About this project
Because news like this is UNACCEPTABLE...
We need a new solution...
A device that securely stores all of your digital content, and keeps growing as you need more storage.
A device that fosters collaboration, allowing you to synchronize or comment on documents, and automatically back up prior versions as you make changes.
A device that hosts entire discussion boards within it, facilitating secure communication and easy socializing.
A device that creates an interactive storefront for you, with built-in payment processing, inventory management, and CRM.
A device that provides an affordable and secure alternative to using online services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Microsoft Sharepoint, Facebook, Amazon et al, without the complication of setting up a NAS box or your own server.
What is the Pixeom device?
Pixeom is a new kind of personal cloud device, which allows you to do more with your data.
Each box owner is in control of a device that scales seamlessly as they need more storage space, without having to pay subscription fees or understanding how to setup and manage a server/NAS box.
Think of it as a hardware box that runs apps for you, that we refer to as "exchanges".
You start by uploading your files, but unlike most other cloud products today, our device is not just for file storage - the exchanges do different things for you like facilitating file collaboration, or hosting discussion boards and interactive shops. You can also organize cloud playlists or broadcast your content to nearby devices!
Your device can stay private, where you just invite trusted friends to collaborate and play in a secure environment, and optionally it can join a global network of Pixeom devices, advertising their public content.
Your device can contribute to a collection of public content for anyone to browse and discover, beyond your circle of invited friends!
Interesting, tell me more...
All of your content stored on the Pixeom device is automatically encrypted with the latest security (AES-256), and you can specify all of the keys and passwords.
Each Pixeom device is expandable, so you can attach USB hard drives and connect multiple Pixeom devices together to indefinitely increase your storage space. And with multiple devices mirroring the data you never have to worry about losing anything important ever again – not to mention reducing downtime in the process.
The Pixeom device is designed to save you money. It is remarkably low power, and will always be a one-time cost to you. Compare that to the subscription based model of cloud storage options today, and the choice is easy.
No more subscription fees, no more security breaches or privacy concerns, and no more restrictions by third party service providers.
That sounds cool, but why do I need this?
We live in an age of online services. Some of the more popular ones include Dropbox, Google Docs, and Facebook. These services are convenient and make our lives better, but they are far from perfect.
Datacenters cost millions of dollars to build and maintain, so the service providers need to make it worth their while. They lure us in with free stuff under the guise of making our lives easier (free cloud storage, free social networking, free picture sharing) and then find ways to take control and profit off of us later, usually by charging subscription fees or selling our personal data. In the end, everything is actually for their benefit, not the customer.
Datacenters suffer from constant security breaches, regular downtime, and lack of privacy. It's time someone brought control back to users everywhere. We should be allowed to own our data, make our own rules, and keep our privacy when we want it. So we decided to give each person their own little piece of a datacenter, that they control and can use privately, or choose to publish content to a free global network. Let's challenge the datacenter together.
The underlying computer board is a Raspberry Pi, to which we have added the storage and created a custom enclosure. The Raspberry Pi features the following specs (with our added internal storage):
- Embedded Linux
- Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC)
- ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor
- 512 MB RAM
- 16 GB Internal Storage
- 2 USB Ports
- 10/100 LAN Port
- LEDs for Power, Storage Access, Ethernet
- Low Power, Green 5V/1A Power Supply - equates to about $5 per year in electricity costs to the owner
- Can perform at high temperatures well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Does not require an air-conditioned environment hence having zero cooling cost.
- Easy to setup and connect from anywhere in the world. It has a self configuration software built in that will perform a self installation without any human inference.
The hardware is low power, but with our optimized software is also capable of running dozens of simultaneous connections (100+ in our tests!). One device can support you sharing and collaborating with all of your friends!
Accessing the Pixeom Device
You are able to access a Pixeom device through simple and easy to use mobile applications (Android and iPhone) as well as through any web browser.
