By Ben Rooney
- WSJ: First prototype (top right) of the Memoto camera showing the board, and what the final product will look like (bottom right)
Memoto, a Swedish startup producing a tiny camera you clip to your shirt and which captures your life every 30 seconds, has shown off its first working device ahead of ramping up production for a full launch in early April.
The first device to go on sale will be about the size of a large postage stamp and will have 8 gigabytes of memory, enough to store at least a day’s worth of shots from the 5-megapixel camera.
CEO Martin Källström was in London Tuesday and we caught up with him and his team. We last spoke just before they launched their very successful Kickstarter project. Mr. Källström said they had hoped to raise $50,000 but ended up securing $550,000.
“Since then we have done sales off our own website as well–$125,000 so far,” he said. “We have about 3,000 orders.” He said the company was raising another funding round in the spring.
That, together with the €500,000 ($676,000) they raised from their seed round, including investors like Passion Capital in London, is allowing them to move ahead with their plans to shift the assembly of the $279 device from Sweden, where the prototypes are being assembled, to Taiwan.
“At the moment we can produce five at a time [in Sweden]. That will go to 50 and then 1,000,” Mr. Källström said. The reason for Taiwan, and not mainland China, was simply that another Swedish startup, Mutewatch, had blazed a trail for Memoto. “What we did was to follow their supply chain with their manufacturer, their packaging manufacturer, their quality-control company and their logistics. We learned from their mistakes,” he said.
While it might seem that cramming all the hardware into a stamp-sized package was the tricky part for the team, according to Björn Wesén, co-founder and chief technology officer, the software has proved to be the sticking point. “The hardware is not the most expensive part. The stuff that happens when you plug it in and upload to the cloud, the algorithms that have to analyze what you did and which are the best photographs to put on your timeline out of the 2,000 you upload–that has been the hardest part.”
The company is planning to release the 3-D data to allow users with 3-D printers to print their own accessories, as well as the 2-D data so people can make their own decals and stickers.
The 1.4-inch-square device, which will be available in orange, gray or white, comprises a 5-megapixel camera, a GPS receiver and a battery the company claims lasts two days on a charge. Every 30 seconds the camera wakes up and takes a picture. Images are uploaded via a micro USB cable connection to your computer and from there to the cloud, where they can be viewed in a timeline via a mobile app for Android or iOS.
The first device to launch will have 8GB of storage, enough for at least a day, but the company plans to launch a 32GB device for traveling. They are also planning to sell a docking station that will allow users to upload direct to the cloud without the need for a PC.
The uses of this tiny camera are myriad. At $279, the first buyers are likely to be same people who buy FitBit bands and the like. If the price comes down, expect to see them in a lot more places. It isn’t hard to see that police officers, or soldiers, would want to record everything they do. Mr. Källström said the guard on their train said he wanted one to record the many people who harass him in his job.