Wrist Projectors are the crowdfund scams that keeps on giving with new ones cropping up every 6 months to a year. When I say scam, I mean that there is zero chance that they will ever deliver anything even remotely close what they are promising. They have obviously “Photoshopped”/Fake pictures to “show” projected images that are not even close to possible in the the real world and violate the laws of physics (are forever impossible). While I have pointed out in this blog where I believe that Microvision has lied and mislead investors and showed very fake images with the laser beam scanning technology, even they are not total scammers like Ritot, Cicret, and eyeHand.
According to Ritot’s Indiegogo campaign, they have taken in $1,401,510 from 8917 suckers (they call them “backers”). Cicret according to their website has a haul of $625,000 from 10,618 gullible people.
Just when you think that Ritot and Cicret had found all the suckers for wrist projectors, now CrowdFunder reports that eyeHand has raised $585,000 from individuals and claims to have raised another $2,500,000 in equity from “investors” (if they are real then they are fools, if not, then it is just part of the scam). A million here, $500K there, pretty soon you are talking real money.
Apparently Dell’s marking is believing these scams (I would hope their technical people know better) and has show video Ads that showed a similar impossible projectors. One thing I will give them is that they did a more convincing “simulation” (no projecting “black”) and they say in the Ads that these are “concepts” and not real products. See for example the following stills from their Dell’s videos (click to see larger image). It looks to me like they combined a real projected image (with the projector off camera and perpendicular to the arm/hand) and then add fake projector rays to try and suggest it came from the dummy device on the arm):
Ritot was the first of these scams I was alerted to and I help contribute some technical content to the DropKicker article http://drop-kicker.com/2014/08/ritot-projection-watch/. I am the “Reader K” that they thanked in the author’s note at the beginning of the article. A number of others have called out the Ritot and Cicret as being scams but that did not keep them from continuing to raise money nor has it stopped the new copycat eyeHand scam.
The some of key problems with the wrist projector:
- Very shallow angle of projection. Projectors normally project on a surface that is perpendicular to the direction of projection, but the wrist projectors have to project onto a surface that is nearly parallel to the direction of projection. Their concepts show a projector that is only a few (2 to 4) millimeters above the surface. When these scammers later show “prototypes” they radically change the projection distance and projection angle.
- Extremely short projection distance. The near side of the projection is only a few millimeters away while the far side of the image could be 10X or 50X further away. There is no optics or laser scanning technology on earth that can do this. There is no way to get such a wide image at such a short distance from the projector. As light falls off with the square of distance, this results in an impossible illumination problem (the far side being over 100X dimmer than the near side).
- Projecting in ambient light – All three of the scammers show concept images where the projected image is darker than the surrounding skin. This is absolutely impossible and violates the laws of physics. The “black” of the image is set by the ambient light and the skin, the projector can only add light, it is impossible to remove light with a projector. This shows ignorance and/or a callous regard for the the truth by the scammers.
- The blocking of the image by hairs, veins, and muscles. At such a shallow angle (per #1 above) everything is in the way.
- There is no projector small enough. These projector engines with their electronics that exist are more than 20X bigger in volume than what would be required to fit.
- The size of the orifice through with the light emerges is too small to support the size of the image that they want to project
- The battery required to make them daylight readable would be bigger than the whole projector that they show. These scammers would have you believe that a projector could work off a trivially small battery.
- Cicret and eyeHand show “touch interfaces” that won’t work due to the shallow angle. The shadows cast by fingers working the touch interface would block the light to the rest of the image and made “multi-touch” impossible. This also goes back to the shallow angle issue #1 above.
The issues above hold true whether the projection technology uses DLP, LCOS, or Laser Beam Scanning.
Cicret and Ritot have both made “progress reports” showing stills and videos using projectors more than 20 times bigger and much higher and farther away (to reduce the projection angle) than the sleek wrist watch models they show in their 3-D CAD models. Even then they keep off-camera much/most of the electronics and battery/power-supply necessary needed to drive the optics that the show.
