Etcher: Etch A Sketch for iPad
Etch A Sketch for the iPad! Turn the knobs to draw on your iPad screen, save your drawings and share them with your friends and family.
CBS: "It's fascinating! Go check it out!"
Huffington Post: "An immersive nostalgic experience that takes full advantage of the iPad's functionality."
ABC News: "Brings back all the wonderful memories of childhood doodling without the drawbacks."
Wired: "One of our favorite childhood toys is getting an iPad transformation."
Everyone can relate to an Etch A Sketch. It's an enduring childhood memory. Now, you can re-experience Etch A Sketch on your iPad--and share the experience with your friends and family.
Etcher adds functional knobs to the iPad. As a user turns these knobs, lines appear on the iPad screen, exactly like the original Etch a Sketch. Improving on the original, users can save their drawings in digital format and share with friends and family over email and social media sites like Facebook.
Does it erase if I shake it?
Yes. But you knew that, didn't you :=)
Can you make serious art with Etcher?
Pauline Graziano is a professional Etch A Sketch artist. She is working with one of our prototypes and her feedback is extremely valuable in making sure Etcher faithfully reproduces the Etch A Sketch experience, even in details that only expert users notice. The video above is a timelapse of one of the drawings Pauline is producing with Etcher.
Who is building Etcher?
Left to right: Ari Krupnik (software), Maarten Dinger (industrial design), Alex Gutierrez (operations) and Lee Felsenstein (electronics).
Ari builds iPhone and iPad peripherals for a living; his projects include a successful Kickstarter campaign for iPhone radio control transmitter and helping connect iPhone to LazerTag. Maarten is an award-winning designer whose experience includes working on the Flip camera. Alex is making sure we stay on schedule and our vendors deliver what they commit to. Lee is an extraordinary electrical engineer; a Wikipedia page lists some of his achievements.
What is the Etch A Sketch manufacturer saying about your project?
We have an official license to the Etch A Sketch trademark. Ohio Art Company--which owns the trademark--is very enthusiastic about an iPad implementation. They see it as a way to keep the brand exciting and relevant.
License signing ceremony--NY Toy Fair, Feb. 2012. Left to right: for Ohio Art: Martin Killgallon, SVP Marketing and Product Development; Larry Killgallon, President; Bill Killgallon, Chairman. For AK&A: Ari Krupnik, Alex Gutierrez.
Do you have a working prototype?
Yes. We follow an iterative development process.
Out current 3D-printed prototype looks pretty much like what we want to mold, except for surface finish, which we can make much smoother in production. This prototype includes a door that closes when you insert your iPad, so that plastic encloses the iPad on all sides.
Our initial prototype is a bare board, and it's iPhone-size. Some of the earliest feedback we gather is requests to up-size Etcher for iPad.
The next prototype uses a few pieces of fiberboard to hold the iPad in place so we artists can use it without worrying about holding the pieces with their hands. Looks ugly but the electronics are easy to get to and modify. We like to make it work first, make it pretty then!
The next prototype is a laminate of laser-cut acrylic sheet. It starts to resemble an Etch A Sketch visually--in addition to replicating the functionality. For simplicity, it omits the door and has an open slot for inserting the iPad.
How are you going to manufacture Etcher?
We are negotiating with a number of contract manufacturers. The most intriguing option is Ohio Art's invitation for us to use the same factory that manufactures the classic Etch A Sketch. Although it is more expensive than some the other options, we like the fact that they already know and understand Etch A Sketch. For instance, they know exactly what color red to use for the plastic--they simply use the same plastic they use in production!
What is your timeline for shipping rewards?
We intend to fulfill our rewards before the end of October. Manufacturing can start only if we reach our funding goals and raise the money we need to pay for mods and boards. Our CAD is complete, but the lead time from giving the order to the factory is 4-6 weeks to make molds, and another 4-6 weeks to produce actual Etchers. Shipping adds additional lead time. These numbers are only estimates. The final numbers are going to depend, to a large degree, on how many backers we get on Kickstarter--the more Etchers we are making, the bigger the order, the easier it is to negotiate a schedule with the factory. Our preference is to be conservative in the dates we commit to. We'd rather deliver rewards ahead of a conservative schedule than behind an unsustainable one.
Are you going to open source Etcher?
Yes--if we reach our funding goal. If people want us to build Etcher and and the project goes ahead, we are going to release the iOS code under an open source license. At the Hacker reward level, you can vote on the license you feel is most appropriate for Etcher. Sadly, we cannot open source the hardware--our obligations to Apple preclude us from disclosing proprietary information that is key to Made For iPad hardware. We are going to publish an open source SDK for accessing our hardware from inside your iOS apps, so you can write your own games that take advantage of the Etcher hardware--you can write maze-navigation games, skid-steering racing games, or reimagine Pong.
Do I need to jailbreak my iPad for this to work?
No. Etcher is the real deal. We are working inside Apple's Made for iPad program. We use official Apple components and protocols. Etcher works with all standard iPads (1, 2 and 3) and official iOS releases.
- (32 days)