The biggest wearable and smart home crowdfunding campaigns of all time

Let's see what has clocked up top dollar on Kickstarter and Indiegogo
The biggest crowdfunding campaigns

The Pebble Time smartwatch might not be the future of anything anymore but it is still pretty much untouchable as the highest grossing crowdfunding project of all time. Back in March 2015, it raised a cool $20 million from a massive 78,471 Kickstarter backers, racing past $1 million in just 30 minutes.

But as the list below shows, it's only a matter of time before another big wearable tech, VR or smart home campaign gives it some real competition on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Especially since Pebble itself can no longer add to its record after being bought by Fitbit.

Here are the projects which make up the most successful connected self crowdfunds so far.

17. Avegant Glyph ($1,509,506)

With a total funding haul of $1.5 million or thereabouts, the Avegant Glyph sets the bar of the kind of scale a wearable needs to make it into our top crowdfunders of all time. This mobile personal theatre, which actually projects images onto your retina, was after one sixth of what it finally made.

Essential reading: Avegant Glyph review

After a bit of wait, the Glyph started shipping and costs a whopping $699. Give our review a read (link above) before spending though, because we weren't all that blown away by the portable media viewing headset. Still, Avegant's latest moves into mixed reality light fields still have us seriously interested.

16. Ritot ($1,611,735)

Biggest Kickstarters

Ritot is a smartwatch that looks more like a fitness band and if you don't think that sounds like a good idea, then 8,662 people are ready to disagree with you. The original plan was simply for a unisex device that comes with the neat trick of projecting the time onto the back of your hand.

Since picking up 28 times the amount of money that they were expecting, the team behind Ritot added fitness tracking features, mobile notifications and a host of new colours and finishes, too.

Our picks: Best smartwatches you can buy

Before you get too excited, though, you might want to take a look at the comments on its Indiegogo page. No backers have received a Ritot as yet and everyone is crying for a refund. Oh dear.

15. Blocks ($1,613,874)

Blocks raises $1.6m on Kickstarter

Blocks teased us with its modular smartwatch project for a long time before it actually hit Kickstarter. But hit it did with a very respectable $1.6 million haul from 5,063 backers in November 2015.

Read this: The story of Blocks so far

Estimated delivery to backers was May 2016, but the London-based team missed that deadline and is still yet to ship devices. And like Ritot, there's an increasing amount of bad feeling over on the campaign page about the delay.

14. Emotiv Insight ($1,643,117)

Biggest ever Kickstarters

Emotiv Insight is one of the most ambitious crowdfunded wearable projects we've ever seen. So, it's of little surprise that it picked up 16 times the amount of money it was after.

It's a wireless headset that monitors your brain activity and turns those impulses into both useful data but also actions too. At the basic level it will track your mental health and fitness but it can be used as a computer interface for drawing, creating music and even moving mechanics all with the power of the mind.

With the target reached in September 2013, the project finally shipped the headsets in July 2015 after a long, old wait for over 4,000 early adopting backers.

13. Vi ($1,688,179)

Dubbing itself as the 'first true AI trainer', the Vi smart headphones adapt to each person who uses the device and features real-time coaching based on a user's own physiology.

Read this: Meet Vi, the fitness coach inside a pair of headphones

Creator LifeBEAM has managed to include heart rate and heart rate variability sensors and capture data on motion, elevation for serious sports stats. The idea is to deliver actionable insights on weight loss optimisation, injury prevention, running technique and provide adaptive training plans live to your ears.

It's fully backed on Kickstarter, and the $249 headphones are now rolling out after only a slight delay to its December 2016 projection.

12. Kokoon ($1,936,825)

Kokoon EEG headphones way behind schedule

A new-ish entry into the top ten is Kokoon. In July 2015, these EEG sleep sensing headphones smashed the initial $100k target on Kickstarter, with the UK based startup raising just shy of $2 million from more than 8,000 sleep-deprived backers.

Sadly, delays have hit Kokoon's campaign too - shipping initially slipped from February 2016 to September 2016 due to problems in the testing and production schedule. Creeping towards the two year mark, there's still no shipments being made, despite the company keeping backers in the loop through updates.

11. Canary ($1,961,464)

Biggest Kickstarters

Canary is a smart home controller that grabbed the attention of over 7,000 Indiegogo users. Nigh on the $2 million mark, it raised 20 times the amount it was after to get going, and the really good news is that get going it has.

