The IFind Kickstarter Campaign Was Just Suspended

A little more than one month ago we featured a Kickstarter campaign that was raising quite a lot of eyebrows and over half a million dollars. This particular product was a battery-free tag meant to be attached to anything you may lose in your daily life. It was supposed to communicate with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices and have a 200ft (60m) detection range.

The main claim was that the iFind could harvest enough power from existing RF fields inside a typical home environment to operate for centuries. As Kickstarter just cancelled its funding a few minutes ago it seems that the basic maths Hackaday did a while ago were correct and that the project was in fact a scam. We’ll direct our readers to this particular comment that sums up all the elements pointing to a fraudulent campaign and show you the email that the backers received:

A review of the project uncovered evidence of one or more violations of Kickstarter’s rules, which include:

  • A related party posing as an independent, supportive party in project comments or elsewhere
  • Misrepresenting support by pledging to your own project
  • Misrepresenting or failing to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator
  • Providing inaccurate or incomplete user information to Kickstarter or one of our partners

Putting aside this news, this campaign’s cancellation raises a bigger question: why didn’t it happen before and how could we control Kickstarter campaigns? On a side note, it’s still very interesting to notice the nearly religious fervor of the sunk cost fallacy that such campaigns create in their comments.

Thanks [Rick] for the tip!

67 thoughts on “The IFind Kickstarter Campaign Was Just Suspended

    1. Better make sure that’s a figure of speech and not a claim of functionality. :)

      To be honest, I am impressed at seeing the posted picture on the actual case and how the physical pieces fit together instead of the usual HaD duct tape or bread board projects. Being able to get something past the designed by committee is a non-trivial task.

          1. True.. You weren’t the one that featured it, but having it posted at all reflects poorly on HaD as a site. That article shows up on web searches and people who are not informed enough to see that the project is a huge stretch of reality might use those positive SOAP HaD articles as a reason to buy into it and lose money.

            Good job on THIS post, by the way. This is more of what the world needs, which is specialists explaining technical details which non-specialists might not understand. It doesn’t matter how “cool” something sounds if it breaks the laws of reality.
            I really hope there was some internal editor meeting or something at Hackaday after the last SOAP article about maybe a little better editorial review and integrity.

            PS.. HaD should really do a follow up SOAP article, or redline the last one with more facts and less unwarranted positive support.

    2. there is another kickstarter wich could be a scam too.. Earin.. is it possible to put power, antenna and electronics in such a tiny space? if is it true, then it’s a big challenge.. i think

      1. I think it is enough space.
        But i find them impractical for 2 reasons: 2.5h of battery life. I know two kinds of people: those who don’t listen to music and those who listen to music more than 2.5h per day, for both categories these are useless.
        And the second reason is even more dangerous: these things are super easy to lose, especially if using them on a commute in crowded places.

      2. It’s definitely possible, we’ve had hearing aids smaller than that for many years now. At the federal government level, there are Bluetooth wireless earbuds that are about that size as well, and look like normal hearing aids.

        1. If you ignore the electronics aspect of the project you can see its a complete failure from a practical construction standpoint. All existing roadways will need to be tore up and replaced with roadways that can then have more roadway bolted on top of it. I can also guarantee without any doubt that the anchor system will not hold that roadway in place for long at all. Another issue is the actually installation costs, instead of paved and slip formed roads people with have to actually physically bolt each panel into place which is time consuming and costly especially when compared to existing road installation techniques. Then you look at Dave’s video and have a great laugh from the failures on the electrical side. Its ridiculous that people don’t give even 2 seconds of basic thought to stuff anymore.

          1. 1) It’s worth pointing out that, in fact, existing roadways get torn up and replaced *all the time* as it is. So this isn’t really a big criticism.

            2) It’s not “replace all roads” or “replace no roads.” Plenty of roads would make little sense (highways) and plenty of roads would make lots of sense (parking lots, local non-truck roads, although parking lots would make more sense to have something like a solar canopy).

            That being said, I agree with you on the other criticisms. The most important thing they would have to demonstrate would be that, long term, it would save money over existing road maintenance. And that would take a lot more engineering.

