Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Laser Razor suspended by Kickstarter (bbc.com)
181 points by aram on Oct 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments

To those looking for more concrete info on how this razor is supposed to work, here's the patent for it:


As far as I can tell, the idea is to use evanescent coupling to transfer light into hair follicles. There's no free space laser beam, just an optical fiber that you drag across your face. They also claim that chromophores (color bearing molecules) in hair can be severed at relatively low powers with a mixture of several specific frequencies of light.

So, what this product needs in order to work is a fiber that's durable enough to survive being dragged across skin while having very little cladding so as to allow evanescent coupling. That could be very hard to do, so the heads on these laser razors may wear out after a few shaves just like a metal razor. Second, they need to pack a high power multi-wavelength laser source and the power reserve to run it into a very tiny handle. Again, this is probably going to be pretty tricky.

There's nothing here that looks outright impossible to me. Just very, very tricky.

Nice find on the patent.

> So, what this product needs in order to work is a fiber that's durable enough to survive being dragged across skin while having very little cladding so as to allow evanescent coupling.

Facial hairs are alleged to be of similar toughness to copper wire when dry (see [0], too lazy to find a better reference). I have a difficult time conceiving how one could drag a multimode fiber across one's face without abrading the fiber to the point of failure.

> Second, they need to pack a high power multi-wavelength laser source and the power reserve to run it into a very tiny handle.

What is even trickier is incorporating a cooling mechanism for the theoretical self-contained, handheld, high-power, battery-powered white laser.

> There's nothing here that looks outright impossible to me. Just very, very tricky.

If it were not self-contained in a handheld unit, then yes, maybe it would be possible. I'm going to say that the their device, based on the proposed renderings, is impossible even if one were to throw Apple's war chest of money at it. There are also the problems of eye safety, skin exposure, heat, and fumes that remain to be overcome.

[0] http://www.economist.com/node/2281888

> chromophores (color bearing molecules) in hair can be severed at relatively low powers

What if you're blond?

Laser hair removal doesn't work well with light hair from what I recall, they usually require you to use electrolysis instead.

I imagine that we're not doing something radically different here, so the answer to this would probably be 'it won't work'.

wait a sec, I have blond hairs in my beard. In fact, a lot of guys i know do.

Most blond people don't have blond beards.

Source: blond hair, reddish-brown facial hair.

Or grey

Even if all this is workable I still don't see what's preventing the hair from being heated to the point it damages the surrounding tissue.

I'm also not sure what keeps the light from coupling into your skin, instead of just the hairs.

From what I recall on their original Kickstarter info, the frequency of the laser light only reacts with something that is in hair and not skin. The "breakthrough" was finding something that worked for blond hairs.

The thing that is weird about this case is that one of the principals, Morgan Gustavsson, is actually the dude who invented the real laser hair removal that is used in clinics and has been involved in dermatology since.

I don't know if he was actually involved in this project or not, but that was the one thing that made me think that this maybe wasn't 100% a scam?

Anyway, the implication they make in their pitch isn't that it's an open laser, but that it is a laser confined to a fiberoptic wire which leaks into the hair when pressed against it. Gustavsson has published some papers on this a few years ago in which he refers to the concept as a TRASER.

Of course, if this really is such a revolutionary advance, why go to Kickstarter to bring it to market? Why not traditional investors. Gotta be easier to get funding for a significant manufacturing outlay, right? Just to not have to sell a piece of the company? To justify that there is a market?

I personally don't have the background to make any judgments about this and I definitely don't understand the article he published, but I just thought it didn't completely fail the smell test.

> Of course, if this really is such a revolutionary advance, why go to Kickstarter to bring it to market? Why not traditional investors.

The obvious benefit being that you don't actually have to give Kickstarter "investors" any money back.

Yeah, this shouldn't be overlooked.

Kickstarter = funding without having to give anyone a stake.

>The obvious benefit being that you don't actually have to give Kickstarter "investors" any money back.

Shouldn't that make them have strong check and balances in place to help people funding these projects?

You would think...

In an article in the Huffington post a while back, it said the Feds are now going after people who don't follow through. I also hope while they are at it, they can do something to help protect these vulnerable people giving money to support projects without proper education about what they are supporting.

Here is the article -http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/11/feds-regulate-crowd...

The Feds go after people who just walk away with the money. They do not, and should not, go after people who fail to achieve the objective -- that would defeat the point of crowdfunding.

> They do not, and should not, go after people who fail to achieve the objective -- that would defeat the point of crowdfunding.

