A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Puka Head SL™ Keyboard
Hi! My name is Bill Pool. I am Sketch Landar in Second Life® and my rez date is May 27, 2008.
I’m going to tell you the story of the Puka Head SL™ Keyboard.
[BTW, If you are reading this and don’t know what Second Life® is, I offer this as a way to give you an idea of what it is: Stories from Second Life®
I am going to speak to the audience that knows SL™ for the remainder of this story. If you can make sense out of this made up example, then you are part of my target audience: ”I worked on getting the alpha right for hours and had it in the outfit folder, but when I logged back in and rezzed I still had invisible ankles!”
WHY MAKE THIS PRODUCT?
Why am I doing this? This is about making Second Life® more fun by adding something new and delightful. A USB Keyboard that can be plugged in while your normal keyboard is still plugged in that has 45 SL™ keys on the right and left sides of a normal PC keyboard.
One of my fears has been that I’m too late with this… that the time has come and gone to throw new and interesting things into the SL community. But I have gotten past this fear. Bento just released, that is huge! SL™ is alive and well and there is a large active user community!
Take a glance at any of these to see for yourself:
We spend so much time in-world and we do the same very common functions over and over using the keyboard or mouse or menus. What would it be like if all the common functions were more of a control panel designed specifically for Second Life® – instead of obscure keyboard combinations that require finger gymnastics like ALT-CTRL-SHIFT-LeftArrow? And what if functions you haven’t even been using were made easy to get to?
The Puka Head SL™ Keyboard is a normal keyboard augmented with 45 Second Life® keys on the left and right sides. These keys allow you to control your avatar, camera view, chat windows, menus, HUDs, daylight settings, photography and more.
First take a look at what has gone into the design. Most fundamental is your avatar and your view of your avatar – control of these has been crafted into clusters of keys for your left and right hands.
Also there are many menus and windows to manage
And one-touch access to the time of day settings and photography functions
Putting it all together – here is the complete keyboard design
Close up views of the 45 Second Life® keys
So that is the design. The Firestorm viewer implements all of the shortcut keys so it’s the best one to use with this keyboard. To check out the other viewers, I downloaded, installed and tested them all with the prototype. What I found is that, when using other viewers, there will be some keys that will not function due to the fact that the viewer doesn’t implement the shortcut keys. Nevertheless, most keys work so it still should be of interest to those who use the other viewers. I made a table to show the results of my testing:
Viewer Compatibility Matrix
Prototype A is the keyboard implemented on “Hot Virtual Keyboard”, which is a touchscreen keyboard http://hot-virtual-keyboard.com/ that I customized using the tools provided with the product. I elongated the keyboard background and added the 45 keys with graphics, words and functions. It works via touch on my notebook and also using the mouse if I run it on my tower PC.
Prototype B is about getting physical! I ordered a 54 programmable key Cherry POS keyboard to use to make a prototype. What I like about it is that you can detach the clear plastic cover of each programmable key and place a printed graphic square legend on it.
So I was able to make a nice fully functional and fully labelled prototype! The main delta between it and the production version is the location(s) of the keys. The demo of this prototype is in the main Kickstarter video above.
This will be a quick run-through of the numbers. The next section will look more into what is behind the numbers.
From the start I wanted this keyboard to be low-cost so that it is within reach of almost everyone in SL who would like to try it. After over a year of working things out and modeling all of the costs in a fancy spreadsheet I have come up with a MSRP (price to you) of:
$64 USD (retail price)
So my goal for Kickstarter is 1400 backers (you) purchasing a pre-ordered (with delivery estimate just under 3 months) keyboard for $64 and paying on top of that at least $7 for shipping. That will generate about $89,000 for the keyboards and at least another $9800 for shipping. It works out to $99,400 so roughly speaking the end result of a successful Kickstarter campaign yields $100,000 USD.
If the campaign completes and I receive the $100,000, here is what will happen to it:
$5,000 to Kickstarter fee of 5%
$5000 (5%) for credit card processing fees (Kickstarter says can be anywhere from 2% to 5%)
That leaves $90,000. Here is how it is used:
$33,000 goes to the one-time cost of Factory Tooling (set-up at the factory)
$30,000 goes to pay for the order of 1400 keyboards (units) for the Kickstarter backers
$22,000 of what is left is put into an order for 1000 keyboards to sell on Amazon (to bring in funds keep things moving)
$5000 held out for business overhead
HOW WILL IT HAPPEN?
Here is what I have done to make this keyboard happen:
I created a business, Puka Head Labs, LLC and then put in place an accounting service so that I would be able to focus on the product instead of the endless tasks inside the business infrastructure.
When I created the company and thought about what to call it, I thought about what the goal is. I decided the goal is to create a space for me to be creative and use everything I’ve learned in my journey over the first 50 years on Earth.
My roots are Hawaii – that’s where I was born, on the island of Oahu, and I’ve always been interested in and felt a little bit connected to native Hawaii culture. So I thought of a Tiki kind of motif for my business. I went searching for Tiki-style art and found some artwork that I really liked and I looked up the name of the artist and it was Ken Ruzic.
I wasn’t sure how to get the keyboard manufactured so I started researching it. At first I thought maybe I could have it manufactured in the city I live in because there is a company that has been here since forever called “Keytronics” and they started out being all about keyboards. I called them and they said they switched to having keyboards made in China many years ago.
China. My initial efforts to find a manufacturing partner involved Alibaba but every time I tried to work out a plan it seemed incredibly risky but eventually, because I was chatting on forums related to all of this, I got connected to a UK company, Ceratech, that has been making custom keyboards for 30 years, working with trusted and proven China partners for manufacturing.
Finally! I had finally found a way to do this with the risk mitigated. After going around and around and around on the design it was finally nailed down. My goal was to keep the cost low. I wanted to make a keyboard that has the 45 SL™ keys on it. Not a fancy high-tech keyboard at all, just a normal keyboard with these extra keys on the left and right sides.
What my research tells me about the potential customers for this keyboard is that they (you) are somewhere under one million in number, international and a portion of you use a desktop or laptop PC for Second Life®. This keyboard can be plugged in to a USB port at the same time as your normal keyboard is still plugged in. It can also be plugged into any laptop that has a USB port.
I have worked out the details for tooling up for manufacturing, producing the first order of 1400 keyboards, packaging and shipping, importing into a fulfillment warehouse, and shipping to customers domestic and international. Doing this involves relationships I have established with Ceratech, Kickstarter, Shipmonk, Amazon and others.
Is this risky? Yes! Kickstarter really shines here, because you (the SL™ community) will vote on this and determine whether or not it happens. I really have no idea what all of you are going to decide to do, but I am getting excited to watch it happen!
WHAT WILL IT DO?
This keyboard will upgrade and refresh your experience of Second Life®!
That is the primary goal.
Beyond that, for me, this project is about me becoming financially productive. I also have in mind a component of helping others. First is upgrading my mother’s retirement to move her beyond worrying about paying the electric bill each month. I also want to donate to charity like Pixel To Pixel but I can't really work on that until some keyboards get bought!
Thank you for reading this and if you are a virtual world participant please do consider pre-ordering one of these keyboards!!
Risks and challenges
The main risk for this project is having the keyboard produced correctly and on-time. Once I pay for factory tooling, I will be waiting a couple weeks and then a sample unit will arrive. I will evaluate and test that keyboard. If something needs to be changed there will be delays as the adjustments are made way over on the other side of the planet and when completed a new sample is sent to me. I have faith...I have a great partner (Ceratech) - they are all about manufacturing keyboards.