The $9 C.H.I.P. microcomputer is the perfect Kickstarter product: It’s wildly inexpensive, complex yet playful tech, has a scrappy and informative pitch video, and takes an existing darling of the Internet (Raspberry Pi) but does it cheaper. It is no surprise that C.H.I.P. has rocketed past its $50,000 goal to raise over $780,000 in just five days. The question now is: How many records will it break?
C.H.I.P. does things that microcomputers do–that is, performs tiny computations (like writing documents with the open source LibreOffice suite) and hooks up to displays via a variety of cables. Fancier hookups beyond basic composite cables boost the price above $9 (like VGA and HDMI), and so will battery packs to take C.H.I.P. mobile. All standard procedure for custom Kickstarter rewards, although a $49 reward includes a standalone tiny keyboard and touch-screen setup (called PocketC.H.I.P.) that the C.H.I.P. can slide into for portable operation.
But a special note here: The presentation for C.H.I.P. is top-notch. The page is a master class in how Kickstarter projects should look. As noted, the video is wonderfully informative yet fun and scrappy. The infographics display exactly what C.H.I.P. does, how powerful it is, and how it can connect to keyboards, mice, the Internet, and displays. Clearly, the Oakland, California-based studio behind C.H.I.P. learned a lot from its first successful Kickstarter project, Otto the GIF-making camera (which ran on a modified Raspberry Pi). Comparing Otto’s Kickstarter page with C.H.I.P.’s bright, uncluttered Kickstarter page shows how much the team has learned about communicating concisely.