I agree. But they can somehow force the hands of Kickstarter and its competitors to have some mechanism in place to protect consumers from contributing to such bogus projects. I looked at the Kickstarter page and it seems any creature can post and request their projects be funded. Some of the scam are poorly disguised while others are masterfully disguised such as the one for which the is thread is created.

Sure, some validation is important, and Kickstarter has their own incentive to ensure some baseline quality independent of regulation. Fraudsters should be prosecuted, but I hope that people aren't discouraged from launching Kickstarter initiatives because they're afraid of genuine product execution risk turning into personal criminal or civil liability.

> The obvious benefit being that you don't actually have to give Kickstarter "investors" any money back.

This is pretty interesting, so what's stopping new startups to make apps and publish on kickstarter to avoid paying the investors back later? Also, why do these "investors", more like donors, so willing to throw their money at the screen?

> so what's stopping new startups to make apps and publish on kickstarter to avoid paying the investors back later?

Absolutely nothing, plenty of niche games are funded through Kickstarter.

> why do these "investors", more like donors, so willing to throw their money at the screen?

Because someone is promising to try to build a thing they want, that no professional investor is willing to fund.

If Mr. Gustavsson is involved I wonder why there's no mention of the regulations they need to pass before they can sell units in the US. I did a quick search [1] and found a few of the systems he has been involved in and they are all FDA Class II devices which is a long, involved process. They'll need data showing substantial equivalence to a predicate, unless they've come up with a way to get around the FDA. At a minimum they'll have to register as a laser product with CDRH before they can ship anything. [2]

[1] http://pathsurveyor.com/510k/K013366 [2] http://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/electronicprod...

Perhaps that is why they are going through Kickstarter... to get at the "dumb money" -- meaning that they want investment from people who arent going to ask about imperial entanglements regarding class II devices...

They want to get the thing made and out the door before scrutiny from FDA types would cost them more money than the actual product dev.

Still makes no sense. The heat/power requirements to burn off hair are ridiculous and dangerous to use. Look at those overpowered laser pointers that can barely pop a balloon. These devices can blind a person easily. Hair is much, much tougher and would require magnitudes more power.

>Morgan Gustavsson

Dunno, but people cash out all the time. Race car drivers endorsing crappy mass produced cars, etc. I'm especially critical of anyone nearing or at retirement age. There's a "give no fucks, give me easy money" attitude that kicks in around then, as well as worrying about taking care of those you love after you pass. Not to mention, these people being way past their prime and perhaps trying to chase old glories via questionable methods.

>why go to Kickstarter to bring it to market?

Lets assume the tech isn't all snake-oil. Maybe investors know things that Joe Blow Internet Geek doesn't. Concerns about safety, power usage, lawsuits, regulations, etc. This seems like a nice way to side-step informed investing and push all the high risk liabilities onto random schmucks.

Or its a "semi-scam." I watched the video of the prototype and its clear that its just cutting using a hot wire, which seems to be heated up via some kind of light source, perhaps a laser. Sure its a "laser" cut, but not exactly what people are expecting.

Your experience with people nearing retirement is exactly the opposite of mine.

I don't find them all to be money-grubbing hucksters -- but rather more concerned about doing what's right. I think a lot of people at that age are looking at their legacy (kids, business, etc.) and want to have a positive impact. My mom is such an example: quitting her private industry work to spend her last working decade at a non-profit.

And working in the start-up world, I know a lot of people my age and younger that are willing to bend ethical rules too far to make a quick buck.

Well, I imagine a "celebrity" retirement is a little different than a regular retirement. These people know their name carries a certain amount of social capital that can be turned into real money. That means a larger estate to leave their kids, bigger trust funds, a yacht, whatever. It must be very tempting, especially considering a lot of these characters are probably being hit up by various groups asking for their paid endorsement all the time. Now that they're in a non-serious part of their career and end of life issues have appeared, its common for them to sign off on things they normally wouldn't have.

Considering how many celebrities have disastrous finances it could be more about not running out of money before dying than having anything left over.

It could be like the Lumea from Philips where light energy is absorbed by the hair causing it to fall out. Note, the Lumea does not work on blonde hair, its working principle is based on absorption of energy by the pigment that also colors hair (like a black shirt getting hot in the sun).

A successful Kickstarter campaign raises your negotiation position significantly with investors. Not only have you proved market demand, but you also have a good BATNA - if they don't give you money, you can take it to market off the Kickstarter funding, and they're the one that loses out.

I knew this was a scam the instant I saw it. Kickstarter needs to have something like a $1 buy to comment without pledging or simply allow those of us with sufficient Kickstarter "karma" (however that is measured) to comment for free.

