How This Crowdfunded Gadget Got to CES
This story has been updated since it originally posted.
LAS VEGAS—As far as Kickstarter success stories go, Kogeto, a start-up exhibiting at this year's Consumer Electronics show, has a pretty outstanding one.
Back in May, this New York-based start-up was just another project in need of funding. The company makes the Dot camera lens, which snaps onto an iPhone and lets its user shoot 360-degree video. By July, Kogeto had raised $120,000 on Kickstarter and within 48 hours Apple was calling to set up a meeting. Fast forward to January: Kogeto has $1 million in venture funding and will roll out its devices in Apple retail stores by the end of this month, says CEO and founder Jeff Glasse.
Glasse, who also happens to be a comedian, says he stumbled upon the world of panoramic video a couple of years ago when he was working on an education research project for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "I felt like Steve Jobs at Xerox Park," he says. At that point, it took 11 cameras to capture 360-degree video and the footage took about a week to process—and few, he says, were doing very much to try to improve the technology.
Then one day in the supermarket he discovered his big idea: He saw a curved mirror and realized he could use the same approach with a video lens and eliminate the need for multiple cameras. "Frankly [the technology] is something I learned in high school."
What came out of that technology being developed? Today, using the $79 Dot and the free Looker app, anyone can quickly shoot, upload, and share panoramic videos online.
There are still a few drawbacks to the technology, however: You can't view the video as you're recording it (the iPhone must be face-down) and, due to lighting, the outdoor video quality tends to be superior to indoor videos.
On the upside, Dot's streamlined design looks like it's far more stable than the larger clip-on lens designed by competitor GoPano.
GoPano, which is also exhibiting this year at CES, has its own Kickstarter success story. It launched on the site in March and raised almost $170,000. GoPano sells its lens for about the same price as the Dot.
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A year ago, it was just a fledgling Kickstarter project. Now Kogeto has VC funding and a spot on Apple Store shelves.