient Kickstarter backers. As a result of the last 6 months the product has really improved as well, with the end result and build quality far exceeding our expectations, since as a result of production we had to make certain changes to the design and architecture of the product, allowing us to make some significant improvements to the technology, along with the direct ability to upgrade the product in the future through iPhone delivered updates as well as hardware upgrades that our customers can install themselves.
TC: Tell us about the gTar before and after Disrupt. What did you think would happen before you got on stage?
Idan: Before Disrupt the gTar was still a relatively secret project being worked on in a closet-sized office in the flatland of Santa Clara. Before that I had originally started building the product in my garage in Cupertino and after that we were bouncing around for a while (even working for a month or so on an Icelandic ferry docked in the SF bay), but once we knew we were going to Disrupt everything sort of got official. Driven by the pressure to get things right, our team pulled together a really professional looking video and presentation in a matter of weeks while gearing up for what we felt was going to be a make it or break it point for the product.
TC: Were you scared? Excited? How does it feel to launch on stage? Idan: It’s definitely exciting and almost foreboding to get up on the stage, especially considering that you have such a short amount of time and it’s not really possible to leave much to chance. You’re somehow stuffing three years of work into such a short little moment, and hope that people understand implicitly what had to go on under the hood to make all of that happen.
It definitely has this sort of epic feel to it and we were definitely nervous as all hell. We spent every waking moment practicing and rehearsing every word and sentence we were going to say. Also, our dependence on our early stage prototype hardware was always something we were worried about. For example, the night before our presentation, Josh had to run out to get a Dremel tool that he somehow managed to find at the only open hardware store in Manhattan, so that I could make some internal tweaks for us to re-route some wires through the prototype to avoid any potential battery issues or audio problems that might pop up on stage.
That prototype is in a case now, and we’re planning to hang it up as a piece of art. It was very much a super early prototype (and the only fully functional gTar in existence at that point) and we easily had disassembled and reassembled it at least 10-20 times over those few days. In fact, we did it so much that we were ruining the screws holding on the pick guard and by the last day we only had 3 left!
TC: How many did you pre-sell that day? Idan: We launched the project around 2PM or something and we hit our $ 100K Kickstarter goal in just over 11 hours so by the end of the day we had pre-sold north of 200 gTars. The project ended up raising over $ 350k with about 850 people pledging to get a gTar.
TC: Why didn’t you play any really smoking hot-reggae jams on stage? Like “Stir It Up?” To be honest I think we could have chosen a better set of songs for our demos, but we were also playing it a little safe as well since we wanted to choose a song that I could play well enough knowing that I’d probably freeze up on stage. I think you can probably see my leg shaking if you look carefully enough in the video of the first presentation. We actually got a lot of feedback on that demo, so for the second presentation we did change up the songs around, which definitely was a good move.
TC: What’s next for gTar? Another version? Idan: We’re still working hard to get a gTar into the hands of everyone that backed us on Kickstarter, and are making solid progress and getting some great positive initial feedback. We’re eagerly awaiting another large shipment that’s on its way and on the ocean as we speak. We’ll be putting some serious effort into an Android dock and app, as well as Web browser based compatibility. We have done some light conceptualizations of how other instruments would work within our platform, but are mainly focused on the gTar for the moment.
We’re working hard to continuously make the gTar a better product, and as a result of some the design changes that went into effect during production, the units we are sending out today will also have the capability to benefit from those improvements as we roll them out. This includes continued improvement to our own app, such as a deeper exploration and development of the social aspects of the product.
A few weeks ago we launched an online store that is already generating pre-orders for the spring, and we’re developing retail distribution channels for the summer and holiday seasons. We’re also looking to expand our team over the next year as well!
TC: If Disrupt were an EBay account, what would you write in the review?
Idan: I would think that the comparison is much more likened to a summer fling. It’s a short, intense, and immensely rewarding experience that ends up surprisingly thrilling for everyone involved. At the end you might not end up being number one, but the experience will change you for the better.
With the rise of cheap and affordable manufacturing facilities, combined with new sources of financing such as crowd-funding, hardware startups are hot once again.
And there is no better evidence of this than a quick dash through the Hardware Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt last week in San Francisco.
We started with a new kind of connected coffee maker and ended with a startup that lets you look at your thoughts. Enjoy.Related Posts:
As if our new hardware-based Hackathon opportunities weren’t enough, we’d love to draw your attention to Disrupt Hardware Alley, a collection of hardware startups who are ready to amaze, delight, and stupefy you with crazy hardware from around the world.
This year we have over 25 participants and we’re sponsored by NewBlue Innovators Program by Best Buy. Look for some wild stuff including a programmable flashlight, a compact and effective botanical vaporizer, and a robot that will allow home viewers to motor around the show floor and interact with visitors and exhibitors.
It will be, as they say, a hoot.
Again, special thanks to Best Buy for helping out and thanks for all of our Hardware Alley participants. It’s hard out there for small manufacturers but as we bring more hardware startups into the fold I’m sure we’ll see more respect given those hardworking, non-pivoting, and under appreciated electrical engineers who have to get it right the first time.
Manufacturers: There’s still time to join. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a spot. Hurry, because tables are closing fast.Related Posts:
Do you have hardware project that’s been simmering on the back burner because you can’t get access to a 3D printer? Come on down to the Disrupt Hackathon and use one of the MakerBots and Raspberry Pis we’ll have on site for anyone to use. Build toys, robots, Arduino cases, or whatever you want and enter the Disrupt Hackathon as an inaugural hardware hacker. We dare you.
The best hardware hack as chosen by the judges wins a brand new Replicator courtesy of MakerBot – a $ 2,000 value.
