Based on the wait list, I estimated that there would be at least 1,000 backers as of to date (Correct me if the figure is well below the ballpark of my estimate). In view of the massive number of backers, this forum should be quite active but instead no one seems to post anything or have anything to say in this forum.
I find it odd that despite there is over a thousand backers, this forum is as quiet as a ghost town. You could see frequent comments for projects on crowdfunding sites like kickstater or indiegogo even though there are only a couple of hundreds of backers, especially when an update is announced. People are anxious and speculations on the product features would often being discussed in the comment section although the products involved are only worth few hundreds of dollars or even less like a backpack (Backzips) or a universal adapter (ChargEST). As such, it is very strange that Laforge glasses, which is a bleeding edge tech gadget and cost a whooping $610 has a dedicated forum with no one talking about it.
Well that explains a lot.
SOMO Optical is a Subsidiary of SOMO, Inc., which makes over $40 Million dollars in revenue annually. The people taking in pre-orders are also not "backers". It is way for us to limit input to those who would actually buy the eyewear rather than just taking input from anyone with a phone or internet connection. I found out early on that Venture Capitalist are very cynical, almost troll-like and pretty much say "so-what" to whatever you are showing them.
As Josh also mentioned, we have not reached 1,000 pre-orders (though we will not produce more than 1,000 units). Additionally, the all units were not sold at the same price. A previous project I was working on called "Icis"was rolled up into the "shima" project. Icis was similar to shima excpet the lenses were thicker for a larger FOV. When I was touring the country for partnerships and investments from the eyewear industry, it became clear that no one would distribute eyewear with lenses as thick as what Icis had. When I cancelled that project and gave literally everyone their money back (about 4 months into that project) people were pissed. I offered the opportunity to pre-order whatever I was working on next for about $200 as a concession.
While writing patents for what would become "shima", people kept bugging me to open pre-orders for that as well, so I did.
In short, when it comes to this company not everything is straightforward as it may seem. Canceling pre-orders pisses people off, closing pre-orders just increases the amount of email I get (I try to respond to all of them), and as you can see we only hold 100's of pre-orders not thousands. These things are indicative of a company that is developing something in an open and seeking input of the final product not a "fly by night" operation made to enrich a few faceless people.
You may not know this, but this project stared out as a series of blog posts in late 2013 and organically grew into a following of over 45,000 people on facebook. To put it another way: my friends and me have put more money into the company than pre-order holders have. I encourage you and others to consider the fundamental difference between an alpha (what we are currently finishing up) and a beta (what I'm flying to Shanghai next month to begin to get into production).
It's a different way to develop a product. I'm honest and about as open as an American CEO can be and I don't promise people the stars when I have yet to reach the moon. Most VC's invest into stories, not facts or science, and as a result a lot of them get burned by people with great stories that aren't possible (see CastAR) or by people who use money for the wrong things (see Skully)
I wonder how a small company like Somo Optical able to Seed $1mil dollars. That aside, understood that you have a few small companies invested in the project, but to say Laforge is not crowdfunded is not true "technically". Based on estimation of 1,000 backers (could be more) and considering each invested on 1 unit, that is at least $610,000, which is a substantial amount and I do believe it contributed a significant portion to the company's venture capital. If you look at the project from a perspective where the backers are part of the development, it would pretty much count as part of your R&D capital meaning that while other companies uses investor money to hire a sample of tester, yours is done via backers. That is actually a smart way of doing it because you get to cover more ground with samples from different continent and situations while the production for the test glasses are covered by backers fund.
It's a good strategy not only to expose the journey to a wider types of audience but at the same time getting real feedback from the users. However, I believe some got skeptical when the pre-order did not stop even as at to date. I understand that you've mentioned it will stop by end of the year but that is already beyond what was needed for the sample size. Hence, I believe that due to the aforementioned reason, some may doubt that if the intention was actually for R&D purposes or a crowdfunding just like the rest at kickstarter.