    1. I’m secretly hoping that enough scams make it through to funding on kickstarter. First, it would teach people to think more critically prior to committing money. Second, “kickstarter” could take the place of “April fools” but good year round. Sort of like:

      “Hey, you want to buy a USB powered 3D plastic printing pen?”
      “Yeah, sure. That sounds awesome! How much?”
      “$300. And I’ll throw in a free spool of plastic to get you started.”
      “Great! Here take my money!”
      “Ha ha, kickstarter!”

      1. Either way, you have a good new internet meme there. “Ha ha, kickstarter!” works on so many levels :) Glad there are some sensible types out there able to sniff out the snake oil.
        It also makes me want to come up with even more ridiculous kickstarter projects like an incandescent light bulb that looks like a large LED muahaha. Just copypasta some wiki garbage on reticulated splines ala Sims and a couple of RGB reference charts and voila 20k in the pocket for a large sandwich :)

          1. D’oh lol. I was thinking about it and couldn’t remember what the ww2 naval globes were called but it is apparently hazard lights and I think that would be an easy starting point. Take a look here and ya can see how it wouldn’t take long to make it look similar. Hope it helps ya going in the right direction if you want to diy it :) I also just thought some of those candle holders (metal cage base) have rounded bell shaped glass and would probably sort of work too (with bulb not candle). Just keep the wattage low and have some sort of vent holes at the base.
            My other idea is to have a hilarious golf tee that is three feet tall so you can hit it like a baseball :) No real playing advantage, but you have a golfclub/insane tee combo, that has to give some sort of attack bonus.

      1. Why does he assume the LED will be flat? You would tilt them in such a way that they are visible to oncoming traffic, and diffuse them so you don’t blind and have a smooth line. Plus the diffusing can make the line visible during day without needing the LED, so you immediately half the waste both in LED lifetime and loss of power to the grid. It just doesn’t make sense to have a line made of light during the day, why would you?

        I too think the whole thing is unrealistic, but you should not deliberately make it worse..

        1. Wasn’t one of the ideas thrown out that lanes could be dynamically repurposed? In which case you either point the LEDs upwards, or have to double them all up. The same’s true for ordinary, single lane suburban roads, where the only marking you want is a white line down the middle that can be seen from both ways. Actually I’d quite like to be able to see that one if I’m trying to cross the road as a pedestrian too, so now you’re replacing each LED with four.

          1. But yes if you wish to change between a 2 way road and a double lane single direction then you might need to either have a straight up or a switch over, but you could easily tilt a led too with a very cheap motor, especially since they would all be tilted so you’d have a single motor or actuator tilt a whole assembly of LED.

            And I don’t think this system is meant for pedestrian areas perse but I think when you walk you can clearly see the road even if the LED isn’t in the right orientation.

            And I did not hear any argument about the idea of having a white diffuser that acts as line without LED light during the day, so you must see the logic of that one.

            But once again, I agree the project has many flaws, but I think that if it was commissioned they would HAVE to think sharply and get smart to get past some issues that they now don’t address, by sheer necessity.
            The same way the space program did, or the team that made the first nuke or many more mundane projects. And although it would still not be that great I think it could be much better than we’d fear right now.

        2. If you are making a glass cover, pretty sure that you can make integrated light guide/lens to have the light goes side ways, Now is this practical use of power vs plain old reflective paint. No way.

          IMHO, I think this may be kind of okay for pedestrian walk in downtown shopping areas etc or as tourist attraction so the amount of wear & tear would be significantly less than cars and trucks on the road. Add a few pressure sensors, it would be a neat science museum piece.

          Dave have been generous in not having taken into account if/when the roads is covered by cars during rush hours.

    1. I’m sure Indiegogo has something in their TOS about impossible claims and scams. If they fail to bounce no-go projects, how can we trust the platform itself?
      Kickstarter was slow on the ball with this one, but that is bette than not having the balls at all.

  1. I’m a bit disturbed that Kickstarter is slow to enforce their rules.

    A bit tangential, but pages questioning the viability of the Lix Pen show up on the third page of hits on Google search fro “Lix pen”.

