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Crowdsourcing Innovation: Thomas Martis, Eggcyte

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour...

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 Name:
Thomas Martis

 Job title: Founder

 Organisation: Eggcyte

 Location: Phoenix, Arizona

 

Product: The Egg

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What it does & how it works:

The Egg is the first personal web device that seamlessly extends phone and other device storage so users will never run out of space on their devices when it’s most needed. The Egg automatically imports photos, videos and other content from any device that has a USB port including iPhones, Android phones, SLR and GoPro cameras, expands the storage of  mobile devices with up to 256GB of additional flash memory, and includes password protection for complete control of user privacy. It can be accessed from anywhere via the on-board personal website - which resides completely on the Egg, as well as accessed locally via its on-board Wi-Fi hotspot or USB cable.

What makes it special?

Based on the Intel Atom-platform, the Egg is equipped with a number of features that distinguish it from any other product on the market.  Its unique shape is lightweight and rugged and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.  The device includes a personal website that lets users share their videos, photos and other private content without being tracked or scanned by the big cloud services, thus preserving the user’s privacy.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

I am a Systems Engineer by training and an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve spent my career, both at large corporations and startups, working on cutting edge consumer technologies ranging from the consumer laser jet printer business in the early 90s, the Nokia 9000, the first smartphone in the mid-90s, and during the last 15 years on internet appliances (precursor to tablets), smart TVs and mobile products. I’ve founded a number of companies and have a history of leading teams developing disruptive products. My passion is disruption and building products that empower the consumer.

Two and a half years ago, during one of our meetings while I was still at Intel, the team was discussing the trend that Home videography and video sharing was becoming ubiquitous along with high-resolution photography and photo sharing. We realized that as this phenomenon continued to grow, consumers were facing two problems, “How can I quickly free up storage on my phones and cameras? Where can I safely (because the cloud was not an option due to security concerns and cellular data plan limitations) store my videos and photos but still be able to easily access them?”

Why choose Kickstarter?

We chose Kickstarter because it allows us to present our messaging & pricing to consumers and gauge its reception and get feedback and get information (through pre-orders) on product-mix which helps with our inventory-build plan.

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

Crowdfunding has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it is a great platform to gain insight into the things that I mentioned above. On the downside, the information and insight that is gained is visible to everyone including competitors.

Reactions from users on KS so far?

The reaction has been very positive and has surpassed our conservative goals. We’ve had very good engagement from consumers evaluating the product and great feedback on the value that the product offers in the words of the backers.

What lessons have you learned from your campaign?

Too early to tell. The data generated about the campaign so far is highly variable on a day-to-day basis and too small of a sample size 3 days into it to derive any conclusions.

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What do you see as the main problems of Cloud storage?

The Cloud has a lot of advantages and we see lots of utility in it. However, it is not the solution for every problem as the proponents of the cloud would like us to believe. The Cloud has been built on the knowledge gap that exists between the average consumer and the folks that know how to buy a domain, set up a webserver and write code. The Cloud services companies are taking advantage of consumers because of this knowledge gap.

The above is true for Cloud storage providers as well. Cloud storage as provided today has some problems that we see:

  • Cloud storage is centralized which makes it tempting for businesses to exploit for monetary purposes, governments to exploit, and hackers to exploit
  • Lack of control for the consumer; Cloud storage companies have onerous policies that they can and do change on a regular basis with the consumer having little choice
  • The architecture of Cloud services require that bandwidth to the Cloud be unlimited and superfast and always accessible. We know from the various limits that network providers (Cable, DSL, mobile) put in place, that this something that is easily achievable nor financially viable
  • Finally, there is something to be said for the tangible value of knowing where your personal data actually is stored which Cloud storage companies cannot provide

How do you ensure the Egg is safe from hackers?

The Egg operates in a distributed environment where the threat model is distributed. The person that wants access to the information stored on the Egg has to know where to go to find it. Once they find it, the Egg is just as secure as any web server at a hosting provider. Finally, the Egg, because it is in the control of the user, allows him/her to disconnect it from the network whenever they choose including going to the extent of switching the power off on the device.

Why did you choose Samsung’s Tizen as the Egg’s Operating System?

Tizen is an Open operating system that resides within the Linux foundation with Samsung and Intel being its major proponents. We chose it because of its support for HTML5 as the development vehicle for 3rd party software development which opens up access to the largest development community in the world. The operating system also supports many different market segments and as such has flexibility built into its DNA which gives us the ability to evolve our product without having the constraints of other Operating systems that are currently out there.

Possible business use/advantage?

Because the Egg has been built with providing the “Control” to the “Owner” of the data, we are in conversations to support exciting uses for it in the Education, Medical, and other market segments where this principle is valued.

What next for the company and the product?

We have many plans, but they are all predicated upon the data and information gathered during the current campaign. Stay tuned.

 

 

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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