This is an older demo from a build back at the end of November, and we are working on uploading a more recent demo with the new Market Exchange. Until then, hopefully this gives you a good idea of what it is like to connect to your Pixeom device and with other people!
I still don't get how you are different from your competitors?
Our competitors offer one simple workflow:
- Upload your files to a limited storage space
- Access them from anywhere (and some let you share them with friends)
We decided in addition to almost unlimited storage space, you should be able to do more with your files and data. Things like:
- Commenting and streamlining the collaboration of files. No more exchanging emails to figure out what to do with which file.
- Hosting discussion boards and interactive storefronts that work on top of your data to facilitate all of the types of data exchanges in your life.
- Broadcasting your content to local devices on the network (phones, tablets, computers) on the fly. Teachers can now push tailored and personalized content to each student's smartphone from one Pixeom device.
- Almost infinitely increase your storage space as much as you want by connecting multiple devices - this enables you to mirror your data locally or remotely, providing fault and disaster tolerance.
- Many more usage possibilities, as with this device we are building a platform for you to do anything with content that you create. Imagine hosting live games or podcasts off of your device, using it to it can become the device that represents your lifestyle and everything you are passionate about!
The Story of Pixeom
We started Pixeom as brother and sister co-founders, two people who are very passionate about technology and the latest gadgets.
Karishma is a senior studying industrial engineering at USC as well, with numerous internships at tech start-ups where she did UX work and product design for cloud computing products. At college, she is a resident advisor and board member of the entrepreneur club on campus. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
The inspiration for Pixeom came from a discussion we had, about the wealth of online services available, and how they have greatly improved our lives – everything from search engines to Cloud storage. We love them, but they are not perfect.
We decided that the main problem with the status quo is that in order for these online services to run, the service providers must build large data centers. These data centers cost millions of dollars. In order to make it worth their while, they take control, and find ways to profit off of users in whatever way possible. Like selling user data or soliciting subscription fees after luring users with free stuff.
We have an experienced team of developers, product managers, and advisors that understand technology and pay attention to customer needs. We all have past experience with shipping real products that people use today, and more than ever we want the world to be able to use Pixeom. We will ensure the Pixeom device gets produced and delivered in a timely manner...this is a personal project which is close to our hearts.
The Evolution of the Pixeom Device
Current Status of Project
- Device - We have completed the design of the product, and have a fully working initial prototype. The OS running on it is fully functional, with only optimizations for performance remaining.
- Web Browser App - This is the furthest along of the options available to access a Pixeom device. It is fully functional and needs a few aesthetic tweaks, like adding in more themes (some of them will be decided by our backers!)
- Android App - Currently has 30 minor bugs in our database, being fixed at a rate of 4-5 per week. Will also add in the same aesthetic tweaks from the web browser app as well.
- iPhone App - We just found someone to work on this. The iPhone app is not fully functional at this time and expected to be completed by the start of Beta program, at the end of our Kickstarter campaign.
How will the final version of the product be different?
Our Awesome Rewards
We have 11 reward levels, which start with basic things like T-Shirts and small trinkets, all the way up to a fully customized Pixeom experience...where we allow you to select the colors for the device and customize the UI color scheme to your liking!
And no matter which level you choose your name will be forever put into the credits of our product, visible by anyone who clicks on "settings"!
Risks and challenges
Pixeom's risks and challenges lie first in the completion of the product, then in the delivery of the product, for both the hardware and software.
The most significant challenge of the hardware is managing the suppliers of the multiple components of the Pixeom device. Although we have already began prototype trial runs and established existing relationships with the suppliers we intend on partnering with, they are an external factor. Based on our working relationship, we are confident in our selection of vendors, however, to mitigate any risk that may arise, we have selected a minimum of one backup supplier for each component. In addition, we have already negotiated the pricing of components with both primary and backup suppliers.