The fact that they didn't have a video of someone actually shaving was icing on the cake. The video "demo" that's on youtube is such bullshit I wonder what they thought they'd accomplish by posting it. Show me someone putting laser to face, someone with warts, pimples and less-than-smooth complexion. Then, maybe then, we can talk.

They already have that feature: You can select "No thanks" on the rewards screen and pledge a $1 to comment.

Ah, thanks, didn't know that!

Or he's involved simply because he lends so much credibility to an otherwise obvious scam.

It's sad that people thought it was real, forget about lasers and stuff it's basic common sense.

A AAA battery doesn't store enough power to drive a laser capable of burning hair for any reasonable amount of time.

When the laser isn't interrupted by the hair it has to go some where which means that heat is produced, if it can get something hot enough to burn the hair off it would get hot enough that you won't be able to hold it yet alone put it to your face.

There's no way you would ever could get the laser beam close enough to the skin for a smooth shave without burning your skin off.

And most importantly burnt hair smells like shit....

P.S. I assume that most people know at least 1 person that did laser hair removal, they should know it's a very painful and long process and it works only on dark hairs so again using this to shave anything but a fairly dark beard would never work.

> There's no way you would ever could get the laser beam close enough to the skin for a smooth shave without burning your skin off

That doesn't make sense. Of course you can remove hair with light. IPL isn't anything new, and this product is apparently from someone who has worked in that field for a long time.

> it's a very painful and long process and it works only on dark hair

.. which is exactly the innovation claimed in the video: this is an IPL-like method that works on light hair by bending them against a fiber. Does it work? I have no idea. But it's certainly not against "common sense". And there are prior patents in delivering IPL by fiber.

The final product could not have such a small battery shown in the video however. The production unit would probably be closer to existing IPL products in size. They're not impractically big, much like a hair dryer.

I've done laser hair removal, and while it does hurt like a bitch, and does only work on dark hairs, the claims were that the razor would use a wavelength that targeted all hair (I don't know enough to say that's not plausible), and presumably they'd use a short enough focal length to only hit exposed hair, rather than the normal method of focusing on the hair below the surface.

Doesn't get around the smell, power requirement, or heat output though.

If there already was a wavelength that targets all hair colour, they would use it already with other hair removal treatments, you'd think.

True, that is indeed another hole in their story.

The other is that there's a critical difference between hair cutting - which is what this claimed to do - and hair follicle killing, which is what laser and IPL treatments do.

Existing treatments are supposed to kill follicles permanently.

This suggest it trims hair but doesn't leave you permanently beardless.

They can't possibly work the same way.

So I think KS did the right thing. Too many people have been using it in scammy ways, and that makes it less effective for anyone with a genuine product, talent, or idea to sell.

Having said that - the scams only work when you have a market full of people who don't know enough about basic science or simple online research to check unlikely claims. And that's been the real problem with KS, IGG, and the rest - it's just too damn easy to make money from a few hours of 3D rendering to create a shiny sketch of a product that can't possibly work, or (at best) can't possibly be developed without far more investment.

In fairness, most people have very little idea of basic physics, and this project has something in common with the sort of extremely dubious projects even investment professionals throw their weight behind: a founder with credible-sounding paper credentials.

Also, most people are looking for a 'quick fix' to everyday troubles. Just look at how many weight loss products there are. Everyone wants an easy solution.

And laser hair removal doesn't even destroy the hairs, it uses the hairs to transmit heat to the hair follicles to destroy those. Destroying the hairs themselves would require even more energy.

I think laser hair removal is fundamentally different from what they were selling. I understand they are cutting the hair, not destroying the follicle.

We understand that which means that the laser has to be more focused and deliver higher energy density.

Hair removal products are usually in the 20-50W ranges depending on wavelengths, the lightsaber wannabe hand held lasers are usually in the 500-2000 mW ranges and while those can burn skin and pop balloons they aren't powerful enough to burn hair.

I just don't see them having the technology to make this work, if they had it would have military applications way before shaving ones.

Just for size comparison this is a laser used for soft tissue removal https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Sharplan...

And even it won't burn hair because it works on tissue with high water content only.

It'a also worth noticing that laser hair removal usually does not actually destroy the hair its self, it still has to fall out on its own. A laser that actually cut the physical hairs would probably have to be even higher energy than typical laser hair removal which is already not safe for home use.

What's the science on "dark" hairs? Can I dye my hair and then laser-remove it?

