Remember the laser razor by Skarp Technologies that was about to revolutionize shaving? Well, as with many developing technologies, people were very polarized on whether or not it was a scam. As of this morning, it seems more people have jumped into the “screw this scam” camp after Kickstarter suspended Skarp’s campaign. The campaign failed to meet some aspects of Kickstarter’s requirements — namely, the fact that they don’t have a fully working prototype of a product they promised to deliver by March, which Kickstarter requires. In short, the laser razor that recently took the web by storm doesn’t actually exist, yet.
According to former backers’ posts in the comments of the Kickstarter page, Kickstarter’s Integrity Team sent backers this announcement:
“We’re writing to notify you that the Skarp Laser Razor project has been suspended, and your pledge has been canceled. After requesting and reviewing additional material from the creator of the project, we’ve concluded that it is in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards. Accordingly, all funding has been stopped and backers will not be charged for their pledges. No further action is required on your part. Suspensions cannot be undone.”
Kickstarter may have given Skarp the kibosh, but in an effort to keep the project alive, the creators have already ported everything over to Indiegogo, which has more relaxed campaign rules.
It’s not surprising that it got booted from KS, though. If you happened to watch the demo video on the campaign page, it’s easy to see why. In the demonstration, the prototype razor seems to struggle quite a bit when faced with just one or two tough arm hairs. That’s a far leap from cutting a full beard.
This is in addition to the fact that the circuit boards needed to make the razor work in the palm of your hand are still gigantic desktop contraptions. The assertion that the Skarp team has been working for free is fair, but it doesn’t explain how they planned to deliver by March when there is obviously so much work still to be done. Skarp’s last update video of October 8 didn’t do much to instill confidence, either.
In it, the makers explained that lack of funding equals lack of results, and that their engineers have been working for free. It would be easy to make jokes about Darth Vader Force-choking engineers to get the job done, but at this point it seems illogical to claim the engineers’ unwillingness as the whole problem. Via Kickstarter, the campaign raised $4,004,922, when their original goal was $160,000. Surely the engineers could be convinced to continue working knowing payment awaited them? Backers were already voicing concerns about transparency, and the creators being slow to respond didn’t help. The way the campaign has been handled may have cast some doubt on whether the Skarp laser razor will ever become a reality.
That’s not to say what Skarp is trying to do impossible; it’s just not up to the level that Kickstarter needed to maintain the site’s integrity. Indiegogo, on the other hand, offers fewer regulations. A quick glance at the Kickstarter comments section on the now-shuttered campaign showed that some backers find it too risky and have elected not to repeat their funding.