What can you do to prepare? For starters, I’ll have four Raspberry Pi boards available for hackers to futz with during the evening courtesy of our friends at Adafruit Industries. If you’d like to get access to one (and to keep one) you must contact me at email@example.com before this Friday and I’ll choose four hackers at random. You’ll want to bring an SD card with Adafruit’s own Raspberry Pi Linux Disro already ready to go so you can get down to hacking instead of spending precious minutes flashing images. Also check out the tutorials available online for hacking the Raspberry Pi.
If you’re already an advanced hacker, pack up your Ardunio board and bring a selection of sensors and motors. Once we get better at the hardware portion of the festivities we’ll be sure to bring a supply for you all to use, but this year in SF we need your help to shape our hardware hacker best practices. Come ready to build something in 24 hours with a team of strangers and please don’t roll in with a fully-formed multi-armed robot you designed over the past decade (although that would be badass).
I’m looking forward to seeing some hardware hackers at our Hackathon on September 8 and please drop me a line if you have any questions. Again, the Makerbots will be available all night and four individuals will get a Pi to play with so plan accordingly.
May the hacks be ever in your favor.Related Posts:
Bre Pettis of MakerBot stopped by our little show today and spent some time on the stage with John Biggs and other notables in the manufacturing space. But afterwards Pettis, co-founder and CEO of MakerBot, joined me on the TCTV couch to geek out a bit over the fantastic MakerBot Replicator. The company also has two MakerBot Replicators printing out random doodads and toys in our first ever Hardware Alley.
As Bre explained, the original MakerBot buyers were geeks and hackers but now it’s moms and dads (like me). With the MakerBot, kids and parents can create and manufacture toys together. The Replicator can make nearly anything. It is essentially a desktop toy factory — or, for anyone else, a prototype printer allowing for rapid manufacturing.
In short MakerBot is changing the world.
Incident took the stage this afternoon at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC and debuted the gTar. It’s safe to say that they are already a major contender for the Disrupt Cup.
The startup wowed the crowd with their iPhone-powered teaching guitar. The judges loved it. The crowd loved it. And most importantly, fans turned to the startup’s Kickstarter campaign where funding took off like a rocket. Prior to hitting the stage, the gTar had raised just a touch above $ 10,000. Now, almost exactly two hours after their Disrupt debut, their Kickstarter funding (a.k.a. pre-orders) is north of $ 42,000 and rising fast.
The gTar seems to hit home with most people who see the demo. It promises to take away the massive learning curve associated with playing guitar. With a progressive learning mode, the gTar essentially reinvents guitar lessons. Besides that, experienced players can rock out to the gTar’s synthesized instruments or simply play around with its LED fretboard.
There is a real chance that a hardware startup will win Disrupt NYC this year and that’s very exciting.
The gTar by Incident is disruption defined. It takes the guitar, an instrument with a steep learning curve, and adds a bit of digital wizardry in the form of an embedded iPhone to make learning dramatically easier. The company brags that their modern take on the guitar allows for three levels of difficulty, rather than the traditional single really difficult one. But thanks to the iPhone and a clever app, this $ 500 electronic guitar essentially teaches users the ins and outs of the instrument.
The startup recently turned to Kickstarter to raise $ 100,000. However today they gave the crowd at Disrupt a musical treat — a demonstration at Startup Alley. And the device seemed to work as advertised.
Click to view slideshow.
After docking an iPhone in the guitar’s body and loading the app, the neck comes alive with a series of interactive LEDs along the fretboard. In Easy Mode, these lights illuminate in sequence with the teaching app, showing the user which string to play. Medium takes it up a level by forcing the player to use the frets and the strings. However, the gTar’s Smart Play function only plays the correct string.
Thanks to sensors rather than traditional pickups, the guitar will only play the appropriate string. But, as the user improves, the guitar does away with some of the nanny features, allowing the user to have, for better or worse, full access to the guitar’s musical capabilities. The Free Play mode allows for even more options, letting the player turn the guitar into a wide-range of instruments thanks to its iPhone core.
The gTar seems to have all the right goods to disrupt a space as old as string instruments. This could be the high of Disrupt NYC talking, but it feels as if this could be, or perhaps lead to, the guitars for the Guitar Hero generation.
This week we recorded live from the show floor at Disrupt NYC. We sat through 24 hours straight of hot-rod hacking at the Hackathon and now we’re preparing for the main show and, most important, the brand new Hardware Alley where we’ll have loads of great hardware start-ups for you guys to check out.
In this episode we talk about Disrupt, the new EVO 4G LTE, and the rumors of the four-inch iPhone. We also talk about the “thumb touches anywhere on the screen” iPhone chestnut, how good the battery life is on some Android phones, the late night Nerf wars at the hackathon, and my horrible sausage fingers.
Tune in today and look for another episode next week from the show floor.
TechCrunch Disrupt is all about shining the spotlight on exciting startups. But starting at this year’s New York show, we’re including hardware startup in the mix. After an initial call over the weekend, spots are filling up quickly, but there is still room for several more.
Hardware Alley will run alongside Start-Up Alley on the last day of Disrupt, May 23rd. We’re looking for promising hardware startups. Got a disruptive Kickstarter project? An innovative take on beer kegs? Perhaps a modern-day ornithopter. Whatever it is, we want to give you a chance to show it off to the best and brightest in the tech world.
Hardware Alley will be up and running on May 23rd. Hardware start-ups will be provided a 24-inch cocktail table, WiFi, power and two passes to the show for that day.
For pricing and more information, contact me at Matt@TechCrunch.com with the email subject of I Want To Be In Hardware Alley. Be sure to include a brief description of your product and link to more information. Act quickly. There are only a limited number of spots.