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CA$ 6,672 pledged of CA$ 5,000 goal
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By ildar khakimov
CA$ 6,672 pledged of CA$ 5,000 goal
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About this project

Update: Why are we pausing the project?

Satisfaction of backers is our number one priority and unfortunately there is one hardware component of Spy Cup which may hinder the quality of the final product. We are not in a position to gamble with your money and don't want to take a chance during mass production. We will stop the funding now which will make sure that no backers are charged.

One-way see through glass needs more work.

During the latest tests with Spy Cup we noticed that certain iPhone models of certain colors (white, gold etc) are more visible under specific lighting conditions. Spheric shape of cups creates a distance between the phone's camera and the hole and lighter color phones become more visible.

Up until the last day we were in touch with specialists to see how this problem can be resolved, but the answers did not satisfy us. We would either end up with a really dark filter which would make Spy Cup useless in the evenings or the phone would become too visible which is not acceptable.

Distance between camera and hole
Distance between camera and hole

This was a learning experience and now we know how to perform robust Quality Assurance prior to the launch of the next product, but for now we must make the following announcement: 

We're deeply sorry and with regret must announce that we will stop the funding at this point to make sure that none of the backers are charged by Kickstarter.

So, what now?

We will come back better and stronger with the next version of Spy Cup. Make sure to sign up to our mailing list on http://SpyCup.net

Turn your iPhone into a hidden camera

Easily record anything like a true investigative journalist! Spy Cup lets you capture the most compelling footage using your iPhone. You can use SpyCup to capture:

Why SpyCup?

Activists often work on tight budgets and similar recording devices cost 300$ and provide poor video quality due to small sensor size. Your iPhone on the other hand can be used to record short movies and music videos and the latest iPhone 6 allows you to record videos in up 4k resolution.

Now, for the first time there is a gadget that turns your iPhone into a high-resolution hidden camera.

Essentially it will be a hidden camera that costs 9 times cheaper with 3 time the quality and compatible with myriad of existing apps like Periscope.

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Activism and Journalism 2.0

The story of Spy Cup began in Taiji Japan, where I went as an cameraman to film the annual dolphin hunt (depicted in the movie "The Cove"). This is where conservationists like Sea Shepherd converge to protect the cetaceans like dolphins and pilot whales and  that are hunted by the local fishermen.

I saw some disturbing things and realized how much good organizations like Sea Shepherd do to protect these animals. I was a bit sceptical at first, but after interviewing Melissa Sehgal who was heading up the Sea Shepherd team it became clear their motivations are pure and their tactics drive real results. 

One day when we were watching the hunt unfold I was approached by a couple of officers which were gathering information on visiting foreigners. 

I was invited into the police station. The problem is that just a few days before my interpreter got arrested and ended up spending 53 days in Jail. So when I get to the station I become extremely concerned for my safety. 

They promptly inform me that I’m not allowed to film inside the station.

While sitting there I realized that I have the perfect recording device right in my hands, which is my iPhone, but I have no way of using it without them knowing.

This is when it hit me: There's got to be a better way! Coffee cup is the perfect everyday object in which we can conceal a recording device without raising suspicion. I believe that Spy Cup can revolutionize the field of citizenship journalism. 

It's important to note that Spy Cup is the first tool to allow direct covert streaming from the scenes of unfolding news (through Periscope and Meerkat). This is something which was not possible with conventional hidden cameras.

Taijij Japan: Vessel used for whale hunting
Taijij Japan: Vessel used for whale hunting

iPhone 5/6 only!

If you're using iPhone 5/5s/5c/6 or 6s then this device is for you. If you're using any other phone model or 6+ then Spy Cup may not play well with your phone.

We apologize, but at this point Spy Cup is available exclusively to users of the above mentioned models.

Smart design

The product design started 2 years ago and we have already shipped 20 prototypes to initial beta-testers. We got lots of feedback and iterated over 50 times to come up with these latest design features:

  • Design of the cup - Which firmly hold the phones in place without damaging the surface 
  • Compatible with iPhone 5 and 6 (not 6+)
  • Design of the cover - Rubber covers were chosen because they can be quickly put on and do not fall off when the cup is tilted to the side 
  • Design of the mirror finish - Best tint finish was chosen to allow just enough light to come through to ensure high quality image while concealing the phone 
  • Bluetooth trigger - Latest triggers are the size of a keychain and powerful enough to communicate with the phone at a distance of almost 30 feet. 
  • Ventilation holes - Allow the hot air to escape. 
Our prototype batch. The covers will be different on the final product.
Our prototype batch. The covers will be different on the final product.

