Fluffy ear startup Emoki faces stiff competition
The Californian startup's foam ear fittings come in bear, fox and rabbit forms, while the faux-fur sleeves come in a variety of colours – including a limited-edition "pika" variety for those willing to throw in an extra $10.
Emoki's founder Nick Hoffman used to work for NeuroSky, which developed the technology behind the ears. He reportedly left "with their blessing" after internal resistance to his ideas, turning into a licensee.
One sticking point may be that the "reward" price for a pair of ears plus the headset is $129 – $19 more than the original offering, including shipping. Only two people have backed the multiple headset packages to date, and nobody has yet sprung for a custom-designed set of ears (outside of those currently offered by Emoki).
Not all Necomimi customers are feeling the groove, as eleke comments:
A friend of mine got them and she's having serious buyer's remorse. Each ear is mounted on a rotor so they more 'spin' than any other movement. That would be fine, but they need a full battery charge to get decent movement out of them - about an hour in and they just sort of... twitch slightly. Then you have a HUGE HONKIN' battery pack attached to the head band, and with her light colored hair the battery pack sticks out like a sore thumb - she's modifying a hat so she could wear them without looking like a cyborg. Finally, in order for them you 'read' you properly, they need to pretty much squeeze your head like a pimple. I was looking in to getting a set for myself, but I think I'll wait until the technology improves a bit more.
Meanwhile, at Thinkgeek, you can buy the original Necomimi and get an extra pair of ears. Others are available from the original equipment manufacturer.
Emoki appears to have picked up one dedicated fan, however, in the form of Marcia Anderson:
Emoki was in attendance at Los Angeles Decom 2012, with a couple headsets and ears for attendees to try out - talk about fangirl geeking on my part! I got to try on a headset and apparently my inner feelings were obvious, as the ears began their own little dance of joy atop my head. Entirely too much fun, so when I discovered that the Kickstarter had been launched, I immediately ordered a headset of my very own.
The headset is very lightweight and comfortable, including the clip sensor worn on your earlobe. Note that you should not wear metal earrings on the same lobe as the sensor, as it will interfere. I highly recommend these super-cute interactive ears, and they will absolutely be going with me to Burning Man 2013.
If the Kickstarter project fails, backers will have to make separate arrangements - or hope that it is restarted, presumably with a smaller goal.
Regardless of Emoki's success, the underlying technology looks to be moving forward, with a tail (shippou) in active development.
The companies involved also appear to be participating in promotional media tie-ins, such as the sets of ears for Ame and Yuki.