The tiny Bluetooth earbud that broke its Kickstarter goal in hours was just shut down

Update 7/15/2105 by Caleb Denison: Shortly after the Dot project was shut down on Kickstarter, So Special Labs moved it to competing site Indiegogo, where the project managers continue to be the target of heavy criticism. We interviewed Ivan Kan, co-founder of So Special Labs, and you will find our op-ed at the link below:

Update 7/10/2015 by Caleb Denison: This article has been updated to reflect news of this project’s suspension and offers further commentary on the developments as they happen.

At approximately 3:00 Pacific Time, Kickstarter suspended the Dot Bluetooth earbud project. Kickstarter offered the following statement in an email to project backers

A review of the project uncovered evidence that it broke Kickstarter’s rules. We may suspend projects when they demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Offering purchased items and claiming to have made them yourself
  • Presenting someone else’s work as your own
  • Misrepresenting or failing to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator

Accordingly, all funding has been stopped and backers will not be charged for their pledges.

The suspension comes on the heels of concerns expressed by backers in the project’s comment section over a strikingly similar-looking product offered on a Chinese electronics manufacturer’s website. In response to backer inquiries, the Dot project’s creator, Ivan Kan, stated that he had contacted the factory in question and “were in full, happy cooperation.”

LaterKan uploaded CAD and PCBA files to the project’s page and sent them to Kickstarter, apparently in an effort to show that the intellectual property was that of he and his team at So Special Labs. Skeptical backers remained unconvinced that the Dot’s design was original and belonged to Kan and his team, and continued to request a definitive statement or proof that the design was original, not sourced from the Chinese manufacturer. Those assurances never came — Kan’s limited responses often came several hours after multiple requests for updates.

While it is certainly possible that Kan sourced the Dot from Shenzhen EnJoYou Electronics Co. Ltd and was marketing it as his own invention, it is also plausible that the manufacturer is responsible for hijacking Kan’s design. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to illegally clone a design obtained while working with a client to develop a product and market it in Asia. If this is the case and Kan has no patent, then it is possible he would have no legal recourse.

Many questions remain, and Digital Trends is scheduled to speak with Kan later today. We will update this story at that time. Until then, one thing is clear: Kickstarter isn’t taking any chances in this case, and believes its backers shouldn’t either.

Original Story:

The Dot is an alluring Bluetooth earbud with zero strings attached, and while it doesn’t necessarily need your support (the Kickstarter project surpassed its modest fundraising goal in a matter of hours today) we thought you should know about it anyway because, for all the failures and delays we’ve seen on devices like this before, we think the Dot is the most promising we’ve seen yet.

The Dot is a simple Bluetooth in-ear headphone — or earbud — that’s available in a mono or stereo version. The single-bud mono version would make a good replacement for that Bluetooth bar of a headset you’ve been meaning to replace — it’s super comfortable, and folks can hardly detect you’re wearing it, so you get to add the creepy “guy talking to himself” factor, to boot. A stereo version is also available for those who would like to use the Dot for music listening as well as taking calls.

Central to the Dot’s design is a charging device that looks like a metallic tube of Chapstick. The tube holds a rechargeable battery that is said to charge a single Dot up to 6 times, in as little as 30 minutes per charge. The Dot is rated to last for 1.5 hours of talk time, or about 1 hour of music time, depending on the volume. With those kinds of times, the Dot is not a good solution for long-term commuters or travelers, but could work great through the workday or for short trips.

We’ve had about a week to use the Dot, and we’ve found it stays comfortable and secure in the ear for hours at a time. One dot weighs a measly 3.5 grams (that’s 1.5 grams less than the closest competition). With an 80-hour standby time, one could wear it all day without having to remove it, unless of course it were to run out of juice on a phone call. The call quality is decent, though not on par with other modern Bluetooth headsets and headphones we’ve tested recently, offering a very slightly raspy vocal sound. On the other hand, music sounded decent with just one bud, and we’re sure it would sound even better with two.