The team

Ildar Khakimov (creator) is a Montreal based entrepreneur and an amateur videographer. He started his career in 2007 and launched a series of successful businesses, including a consumer portal callercenter.com which got acquired by Flydart media in June of 2015 (CBC interview here). He is the person behind this idea and the investor.

Stephane Rousseau (engineer) is the designer and creator of the EchoRap, the first 3D printer designed and produced in Montréal. Stephane holds a master's degree in electrical engineering and a bachelor's degree in math and computer science. His interests are in 3D printing, firmware design, Arduino and AVR, VHDL, Open Sound Protocol, Python and functional programming. He is a cofounder of ADI inc Hardware Accelerator and the engineer behind the latest designs.

Christian Beaubien (designer and marketer) is the cofounder ADI Inc Hardware Accelerator, a StartUp Influencer and inventor with strong design skills. 

Ali Avsar (marketing) is the marketing and social media expert of the team in charge of marketing and communication with potential backers and partners via social media and other channels. 

Both Stephane and Christian are founders of ADI which is a Montreal based hardware accelerator.

Prototypes

We have built and produced over 50 working prototypes of Spy Cup and tested many different variations. In different colors, materials and variations of the top cover. 

 After gathering all the feedback and iterating on the designs further we have finalized the designs while consulting with our injection molding partners.

Schedule

Our designs are in the hands of the factory that will produce the product and they're standing by to start the manufacturing process.

Once the production run begins, it will take about 2 months to have the finished batch at our location in Montreal.

  • End of the crowdfunding campaign: December 19 
  • Injection molding tooling manufacturing after holidays: January
  • Initial samples for quality assurance checks: February
  • Mass production: March
  • End of mass production and shipping: May

We have chosen a factory that has the highest quality standards for workers and strict quality assurance controls. They have the designs at hand and a member of our team will be present on site to inspect the initial samples before we begin the mass production.

Costs

The project is almost fully funded, after selling my last company which is a consumer protection portal 'callercenter.com' (see my interview here) I invested that money into this new project.  A total of 40 000 will be invested, but I'm missing 10% of the total 50 000 to fund the optical component of Spy Cup.

In order to not compromise the quality of the project we went with a trusted factory that can deliver quality work. The optics of Spy Cup will be the trickiest aspect of the design, because we need to ensure the stealthiness of the product while also ensuring that enough light is able to penetrate the lense so the resulting footage is not dark.

Special thanks to the following for support and or coverage 

producthunttechfunction, montreaintech, montreaintech, streetinsider, spygoodies, adi, mcgill, mobile-photographer, whycall, rank history, branchspot, onemorething, iculture, iphone-ticker, lesaffaires, geekbecois, iheartcamera

* Always respect your local law and regulations like the wiretapping laws which vary depending on your region

Risks and challenges

There are not many things that can delay the project. Because we do not have any overly complicated mechanisms such as untested PCBs or other materials the only small complication may come from the mirror finish, but the material we plan on using is found inside privacy screens for windows and overhead security cameras which makes them pretty standard and easy to get.

Because we are partnering with ADI, we have access to a large number of local engineers and Montreal is home to some of the biggest engineering companies in north america.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 3 or more About $2

    The "What you're doing is cool, here's 3$" pledge.

    Really appreciate your support, thank you!

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    Pledge CA$ 7 or more About $5

    SUPPORT OPEN CITIZEN JOURNALISM AND INNOVATION! Help us fulfill our dream of making Spycup a reality. We'll keep you updated on our progress, and let you know when Spycup is in stores!

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    Pledge CA$ 27 or more About $20

    >> EARLY BIRD SPECIAL <<

    Lowest price Spycup for early backers! Get your fully functional Spycup with a remote bluetooth trigger. Limited quantities.

    Almost 50% off the retail price!

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    Pledge CA$ 27 or more About $20

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL #2 NO BLUETOOTH TRIGGER

    Low price Spycup for early backers! Get your fully functional Spycup. Limited quantities.

    Almost 45% off the retail price!

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    Pledge CA$ 29 or more About $22

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL #2 WITH BLUETOOTH TRIGGER

    Low price Spycup for early backers! Get your fully functional Spycup with a remote bluetooth trigger. Limited quantities.

    Almost 45% off the retail price!

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    Pledge CA$ 85 or more About $64

    Get a plastic molded version of the SpyCup

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    Pledge CA$ 200 or more About $150

    Small business pack, 8 SpyCups at the early bird special price

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    Pledge CA$ 450 or more About $338

    Business pack special, get 17 Spycups

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    Pledge CA$ 1,000 or more About $750

    Big business pack 39 Spy Cups at the early bird special price.

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Funding period

- (30 days)