No, because dye is only on the 'outside the scalp' part of the hair. IPL works by transmitting heat to the follicle (transmission only works on the color particles in the hair, can't remember the proper name) and when the follicle has been burned, the hair falls out.

They say they don't burn anything. From their FAQ:

Does it produce a smell?

No. Because we're not actually burning the hair, it doesn't produce a burnt hair smell.

Which sounds interesting, if it is not burning then what? Just melting?

But lasers are magical future technology though and solve every problem!

Since we all check the comments first, here are some links:

KickStarter project page (suspended):


IndieGoGo project page (they re-posted the project there after being suspended):


Demonstration video:


There's no laser there. If there was a laser there it would be a significant hazard to everybody in the room, so it's good it's completely fake. With the sort of power you would need to be cutting hairs in any capacity simply looking at diffuse reflections (think a laser dot at a wall) would have the ability to permanently damage your vision. The video is someone fooling around with a piece of aluminum and a hot wire[0]. It's a testament to human stupidity that something this blatant managed to get $4M.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot-wire_foam_cutter

> It's a testament to human stupidity that something this blatant managed to get $4M.

That's a bit harsh. Most people don't understand technology on a functional level. Ask a "regular" person how programming, the internet or their mobile phone works and they won't be able to give you a technical explanation. In fact, most modern technology tries to hide the internal workings.. "it just works".

People should be a lot more skeptical about crowdfunding anything they don't understand. It's not really a prepurchase and it's risky to treat it as such.

Heck, it's risky enough pre-ordering games from AAA studios.

Heck, ask a programmer what a MOSFET is.

Or ask and EE what a closure is.

But seriously, some programmers will actually know what a MOSFET is.

I am a programmer that knows what a MOSFET is. I had to know in order to pass intro to digital logic.

They are 4-connection devices, but usually source is connected to body. They come in n-type and p-type, and usually operate in enhancement mode, where the channel between source and drain opens when the signals to gate and body are different. With those, you can either pass a weak digital 0 or a strong 1, or a weak 1 and a strong 0, so in order to produce a digital output that has strong 0 or strong 1 for every possible input and doesn't "leak" power, you can combine the result of the 0 logic with the result of the 1 logic. Hence the term complimentary MOS (CMOS).

So a CMOS NOT gate has 2 MOSFETs: one n-type, and one p-type. A NAND gate has 4 MOSFETs, 2 of each type: the zero logic connected in series, and the one logic in parallel.

This knowledge--that I never really needed to write software for a living--was all building up to constructing a basic ALU using digital logic gate chips on breadboards with DIP input switches, LED outputs, and a manually-switched clock signal. I'm glad that I know it, but I'm mostly willing to trust the folks at Intel and AMD to do 64-bit ADD, SUB, MUL, DIV, and MOD correctly on integers.

Should I ever really need to, I could probably pick apart a very high-resolution image of a CMOS chip. I wouldn't necessarily be able to design such a chip, but I could eventually tell you what it does. And knowing what I know, I also have some idea that manipulating 32-bit floats on an 8-bit integer ALU is going to require much more complexity in the microcode or software.

That level of detail is not necessary for me to know that shaving with a laser is practically untenable in 2015. It's the sort of thing that I might expect in sci-fi as a hand-wavey sort of marker of a futuristic setting, but it will probably never happen. It's more likely that we'll have an epigenetic treatment that simply instructs follicle cells to either stop growing hair entirely, or to make the hairs they grow be pigmentless and reduced in diameter. Until then, steel blades will continue to work just fine.

Even there, I am still skeptical that five parallel blades are really better than one. So to me, when you propose that I shave with a laser, I will roll my eyes at you just as hard as if you suggested that I pay 40% more per shave to add a sixth blade and a magnet to my razor. Human hair is not evolving defenses against older shaving technology. You can still scrape your face with knapped flint if you needed to.

If people are stupid about laser shaves, it may be because they have been well primed for this nonsense by the advertisements of Schick and Gillette and their flexy, bendy, swivelling, lubricating, blinking, bleeping, 20-bladed shaving heads.

Not everybody got into programming on the soft side. But I agree with you that on average most programmers would not know what that is.

Especially today, now that most programmers aren't hobbyists who found a job matching their skills but people who explicitly learned to code because there's shitloads of money in the industry.

I think you can be a professional programmer because it's your passion and still not know what a MOSFET is. Computing is a large subject.

Of course. My point is, people who started as geeks are statistically much more likely to know basic EE than people who explicitly chose to learn programming as a career.

hashtag NotAllProgrammers? But I agree, the most fun I had in a job was working on embedded controllers and FPGA's.