My silence (it's only been one month) has not been becuase something is inherently wrong. The company has been approached by nearly a dozen investors, who are interested in helping me, adding team members, and getting the eyewear into full scale production in 2018.
I, like many people, am aware of what other companies are doing in the AR space and how young projects get funded. The technology has been demoed around the LA, SF, NY area throughout the year and these deals take some time to get done. The company has been in phase of shifting from research & development (can it be done and how do you do it?) phase to one of product development and commercialization (we've done it, how do we do it over and over again?).
The first 30 will go to real people who have placed pre-orders. Those peple will be asked to keep any commentary about the samples in context, as what we are providing them are early prototypes for evaluation purposes not a finished product (this is why I have been statng that those who get the first units will recieve later units at no cost). There are some things we need to have dialed in. Some things that are subjective that we need feedback from real people in order to capture it in our designs
In the meantime, the company is focusing on interview cadidates for employment and working with new partners and affiliates.
I believe what has happend is that people are conflating our initial release of prototypes to initial pre-order holders for feedback with other project's crowdfunding attempts to fund their projects.
Anyone who believes that LAFORGE Optical's first release to pre-order customers is a final product is woefull innaccurate. We are trying to avoid the mistakes that Google did with Glass (producing something ugly and expensive that causes people eyestrain and headaches) as well as what Microsoft is currently doing (producing something expensive that most common people don't what it's intended purpose is).
Finally, the company's creditbilty lies in its patents and return policy not in its initial production trials. Everyone who has requested a refund gets one (the other crowdfunded projects that you all mention do not have patents and did not return funds to those who asked for them), I also want to reiterate, LAFORGE Optical is not crowdfunded.
So please put the current status of LAFORGE Optical's efforts into context. We are getting feedback from alpha users on something that is in development. The final product will be great and we will release it when we are ready. The purpose of what we are doing is to bring a small number of people in now so that we may wow millions more in the future.
Hang tight, calm down, and don't pre-order unless you want to get involved with helping to shape and mold the next generation of connected computing.
Ad hominem on the offensive side, 5 yard penalty. Personal, daily-wear HUDs are totally old sci-fi material, and I love to see them becoming reality in any fashion. Let us retain our wonder and awe!
It's the first 30 pre-orders. No more, no less. Even if they were all to not want to make a video, I'm sure we'll do another livestream once we have an office pair to show off!
"As soon as I have more, you'll be the first to know!" -Me, 15 hours ago
It's Experiment 2 regardless. If you want to lock-in your pre-order for a free non-working pair of clear glasses or sunglasses, you opt in. If you don't, you don't. If you have a prescription and you opt-in, you get a non-working pair with your prescription. I don't get why anyone would think they're entitled to something else if they don't want to be in Experiment 2 or not lock-in; there's a whole thread about this. The point is to get feedback on how well Shima wears and how distracting the display is, and also to give you something fun to say thanks for sticking in there.
I'm a Rev 3 too, and I refuse to curtail my boundless enthusiasm for the project in the face of pessimism. No news is simply no news, and as I see it there's no need to read into it further.
@ Paul Padilla
I wouldn't say this would be in the realm of science fiction. You must have not been expose to the tech world if you could say that. There are even more powerful AR devices available in the market now like Microsoft Hololense and many more, the only unique part about shima is that it is a "casual AR" not the tech/feature itself. Also, even in the casual AR category, Laforge is not the first and only because there are other competitors like Alpha Labs. If you've been to tech cons in Japan or South Korea, you could see quite a number of prototypes on casual AR.
1) Any idea how the first 30 Alpha Rev 1 delivery would mean anything for the rest of us? Are the 30 people official critics or just regular backers cause there if it is the latter there is possibility that we will be kept in the dark and nothing changes if they decide not to do a full "video" review and first look on it (word of mouth in the forum doesn't really mean much)
2) When is Laforge shipping the 600 odd no-tech pairs? (I have not receive any news on getting my prescription even though I don't need one)
3) What about those who did not require the temporary free prescription glasses? Do they get anything in return?