One look at the Dot, and you might get it confused with the wildly successful Earin Kickstarter campaign that ran this time last year. Earin got 8,359 backers to pledge £972,594(roughly $1.5 million) for its stereo-only Bluetooth in-ear headphones. One year later, we’ve yet to see an Earin ship, and you can’t pre-order them anymore as Earin’s site lists them as “sold out.” The Earin costs about $200. 

The Dot, on the other hand, has a much more modest fundraising goal of $30,000, which it has already doubled. And with 29 days left to go, it will no doubt go even further. That’s great, because the more the Dot’s creators raise, the more Dots they’ll be able to produce, and maybe that means we’ll see the Dot in less than a years’ time.

Perhaps the Dot’s most appealing feature is its reasonable price. Early birds will get a mono Dot for $59, after which the price goes up to $69. The stereo dot goes for $79 on early bird special, and goes up to $89 once those are sold out. When the Kickstarter campaign is over, its retail price is expected to be about $150.

The Dot may not be the embodiment of the latest in wireless technology, but it is the most realistic application we’ve seen yet — partly because we’ve held one in our hands and know it works, and it works reasonably well. With an equally reasonable price, it’s not hard to get behind the Dot’s campaign for realization.

Product Review

Say yes to Sony’s stellar 1000XM3 headphones and say goodbye to nasty noise

Sony took its already outstanding 1000X wireless, noise-canceling headphones and somehow made them even better. With best-in-class noise-canceling, stellar audio quality, and clever and useful features, these classy cans are the full…
Mobile

Renders for Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL leak in black and white colors

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

Google Feed is now known as ‘Discover,’ will be available on mobile browsers

As part of its 20th anniversary, Google unveiled its plans to improve Search starting with its Google Feed. Now known as Discover, the update brings along a redesign to help you find content that aligns with your interests.
Product Review

With its epic screen, Apple's iPhone XS Max is a phone you can live inside

The iPhone XS Max is here. Should you get the massive 6.5-inch iPhone from Apple? Or should you pick the smaller iPhone XS? We’ve been putting the Max through its paces to find out in our review.
Home Theater

Need to get rid of an unused Netflix profile? Just follow these simple steps

Need to delete an unwanted profile from your Netflix account? It's easy to do, no matter what kind of equipment you've got. Check out our handy how-to guide for step-by-step instructions.
Home Theater

How to crack the code and find the best TV resolution for your needs

720p? 1080p? 4K UHD? What does it all mean? Choosing the best resolution for your TV can be tough, but fear not: We’ll break down the dirty details and help you figure out the right resolution for you.
Product Review

Bright, clear, and beautiful, the X900F proves Sony owns premium TV

Sony does it again with the outstanding X900F 4K HDR LED/LCD TV. With excellent contrast, remarkably accurate color, and punchy HDR processing, Sony proves it has the chops to make the best TVs in the world.
Home Theater

Six sensational subwoofers that will shake any room on any budget

Whether you're a film buff or a music junkie, sometimes you just need to go lower. Luckily, we've put together a guide to the best subwoofers, so you can feel your favorite movies instead of just hearing them.
Home Theater

Jaybird’s new Tarah wireless headphones are meant to be as tough as you are

Jaybird’s new Tarah wireless sport headphones are meant to be tough enough to withstand everything athletes can throw at them while they’re in the middle of a difficult training session.
Business

Monster fires ‘toxic’ COO, alleges threats of mutilation, death

Monster, the company that turned the headphone industry upside down with Dr. Dre, is upending its own executive board, announcing in a press release that it had fired “toxic” COO Fereidoun “Fred” Khalilian as of July 27, 2018 –…
Home Theater

ATSC 3.0: The next major broadcast standard explained

ATSC 3.0 is the next major update to the broadcast standard we use today. Will this be the second coming of free, over-the-air TV? We're here to explain everything about the new standard.
Home Theater

Make the most out of your new Apple TV with these must-have apps

If you're looking to turn your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K into an all-in-one entertainment powerhouse, we can help you get started with this list of the best Apple TV apps you can download.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.