Amazon’s new Build It program seems to offer a new impact on the crowdfunding industry led by Kickstarter and Indiegogo – with an Alexa cuckoo clock one if it’s the first products.
Where other crowdfunding platforms work by inviting customers to invest in proposed products by pre-ordering them without the assurance that they will ship, Amazon is doing things a little differently and offering a more financially robust approach.
Here, Amazon sets up its own prototype devices, and customers are encouraged to pre-order the ones they like. Only if pre-orders are received does Amazon undertake to build the product, which is then shipped to buyers, who are then billed for their order.
If the product does not receive enough pre-orders, the project is scrapped and the orders are canceled without money changing hands. That way, customers do not face the risk of being excluded if a company does not live up to their promise, and Amazon’s huge cash pile must ensure that successful products are built quickly and to an appropriate standard.
Cuckoo clock and more
The first three products to appear on the Build It platform are devices that differ from traditional Alexa models. The first is a wall-mounted cuckoo clock that works with Alexa. Like Amazon’s more traditional Alexa wall clock, this model can be configured with timers and alarms by talking to the voice assistant on a nearby Echo speaker or monitor. The face contains 60 LEDs that show the progress of your timers and there are several alarm sounds to choose from.
The $ 80 watch always shows the right time as it is connected to the internet and the rest of your Alexa smart home system. Powered by four C-batteries or via a USB-C port (cable and plug not included), the watch is 15.7 inches high and 7.3 inches wide, and the mechanical pendulum can be removed if you do not want it.
Next up on Amazon’s experimental products is a $ 35 digital kitchen scale. Much like any other digital scale sold on Amazon, this one connects to Alexa, which can then provide the nutritional information about the food you weigh. For example, place some blueberries on the scale and ask Alexa how much sugar is in them and the assistant will tell you.
Alexa can announce the nutritional value of eateries on the scaleAmazon
To be clear, the scale does not work like an Alexa speaker. You will need an Alexa speaker or display within the hearing protector to talk about the nutritional value of the food you weigh – for example, you may have an Echo Dot or an Echo Show on the kitchen table as shown above. The scale measures 8.3 inches x 6.3 inches and is made of 3 mm thick tempered glass. It is powered by a pair of AA batteries.
The third and final product to launch the Amazon Build It platform is a $ 90 banknote printer. A simple black box designed to sit on your desk, the printer creates yellow stickers such as shopping lists and to-do lists. This is a thermal printer that works without ink or toner, so it only ever needs to be refilled with compatible paper.
The documents it prints are created by talking to Alexa or by printing them into the Alexa smartphone app. You then ask the assistant to print them and they are sent to the printer.
We can see that this is useful for shopping lists, but when the list is probably already in the Alexa smartphone app, we feel that the printed note may be redundant for many Alexa users. Amazon says that if the printer is built, it will come with a roll of yellow sticky paper roll, and refills can be purchased in blue, pink, white and yellow.
The Sticky Note printer connects to Alexa and costs $ 90Amazon
In addition to notes and lists, Alexa may also be asked to print recipes and puzzles. The printer is 4.7 inches wide, 3.2 inches high and comes with a power cable.
Must reach the order target
Although Amazon does not say how many pre-orders are required for each product to go into production, the note printer is currently the most popular. At the time of writing, a few hours after the Build It program was announced, the printer has received five percent of its pre-order target compared to three percent for the watch and two percent for the scale.
All three have until March 19 to reach their goal. If they do not, Amazon will not build them and instead move on to something else.