4) I don't believe it would be "Freaking close" for most of us especially the Revs 3 backers since they have not even started shipping out non-tech glasses and it doesn't make sense for them to ship the non-tech glasses just to follow up with the tech glasses in few months time. Could take another half a year or even a year.
And I just want to clarify that I'm not talking hours or days, but relatively we are SO FREAKING CLOSE... Gah! xD
And I think it's safe to say, after discussion, that companies and release dates aren't really safe to generalize about.
BTW, I was able to get a hold of Corey earlier today, and here's what I've got for now.
We're pretty much ready to go to order parts for and assemble the first 30 Alpha Rev1s, and also PMRT ship out some ~600 odd no-tech pairs for Experiment 2 opters. We've got a new project manager on board with the team, and I'll see about getting a direct line with him for possible mini-updates or share-able photos.
As soon as I have more, you'll be the first to know! From someone on the inside, I'm getting pumped for all of this to kick off!
This is an Alpha release of a product that many might still see as being in the realm of science fiction. My assumption on the timeline, ever since I first heard of this project well over a year ago, has been that until I hear specifically otherwise (i.e., it is announced that sufficient numbers are being sent out that will exceed my place in the waitlist), it will arrive some indeterminate months in the future. That has not changed, but it keeps me from experiencing that "roller coaster" of emotions. Yes, I am eagerly awaiting when it will arrive, and hope that I will get it before my next birthday (early spring), but I understand it may not, especially if I end up being Rev 3 instead of Rev 2. But progress is happening, as the first 30 are expected to be getting theirs, soon. Though, if none of them are members of this forum, we may not hear how it goes.
Which also touches on why this forum is seemingly relatively inactive. While there may be well over a thousand backers, they are not all also members of this forum (unlike what we see on sites like kickstarter, where the account you use to back the project is the same account you use to discuss it). It seems maybe only a dozen or so are active on this forum, and the rest of the backers may have never even bothered to sign up for it. There may also be plenty of people like me who rarely say anything, even when we have something to say. There are only about 2500 views of the main board over the past several months, which doesn't speak to having over a thousand people watching the boards. The number of views is consistent with a reasonable level of activity on the board. It isn't inactive, it is just small.
Microsoft for one has frequently presented a new product, only to wait a year + before actually bringing it to markets outside the US. The Surface Book being a prime example... When does Apple officially pull the curtain on the next gen iPhone? About a month before it will be available in most markets... A far cry from several years in advance. Thus my point about large companies routinely simply not giving deadlines until they're dead sure they can deliver. There simply is no comparison, and quite rightly so...
Like I said, it's all about commitment. There might be delays but it is never more than half a year from the original delivery date (let alone a few years). Oculus did it for their developer rev 1 and 2, Vue seems genuine on their promise for December estimates after delayed twice (we shall see). Again, no one expect any startup companies to deliver on time but they do need to commit a date rather than none at all.
It's the 19th now and it seems awfully quiet. I hope everything goes well and I hope alpha can be expedited. Waiting for the glasses to be delivered has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me since last year, every time when I see an update, I have always kept my hopes up and tell myself "this is it". However, after a year of this, it is just depressing. I genuinely hope that the next update won't turn out to be another delay because if it is, it means that it would be another year for Alpha to be released and that is ridiculous.
I am too invested in this project to back out now after years waiting for so long and I would rather lose the money than to lose hope on the project. However, if this do turn out to be a scam, I hope Laforge could just come out and announce that they are shutting down like what Kanoa did and then run off with the money right now because I would rather lose the $610 than to let this affect my emotion day in and day out. I can't bear with this roller coaster ride anymore.
Companies like Apple and Microsoft announce a deadline a few weeks before they are ready to release their retail product, and even then it's often unclear which markets will be getting it right away and which will have to wait for months or even years.
