Smartwatch Gets Unexpected Online Funding

June 6, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. customize (v.) – to make or change something to suit a person or a task
Example: Car makers can customize the driver’s seat for a person with a certain physical disability.

2. jump-start (v.) – to cause someone or something to move or function quickly
Example: TV advertisements jump-started the marketing program of the company.   

3. pledge (n.) – an amount of money someone promises to give
 Example: Many people are offering pledges for the rebuilding of the school.

4. astounding (adj.) – surprisingly great
Example: His business made astounding profits in its first four months.  

5. cutting-edge (adj.) – highly advanced or modern
Example: Makers of mobile phone use cutting-edge technology to enable users to do several tasks with only the press of a button.

Read the text below.

A new “smartwatch” called Pebble will soon be available on the market thanks to the support of people online.

Pebble has an electronic paper screen and connects with mobile phones using wireless technology.  Users can customize the face of the wrist watch and download useful Internet applications.

The watch can receive emails and text messages, display the speed and distance of runners and cyclists, and control a mobile phone’s music with the touch of a button. 

Canadian Eric Migicovsky, the Pebble’s creator, said he just could not get investors to finance his watch.  He finally turned to Kickstarter, a company that helps people to jump-start their creative projects.

Kickstarter finances projects using a “crowd funding” model. Through the Kickstarter website, people can offer pledges to projects by simply clicking the amount they want to give —from $1 to $10,000. 

Migicovsky and his company hoped to raise $100,000 in five weeks to start production of 1000 watches.  However, after only 28 hours, Pebble got pledges amounting to $1 million.  Pledges from supporters eventually reached an astounding $10 million even before the 5-week period was over.

Migicovsky says the people who gave money in support of the project will be the first to receive the watches. He adds the money will also be used to hire more engineers and designers to create more cutting-edge smartwatches.   

Pebble smartwatches will be out in the market by September 2012 for $150 and will compete with other smartwatches, such as Sony’s Smartwatch.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think websites like Kickstarter that use “crowd funding” are good ideas?  Why? / Why not?
·         How do you think the Internet has affected people’s businesses?  Please explain.

Discussion B

·         Would you want to own a smartwatch? Why or why not?
·         How do you think technology that people can carry around anywhere (mobile phones, smartwatches, music players) has changed people’s lives?  Please explain. 


June 6, 2012