Remember BRCK, the mobile WiFi hotspot billed as a “backup generator for the internet” designed by Africans, for Africans which raised nearly R2m in a Kickstarter a year ago? Backers will start to receive their rubber-coated by the end of the month, according to project founder and CEO Erik Hersman’s blog, White African.
As part of a long post – which is well worth reading – about the history and development of the BRCK, Hersman has told Kickstarter backers that:
You will have your BRCKs soon, and we hope that they live up to your expectations. After all this time, I can say I’m probably more excited about getting them into your hands than you are in getting them!
BRCK is essentially a mobile broadband router with a built-in power supply that’s ruggedised and sealed against the elements. It’s aimed at anyone who needs to use the internet in extreme conditions and has been thoroughly tested in Kenya and Uganda. Designed and engineered in Nairobi, the BRCK was originally pitched by Ushahidi, but has been spun off into a separate company with a further R12m in venture capital.
BRCK has an eight hour battery life, HSPA+ connectivity and weighs just over half a kilogram.
The BRCK also has some funky cloud features which allow remote management – useful for the kinds of aid workers it’s targetted at. If that sounds simple, though, Hersman says it’s deceptively so.
It’s fairly easy today to prototype a cool new device, we did that for 1.5 years with many iterations even before we did our Kickstarter in June last year. When you go to production though, that’s a whole different beast… software is hard to get done well. Hardware is harder. Software plus hardware is amazingly complex, and it’s easy to underestimate the level of difficulty in what seems like a simple device.
There’s a big launch event in Nairobi tomorrow, and the BRCK itself will begin shipping to Kickstarter backers on 17th July. It’ll be on general sale after that.[Image – BRCK.com]