Six days into a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign, and MIT-born Eone Timepieces has raised more than $260,000, meaning blind-accessible, fashion-forward wristwatches will be flooding the masses in spite of skeptical VCs.
MIT Sloan alum Hyungsoo Kim had been unable to attract investors and was innovating off his own $150,000 instead, according to the Boston Globe. That said, the success seen on Kickstarter has been surprising and, as Kim describes, daunting.
Eone’s debuted “The Bradley” on Kickstarter, a tactile timepiece that gives customers the ability to not only see the time, but feel it. Named after Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder, the watch uses ball bearings to mark the time. Each bearing is connected to a magnet, so that if the wearer moves, the watch can return to the correct time with a simple shake of the wrist.
“I don’t like asking for help,” said Snyder in Eone’s Kickstarter video. “So every time I have the opportunity to find a new method, or a new technique, or a new technology that enables me to do something autonomously, it’s very exciting to me and I gain that autonomy back a little bit.”
In 2011, Snyder stepped on a hidden bomb in an Afghan farm field and lost his sight completely. He refused to give up his active lifestyle, however, and won one silver and two gold medals in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics in London.
Kim was inspired by Snyder’s story, as was the rest of the Eone team, which includes current and former students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design and MIT.
The team does hope sighted customers buy the watch, too, and use it to discreetly check the time in, say, a dark movie theater without having to illuminate their smartphone, or during a drawn-out client lunch.
Eone expected to be building 350 timepieces, but will now be making more than five times that due to the Kickstarter’s popularity, according to the Boston Globe. The first batch will be shipped by November, while a second, larger batch will be ready by December.
For a closer look at the watch, take a look at photos from the team’s Kickstarter below.