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What are Novatropes?
Novatropes are kinetic sculptures that use strobe lights and rotation to create an optical illusion of impossible, infinite motion. It is this combination of sculpture and technology that inspired us to refer to them as "Electro-kinetic Sculptures". Snap your favorite Novatrope onto a Strobe Dock and watch it spin up as light diffuses through the plastic and provides illumination from within.
After 2 years of development and refinement, our electro-kinetic sculptures are ready to breathe wonder into homes all over the world. It is with great excitement and humility that we present to you: Novatropes™.
As a way of thanking our backers and helping push towards a stronger start for our business, we've set our first Stretch Goal! See a sneak peak of one of the options we've put together for this custom sculpture by clicking the image below.
Each reward consists of a Strobe Dock and one or more sculptures. Pick your favorite Strobe dock and how many sculptures you'd like. When the campaign finishes, we'll send you a survey and you can pick exactly which sculptures you'd like us to send you.
Hex Strobe Dock: An elegant, gorgeous hexagonal base affordable enough for anyone to enjoy. By injection-molding the base from sturdy ABS, and vacuum-forming the dome from scratch-resistant Acrylic, we've been able to bring the price point down significantly. Each kit includes at least 1x Novatrope Sculpture.
Premium Wooden Strobe Dock: A hand-crafted, natural cuboid base for those with a penchant for the refined. Built and assembled by a master woodworker from American Black Walnut and finished with a durable, silky smooth finish. Includes a scratch-resistant cube dome to keep out curious fingers. Each kit includes at least 2x Novatrope Sculptures.
Exotic Wooden Strobe Dock: The ultimate expression of naturalistic and technological fusion. Hand-crafted from exotic hardwoods for those with a keen eye for the refined. Choose between African Padauk and African Zebrawood to add a truly unique piece to your collection of rare artwork. Laboriously designed and assembled by Master Woodworker David Keeber based out of scenic Sedona Arizona. Finished with a durable, silky smooth coating. Very limited stock. Each kit includes at least 3x Novatrope Sculptures.
How does it work?
Each sculpture is mathematically modelled after the Golden Spirals that naturally occur in flowers, sea shells, and countless other naturally occurring organic structures. The Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio are the driving mathematical principles at play, creating a modern display piece that captivates the imagination and gently illuminates any space in a tribute to nature's favorite pattern.
Two main things are required to get Novatropes to work: A Strobe Dock, and a translucent plastic sculpture (aka the Novatrope itself). Once a sculpture is snapped onto the Strobe Dock's spring-loaded snapping motor, it spins up and is rotated over a ring of high-frequency colored strobe lights, which illuminate the sculpture from within. These lights are embedded in the base (aka Strobe Dock) along with the motor and rotary knob that takes user input.
To begin your experience, simply attach a Novatrope to the Strobe Dock, just like a CD onto a CD player, press the power button and adjust the knob to tune the strobe frequency. This will alter the visual effect! Pressing the knob changes LED color. When perfectly tuned, the strobe lights will create an illusion similar to stop motion, strung together seamlessly into an impossible vision of infinite cascading motion.
The entire Novatrope journey began in October 2017, when we came across a series of art pieces online that illustrated a ground-breaking discovery: that certain organic structures behave like Zoetropes under the right conditions. Zoetropes are a type of pre-film animation device that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of images showing progressing phases of that motion¹. Watch the video below for examples of a Zoetrope² and a Phenakistoscope³, two types of pre-film animation devices, in motion.
Needless to say, we fell in love with the idea immediately. It began as a passion project to create a few pieces as Christmas gifts for friends and family, but we soon became overwhelmed with positive feedback and purchase requests from everyone who saw them in action. The first Strobe Dock prototype we designed was called "The Pagoda" and was externally lit by a white light from above.
We were unable to produce this at volume however, so we went back to the drawing board armed with new knowledge and lots of feature requests from everyone we showed it to.
We replaced the overhead white light with embedded color LEDs, started printing the sculptures in translucent plastic, and made the interface more minimalist. After numerous iterations and tests, the result was a kinetic sculpture simple enough to produce at volume, small enough to fit on a bedside table or office desk, and color options that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Surprisingly, one of the most critical pieces of tech we developed to enable this project, was not the Strobe Docks. From the outset, we realized that in order to fully explore the potential that Novatropes offered, we would need to build our own custom software that allowed us to rapidly design, iterate, and experiment with sculpture design. What we've ended up creating was a powerful, easy-to-use Blender toolkit that allows us to iterate and design new sculpture designs at the press of a few buttons.
Over the past two years we've spent countless hours taking this concept from an idea to a reality, and made a lot of friends along the way. We'd like to be able to share our art with the world and in order to do that we've come to Kickstarter for three main reasons:
- Kickstarter offers us the exposure needed to put in the minimum number of orders to bring the cost down enough for us to share our work with you.
- Most of our suppliers have large fixed initial costs, like the molds for our three injection molded parts, which cost around $10K each. Kickstarter offers us the opportunity to pay the high upfront costs associated with establishing our business and making this our full time jobs.
