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$9
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4
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, January 21 2014 8:43 PM UTC +00:00

One at a time Cabinet

One at a time cabinets allow only a few items out at a time. Kids automatically clean up their room BEFORE it gets messy.

One at a time Cabinet

One at a time cabinets allow only a few items out at a time. Kids automatically clean up their room BEFORE it gets messy.

$9
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
4
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, January 21 2014 8:43 PM UTC +00:00

About


Toy cabinet story

I started building one at a time toy cabinets years ago for my own grandchildren to help them avoid trouble cleaning up their toys before dinner.

"YOU bought 'em !!"
"YOU bought 'em !!"

Well, maybe he wanted to cooperate and pick them up, but picking up 20 toys in a row really is a chore for a small curious child. So I thought why not encourage him to put some away BEFORE he gets all the toys out.  So I built the cabinet below with clear acrylic doors and an interlock mechanism.  After the first toy out, he has to put one back BEFORE getting out the next one.  Magic! There are no longer piles of discarded toys lying around!

Mechanical toy chest with child
Mechanical toy chest with child

All our grown children, friends and neighbors loved the cabinets and suggested I try to produce and sell them. You can visit my web site http://www.furniture-that-gets-kids-to-pick-up-toys.com to read about all the advantages to parents AND TO CHILDREN from having a good storage cabinet for their toys.

However, when I went to SELL them and talked to typical parents at art and craft shows they insisted they needed way more than 4 or 5 toys available for their children.

Art and Craft show across the river in Savannah
Art and Craft show across the river in Savannah

Unfortunately, after building dozens of prototypes...

Collection of mechanical toy cabinets
Collection of mechanical toy cabinets

I still couldn't figure out how to interlock, say, a dozen or more toy compartments mechanically.

The future is in "electronics"

My training and experience is in mechanical engineering, so last year, I started studying electronics and using Arduino (open source) microcontrollers ...

Arduino microcontroller
Arduino microcontroller

and model airplane servos to lock the doors.

Model airplane servo
Model airplane servo

I developed some working electronic prototypes ...

Electronic fingerprint access cabinet at adult care art center
Electronic fingerprint access cabinet at adult care art center

with many different modular inserts...

Modular inserts with control module taped behind the 3-doll unit
Modular inserts with control module taped behind the 3-doll unit

I've kind of settled on 6 sizes for modules: 1-door, 2-door, 3-door doll (shallow), 4-door square (both shallow and deep) and 4-door vertical for books.  The shallow modules allow a control/power module to be inserted behind them (requires one per cabinet).  These sizes are good for children's toys as well as displays of collectibles and even for the lady in Atlanta who wonders how her shoes disappear.

The introductory video above shows some electronic models working in different configurations.  I've already tested the controller/power module connected to 10 modules totaling 26 doors/compartments. I am confident it will handle even greater numbers when customers request them. 

Most modular units I've made are 13 inch cubic modules and fit into commercial bookcase/storage units from Ikea or Sams.  For example, the Ikea Expedit bookcases come in 1x1, 1x5, 2x2, 2x4, 4x4 and even 5x5 sizes.  That is up to 5 columns of 5 rows for a total of 25 modules.

5 x 5 Ikea bookcase in Rick's office with 3 modules inserted on left
5 x 5 Ikea bookcase in Rick's office with 3 modules inserted on left

Since each module could hold, for example, 3 dolls a huge collection of 75 dolls could be kept on display with controlled access.

Toy cabinet with wheels and rechargeable battery
Toy cabinet with wheels and rechargeable battery

For small apartments, here is a cabinet on wheels with a self contained battery.  This cabinet also serves as a nice large play surface.

Cell phone app

The cell phone/tablet app for the cabinet system is at this point very simple.  Once loaded on a cell phone/tablet it uses Bluetooth to securely "pair" with the cabinet's control module.  

Bluetooth app functions
Bluetooth app functions

This app is used by the parents, not the children.  Basically it has some functions to help initially load the cabinet with objects, to test and/or reset the cabinet and to change the number of toys the child can take out at one time.  

Customer feedback, of course, will be used to add functions over time. With a computer controller the possibilities are limitless.  For example it could include inventory or how often the child uses which toys.  Or the cell phone/tablet could be built into a module and serve as a night light, a remote security camera or an educational/play station for the child.

Production plans

I don't mind putting in the hours building and improving these cabinets, but the material and tools to make the modules and cabinets add up in a hurry. 

Rick's garage - Don't say it!
Rick's garage - Don't say it!

I've found that in a week's time, in my garage I can build 2 or 3 cabinets with 4 to 8 modules each.  To make more than a handful of cabinets, I'll need better equipment and full time employees. So far, I've been buying materials at Home Depot, Radio Shack and Michael's, which gets pretty expensive. I'm looking for this $25,000 through Kickstarter to purchase enough material for 50 cabinets (including 300 modules) and begin to get a little volume discount on some of the components.  I also need a few extra pieces of equipment (like a better soldering method, some test equipment) and to pay for dies to make custom extruded plastic parts. 

I've looked at leasing a 1200 square foot shop locally.  This would initially house 2 part time employees and allow expansion to up to 8 full time employees.  Although I've developed standard work routings they need to be confirmed with this Kickstarter pilot run before setting actual prices.

My immediate goal is to shake out the basic production process, product quality and durability, and packaging and shipping.  Down the road I need to develop a more sophisticated Android or iPhone app that, perhaps, identifies the current user of the cabinet. (Like the fingerprint reader at the adult care art center unit pictured above.  Did you know many elderly folks no longer have readable fingerprints?) With user identification, the cabinets could be used at day care centers, schools, elderly care facilities, jewelry stores and many other applications.

Risks and challenges

I'm a semi-retired mechanical engineer and business professor. I know I'll need Marketing and Sales help, and testing the waters with Kickstarter is a wonderful way to begin. Keeping focused on what you know best and love is the best way to succeed. There are hundreds of wonderful tangents from this project and I hope to work on a few of them in the coming years.

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    Honorable mention on our web site, thank you!

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    Tee shirt honoring your participation.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A fully functional 3-door doll cabinet with power supply. Approximately 14 inches x 14 inches by 10 inches deep. Cute and demonstrates all the functions. Can be integrated into a larger cabinet later. Includes shipping.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    A starter set: 4 modules (each approximately 13 inches by 13 inches by 15 inches deep) plus control/power unit. You provide your own cell phone (we provide the downloadable app.) You also provide the Ikea Expedit bookcase (or similar) from your local Ikea or Sam's store. Some assembly required.

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    Fully assembled and shipped 4 modules and case. (4 to 16 doors per your preference.) Similar to the red one in the introductory video. Approximate size 31 inches wide, by 31 inches high by 15 inches deep. You need to provide your own Android phone/tablet to download the control app.

    I will prioritize building these units so you can help your child contain this years Christmas presents..

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Fully assembled and shipped 8 modules (up to 3 doors in each module) and cabinet case. An 8 module case is a little larger than the black 2x3 module unit in the beginning of the video. (59 inches wide by 35 inches high by 15 inches deep.)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    We will jointly design any reasonable size and shaped cabinet (say up to 50 compartments perhaps in different rooms) and deliver and set up in your home anywhere in the world (at least anywhere I can get to by commercial air flights). If we agree to market your design it will be named after you.

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Funding period

- (45 days)