Read this: Canary CEO - it's time to catch burglars red-handed

What you'll unbox is a device that records sound, vision, motion, temperature, humidity, air quality and converts all of that into security and environmental alerts. It knows who's in your house and can start to talk to other devices about how they should act accordingly. Clever stuff.

10. Ticwatch 2 ($2,085,491)

A candidate for smartwatch bargain of 2016, the TicWatch 2 convinced almost 10, 000 backers on Kickstarter to pledge their money for the second generation Android smartwatch.

First look: Ticwatch 2 review

Jam packed with features, it includes a 1.4-inch AMOLED screen with a 400 x 400 resolution, built-in GPS and a dual LED optical heart rate sensor. Running on the company's own Ticwear 4.0 operating system, it also introduces the ability to control the watch by swiping on the bezel. We found it to be an impressive all-rounder in our review though the fitness features are still being worked out.

9. Sense ($2,410,741)

Sense is another connected self device with the sole purpose of helping you sleep better. The Pill part sits under your pillow analysing your sleep patterns while the main bedside unit matches that up with data on sound, light, air quality and temperature in your room.

Wareable verdict: Sense sleep tracker review

We imagine its stylish looks had a lot to do with it attracting 24 times the amount of cash required thanks to 19,349 backers. Best of all, it's actually available to buy - as in, now.

8. Oculus Rift ($2,437,429)

Biggest Kickstarters

Well, what can we say about the Oculus Rift that we haven't already said before? It's groundbreaking, it's important, and you can actually buy one now. If it only managed $2,437,429 compared to its $250,000 target, that's probably because crowdfunding was only really in its infancy back in 2012.

Read this: The best VR headsets

The real cash cow for Oculus is that Facebook went and bought it for $400 million in real money and $1.6 billion in stock. Go on, say it again – one point six billion. In early 2017, times have changed again with Palmer Luckey departing the company, leaving the future of Oculus in Mark Zuckerberg's hands.

7. Skully AR-1 ($2,444,926)

Compared to the likes of the Rift, the Skully AR-1 smart motorcycle helmet is so focused that it's given it something of an advantage. For one, there's an obvious target market of bikers who'd give the gnarliest tattoos to get their hands on the augmented reality information on speed and navigation that this obvious next evolution of road kit offers.

Just 2,000 backers were happy to support it to the tune of $2.5 million. The AR-1 was due to ship in summer 2015 but sadly the Skully story ended with the startup confirming it had filed for bankruptcy meaning it's unlikely those 2,000 backers will be getting a refund.

6. OSSIC X ($2,708,472)

We are now well into the first stages of getting VR into the home. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR all landed in 2016 with the latter in particular shifting a lot of units - nearly a million in three months in fact.

Next it's about the software and the accessories that can take that immersive experience one step further. That's where Ossic feels it can play a major part. Convincing 10,263 backers to open up their wallets, the headset is packed with positional tracking that is able to take into account a listener's anatomy to create that sense of accurate, immersive sound.

VR gaming sounds like the perfect audio partner for the Ossic headphones but it hopes to bring us closer to music and even when you're settling in to watch a movie. Unfortunately, it missed its projected shipment over the holiday period, but now aims to begin shipping in July 2017.

5. Bragi Dash ($3,390,551)

Bragi's wireless, smart, in-ear headphones amassed an impressive $3.4 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding to make it one of the most backed wearable companies of all time.

Wareable verdict: Bragi Dash review

It turns out that nearly 16,000 were turned on by the idea of a set of ear-blasters that measure your heart rate and can figure out your distance and navigation at the same time as playing back music as you jog. Waterproof, gesture-controlled and backed up by a good serving of accessories, these felt like the real deal at $299.

Bragi struggled to meet the initial shipping date of May 2015 but since shipping has rewarded its early fans with software updates and new features.

4. Pilot ($4,414,045)

If Pilot is the real deal, it could be a revolutionary wearable device and the 19,890 backers hope it works.

The real time translation smart earpiece sits inside of your ear (obviously) and features a microphone to capture audio from the person you're speaking to. It also uses speech recognition and machine translation to translate a host of different languages. These include German, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi. Additional languages will be available at a later date.

