This project's funding goal was not reached on September 5, 2013.
About this project
iBean and iTagua, are the world’s very first digital audio music players, designed using whole natural botanical casings, gathered sustainably from the Amazon Rainforest. Each 4GB player, is a meticulously crafted and engineered digital ‘APE’ or 'FLAC' audio device -delivering lossless, CD quality music in a naturally beautiful and truly original form. (Lossless compression reduces a file's size with no loss of quality. APE is a form of lossless compression- see below for more details)
Our journey began in Colombia, South America over a year ago. Whilst exploring Northern Colombia we discovered the largest beanpods in the world, ‘Entada Gigas’, growing on enormous tropical vines called lianas or monkey ladder vines. The pods were up to a staggering four feet in length.
When dried, the beans have a beautiful rich dark mahogany colour and a tremendously hard resilient shell. Further research into these natural marvels, revealed that their shell is harder than man-made polycarbonate! I even heard 'on the vine’ that NASA have tested this material, finding it to have unprecedented natural strength! I couldn’t resist carrying a bean on me for a while,- it just felt so natural to the touch! Eventually I had an exciting brainwave to create a perfectly beautiful combination of nature and acoustically superior digital audio technology! These natural marvels really do make ideal, fascinating and individually unique housings for the iBean!
In search of the giant beans in Colombia
Our quest for these special beans, first took us to the infamous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Don Diego River, in Northern Colombia. Our first travels to the region where we discover the giant bean pods growing in their beautiful natural habitat. We researched the material extensively and realised that the vines were growing in great abundance and could be gathered without any harm to the vines or trees. This sustainability was a vital step and essential to our deciding to pursue the product range.
Own a naturally unique botanical marvel.
Each product has been designed by nature meaning no two are alike.
Cybotanics- our roots
The company name Cybotanics is a combination of ‘Cyborg’ (short for ‘Cybernetic Organism’ - a being with both organic and cybernetic parts), and ‘Botanical’ (referring to its plant origin.) Cybotanics combine cutting- edge electronics with naturally-grown whole botanical entities, such as giant tropical beans and nuts.
Many artificial plastics are synthesized to replicate the physical strengths and resilience of natural, plant based polymers. But the physical attributes of these synthetics are generally inferior to the original, natural versions. Before the industrial revolution, natural polymers such as ‘Gutta-percha’, Natural rubber and ‘Tagua’(or ‘vegetable ivory’) were used prolifically...
Through a series of exciting new consumer electronic products, Cybotanics want to re-introduce these wonderfully functional and low impact(environmentally) natural materials, into the mainstream. By choosing to pledge this campaign, you are nurturing both our beautiful planet, and its indigenous and rural people, who gather the beans and nuts sustainably from the forest floor in Colombia through a co-operative type arrangement.
We believe we’re the first company in the world to reverse engineer a range of consumer electronics using only whole botanical casings. Our first launched products have taken two years to develop and we hope you love them as much as we do.
After we tested many electronic prototypes in China, our search for quality took us to a fantastic manufacturer in Seoul, Korea that could meet our demanding needs for sound quality and reliability of the electronic platform. We are proud to say we are delighted by the design, acoustic performance and functionality of the iBean and iTagua players.
The other big challenge was to develop techniques for fitting these high quality players into their beautiful and individually unique natural housings.
Our Colombian Partner ‘La Tagueria’ are highly-skilled craftsmen of ‘Tagua’, creating beautiful and colourful native jewellery for generations. We benefit from their artisan knowledge and ability to individually select the right ‘beans’ and ’taguas’ for the demanding and careful machining process. We truly are fortunate to have teamed up with such skilled professionals, as this fusing process is the most demanding aspect of the construction.
The Bean - ENTADA GIGAS Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae Mimosoldea) Known as ‘Sea Beans’ these gigantic seeds come from pods which grow up to four feet in length. The measure about 5cm across
These seed pods are transported naturally by river and can eventually be washed out to sea, landing on a foreign beach and still successfully germinating even a year after falling from the tree. The iBean has a shell that, when dry, is like a natural polycarbonate and is incredibly resilient.
Each bean is carefully hand-selected for its symmetry and natural beauty and is polished to a high shine using a special stone polishing tumbler before the inside kernel is carefully removed and swapped with the digital media player circuit board and battery which is then securely housed within. The iBean’s unusual polycarbonate-like shell makes a natural and incredibly strong casing as an alternative to plastic or metal.
