Amazon has kicked off a new crowdfunding-like program called Build It where they allow customers to pre-order a new product that will only be built if it reaches a pre-order goal. Customers can cancel their pre-order anytime and even return products after they ship, like any other Amazon purchase, making the program far less risky than traditional crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The program is launching with 3 Alexa products: a Smart Cuckoo Clock, a Smart Nutrition Scale, and a Smart Sticky Note Printer.
Unlike most crowdfunding platforms, Amazon’s Build It program does not indicate exactly how many orders or how much money needs to be made for the product to ship. Instead, Amazon is simply providing a progress bar and a percentage indicating how close to the pre-order goal the product has reached. Amazon is also providing an estimated shipping window, which, for the 3 Alexa products, is between July – September 2021.
Each product has a lower “special” price and a regular price. A cutoff date has been set for each product, which happens to be March 19 for these initial 3 Alexa products. On that date, the product will be canceled if the pre-order goal has not been met. If enough people pre-order the product, the price will increase to the regular pre-order price after the cutoff date.
The Smart Cuckoo Clock is a modern and minimalistic take on the traditional bird and pendulum clock that costs $79.99 if you pre-order now and $99.99 if you pre-order after the cutoff date of March 19. Similar to the Echo Wall Clock, the Cuckoo Clock will display Alexa timer countdowns on a ring of LED lights around the clock face. When an Alexa alarm or timer is reached, the clock will play a customizable chime out of its internal speaker.
The Smart Nutrition Scale costs $34.99 now and increases to $44.99 after March 19. While the scale does function as a regular kitchen scale to weigh food, it is also linked with Alexa so that you can ask how many calories, carbs, or sugar is in the food being weighed. You can also ask Alexa to weigh a specific number of calories of a food item.
Lastly, the Smart Sticky Note Printer will cost the most, at $89.99 now and $114.99 after its goal cutoff date. It uses a roll of thermal paper that prints using heat, like some retail receipts, so it never needs ink. The printer is meant to give you a physical version of your Alexa shopping lists and to-do lists. It can also print recipes and even simple games, like Sudoku puzzles. It comes with 1 roll of yellow paper and Amazon says they will also offer paper refills in blue, pink, and white if the product is made. The paper has some sort of sticky backing to it.
Something to keep in mind is that all 3 of these potential products are Alexa Gadgets. That means they don’t have microphones or speakers to talk to Alexa, like an Echo smart speaker does. Their smart capabilities only work by being paired to a compatible Echo.