A Star Wars character?

Something that prevented my subwoofer amp from overheating in the 90s?

I don't agree, their demonstration video is enough without further domain experience to see that it is at a minimum ineffective at what it claims. If it was really supposed to be able to give you the smoothest shave ever, they would at least have a video without the participant flinching every time they burned themselves with the hot wire.

There's a big difference between knowing something off the top of your head and doing some basic research before giving strangers your money.

If it's a single beam, yes. But what I find incredible is that it didn't work worth a damn. They were struggling to cut one hair at a time. Definitely not the razor I want.

I wonder how much scamming goes on with kickstarter, etc. I've been involved in a couple of projects (as payer, not seller) and am batting about 1/3.

Just curious what you mean by 1/3. Is that how many have failed or how many you think are actual scams? Of the several I've done (of which there have been a few failures) there's only one that I would consider a scam (and they actually refunded the money).

This one definitely sounds like a scam - especially how quickly they jumped to another platform without addressing the questions.

I'm 4/5, meaning that of the five projects I've backed, four delivered what they promised and one turned out to be, if not a total scam, at least a project where the creators lied about how far along they were in prototyping and currently haven't posted a project update in almost three months -- I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that their intentions were good, but they quickly got over their heads so they took the money and ran. (Here's that project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wicoz/milk-nanny-the-wo... )

I was very frustrated by the degree to which Kickstarter would take any responsibility after the project clearly started going south. Even though this project was a "Staff Pick!!", implying, to me at least, a higher quality project than normal, they didn't seem to have any interest in holding the creators to account. After they wouldn't refund my money, I did a chargeback through my bank. I then got a message from "Kickstarter Integrity" scolding me and telling me they were blocking my account from pledging for 30 days and telling me to tell my bank to cancel the chargeback! These guys take the money and run, and my integrity is challenged! It was pretty friggin' insulting.

The experience might not have turned me off of Kickstarter forever, but I will definitely be more cautious before throwing my money at any other project on the site. It would be great to see a KS alternative which is willing to hold vendors more responsible.

It's unclear to me also. I don't think I've actually been scammed, but it's possible and I'm kind of still waiting to find out.

There's a trick to it: asking for the money in stages, because if you make it to a stage then you don't have to give everything back.

So if you truly need $100K, you first set your goal to $15K, then $40K, then $75K, then $100K. That way if you fail to raise your $100K, you still get to keep your $75K or whatever your max was. It seems that it's against the spirit of the sites, but it works.

On the books it's a failure, but the folks walk away with the money. Is it a scam? I'm not sure.

View it another way: shaving seems to be a pain for many people, to the point people are willing to throw millions at a dubious (sorry if this word isn't the best adjective) claim of shaving with laser.

What if one could invent a working bladeless razor? It is a blue ocean waiting to be delved in.

Just thinking out loud.

Thought the same. Yes its fake... but taking a step back their ability to 'raise' here indicates that the world is filled with people (and I am one of them) that are not happy with the status quo of shaving technology.

The guy invented Intense Pulsed Light, i.e. the laser technology used in hair removal, so it sounded plausible he might have found a way to cut hair with a lower-intensity laser. Even if it cut it slowly, it might be better than razors for a lot of people.

Did you found source on that? Only source that I managed to find it's website of company he founded long time ago:


Any other sources tell that IPL was invented by someone else.

He does have a patent from the mid 90's (which is when I think IPL was created?) that seems to be pertinent: https://www.google.com/patents/US5320618

I dunno, this whole thing is weird. Generally I have to defer to people saying that the system isn't using enough energy to burn hairs, but unless the guy in question has had some sort of mental break or something, I don't get why he'd be involved with it if it was a straight fraud.

> The guy invented Intense Pulsed Light, i.e. the laser technology used in hair removal

As somebody who has actually undergone laser hair removal, I can tell you that IPL is not laser. It's an alternative to laser that's used by some hair removal places, and it's generally considered less effective and less permanent than real laser. IPL is the budget option. It's also not technically a laser, either. IPL is non-coherent light over a range of wavelengths, while laser is coherent light over a single wavelength.

The most effective options for laser hair removal are alexandrite and maybe diode lasers for people with pale skin and YAG lasers for people with dark skin. You won't see IPL recommended over any of these.

Mind you, if what this project is selling is a temporary way to get rid of hair, IPL might be ideal for this particular use case.

I don't know much about lasers and the videos seemed convincing to me...

