Friday, July 21, 2017

Crowdfunding Product Review: Baserock

I was going to do a write up on a low-cost 3D printer, but thought that was too boring, or maybe a "smart ring" you could use to make calls (maybe next week); but I enjoy making fun of really dumb products too much to let this one go.

I present to you, the Baserock: the world's first backpack that truly enhances how you feel your music.
i.e. a backpack with a speaker that vibrates your back.

Perfect for next year's Fyre Festival!

In the words of the campaign creators:
Baserock is a technology that allows you to physically feel music by vibrating bass frequencies throughout your body. It is a completely new and immersive way to experience the music you love.  
Baserock has an integrated microphone input, so you can take it to a live show and it will listen to the same music you are listening to. It is the most immersive way to experience a live show. Period.

Incredibly, at the time of posting, it's made over $69K and is 462% funded.


First, because all good crowdfunding campaigns need one, a video!

Now, some more on those features (listed in the order presented on their campaign page):

1. Hydration:
AKA a water bladder
This makes sense, unless the venue you're going to doesn't allow liquids or non-sealed containers.
Not a bad feature, but nothing revolutionary.

2. Straps:

This is the #2 highlighted feature for this product.

3. Storage

Can be used as a bag.

4. Water Resistance

Made of common bag material, but useful when things get crazy in the foam pit.

5. Bass Boosting Back Panel
Here we go. The raison d'ĂȘtre!
From what I can tell, there's really nothing special about this. It's just two low frequency (bass) speakers pointed at your back.

On the Kickstarter page, there is not one, but two gifsand a video displaying the assembly of the speaker package.

I understand the concept of what it's trying to do, but I have serious doubts about the execution.
For someone to feel physical pressure generated by the speaker, it would have to be very close to, if not in contact with, their back.

If you're relatively close to the stage at any festival, I would hope their sound system is good enough that you could not only hear the music, but feel it as well. Also, if you're dancing, the bag will likely be bouncing around. This would likely both eliminate the contact on your back and your own movement would override any pressure from the speakers.

A quick search (surprisingly) yielded a couple of similar products.

The first was the SubPac M2, a strap-on device that has a similar intent, without the storage feature:

It looks like it has the same fundamental technology, but a better fit on your back will result in greater physical response.

Second is the Basslet, which also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and raised an incredible €600,000.

I'm sure there are numerous other products out there that try to give listeners a more immersive, physical experience to music.
Clearly Baserock is not the first company to do this, but it's packaging is pretty novel incorporating more utility into a single product.

The SubPac sells for $349 and the Basslet is on sale for $129, so the $199 Early Bird price seems reasonable. I'm not sure the expected MSRP of $399 will sell, but those numbers are generally inflated to give a sense of greater savings on crowdfunding campaigns.

I wouldn't buy it, but $199 isn't a crazy price for a decent pack with tech features.

I really don't see the benefit of this bag over other bags and doubt it will even work well to enhance your experience, but it's nice to have a bag and water at a festival. However many don't allow outside liquid or bags at all, so that negates two features.

As for the "bass boosting", I am highly skeptical that it will work well as it would need to be secured close to your body to get sufficient sensation from the transducers and even then, if you're moving around a lot, I doubt you'd feel any difference.

But then again, maybe I'm just a grumpy old man who doesn't understand these millennial kids and their festivals.

Would you buy the Baserock or a similar product?

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