Start-up companies rarely announce a release date, simply because there are too many variables for a small company to handle proficiently enough to guarantee set dates.
About the first 30... The backers receiving them are, as far as I can gather, just the first 30 to place an order. Besides, the number 30 isn't a fixed amount, in the sense that glasses beyond these 30 are supposed to be sent out at an increasing rate afterwards. In other words, an initial batch of 30 glasses will be shipped simultaneously, followed shortly after by the rest of the preorders with shorter and shorter intervals. Unless you're right in your fears, of course...!
Established companies have their reputation to protect and when they announced a date, they will follow through. Have you ever seen Apple or Microsoft not launch their product on the date that they have set? Since we are talking about startup companies, I guess it is fair enough to say that they might miss datelines. It all boils down to the company's commitment and based on my observation, genuine startup companies like Oculus would follow through the dateline that they have set and at worst, only 1 or 2 delays were announced. That being said, if a company constantly not meeting their promised delivery dates, it means that they have not set a dateline for themselves and would constantly come out with excuses to delay time.
With regards to the delivery of the first 30 Alphas, it will be interesting and a morale boost for the backers to know that the project is finally moving forward (If this is not fulfill, I don't know what to think about this project anymore). Nevertheless, bare in mind that apart from a small glimmer of excitement and hope, the first 30 backers receiving the glasses does not guarantee the rest would receive them. As mentioned earlier with Kanoa and Backzips, even with proof and actual review from popular critics that the product exist, there is still possibility that the project would default due to various reasons.
With that being said, the questions in mind now are :
1) Who are the 30 backers? Are they established critics or are they just regular backers that pledge before the rest of us? If it is the latter, will they even do anything or write a first impression because they are not required to do so.
2) What are they going to do that will convince you about the product (How are they going to show you that the product actually works other than just word of mount)?
3) What is the next stage after the 30 backers have received their glasses? Is Laforge going to announce on the delivery date for the others or will it be an indefinite wait till Laforge decides to announce something?
"except the ones that genuinely delivers would set an actual dateline"
Not my experience at all. Even large established companies never set exact release dates until they're absolutely sure... That being said, what you're saying is quite true, and people's worries are well-founded, even though I myself see enough consistencies to keep the faith. Seeing the first 30 Alphas delivered to the first backers within a few weeks will be the deciding factor...!
Nothing is guaranteed until the backers receive the glasses that function as advertise or at least functioning as close to what is expected. Laforge is not Apple or Microsoft, the company words and promises does not hold any value since it does not have any brand equity or goodwill and there is no reputation at stake for the people to take the company words to heart. Moreover, Laforge does not have a good track record of keeping to its 'promises' so far.
Anyone can guarantee anything via words and stories, even scam companies (not to say Laforge is one). Some even reached to a stage where most would perceive the company to be legit since everything seems to be in place but turns out to be a scam anyway. Take Kanoa for example, they've actually produced and even shipped sample units to critics/tech reviewers. At this point, you'd think that they would be genuine since the actual product is made and even presented to reviewers/critics but they actually ran off with the backers money. Backzips is another example, the company completed the deal with the manufacturer and the bags are actually made and physically exists in the manufacturer warehouse. Even so, the company ran off with the backers money, leaving both the backers and manufacturer in dismay.
There are too many questions and doubts about Laforge right now so you can't blame it when one or two starts to voice out especially after such a long wait and constant delay. To date, there is no first look or any evidence to show that the product exist and there are many inconsistencies in what was being said on the updates. You might think the company is being transparent but every updates published is no different from what every other crowd funding companies are doing except the ones that genuinely delivers would set an actual dateline while those who doesn't would constantly take the backers on a never ending emotional roller coaster ride until they finally decided to shut down and run away.
Like Josh says, there basically isn't all that much to discuss, that hasn't already been brought up. I'm one of the more active commenters in this forum, but I don't really see the point in speculating too much - unlike most kickstarter-projects, Corey is being fairly open about production, design, and functionality, which goes a long way in explaining why people aren't as inquisitive.