    1. Like any bookie, they make money win or lose, so there’s very little incentive for them to call “scam” (which removes their cut of the money) without overwhelming proof.

  2. If you’re going to link to a post as evidence, then at least link to someone that knows every point they make is fact.
    “12) The patent numbers (US: 14281043 EU: 14172842.8) don’t yield results according the the US Patent Office.”

    There is a difference between issued patent numbers and application numbers. Application numbers (of which this is) will not show up in a public search until the document has been published as a pre-grant publication. Please inform Sarah and your readers that reason #12 means nothing.

    1. Interesting. I extrapolated from the cases I’ve filed (I’m a US patent agent) and 14/281,043 looks like it had a filing date of about May 24, 2014 (plus or minus a week or two). The earliest it will be published is December of 14. It might not be published until December of 15

  3. They sure made a lot of implausible claims. What made me give them some benefit of doubt (though not any $$$ backing) was that some of the people involved had US academic employment. Seems very risky to put that on the line for a scam that they must have know would get widely published. But maybe not all named on the page were actually in on it? Anyway, hopefully the affected academic institutions will take serious action against anyone involved in scam behavior.

  4. There is this obviously impossible project. I’ve communicated with the developer, and he seems sincere, but I think he is a little bit cracked. It isn’t a problem as it has raised only $50.

    Somehow he claims to be able to harvest energy from the pressure differential between deep ocean waters and an evacuated pipe. HIs linked paper has some mumbo jumbo about gravity being caused by electric fields, and his tube will be made of some top secret material which shields somethingorother so that he can harvest energy.

  5. So now that iFind is no more, does that leave me open to finish my research and bring a working version of this product (with rational expectations of functionality) to market.

    Though if the iFind people actually get a patent (how could they not in the present climate) I suspect litigation in my future.

  6. Before kickstarter, I was approached by a group that wanted a demonstration made up for investors for a near-perpetual energy machine. I humored it enough to dig into the details and realized that what they were really asking for was something believable enough to get investor money. I passed on it, obviously.

    1. Was it to be made of acrylic? I think there’s one such machine somewhere… unfortunately my search-fu isn’t working today. What I remember about it was they refused to show it in operation unless you’re a serious investor.

      I’d check it out as an investor but I’m intensely allergic to bull shit.

  7. Gee I hope Kickstarter don’t tighten up their rules soon, I’m in the last stages of finishing my plans to make a bicycle powered by the smugness of knowing you’re Saving The Planet[TM] by using Super Green Technology[TM]*

    * lithium batteries charged on-the-fly from a petrol powered engine

    1. And? Some time ago I saw someone up in Maine demonstrating the futility of radio energy harvesting. He was powering an ancient clock radio that required significant wattage to run. He got all his energy for FREE!! Right out of thin air!! Except there was a kilometer long copper cable being used as the harvesting apparatus. It was some thousands of dollars line that was not in use anymore and was about to be pulled.

      Harvested energy is similar to the whole capacitors as batteries thing. Amazing potential (no pun intended) but the tech is nowhere at all near what it needs to be.

  8. Well, crap. I was excited about this one. While the application sounded cool, this would have made sensor nets practical. And they being in Plano, it would have been perfect because Plano is just a few blocks north of where I am…

  9. There are lots project like these.

    Findster on Igg is one of those.
    Fancy cartoon and some pictures but no real evidence of anything functional.

    Soap is another.
    Nothing more than 3D-renderings and none has ever seen it working.

    It makes me real concerned.

    I like the idea of the littleman in crowd numbers, funding crazy ideas that corporations don’t’ like because of lost income or monopoly.

    I just beg people to see beyond the scam.
    What is possible? Is it reasonable? Can they deliver?

    Otherwise the whole crowfunding scene is lost.

  10. Congrats Mathieu !!
    Now a half million $ won’t be lining scammer’s pockets !!
    You and Hackaday have done a great public service. Perhaps our efforts here will give pause to potential kickstarter scammers in the future.

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