Hi Kickstarter! The two of us (Tom and Dan) started on Kickstarter almost five years ago, withThe Glif. We have since launched four more projects: The Cosmonaut, Simple Bracket, The Neat Ice Kit, and the Simple Syrup Kit. We’re excited to be back to tell you about Obi!
What is Obi?
We both love our pets, and assume you do too (love your pets, that is). Keeping your pet active is important for their health and well being, which is why we made Obi. Obi is a simple and beautiful device that sits on a shelf or mantle in your home. When activated, it shoots a laser, something most cats (and some dogs) go wild for. Using your iPhone or iPad, you can control the laser manually, or set it up in automatic mode, where you can customize the way Obi behaves.
We like to spoil our pets with toys, but one thing we have noticed about the pet toy market is the vast majority of them are, well, underdesigned, to put it kindly. We wanted to design something that you’d be happy to invite into your home.
How the App Works
The primary way to control Obi is through an iOS app for iPhone or iPad. Being a small team of two people, we are launching on iOS initially, but if demand is high we will consider making an Android version as well.
The app has two modes – Manual and Automatic. In Manual mode, your phone essentially turns into a trackpad, where you can move the laser as you would a mouse cursor. Automatic mode is where the magic happens. Here, Obi will run on its own, and you can program the laser to behave in different ways. A sound can be programmed to let your pet know it’s time to play, and you can even create a boundary that the laser will stay within. Automatic mode is great for keeping your pet entertained or distracted while you are doing something else, or schedule Obi to run when you are not home.
Obi also has a physical button on the back, which activates the Automatic mode without needing to open the app.
We wanted to design Obi to be a beautiful object that you’d be happy to display in your home. The design is neutral, so it won’t clash with your surrounded decor. And Obi is available in two variations, light and dark. Both feature a natural cork face.
And that’s not all! As part of this project, we are creating an all new podcast with our friend Myke Hurley at Relay FM. The podcast is intended to document the entire journey of building Obi, from the seed of the idea to shipping it out to our wonderful Kickstarter backers. The two of us (Tom and Dan) have recorded nearly every conversation we’ve had about the project, and those recordings will be woven together with new conversations with Myke, covering the entire journey from idea to reality, including every bump and hiccup along the way.
The podcast is called Thoroughly Considered, and the first episode is available now. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!
Although we are hardware veterans, Obi is by far the most complex product we’ve attempted to make. That said, we are confident of the path forward. We have already received quotes for all of the components, and have started working with MorphoMFG to get them manufactured in China (we’ve worked with them previously on some of the parts in the Neat Ice Kit). We plan to visit China at least a couple times to make sure everything is progressing according to plan, and of course everything will be documented in the aforementioned podcast.
We have been designing Obi for the past seven months. Through countless iterations, we have arrived at something we are happy with, and are excited to bring it into the world. With your help of course!
Why We Need Your Help
As mentioned previously, Obi is our most ambitious project to date. There are a lot of moving parts (literally and figuratively), and a huge upfront investment is required, mostly for molds and tooling costs.
$120,000 is the highest goal we’ve ever set for a Kickstarter campaign, but it is definitely needed in this case. Tooling alone (machining the parts that make the parts) will cost between $50,000 and $70,000, which doesn’t even include the cost to make the Obis themselves. We have also left a little wiggle room for Kickstarter and credit card fees, and any unexpected costs that always crop up.
We hope you decide to join us on our most ambitious project to date. And please, tell your cat-owning friends!
A Word About Dogs + Obi
According to some animal behaviorists, some dogs exhibit “obsessive” qualities, in which chasing a laser dot can mess with their psyche, since they can’t actually catch it. If you are at all concerned about your dog’s behavior in this regard you should not use Obi with your dog. Cats, however, do not seem to exhibit this quality.