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

KickStarter project page (suspended):

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skarp/the-skarp-laser-r...

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

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-skarp-laser-razor-21s...

Demonstration video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOLwNJ7TXWA




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:

http://www.medicalbiocare.com/html/corporate.html

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...




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