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Want a smart cuckoo clock? Or how about a machine that can print out custom sticky notes?
Amazon is working on some wild ideas for the smart home market. But before the concept devices become real, the company wants to first ensure that people will buy them.
The result is Amazon’s Build It program, where the company will show off the concept gadgets it’s been dreaming up. Interested customers can pre-order them, and if enough orders are made within 30 days, the company will manufacture the products and ship the batch out.
“When you pre-order, you will lock in a special price, and you’ll only be charged if and when the product ships,” the company said in a Wednesday announcement. “If the pre-order goal is not met, the product will not be built, and you won’t be charged. It’s low risk, high reward, and a whole lot of fun.”
The program sounds a lot like Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for many wild prototype ideas. Amazon settled on the approach after working on the “Day 1 Edition” of the Echo Frames, the company’s smart glasses, which were initially available as beta to invited customers. (Amazon did not proceed with another Day 1 Edition, the Echo Loop smart ring.)
“Your feedback was so valuable that we had to ask ourselves: How can we involve customers even earlier in the process?” Amazon said. At the same time, the Build It program will also prevent Amazon from wasting time on concept gadgets that fail to resonate with consumers.
On Wednesday, the company debuted three ideas for the Build It program: an $80 smart cuckoo clock, a $90 smart sticky note printer, and a $35 smart nutrition scale for food ingredients. All the gadgets work with Amazon’s voice assistant technology Alexa for hands-free controls.
If enough pre-orders are placed, the company plans on shipping products to buyers between July and September. “There may be an option to purchase select devices at full price after the 30-day campaign, but supplies are limited,” Amazon added.
Presumably, the company will then use the pre-orders and ensuing customer feedback to decide whether the concept idea is a one-off or a lasting product. “If your favorite concept doesn’t get built this time, don’t worry —there are more fun ideas to come,” the company added.
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