Each iBean is therefore totally unique with no two beans ever being the same.
Our beans are gathered from the beaches and riverbanks in Colombia and provide a new and alternative income to rural people living in the tropical north of the country.
The Nut- Tagua (Vegetable Ivory)
The Nut- PHYTELEPHAS Family: Arecaceae (Phytelephas Aequatorialis Macrocarpa) The Tagua is actually a kind of palm nut, it has become referred to as ‘Vegetable Ivory’ because of its colour and working properties which are almost identical to elephant ivory, from which its latin name derives.
The Tagua or Corozo is about the size of a small hens egg and grows on palms found under the forest canopy - it bears fruit up to three times a year. Before each nut has dried it is a jelly-like blob in a giant pod. Our nuts are dried for over a year to ensure that they develop their ivory-like properties and hardness.
Just like iBean, no two iTagua players are the same. This is the first ever use of tagua nuts in this way for the purposes of delivering a media player with more style and uniqueness than anything seen like it before, each iTagua is meticulously chosen for its form and size and then polished and dyed a variety of colours. The insides are then carefully machined in order to house our digital media player.
The tagua button caps used on iBean and iTagua are made in Panama and benefit over 600 families through a cooperative arrangement in the Darien Gap, a stretch of lowland swamp that divides Central and South America. Tagua is gathered from the forest floor in a totally non-invasive way.
Assembly of iBean & iTagua in Bogota, Colombia
We've teamed up with a great company in Colombia that is a leader in their field and had the right approach to the assembly of each product, understanding our raw materials implicitly. Because they work with jewellery, they brought much more of a craftsmenship approach that was essential to the assembly of iBean and iTagua. They are one of the country's largest processors of tagua nut, originally for button manufacture but now principally export tagua jewellery and homewares worldwide. Our manufacturing partner is based in the capital, Bogota and importantly, they have the capacity and attention to detail we need, with over 150 full time employees.
Each iTagua or iBean comes with 2GB of memory
Exceptional Sound Quality using 'APE' Monkey's Audio Compression
iBean® and iTagua® use a new form of music compression in lossless CD quality form (APE-Monkey’s audio). The devices also play normal MP3 files you may have. http://www.monkeysaudio.com/ Unlike traditional methods such as MP3, OGG, or LGT that permanently discard quality to save space, Monkey’s Audio represents bit-for-bit copies of music. That means it always sounds perfect – exactly the same as a CD. Even though the sound is perfect, it still saves a lot of space (think of it as a beefed-up Winzip™ for your music). The other great thing is that you can always decompress your Monkey's Audio files back to the exact, original files. That way, you'll never have to recopy your CD collection to switch formats, and you'll always be able to perfectly recreate the original music CD.
To charge or upload music tracks onto the iBean or iTagua, simply plug the mini USB cable provided into your PC or Mac. The earphone jack is multipurpose and fulfils both functions.
Instructions for using the player
(headphones not included)
Design of the user interface
We worked with a highly talented design engineer who has worked on product design for the likes of Nokia and Vertu. We wanted something that was not just visually appealing but had the right touch and feel and all important action that reflected the quality of manufacture. We've taken this detailed approach as the functionality and tactility of the objects is the number one priority.
Reward 01- The iBean Titanium Keychain £10.00
Reward 02 - The iTagua Titanium Keychain £10.00
Reward 03 The iBean Digital 'APE' Music player 4GB (choose colour combination after completion of campaign)
Reward 04 -The iTagua Digital 'APE' Music player 4GB £40.00 (choose colour combination after completion of campaign)
Reward 05 - Limited edition 'Batik' iTagua 4GB £60.00 (choose colour combination after completion of campaign)
We are offering 500 limited edition iTagua music players in amazing 'Batik' designs with a larger 4GB memory chip. You can choose from any one of the following 31 designs, with each iTagua hand dyed and then polished through a highly skilled and intricate process called 'batik' where different layers of dyes are applied whilst blocking out others. All buttons on these limited edition models will be white with a natural cream tagua nut button housing as can be seen below.
What's in the box?
All of the above players include an instructions booklet, mini USB cable for both battery charging and uploading tracks. Headphones are not included
Where are the Kickstarter funds going?