Now I'm sad that it's a fake, even if I wanted to wait till the first version came out.

Light has a fun property of being bent when it passes through substances that have different optical densities. With some combinations of material and process we can exploit this property to achieve total internal reflection[0]. With a cylindrical glass rod we can fire light down it in such a way that it bounces off the walls and makes it to the far end without ever exiting through the sides. This is used in fiber optic communications to achieve low levels of loss transmitting light very large distances.

However, the total internal reflection can partly break down if we apply something to the side of the glass tube, like touching it with a finger. The laser will strike through the glass cylinder and onto whatever is touching it, this is known as frustrated total internal reflection. What's supposedly happening in this product is the razor blade has a fiber with a laser being shone through it, when the fiber comes into the contact with a hair the laser exits the fiber and the thermal energy burns the hair.

The problems here are pretty severe.

• If such a fiber did exist it would give you severe burns on contact with your skin (a very close shave indeed). It would be like trying to shave with a red hot block of steel held up to your face.

• Ever burnt some hair? It smells ghastly. I burned my beard once and the nauseating smell didn't go away for hours. Trying to convince consumers to go on a date while smelling like burning keratin would near impossible.

• The amount of laser power going through the fiber would have the potential to remove your eyesight if you broke it. If you wanted to use this you would need to be wearing eye protection (sealed goggles), skin protection like welding gear, have signage and locks on your bathroom to prevent anybody unprotected from entering.

• The amount of energy required for this sort of effect would be colossal, lasers are inefficient and need a lot of cooling (high power ones are often water cooled). If this existed just the hand piece would be something like a petrol pump nozzle leading to a massive cooling system and power supply.

• Any slight impurity in the fiber would cause it to instantly melt when the laser was turned on. Unless something is perfectly optically clear there is some loss to heat as light passes through it. Glass fibers made for telecommunications are incredibly clear, but they still have enough loss that repeaters are needed on long runs due to losses.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_internal_reflection

While I'm not making any statement about the feasibility of the Skarp, I think you might be exaggerating the size of a moderately powerful modern lasers. At my company's R&D lab I have some 1W CO2 lasers that, similar to what what you describe, are about the size of loaf of bread. They run on three phase power, have inch-thick cables and required hilariously large cooling shrouds. Two facts about those types of lasers: They are cavity lasers designed to have very good beam quality, and they are OLD.

I have a cabinet full of other types of newer, moderately powerful laser modules which vary from pin diodes to modules the size of a AA battery, to things the size of cigars. Some of them are pretty darned powerful. Any laser modules that are water cooled would DEFINITELY not be something you would want to hold up to your face, but I also don't think that's the kind of power required for cutting hair. I'm not saying that any laser running on a AAA battery at a useful power could last a useful amount of time, if you could figure out some secret sauce method for very quickly coupling a high intensity pulse (hairs have a very small area, after all) onto some hairs at a wavelength that they like to soak up then it seems.... possible. In theory the laser wavelength and power could even be tuned dynamically to match the hairs, that is if they had somehow figured out a way to fit a Mach-Zender modulator, an electro-optical modulator and a frequency comb into a razor handle--ha!

Anyhow, I might be wrong in all this, but my point is mostly that it wouldn't take a water cooled laser to burn some hair. Come visit me in Vancouver and we can test it out (on your beard).

Perhaps a little exaggeration, agreed. The wavelengths you want are in the UV end of things, which I assumed would be mostly clumsy CO2 tubes. Just the concept of giving a consumer a high power laser they can't even see makes me extremely uncomfortable regardless of how plausible the rest of it is. Mistakes with that sort of thing are permanent, you don't get any second chances if you blast out your retina.

There seems to be a large number of people who are convinced that the only difference between the present day and a SciFi wonderland is human will. For example, look at the people who think Mars colonization is a good idea, or the popularity of Ray Kurzweil (and to a lesser extent, people who are overly optimistic about self-driving cars).

All of the things you listed are significantly more feasible than a laser shaver.

And of _course_ the Indiegogo project was posted as Flexible Funding...

> Backers received an email from Kickstarter saying the Laser Razor was "in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards".

Interesting. Was this a recent policy change? Control VR never showed any working prototypes either, and their campaign was allowed (this was in 2014). Their demonstration video was later revealed to be using another company's significantly more expensive product ($10k+ vs the $600 pledge price), with zero modifications. They never demonstrated any prototypes of the product they were claiming to develop themselves, yet the campaign went through and now they have everyone's money (>$400k) without delivering.

