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Backed Or Whacked: The Eyes Have It

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Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column will look at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.

In last week’s Backed or Whacked, I discussed watches, one of the mixes of fashion and function that many wear every day. Another example of such a combination is eyewear, where crowdfunding endeavors have taken approaches that range from high art to high volume in pursuit of recreational glasses.

BW-tapigamiBacked: Hacker Glasses. As multiple testimonials attest in its campaign video, there is no masking the genius of artist Danny Scheible around adhesive material. The art pieces that he has constructed are the highest-impact uses of tape since Watergate. Under the label of “tapigami” (with a long “a”), his intricately cut and sculpted permutations of sticky stuff have appeared in the Exploratorium, W San Francisco and California Museum. Now, though, the artist and his cohorts are thinking smaller by creating Hacker Glasses, minimal art installations on your face embedded in 3D-printed frames. The campaign is on pace to succeed, nearing a third of its $15,000 goal with about 20 days to go.

Combine the ideas of tape, glasses and nerds, and most people come up with a makeshift repair job resulting from bullying. Rather, the Hacker Glasses fill the lens area with many tiny adjacent and concentric loops of colored tape positioned so that you can see through the holes, creating a sort of stained-glass effect. However, how the spectacular spectacles, yours for a $150 pledge, affect vision is curiously not addressed directly by the team. In the campaign video, one person puts on a pair of Hacker Glasses before stepping into his car to drive. The scene cuts, though, leaving us to imagine a resulting Death Race-like trail of wanton destruction.

BW-properWhacked: Proper Sunglasses. The idea of something being “proper” may connote appropriateness or an old-school hip-hop affirmation. The brand represents value for “Mark.” (Take this pledge with me now: “I will fund no product in which the project owner isn’t willing to reveal his or her last name.”) Positioned as a cheaper alternative to the Ray-Bans that they resemble, the Proper sunglasses would cost, at most, $30 but still have scratch-resistant lenses.

They would also be available in some questionable color combinations. Risking impropriety, only one backer was willing to say Oakley-Dokley, as the campaign has raised only $25 of its $8,000 in its dwindling hours.

Backed: Urushi Wooden Sunglasses. Last week’s column noted the bamboo Big Face Woody watch, the campaign for which is now winding down. Cycle, the Kyoto-based creator of the urushi wooden sunglasses, takes its love of wood-based products to the next level.

BW-urushiThe campaign video tells the story behind the development of its sunglasses so artfully that you’ll want them even if you live in the cloudiest spot on Earth. The metal-free objects are constructed of plywood from Japanese lime trees and varnished with a rare resin from the urushi tree.

The resulting eyewear, which uses toothpicks as hinges, is complemented by an indigo-dyed protective bag and matching hexagonal case/tray, which is also made with urushi. Sorry, nature lovers, the lenses themselves are plastic. Now in its final hours after clearing its $10,000 funding goal, the sunglasses are available for $199 or $299 with the case and are due to ship in April.