Thank you for stopping by our Kickstarter project and checking us out!
The idea behind SNAPJAW is simple: The popularity of bumper stickers, license plate frames, and vanity license plates has skyrocketed as our desire to express our individuality has increased. The problem is that the currently available self-expression products don't let us express ourselves as easily and as frequently as we do via Twitter and Facebook.
SNAPJAW is the world's first interactive digital bumper sticker controlled by a user's mobile phone. The primary components of SNAPJAW are a display (the first version is a 7 pixel x 59 pixel LED pictured above) ,a GSM radio with SIM card (module pictured below), a housing to protect the device from the elements, and 12VDC leads to connect to your automobile's power system.
In addition, we will be including both GPS and an accelerometer to enable really cool apps (user opt-in only, of course) to be built on top of our data.
Once installed, the user completes a very simple process to pair the user's mobile phone with the user's SNAPJAW. Access to the SNAPJAW is via SMS; in future updates, we will build both native iOS and Android applications as well to provide a better user experience for smartphone users.
We need to raise funds on Kickstarter to be able to issue a high-volume purchase order to the factory that we have selected to manufacture the product.
In the mid-1990s, while driving up Highway 101 in the SF Bay Area, I saw a car in front of me with a San Francisco Giants license plate frame. I thought to myself "Great, I love the Giants too! But it's December, and baseball season has been over for two months...wouldn't it be great if there was an easy and convenient way to change the message to 'Go 49ers' or 'Go Warriors' or something else more appropriate for the season?" At that time, I used a Motorola 2-way alphanumeric pager and thought that a universal wireless communication device, like a pager or mobile phone, would be an ideal way to control such messages...and the idea for SNAPJAW was born.
After researching possible solutions, I soon came to the realization that the LED and wireless technologies required were still too new and expensive to offer a reliable and cost-effective consumer product. So I mothballed the idea -- with the intent of reviving it in the future.
In the late 2000s, with the steep drop in cost of LEDs, I observed the emergence and proliferation of digital displays. I encountered a product called the Roadmaster, a digital license plate frame that allowed users to create and upload pre-programmed messages. It was terribly difficult to use, often requiring 15-20 minutes to craft and upload a single message! In addition, the radio frequency controller had to be within 3 feet and aimed directly at the Roadmaster. It did not fulfill my vision for an easy and convenient way of changing the message.
In 2012, using the working name "iPhrame", we documented several different use cases for a digital bumper sticker product; we modified a Roadmaster device; and we filmed each of the use cases (which you can see in the second half of the video). While developing the technology, we've filed 4 patent applications with the USPTO to protect our innovations.
Over the past 12 months, we have built several different functioning prototypes by modifying and rigging off-the-shelf components and parts, and have demonstrated sending messages from a user's phone to a SNAPJAW device.
In December 2012, we locked down a design and selected a reliable manufacturer. In February 2013 we received the first display samples (pictured above with the "7x6" message).
Risks and challenges
While there are several challenges to completing any project, we have tried to address and mitigate these challenges upfront. We have assembled a team of engineers and business people with collectively over 60 years of experience in wireless technologies, with companies like Nokia and Palm. We have fully functioning prototypes that already prove what we can do. And we have selected a manufacturing partner in the Far East with nearly one million square feet of factory space. This partner has been in business since the 1990s, and ships hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product for some of the world's biggest brands, including Electrolux and GE.
We realize that people might not always use the product in a socially acceptable way...however, we anticipate incorporating some terms & conditions and some community policing features that will empower us to minimize the negative impacts of such behavior.
Unfortunately, we do not have economical wireless agreements with wireless service providers outside of the U.S. We will, however, ship Rewards #2 and #3 (T-Shirt and traditional non-digital frame) to Canada.
The first 12 months of wireless service are included in the product price.
We anticipate that the annual fee (to cover wireless service) will be less than $30 per year. Our target price is $19.99/year, which we can achieve once we get sufficient volume of SNAPJAWs sold and activated.
In addition, we hope to offer a low- or no-cost option that allows us to insert ads...we just don't know yet if this can be economically viable, so we cannot commit to the availability of this alternative.
We experimented with different approaches, but ultimately we settled on cellular wireless service for many reasons.
First, we seek simplicity. There is not common implementation of either Bluetooth or WiFi across mobile phones, which would have contradicted our goal of simplicity. Cellular wireless enables us to utilize a ubiquitous platform (SMS text messaging), while also offering great apps for higher-end iPhone and Android phones.
Second, we wanted to make it easy for people to update the SNAPJAW device, even from far remote locations.
Third, we wanted to be able to have messages routed through our servers in the cloud in order to enable additional services.
Lastly, we were able to negotiate relatively low rates for service with a national wireless provider.