The companion app will let you switch between languages and save them for offline use when you're traveling overseas. There's even a conference mode so you can have multiple people speaking different languages on the same call.

We recently spoke to Waverly Labs CEO Andrew Ochoa, who indicated Pilot is still on track to ship in summer 2017.

3. Pebble ($10,266,845)

So, it's first, second and third place for Pebble with the original tech timepiece slotting in at No.3 on our most crowdfunded wearables. A mind-boggling 68,929 people saw this smartwatch and said to themselves that they just had to have one.

Essential reading: What Pebble demise means for buyers and backers

What that meant for Eric Migicovsky and his team was that they suddenly found themselves with 100 times the amount of money that they'd asked for, sitting in the corner of the room and more orders to fill than they knew how to manage. Fortunately, manage they did and the rest is history.

2. Pebble 2, Time 2 + Pebble Core ($12,799,843)

Pebble's mid-2016 crowdfunding adventure included three new wearables in total, including the announcement of its first non-smartwatch, the Pebble Core.

The Spotify streaming Core was joined by updated versions of the Pebble 2 and the Time 2 with both including optical heart rate monitors to tap into Pebble's Health platform. They played nice with iOS and Android phones and puts other smartwatches to shame in the battery department.

Alas, the Time 2 is the smartwatch that never was and the Pebble Core was killed too when Fitbit took over Pebble. You can still get hold of a Pebble 2, though, with guaranteed support till the end of 2017.

1. Pebble Time ($20,338,986)

And so to the undisputed champion. Once again, Pebble totally pwned the crowdfunding scene with the kind of financial tea-bagging that puts every other project to shame. It added the Time Steel to the mix and managed to ship all the watches by mid September 2015 - a little late but impressive compared to most crowdfund delivery schedules.

Now Pebble is part of Fitbit, who knows when any other wearable crowdfunder will manage to make it past $5 million in funding, let alone break into its crowdfunding domination? The events of the last six months might prove that the days of unknown startups raising millions of dollars through crowdfunding may even be over.


Shop for recommended smartwatches on Amazon

Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
$299
Pebble 2
Pebble 2
$74
Apple Watch Series 2
Apple Watch Series 2
$307.99
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Garmin Vivoactive HR
$199.99

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1 Comment

  • yogibimbi says:

    I didn't back the Bragi, but got one from their site about 3 weeks ago. After going through the different sleeves, it seems my ear is size L, just swam 1000 m with it today and, while swimming butterfly, the left one dropped out once, but the pool is 1.20 m deep, clear visibility - no drama. The S sleeve version fell out 3 or 4 times, albeit in 2000 m, but it felt mostly shaky during that practise, whereas today it felt very snug, and I think my shoulder brushed the thing in Butterfly, which is something no in-ear should have to put up with.

    However, the seal is weak, so the transparency effect does not provide much of a difference, although size L is definitely a bit more. Internal music works well, bluetooth connecting is a piece of cake. It reconnects automatically when I enter the room. But it is not multi-client yet. (I thought that was promised, also put up an FAQ, but so far, I think I have not received an answer, but I need to check on Bragi's website, in case they don't alert me at my e-mail address in case of answers).

    Battery life is about 1.5-2 hrs, the loading cradle is neat, however, it is not very easy to determine if the Dash is properly placed and loading in the cradle. Range is also pretty poor, if I use it to skype, and get away more than 50 cm from my computer screen, audio drops in and out. Also, just today, in a phone call, the call terminated twice with a soft high-pitched beeping sound. My 27 € - MPow Magneto went through all the other skype calls today like a champ. If my phone is in my pocket, The Dash mostly uses contact. Maybe the bluetooth problems can be blamed, Apple's bluetooth is usually pretty messy. But my Xperias have been pretty reliable with other headsets, so it might be The Dash.

    The touch interface is also hit and miss, but more miss. I even haven't checked out the fitness features yet. So far, it's definitely a mixed bag. The whole wireless idea is cool, as is the water proofness and that it stays in the ear reliably, although in more difficult environments, I will definitely use The Leash (yeah, I find this name -and price of 17.50- for, a leash, a bit posh, it should be included in the whole thing at no extra price) to have some backup.

    Is it worth the 299 €? No. But I knew that when I bought it. I just wanted to play with it and see if it was useful for some stuff. Some of the errors might be fixable by firmware updates, and I still have to put it through a number of paces.

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