Like you, I'm really looking forward to hearing from the first backers to receive their Alphas; positive and negative feedback alike will be poured over and discussed!
Well, it does make the wait more bearable when people are active and talking about it, be it about the delay, speculations or even topics outside of Laforge (as long as it is posted by the backers). It somehow makes the project seems alive.
You know what? I am really excited to hear from the 30 backers that are getting their glasses this month. I really do hope by next month, the forum would be more active and that the 30 backers who got their glasses would share their experiences and pictures of the device. This project is the one that I look forward to the most out of all the other projects that I have backed for.
I think it's a combination of both Corey showing that he's available for anyone to email him and he'll reply as soon as he can, him being open every time he has something substantial to show us all, and that the company's funding isn't solely from pre-orders but from significant financial backers and stockholders. This isn't a Kickstarter startup company that has to make it or break it using the funds they get from their end-sale backers, it's a fledgling international company that is building on the idea of crowd-sourcing to incorporate the public in the design and testing phase of its professionally funded product. There's no need to worry on whether or not Shima will be made, it's a guarantee.
The only thing unfortunately holding us back is unforeseen delays between the hardware design team in Europe and the production facility in Asia. If I remember correctly, the first facility wasn't able to deliver lenses up to our specifications, so we're now with another one that has been able to produce a quality up to par. So we're finally getting to the point where we can start slowly start making Alphas to test. Delays suck, but the worry of non-delivery isn't an issue. We just have to wait.
Even if I have something to talk about, it doesn't mean anything if there is no feedback. Many threads with no response makes this forum seems depressing. Also, I'm not starting a 'productive' topic, I believe this section of the forum allows backers to voice out anything else in general apart from the glasses itself. Nevertheless, I am just voicing out my view about the forum itself and what I find extremely weird about it.
As mentioned before, people are normally anxious about the product they backed for (let alone one that cost as much as $610) and crowdfunding proves that people would post anything even without substance in the comments section especially when the product is delayed or it is a long wait till delivery. However, backers on Laforge doesn't seem to have the "typical" backers attitude. There are no posts on doubts, there are little to none posts on product idea contributions.. there are not even any 'complains' post (apart from a few 'here and facebook' while in other crowdfunding sites, you could see people posting about it everyday) when there are negative updates or delays being announce. I'm not saying that it is a good thing for backers to constantly post their frustration or if it would contribute to anything but that is what crowdfunding backers normally would respond but in Laforge case, it doesn't seem that way.
I'm not trying to contribute anything on this thread or hoping for anything but just wanted speak out on what is on my mind. You can refute on what you believe about this. Perhaps you have your view on why the backers aren't active at all.
Somewhat off topic :
Josh, you are a backer yourself, don't you feel anything when there is absolute silence for weeks? (While you are an appointed moderator so you there would be some prejudice from your point of view). I've backed many projects and every single projects that I backed for always makes me felt unease but everyday looking at someone commenting on the comments section at least made me felt that the project is still alive. Even if the project is dead or turn out to be a scam, at least I know people are actively pursuing on the project. I am saying this not because I am afraid that I am going to lose my money but I am afraid to see something that I looked forward to not coming to fruition. So far, I've already lost on ChargEST, Kanoa and Zano (Project owner ran away with the money), as well as projects where the owner lied to us like the BatBand and the soap ball thing. I hope to not see this project fail.
There's not much more to talk about other than what's already been brought up, unless anyone wants to collaborate on making their own app. Someone now and then posts a "wouldn't this be cool" thread, but those don't generally have much substance to talk about. I'm sure we'll have plenty of posters once we have glasses in our hands. For now, this sort of post is probably just frustrating for those who are waiting for news and get a notification only to come see this. If you have something to talk about, feel free. I can understand that you're impatient and want something to do, but saying "I wish people talked more" and not providing a topic isn't productive. =)