With the software, the biggest challenge is in accurately predicting the completion time. Bugs and unexpected behavior can not only be difficult and time consuming to find, but also to fix. Luckily, based on where we are on our software timeline, we have selected a very conservative estimate of when Pixeom delivery can be expected. We also have an experienced team of people with deep knowledge of software and hardware development, with past experience shipping complete consumer products on time for big companies like Microsoft, as well as for start-ups which were later acquired by VMware and EMC.
Additionally, since the device has low-end specs, performance tuning is one of our biggest challenges overall – the performance has to be good enough to deliver a responsive user experience or else users can get put off. We already have our cloud software and native apps tuned to be very responsive and are working on the web version to do the same. One of the startups mentioned earlier that several of our team members have worked for, prior to their acquisition by EMC, had successfully delivered consumer networking and storage products running on similar low-end hardware under license to Nokia and 3Com.
We have not yet delivered more than a few dozen beta units, but once we do start distributing more, we will need to scale this process. This will begin by establishing a dedicated group of people to support customer issues that may arise.
Shipping units to international customers depends on regulatory approval, and may be delayed past the delivery estimates we have provided. This is an external process we don't have complete control over, but with the use of country-specific consultants we expect to minimize delays, if any.
We are committed to keeping you informed of our progress in the months following the campaign. In the event that unexpected issues arise in the delivery schedule, we will do our utmost to minimize the impact on our backers and keep everyone fully informed - we believe transparency is the best policy to build a relationship of trust.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
What is the difference between Pixeom and other "cloud" stations or NAS boxes commercially available in the market?
1. Our device is expandable and you do not have to spend time on capacity planning, as you can keep connecting multiple devices together to indefinitely increase ONE single storage pool. With a NAS box (like Western Digital's MyCloud, Lima, and other such products), once you run out of space, you have to buy a separate one and figure out which one will store which files - you can't just seamlessly add more hardware to increase the space of what you already have.
2. We do more than just allow you to store files. Other solutions only allow you to upload a file, and access it later. We allow you to create discussion boards and interactive stores hosted on your device, that you can invite anyone to browse or participate in. It becomes a social experience!
3. Our device can stay private, or it can connect with a global network where you can broadcast public content for anyone to discover using their web browser or our free mobile app. We are trying to challenge the very nature of today's datacenters and services
To expand the space, you have two options. Either connect more external USB hard drives, or you can link multiple Pixeom devices to indefinitely expand your storage pool to whatever size you would like.
So I'm trying to understand how this is a personal cloud. How do I access the device that is, say at my home, from another remote location?
Our product is a cloud for two reasons
1. You can continue to expand and grow your storage pool by connecting more machines together. The storage layer spans across the boundaries of any single machine - just like a cloud in a datacenter does.
2. You are able to access it from anywhere. We automatically port forward for you, and help you discover your device from anywhere, we even intend on providing for you a custom domain that you can easily remember (e.g. stephen.pixeom.com) that will get automatically updated with the IP of your device. You can opt out of this if you want to stay off the grid and manage IPs yourself.
I understand that in the same room/space the Pixeom would generate its own wifi access point so that multiple devices can connect and share but if the devices are in separate places in the "world" how does the Pixeom connect those 2 or more devices?
The Pixeom device does not generate a WiFi access point. It is not meant to be a portable device. You plug it in at home or in your office, connect the wired Ethernet, and then you can access it from anywhere across the internet or on your local LAN.
We take care of the discovery of the device from anywhere, making it convenient for you. And yes, the devices are able to discover each other across the world. It is a community-owned network of devices where anyone who has the free mobile app can browse the public content.
When you mention create a storefront, do you mean instead of buying space from a web server I can install my web shop software on this and run it on here instead?
You cannot install anything custom on our device, we wanted to make it as easy to use as possible, so we integrated everything already for you, such as - payment processing, inventory management, CRM. There is no need to install anything, just right click and say "create shop" then start adding your inventory information!
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