CINCINNATI - Wearable technology like Google Glass, the Nike Fuelband and smart watches tie us ever closer to our gadgets. Attached to the body like an electronic appendage, wearable tech products allow us to interact with our environment in new ways.
Cincinnati is contributing its own device to the wearable technology space with Kapture. The audio wristband allows users to record, edit, save and distribute snippets of conversations. Created by Matthew Dooley and Mike Sarow, Kapture is in the midst of a $150,000 crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
9 Questions for Kapture Co-founder and CEO Mike Sarow
1. How did you come up with the idea for Kapture?
The most amazing part of the Kapture story is how the base concept hasn’t changed much since I tapped my wrist while reflecting in a park near downtown San Francisco. I was on a vacation with a friend and wanted the ability to save the great parts of their conversations. Once the benefit was identified (via a fake tap of the wrist) it spread. I remember intuitively tapping my wrist from that day forward. The same was true for my vacation mate. Fast forward a few years and I am still tapping my wrist (now with a Kapture prototype).
2. How does Kapture work?
The Kapture always-on wristband records audio in a 60-second buffered loop. The buffered loop continuously overwrites itself until the user taps the device to save a clip of the previous 60 seconds. The saved file is downloaded to your smartphone automatically and wirelessly via Bluetooth, where the duration can be shortened and you can name, tag, filter, and share it via email, text or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
3. Who is your target user?
Our target consumer is a creator (both male and female). They create by soaking in the world around them and internalizing what they hear, see, and touch into their own art forms. If we breakdown people as being creators, curators, or consumers of the world around them - our target is the creator.
These creative souls have their own unique style. Clothing and their look isn’t a collage from all of the standard stores, but rather a mix of old and new. A Kapture owner can be single or toting around a young child. Either way, they do it with a flavor all their own. Life is all about the story yet to be told and not just about a constant reflection of what has happened. Experience is key to ensuring they learn and grow into the person they want to be.
4. The device's name has been changed a couple of times, why? And do you think Kapture will stick?
We’d like to say we were waiting for the perfect name, but in reality it was prioritization. We have been incredibly focused on the technical development of the product. We used working names as placeholders. Once we took time to think about a real name, Kapture quickly became a favorite and isn’t a placeholder. It just fits.
5. You've spent a lot of time working on the design. Why is that so important to the device's success?
It may sound arbitrary, but we felt wearable technology should be stylish and wearable. If we expect a consumer to wear a Kapture every day, then they shouldn’t have to compromise how they look. We achieved our design goal by eliminating the gadget look (screens and buttons) and by introducing a high level of customization. The "look" is also retro/vintage to ensure it doesn’t look like old cell phone – out of style before you take it out of the box.
With Kapture, you have two distinct ways to customize your experience. First, the band can be changed to a new color to match your personal style. Second, the microphone sound grill can be removed and replaced in a new color to create a completely unique look. Sometimes an all-black look is cool. Well, just put the black grill and band on and go! But if you’re headed to a White Party, we have you covered (available colors: black, white, sea foam, hot orange, hard yellow). We also have introduced customization of materials. We offer a 14k gold-plated Kapture grill along with a chrome-plated version.
6. What kind of investment has Kapture received so far?
Kapture as a company is in a seed stage funding round where we have raised over $300 thousand. Cincytech is leading the round. The round is still active and will be completed before looking at other (typically venture capital) investment to scale the launch of Kapture.
7. Why did you decide to turn to Kickstarter to raise funds?
Kickstarter for us is less about the raising funds and more about validating the product idea. The $150 thousand funding goal isn’t arbitrary as it allows for enough initial production to make starting a manufacturing line feasible. However, more important than the number of units we aim to produce via Kickstarter, the feedback and interaction with the community on Kickstarter will shape the final design and functionality of the product. Kickstarter is an active community of individuals who will trade perspective for a longer delivery time. They understand the trials and tribulations of a young company and are willing to offer suggestions and feedback in a very supportive tone.
8. What is the biggest challenge to creating a product that is in a new space?
The short answer is awareness. Back before the iPOD was introduced nobody was asking for a 1000 songs in their pocket. When we started Kapture over two years back it was rare to have find somebody who knew about wearable technology and how they could use it in conjunction with their everyday life. The category is the wild, wild west right now, but thankfully the awareness of wearable tech has increased. It isn’t uncommon for somebody to own or know about a Nike Fuel Band or a Fitbit. With the introduction of big players like Google (Glass) and Samsung (Galaxy Gear) the general public is starting to notice the category.
9. What's next for Kapture?
The current Kickstarter project will shape what happens next. This campaign is the most important thing we have done as a company and it is also very important to Cincinnati. We are proud to be part of a city where people support people, and we are banking on Cincinnati being a major part of the reason we succeed. While it is flattering to hear that we are putting Cincinnati on the map for technology, the best way our community can support us is by backing us on Kickstarter.
Assuming the campaign goes as planned, and we surpass our $150k goal, we will start the process of manufacturing the product. We will incorporate feedback from Kickstarter backers into the final design and begin a period of testing the product for reliability and quality assurance. Delivery of the product is scheduled for March 2014. In parallel we will plan the public launch of the product including retail placements and online sales.
Connect with WCPO contributor Feoshia Davis on Twitter: @feoshiawrites