The image below is from a Cicret “prototype” video Feb of 2015 where they simply strapped a Microvision ShowWX+ HMDI upside down to a person’s wrist (I wonder how many thousand dollars they used engineering this prototype). They goofed in the video and showed enough of the projector that I could identify (red oval) the underside of the Microvision projector (the video also shows the distinctive diagonal roll bar of a Microvision LBS projector). I have show the rest of the projector roughly to scale in the image below that they cropped off when shooting the video. What you can’t tell in this video is that the projector is also a couple of inches above the surface of the arm in order to project a reasonable image.
So you might think Cicret was going to use laser beam scanning, but no, their October 2016 “prototype” is showing a panel (DLP or LCOS) projector. Basically it looks like they are just clamping whatever projector they find to a person’s wrist, there is no technology they are developing. In this latest case, it looks like what they have done is found a small production projector taken its guts out and put it in a 3-D printed case. Note the top of the case is going to be approximately 2 inches above a person’s wrist and how far away the image is from the projector.
Ritot also has made update to keep their suckers on the hook. Apparently Indiegogo only rule is that you much keep lying to your “backers” (for more on the subject of how Indiegogo condones fraud click here). These updates at best show how little these scammers understood projection technology. I guess one could argue that they were too incompetent to know they were lying.
On the left is a “demo” Ritot shows in 2014 after raising over $1M. It is simply an off the shelf development system projector and note there is no power supply. Note they are showing it straight on/perpendicular to the wrist from several inches away.
By April 2016 they showed an optical engine (ONLY) strapped to a persons wrist. Cut off in the picture is the all the video drive electronics (see the flex cable in the red oval) that is off camera and likely a driver board similar to the one in the 2015 update and the power supplies/battery.
In the April 2016 you should notice how the person’s wrist is bent to make make it more perpendicular to the direction of the projected image. Also not that the image is distorted and about the size of an Apple watch’s image. I will also guarantee that you will not have a decent view-able image when used outdoors in daylight.
The eyeHand scam has not shown anything like a prototype, just a poorly faked (projecting black) image. From the low angle they show in their fake image, the projected would be blocked by the base of the thumb even if the person hold their hand flat. To make it work at all they would have to move the projector well up the person’s arm and then bend the wrist, but then the person could not view it very well unless they hold their arm at an uncomfortable angle. Then you have the problem of keeping the person from moving/relaxing their wrist and loosing the projection surface. And of course it would not be view-able outdoors in daylight.
It it not like others have been trying to point out that these projectors are scams. Google search “Ritot scam” or “Cicret scam” and you will find a number of references. As best I can find, this blog is the first to call out the eyeHand scam:
- The most technically in depth article was by Drop-Kicker on the Ritot scam
- Captain Delusional has a comic take on the Cicret scam on YouTube – He has some good insights on the issue of touch control but also makes some technical mistakes such as his comments on laser beam scanning (you can’t remove the laser scanning roll-bar by syncing the camera — also laser scanning has the same fall-off in brightness due do the scanning process).
- Geek Forever had an article on the Ritot Scam
- A video about the Ritot Scam on Youtube
- KickScammed about Ritot from 2014
The problem with scam startups is that they tarnish all the other startups trying to find a way to get started. Unfortunately, the best liars/swindlers often do the best with crowdfunding. The more they are willing to lie/exaggerate, the better it makes their product sound.
Indiegogo has proven time and again to have extremely low standards (basically if the company keep posting lies, they are good to go – MANY people tried to tell Indiegogo about the Ritot Scam but to no avail before Ritot got the funds). Kickstarter has some standards but the bar is not that large but at least I have not see a wrist projector on Kickstarter yet. Since the crowdfunding sites get a cut of the action whether the project delivers or not, their financial incentives are on the side of the companies and the people funding. There is no bar for companies that go with direct websites, it is purely caveat emptor.
I suspect that since the wrist projector scam has worked at least three (3) times so far, we will see other using it. At least with eyeHand you have a good idea of what it will look like in two years (hint – like Ritot and Cicret).