- Our ultimate goal is to use the momentum from this campaign to further improve our methods and develop new and exciting visual art pieces made affordable for anyone to enjoy. Novatropes are the first in a long list of beautiful, interactive, and thought-provoking products we'd like to be able to share with the world at affordable pricing.
Our team couldn't be more excited about finally getting to share all of our hard work with you! We've worked really hard to get to this point and hope that you enjoy Novatropes as much as we do. We want to keep innovating on our current ideas and be able to share them with the community.
Our Marketing Partners: SCI Creations
We'd like to give a special shout-out to our incredible marketing partners, SCI Creations. Without their hard work, invaluable expertise, and thoughtful mentorship, we would never have made it to this point.
To the team at SCI: It is with immense gratitude that we humbly thank you for everything you've done for us. With an eye toward the future, there's no one we'd rather have by our side in the upcoming weeks, months, and years than the hard-working, intelligent, and ambitious professionals that make up your team.
Special Mentions: Aha to Exit
As someone who has always been inherently resistant to organizations prosthelytizing their revolutionary teachings, I was taken pleasantly by surprise when I stumbled across a document online entitled "The Startup Roadmap" that made me completely rethink my default mistrust.
After failing consistently for over a year to overcome the many hurdles associated with making Novatropes a success, I was nearing the point of giving up. The main reason being that I simply wasn't sure exactly what I was doing wrong, both in Novatropes and my previous venture SkyAds. Finding the Startup Roadmap felt like having the scales peeled from my eyes. It lent a degree of clarity to all of our failed efforts that finally allowed me to contextualize where it was that we stood in the broader arena of what exact steps must be taken to start a successful business.
I began attending their monthly seminars and founder socials, where I was given a crash course in how to assemble a team, build a Minimum Viable Prototype, get approval from the CULT, and approach a soft launch, which is why we're on Kickstarter today.
If you find yourself in a similar position to where I was a year ago, I can not personally recommend their course highly enough. Their Startup Roadmap is free to download on their website, you can click the picture below for more information.
- Brandon Keeber, CEO
Special Mentions: Silicon Visual Productions
When you're bootstrapping a high-risk startup by yourself, one of the most valuable assets you can find is an ambitious, like-minded partner that's willing to take a chance on you. It's even better when that partner is operating at an expertise level usually reserved for a clientele base consisting of Fortune-500 companies and established entrepreneurs.
All of those four-leaf clovers we found when we were kids must have finally kicked in because that's exactly what we found in SVP. Novatropes are notoriously difficult to film due to their strobing lights, but Alex Gomez and Andrew Benedeck not only managed to pull it off, but captured some of the most gorgeous footage of any product anywhere that we've ever seen. They are single-handedly responsible for all of the active Novatrope footage on our campaign, as well as the majority of the B-roll and interview shots.
We'd like to thank them for all of the long shoots, all-night editing sessions, and repeated video tweaks in the pursuit of a final product that exceeded our own personal expectations and capabilities by an almost embarrassing margin.
If you find yourself in need of high-quality cinematographers, you'd be hard pressed to find a more talented team than the guys at SVP. We couldn't be more grateful and we look forward to a long, prosperous partnership in the years to come.
Risks and challenges
All hardware manufacturing operations involve risk. Potential failure points come in the form of supply chain fulfillment issues, design failures resulting in unusable inventory, non-conforming material due to manufacturer quality issues, unacceptably long lead-times, shortcomings in assembly line throughput and quality control, inventory management issues, and more.
With backgrounds in Manufacturing Engineering, Shipping and Fulfillment, and Operational Management, we are intimately familiar with all of these challenges, and have meticulously worked to mitigate the risks they pose. We have developed a comprehensive manufacturing plan that we are confident will help drive us to be the consistent, reliable business that our Kickstarter Backers deserve for us to be.
As a general rule, overseas suppliers and outsourced manufacturers pose the highest failure risk for a startup like us. The communication gap and reduced visibility can lead to unforeseen issues that manifest late in the process. Thus, all assembly and fulfillment operations will be conducted in America. The applies to all strobe dock assembly as well as manufacture of wood bases, cuboid domes, and 3D Printed Sculptures. This leaves the circuit boards, motor mount, hex base and the hex dome as the components manufactured abroad.
In order to minimize risk of design failure across the board, all components have already been fully prototyped and tested, and in some cases had short run batches manufactured/assembled.
Our highest failure risk components are currently the Printed Circuit Board and the injection molded hex bases. To reduce this risk, we did two things: For the PCB, we designed and built an in-house reflow oven, ordered the SMDs and raw circuit board from JLCPCB, and developed a fully functional final-form prototype ready for order submission to our supplier PCBWay. For the hex base, we used Protolabs' online injection molding toolset to verify our design's viability. Then, multiple 3D-printed prototypes were designed and tested for durability and ease of assembly.
As for the hex domes, the mold for the dome was ordered and machined in June, and the first test pieces have been received, making this one of our lower risk components. These samples were used in our product photoshoots.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Environmental commitmentsVisit our Environmental Resources Center to learn how Kickstarter encourages sustainable practices.
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