The biggest wearable and smart home crowdfunding success stories of all time

Pebble is untouchable but let's see what else has clocked up top dollar
Biggest crowdfunding success stories

The Pebble Time smartwatch is pretty much untouchable as the highest grossing crowdfunding project of all time. Back in March in 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 proves, it's only a matter of time before another big wearable tech, VR or smart home campaign gives Pebble some real competition on Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

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 is now shipping for 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.

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 say otherwise. 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, however, the team behind Ritot has upped its game by adding 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 foul. 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 has missed that deadline and plans to launch later in the year. There's clearly still lot of work to do finalising prototypes, working with third parties to build the extra modules and delivering on the stretch goals promised during the campaign. We're rooting for you, Blocks.

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 adapts 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

Creators 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, but the $249 headphones won't deliver until December 2016 (at best).

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 has slipped from February 2016 to September 2016 due to problems in the testing and production schedule. So a little longer to wait for audio that adjusts to your sleep and wake patterns, then.

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 the year, the TicWatch 2 has convinced almost 10,000 backers on Kickstarter to pledge their money for the second generation Android smartwatch.

First look: Spending time with Ticwatch 2

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. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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.

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 into the first stage of getting VR into the home. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets have landed and PlayStation VR is due to arrive later this year.

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.

5. Pilot ($2,818,846)

If Pilot is the real deal, it could be a revolutionary wearable device and the 12,560 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.

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

The Dash 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.

That said, Bragi struggled to meet the initial shipping date of May 2015. More than a year later you can now pick up a pair and enjoy truly wireless audio.

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.

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 latest crowdfunding adventure included three new wearables in total including 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 still play nice with iOS and Android phones and puts other smartwatches to shame in the battery department.

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.

Who knows when any other crowdfunder will manage to take the record away? Let's face it, it will probably be Pebble again.

Shop for recommended smartwatches on Amazon

Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
Pebble 2
Pebble 2
Apple Watch Series 2
Apple Watch Series 2
Huawei Watch
Huawei Watch

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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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