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Wichita innovator’s Kickstarter project comes to fruition

Barrett Morgan, left, and John Harrison, creators of Filimin, demonstrate their Wi-Fi connected lamps.
Barrett Morgan, left, and John Harrison, creators of Filimin, demonstrate their Wi-Fi connected lamps. File photo

Filimin, the Wichita-based Kickstarter project intended as a way to communicate simply with long-distance relatives, has achieved its $50,000 fundraising goal.

Production of the Wi-Fi-enabled lanterns is scheduled to begin shortly, and the work will be done by local nonprofits who employ the disabled, such as Ketch and Envision, said John Harrison, who is heading the project.

What is Filimin?

“It’s really just about a presence,” Harrison said. “It’s not something that’s disturbing you or that buzzes in your pocket or that you have to check like your e-mail, but it’s something that is just there, like someone in your house that lives there.”

Filimin is a lantern that plugs into the wall and connects to your Wi-Fi network. It is connected to a series of other Filimins and glows a certain color. When one of the Filimins is physically touched, it changes color. Subsequently, all the other Filimins in that circle change to the same color.

Harrison said he originally made his three Filimin samples as gifts for his family, but with the help of his peers at The Labor Party, he expanded it into a Kickstarter project.

If it sounds difficult to understand, that’s OK.

He knows it will be difficult for people to understand Filimin until they physically interact with one.

Think of it like seeing a message in smoke from a faraway campfire.

“This is a different kind of exploration in that it’s more about exploration and relationship,” Harrison said. “You’re purposely not able to control it. When you touch one, you can’t say, ‘I want red.’ You can say, ‘I’m here and I’m thinking of you.’ I almost think of it as like a beacon of love that you offer.”

Filimin was funded largely in the last few hours before its deadline – about 12 hours before then, it still had roughly $10,000 to go.

“The last week of it, I was pretty concerned we weren’t going to make it,” Harrison said. “It didn’t look that good to me. All this stuff happened at the very last minute, and it was really exciting and a little scary. ... Now, chapter two of the adventure starts.”

Harrison said his “drop-dead deadline” for producing the first generation of Filimins is Dec. 15. He has roughly 750 to make by then.

He said he hopes to do some showings at local retailers so people can play with a Filimin in person.

Harrison said he has heard from his Kickstarter backers that they plan on using the device to keep in touch with older or long-distance friends and relatives.

“I feel really good about doing a good thing, too – from the inception of the product, why I even built them, how they’re going to build them and then even what they’re going to do out there,” Harrison said. “It’s not going to be another singing Santa that in the end ends up in a closet and wasted a lot of plastic. I think this will be something beautiful in people’s lives. I hope so.”

Filimin is available for pre-order for $60 on www.filimin.com.

Reach Matt Riedl at 316-268-6660 or mriedl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RiedlMatt.

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