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Etcher iPad case works like a real Etch A Sketch

Steve Sande, @stevensande
May 10, 2012
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We get to see all sorts of Kickstarter projects here at TUAW. There are the incredibly successful and "why didn't I think of that" projects like the Pebble e-paper watch (now at well above US$10 million in funding) or the Une Bobine iPhone cable (fully-funded, as discussed on TUAW TV Live). And then there are projects like the Etcher iPad case that might be technologically cool, but impractical as hell.

The Etcher is an iPad case that looks and works like an Etch A Sketch. Sure, there are other Etch A Sketch cases for iPad, but how many of them work just like an Etch A Sketch? You can turn the knobs, which cause a line to be drawn on an app on the iPad. You can save and share your works of art, and then erase the Etcher app screen with a shake of the case.

The Etcher iPad case has been developed by a crack team of tech wizards -- Ari Krupnik, who has developed a number of successful iPhone and iPad peripherals; Maarten Dinger, who was on the design team for the Flip camcorder; and Lee Felsenstein, one of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s and designer of the original Osborne 1.

Now, to get to the main point of my post. Yes, this is very cool. Yes, it's officially licensed by Ohio Art, the folks who make the "real" Etch A Sketch. But is it really practical? The Etcher will apparently sell for about US$45 provided it gets funded. For that amount, you can buy three original Etch A Sketch toys from Amazon and probably have enough change left over to buy a latte. Drop the original on the floor and break it (unlikely, since they seem indestructible), and you just have a mess to clean up -- not a broken iPad.

At this early date, the Etcher has about $10,000 of a planned $75,000 goal, with almost a month left to go. And no, I am not going to back this project. How about you?

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