>have everyone's money

not everyones, just the suckers. Yes, we are at a point you are a sucker if you buy into crowdfunding without doing due diligence. Batterizer, MuOptics, Soap router, they all had signs of being scams from the start, but still managed to defraud people for over a $1mil.

that policy is probably about a couple years old.

Is there a site that tracks these sorts of policy changes (like http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ does for UK laws)?

"TOSBack is a collaboration between the EFF, the Internet Society, and ToS;DR. Every day, we check the Terms and Policies of many online services to see if any of them have changed"


But it is currently in beta and doesn't include Kickstarter.

hackaday.com had a good writeup that was skeptical of this.


They have generally been good at writing up some of the more sketchy kickstarts.

like Soap router, hackaday approved!!1

Their prototype reminds me of concept car designs that look great but don't have enough internal space for an engine. You'd maybe fit a AAA battery in the handle but I haven't even seen a torch that works without more juice.

Also, I was kind of suspicious when I noticed that more than half of the team have beards.

I doubt you could get more than a watt out of a AAA anyway.

A one-watt laser is pretty powerful (Class 4). Most laser pointers in the US can't exceed 5 milliwatts. One watt is several times what's needed to light various common materials on fire.


They do additionally claim a 10 year battery life.

In light of the recent actions of the Washington State Attorney General, it takes balls to try and pull a scam like this. The AG ruled against the people behind a kickstarter campaign for a card game when they did not ship rewards for two years. The original campaign raised 25k and the judgement was for 56k. The ruling was on behalf of 31 residents out of 810 backers. The company is slowly shipping units and it looks like the AG is backing off.

But this whole thing brings up many interesting questions. The fine was 1k per WA resident + reimbursement + legal fees. Knowing that the AG has your back if things go south should undoubtedly embolden WA residents, which may lead to a higher percentage of backers coming from that state, which in turn would mean a higher fine if things fall through. I honestly was going to have my sister, a WA state resident, back this for me for my birthday, if it survived to the last day of funding.




Yes, that punishment was pretty severe, offender had to ... promise to never do it again.

If Indiegogo doesn't suspend them too, it could be a real watershed moment for them. It'll brand them as the place to go for scam products.

They already are.

I'm assuming from the context you're touting that as an example of a "scam product" - first time I've heard of them but http://tellspec.com/order/ has beta device for purchase at present and they appear to be getting plaudits eg "Selected to be part of the HIVE at TED Med 2015" is on their website (and confirmed at TED MED).

Surely ordering the beta would show straight away that the product was entirely non-functional (ie fake)?

Did I miss something that you're relying on to form this opinion?

Edit: perhaps http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-busi... ?

Yes, almost certainly a scam, for a few reasons. The first being that hand-held Raman spectroscopy devices are currently the realm of extremely pricey systems that are targeted at industry primarily (we're talking $10k at the very, very low end). Building a hand-held device that could do even a tiny fraction of what those units are capable of would be hugely disruptive for that market. So why not approach that market at all? Probably because it's vastly more savvy than consumers. Additionally, there is absolutely zero hard info anywhere about their device, it's design, it's specs, anything like that. Not only isn't there a specrum, there isn't even a "this is what a spectrum from our final equipment might look like" representation. It's all smoke and mirrors.

The biggest giveaway in that particular campaign though is something that most ordinary people won't pick up on: gluten. You tell someone that a spectrometer can detect sugar, they'll nod, you tell someone that it can detect gluten and they'll still nod, but people who know better will have their ears perk up. Because gluten is just a protein, and proteins are a nightmare when it comes to spectroscopy. Spectroscopy picks up the different bonds that are in a molecule. A simple molecule with only a few, very different bonds is easy to distinguish. But proteins are polymers made up of tens of thousands to millions of amino-acids, which blur together in spectroscopy. To distinguish different proteins from one another with any kind of spectroscopy (whether Raman, IR, or even NMR) requires high end equipment which can give you very high resolution spectra. A low cost, consumer grade spectrometer is going to have very low resolution and be even more difficult to do. If they could pull it off it would be a tremendous breakthrough. The idea that they've made such a huge leap without seeking traditional investors to go after the industrial market, without any substantive research backing is, frankly, not robust against the much more realistic probability that they are pulling some sort of scam that involves a device that maybe has some capability or other but is nothing like what they say it is.

As soon as I saw that Kickstarter kicked them off I was wondering how long it would take for them to get onto Indiegogo. Then, of course I see it only took 4 hours.

If you're unaware, Indiegogo has shown that they're more than willing to be the platform of choice for scammers and nonsense products.

