Concepts are concepts for a reason. They scratch a functional and creative itch, but they can’t always be mass produced.
The Cryoscope is a device by Robb Godshaw that lets you feel the weather from anywhere in the world at your desk. When we last saw it, the Cryoscope was a simple aluminum cube. But by the time he considered and priced a mass production run, this tactile thermometer saw a complete redesign.
If the old Cryoscope looked like something out of Apple skunkworks, the new Cryoscope is a chiseled rock. The shift makes the new product nearly unrecognizable from its predecessor, but the change was an efficiency necessity.
"The cube, while monolithic and appealing in a minimalist sort of way, took an enormous amount of energy to cool down due to its vast surface area. Most of that area would never be touched, so it was relatively wasteful," Godshaw tells Co.Design. "It was also not very inviting to touch. Its flat surface limited the size of the contact area with your skin. The new crystalline structure invites the palm to make contact."
Yet the crystalline design came with its own tradeoff. It stole some of the Cryoscope’s precious interior component space—a potential dealbreaker for the most important part of the guts that needs space to work, the heatsink. Eventually, Godshaw had to make a concession: rather than buying an off-the-shelf heatsink—a solution that could work at the cost of aesthetics—he’d custom manufacture this component, too. The heatsink now represents the largest cost of the Cryoscope, but it nests other electronics perfectly, and allows the Cryoscope to keep a gee-whiz form factor.
Of course, this only exacerbated another issue—the device’s component costs had to be tackled, and that’s where Kickstarter came in. Godshaw is asking for a relatively high goal of $80,000 to put the Cryoscope into manufacturing, with aluminum Cryoscopes themselves starting at a $300 pledge ($400 buys you bronze, $4,500 buys you silver). This pricing structure would be a perfect storm for fundraising, giving the Cryoscope a large goal with a very large basic ask since the $1 and $10 and even $50 pledges would be unavailable to Godshaw—until he realized that, in manufacturing Cryscopes, he was manufacturing keepsakes, too:
"During one of our bronze pours, there was a small leak in the mold. A small trickle of molten bronze trickled out onto the concrete, and the first Bronzeasaur was born. These adorable pieces of metal which vaguely resemble dinosaurs became one of our backer rewards."
If you can’t afford a $300 Cryoscope, the charming Bronzeasaurs are available for a pledge of $20.