How Rapid Protoyping Helped a Startup Build a Smart Keyboard Fast

How Rapid Protoyping Helped a Startup Build a Smart Keyboard Fast
Image: ErgoDox EZ
The ErgoDox EZ keyboard was made possible by rapid prototyping technologies.

Hardware is hard. But crowdfunding and rapid prototyping technologies are making it a little easier, say MakeUseOf alums Erez Zuckerman and Yaara Lancet, the duo behind the ErgoDox EZ keyboard.

“The ErgoDox EZ simply wouldn’t have happened in 2005,” Zuckerman told Matthew Hughes in a worthwhile MakeUseOf profile. “The tools designed to prototype the kit simply didn’t exist. Neither did 3D printing, and there was no means of crowdfunding the product.”

A software startup might require only a laptop, programming know-how, and some marketing chops. Hardware used to take boggling more resources, but 3D printers, development boards, and other rapid prototyping technologies have already lowered the barrier to access significantly.

And crowdfunding not only did away with the need to apply for a loan to get upfront capital, according to Zuckerman and Lancet, but also let them validate the idea and make sure there was a market.

Another benefit, they said, was the ease of communication. The pair used their Indiegogo page to update customers on developments and a ship date, and also found that it was a convenient channel to manage backer expectations.

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Jean Thilmany is a freelance writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her articles covering technology and electronics have appeared in publications such as MIT Technology Review and Minnesota Monthly.

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