There are plenty of Bluetooth speakers to choose from, which is exactly why I asked Boombotix co-founders Lief Storer and Chris McKleroy what made them think the market needed another one. But Boombot Rex, the company’s latest Bluetooth speaker (it previously made a few different models based on collectable vinyl toy designs) is a different beast, and one they think can win over even the jaded Kickstarter crowd, which has seen countless iterations of wireless mobile speakers.
“Where our speakers really stand out is that they’re all designed as wearable speakers,” Storer said in an interview. “For the first time, you have a piece that could be really used externally and actually replaces your phone, giving you that speakerphone/hands-free thing that other brick shaped units can’t provide.” While some devices like the Jambox are designed to be fairly comfortable both indoors and out, the Rex is made from the ground up to be a wearable external speaker that hits the bike trails or ski slopes with a user, stand up to significant abuse, and still sound terrific on your next trip. It features a number of external controls for controlling music playback and answering calls, as well as a noise-cancelling mic to make its speakerphone component more than just an afterthought.
The Rex has other benefits, too. Boombot claims it’s the smallest 2.1 sound system in the world, with two 36mm drivers and a bass woofer crammed into its 3.3mm wide, 1.8mm deep shell. It also boasts changeable front grills, which will eventually come in a variety of colors and designs, has survived drop testing at up to 2.5 meters, and boasts on-board Siri support via a dedicated button for those connecting it to an iPhone device. The rechargeable battery keeps the Rex going for up to six hours, which is less than the advertised run times of a lot of the competition, but it’s cheaper than most other speakers, too – estimated retail pricing is just $99, but backers can get it starting at a $75 pledge.
The Rex isn’t Boombot’s first speaker, so unlike with many of those going to Kickstarter for funding, the company has plenty of experience with manufacturing partners, and with shipping devices to paying customers. They’re only looking for $27,000 in funding, too, and hope to ship by February, 2013. Storer explained why they’re targeting that specific amount, and why backers should trust that they can deliver.
“It’s a goal that’s just high enough for us to get a pilot run done,” he said. “We’ve raised some money from friends and family and we’ve made some investments to take this product really far, but our production facility is willing to do a small volume test run. We’ve had a number of mistakes when we built the original Boombots, and we’ve learned from those mistakes. Small hardware companies like ours can get just washed through one bad production run, so we want to take things slow with the initial order volume.”
Boombot Rex is a project with a lot of promise from a small hardware startup that has proven it can ship product. The San Francisco-based company may be taking on one of the most crowded smartphone accessory spaces out there, but it’s doing so in style with a twist on the concept that’s truly unique.