I really want a Kickstarter review site, where people can post projects. Since non-backers cannot post comments there is no way to let people know that 'this project is probably not going to work'. Snopes for Kickstarter?

http://drop-kicker.com was excellent from an engineering viewpoint but it's gone dormant. http://eevblog.com/forum/crowd-funded-projects/ is not bad if you want to hear a bunch of skeptical engineers tear things to shreds.

A site that focuses on the shipping milestones, the true measure of success rather than meeting an arbitrary goal, would be valuable.

I've thought about that too. It would require on the ground reporting, though, which is pretty expensive. Kickstarter should add a "verified" tier or something that includes the cost of someone checking in on them in person halfway to the delivery date.

Do not look into razor with remaining eye?

This current phenomenon about crowdsourcing products is similar to the GroupOn/flash sale phenomenon, and as the products get shittier and shittier, and as more and more get disillusioned by it, the entire space will die.

Kickstarter and IndieGoGo need to do a much, much better job policing this, otherwise they will be out of business in 2 years. There are too many shitty products with great marketing videos that are taking a lot of money, and they will likely all be disappointing as hell.

I like your highlighting of quality. Do you think it is a real or just perceived notion that the quality of items on Kickstarter/Groupon decreases as their popularity increases? At first glance it feels to me that it casts too broad of a net. Maybe if a user saw it as patronage when Kickstarting artistic endeavors, she might bristle at seeing baubles like laser razors being funded?

Anecdotally I see this with video games on Steam Greenlight, but that service always seemed liked the Wild West to me.

why does it seem that projects which go to IndieGoGo just never hold up to close inspection? The most famous I remember is Solar Roadways

I don't like what has become of kickstarter, but I think it's more of it's users fault than the company. They are really trying to stick to their values and principals, and mission despite having the possibilty to go the usual 'lets raise bazillions and get some flippin growth and extinguish the competition' way

There's more than one Kickstarter. Lots of us live below the million-dollar campaigns that are more the product than whatever's being sold. With less hype and more right-minded Kickstarter patrons, everything's a little more straightforward. It's the middle-class campaigns that remain the heart of Kickstarter.

"Don't worry, it'll be ready by spring." lol

    "They have been incredibly helpful and they believe in the 
    Skarp Razor as much as we do," the firm said of Indiegogo.
is a very polite way of saying "Yeah, we don't believe in our own product either"


> The Skarp razor is powered by a small laser which cuts through hair for an incredibly close shave without irritating or damaging the skin.

I would read that as them seeing that the laser is cutting the skin but that could be easily be intentionally misleading marketing speak

How can you prove to potential buyers that you're able to produce the product you're selling them if you can't create a prototype demonstrating that it works?

Let's say we take everything at face value and believe 100% they can do this and that it is not a scam. If there is no prototype it's still possible that it could not work as it's unproven.

Reminds me of that hologram device scam - bleen. It was so funny I couldn't tell if it was a scam or a parody trying to make fun of crowdfunding. Unfortunately it was flexible funding so people lost their money and whatever you think no one deserves to be scammed.

I couldn't help but wonder if this would ultimately produce the same result as the "No No" shaver which, from what I read, is just a hot wire that burns the hair at the root.

The reviews make it sound like its a rather slow and smelly affair shaving this way.

A fool and his money, be soone at debate: which after with sorow, repents him to late.

What made me skeptical of this is that it looked like too much of a polished system, you'd expect it to look more like a braun shaver than a gillette fusion, with more battery space. The AA battery was also a dead giveaway.

The name "Skarp" -- possibly in conjunction with "Kickstarter" -- immediately made me think of "scarper", i.e. the process of fleeing, ideally with the big bag of crowdfunding money.

Anything that heats a hair to the point it burns off, no matter what the heat source is, will give out a bad smell. Good luck if one has thick beard, and no, I am not convinced this will work cleanly.

Unpopular opinion, but I think parents should be assigned based on actual working models of something. Not just an idea, but something that is actually been tangibly created.

Laser Razor will clearly have to show actual hair removal to prove itself; fleecing countless sheep of millions is a mere metaphor.

lol... what I found funny and somewhat ironic is that most of the people in the video seem to wear a beard? (or lack of shaving) Maybe they're waiting until they can get their hands in an actual working prototype :P

Um, folks, you're missing the obvious.

Optic fiber glass is SHARP AS HELL.

So, make the thing light up with pretty lights and colors and expose a sharp glass edge for cutting.

Works like a razor, cuts incredibly closely, and has ooh shiny for marketing.

I'm not seeing a problem with this.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact