Tech Sync Power System, Too Good To Be True? Most Likely a Scam.

The Tech Sync Power System is a Kickstarter project that promises an endless list of possibilities for a small pledge of $20 and unfortunately is also likely to be a scam. For a twenty dollar donation you are promised a power outlet receptacle with the following features:

  • Full programmable control of the receptacle
  • 802.11 g/n Wi-Fi connectivity with full support for WEP/WAP/WAP2
  • Each device acts as a Wi-Fi extender
  • Awesome antenna design giving loss of +/- 8% over 5500 square feet (what does this even mean?)
  • Remote access over the internet to control your receptacle
  • Your choice of iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, or Linux remote control software
  • Self configuration, just swap your normal receptacle with your own and it will auto-configure itself!
  • Outlet dimming, not just on/off
  • UL listed
  • Software distribution on DVD
  • Available in White, Black, Grey and Sand
  • Automatically cuts power to the outlets when not in use eliminating ‘Vampire’ power usage, while not consuming any power itself!
  • For $500 they will travel to your house, anywhere in the US, outfit it with their device, and even make you dinner!

The person (or people) behind this project is either a) extremely intelligent and has found a way to significantly reduce the component costs, b) extremely naive about the complexity and cost of their project, or c) a scammer who is going to be pocketing over $10k in a few weeks. Considering that the project is packed with features with little to no technical descriptions or pictures of actual development effort I am leaning towards c.

Simply reading the reward levels should make any potential backer wary of supporting the project. For a $500 donation this guy will travel to your house, install up to 25 devices in your house, and make you dinner. Let’s assume that his total travel expenses are $300, this leaves $200 to cover the material cost of the product, or $8 per device. How is he supposed to be paying for all of his expenses?

 

I made a similar, although much less capable, device which ended up costing about $50 per controlled outlet. If I were to make thousands of them I could reduce the cost to perhaps $20 dollars, the same cost that this KickStarter project is advertising. Of course this wouldn’t include any labor costs, profit, or Kickstarter’s cut. In order to add all of the features that my project doesn’t have to bring it on par with this KickStarter project the price would probably triple.

Based on the material presented at kickstarter.com on this project, it is my opinion that this guy is going to pocket the money and run. There is no way that he can deliver what he has promised to the, as of today, 184 backers that all together have pledged $12,537 to him. I may be wrong, they may be geniuses and able to pull it off.

 

8 thoughts on “Tech Sync Power System, Too Good To Be True? Most Likely a Scam.

  1. One way to greatly reduce component costs is to take advantage of the underutilized CPU in a mass market WiFi chipset. One Laptop per Child, for example, uses custom firmware that allows the Marvell 88W8388 802.11 wireless module in the OLPC laptop to autonomously run as an 802.11s mesh networking router.

    If Tech-Sync uses the same technique, their BOM would include the same components as a WiFi dongle ($6.66 retail), a 125VAC-to-5VDC adapter ($1.22 retail), 15A 120VAC relay ($1 retail) and a light switch/wall outlet ($0.59 retail). The $45 reward includes 6 devices implying a cost of $7.50/device which is pretty close to the readily available $9.47 retail cost of the components (aka raw materials + manufacturing + distribution + profit). Tech-Sync won’t need many of the pieces that the retail stuff includes such as cases, outlet blades, USB plugs, cords and packaging. $7.50 is a believable price point for Tech-Sync’s bulk device run.

    • If they were making millions of these devices then they could get their prices this low. However, your run up of costs only includes the physical parts and not engineering, PCB manufacturing, assembly, packaging, shipping, customer service, programming, and many other expenses that would be involved in such a device. Your comment is a great analysis of why this KickStarter project was shut down.

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