Cybotanics has already had investment from the private equity space of $60,000 USD thus far. This has been spent on developing both iBean and iTagua getting them to a market-ready prototype stage with real production parts now ready.
Cybotanics has made regular trips to South America and travelled twice to Asia to secure the right partners. We have already tooled the silicone button units, user interface and the tagua nut button housing has been designed by a former Nokia CAD engineer to ensure the aesthetics, usability and action are outstanding. Packaging, marketing & sales, distribution and logistics between Korea and Colombia are all integral to a perfect product delivery for shipping before Christmas.
Our digital media player has been custom-designed in Korea using the best quality components from the likes of Samsung to ensure excellent sound quality with 'lossless' APE quality sound. The PCB (printed circuit board) has been custom-built especially for Cybotanics for both products.
Our pledge is simple. Our Korean electronics manufacturer has a minimum order quantity of digital media players that we have to meet. On reaching our target goal, we will have enough to meet this demand and we can produce our first production run of both iBeans and iTaguas.
Working with the Natura Foundation, Colombia
Cybotanics is proud to be working with Colombia’s foremost conservation charity. Profits from the sale of iBean benefit Natura.The Natura Foundation is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) created in 1984 with a mission to help conserve the biodiversity of Colombia and the search for alternative sustainable use of natural resources. http://www.natura.org.co/
Cybotanics' ethical approach to manufacture includes our packaging materials used. Each product comes in its own custom designed bamboo or 100% recycled kraft canister as seen below and innovative PLA dome, displaying the player perfectly.
Our protective internal packaging is made purely from natural coconut fibres and natural latex.
The fibre is collected from the coconut husk, a resource that is widely available. Coconut palms grow on 10 million of hectares of land throughout the tropics. Only a fraction of the huge quantities of nuts are collected for industrial use. The food industry is the main consumer, and it focuses on the coconut meat, jettisoning the fibres as a waste product. Cybotanics gives these valuable raw materials a new purpose in life.
Coconut fibre has a very high lignin content so it is very tough. Despite this toughness, it is also elastic. The fibre hardly deteriorates at all over time.
We are delighted to be kickstarting these revolutionary hybrid natural/digital players, and expect them to be delivered to you before Christmas!
•August 2013: Kickstarter campaign underway
•September 2013 - First production run of PCBs in Korea
•October 2013 - Assembly of finished products in Bogota, Colombia
•November 2013 - Finished products packaged
•Early December 2013 - Delivery in time for Christmas
During this process, we will share the above with you every step of the way so you are kept fully informed of each completed stage. Since all testing of hardware and de-bugging of software has already been complete, we envisage no major hitches in the delivery process.
Risks and challenges
Cybotanics Ltd has already raised $60,000 USD which has gone towards extensive R&D work and prototyping, trademark protection, tooling of components and designing and engineering the printed circuit boards (PCB) in Korea. The process was not simple as we had to work to a wide level of tolerance and the electronics had to be designed in reverse from the outside in. After extensive trips to Asia, we now have market ready production models with all the de-bugging of software and assembly challenges having been ironed out. The product is complete and we simply require a 'minimum order quantity' on the component parts in Korea.
Each product and assembly procedure has been thoroughly tested, meeting functionality and a high level of quality control. All units pass a series of build quality tests prior to shipping.
As a start-up consumer electronics producer, we face all the usual challenges associated with manufacturing a physical product. Since we are working with contract manufacturers, we are at risk of dealing with production delays as well as quality control issues and unexpected costs. During the process, we have declined over five Chinese electronics manufacturers who did not meet our demanding standards. We’ve performed due diligence on our chosen partner to minimize these risks and we're 100% happy with the quality they produce - We've carefully analyzed component and materials costs, factoring a contingency budget into our goal.
We intend to run this campaign with total transparency and accountability. We’ve put in the graft early on and a significant investment has already gone into ensuring everything runs smoothly and honed down the assembly, making it it as streamlined as possible. We've done the hard work: we now simply need a critical mass of orders to make the first minimum order quantity (MOQ) production run.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes. The chip we use does also support these forms of compression. FLAC is another 'lossless' format and OGG delivers better sound quality than MP3 but at the same compression rate.
This will be done on completion of the campaign through Kickstarter's survey tool when we are ready to deliver their rewards. Dont worry about this for now but simply pledge away!
- (36 days)