Vikaura’s E-ink Picture Frames Are Quietly Picking Up Backers on Kickstarter

Kickstarter is sometimes the place where good ideas go to die, but it is also sometimes the place where good ideas survive in spite of having the odds stacked against them. I think we may have one such campaign going on right now, and I am  kicking myself for not covering last week.

Vikaura is a relatively new and unknown E-ink partner which is trying to bring a line of smartphone enabled digital picture frames to market. Similar to the InkCase Plus from Oaxis, a Vikaura screen will pair with your smartphone over Bluetooth and you will be able to send images and text to it.


According to the KS campaign, you can:

  • Drive content directly from your phone to your Vikaura Screen.  Have a to-do list, note for the kids, shopping list?  Drive it to a Vikaura Screen. Visible, tangible, efficient.  Found a cool image?  Drive it out of your phone and onto your wall!  Like a recipe?  Why squint and waste your phone or tablet battery?  Vikaura will display it for you and turn back to whatever you like when you're done.
  • Subscribe to feeds that can automatically push information to your Vikaura Screens - news feeds, weather for the day, daily calendar.  Have them already displayed by the front door or on the nightstand when you wake up.
  • Create a network of friends (app-linking) whereby you give permission to them to drive content to your screens.

I don't know about you, but I like the subscribe option the most. That is something I would likely use on a regular basis.

If the campaign gets fully funded on Kickstarter, the frames will be available in a variety of sizes ranging from a pocketable 4" to 6" and larger 9.7" screen.

I thought this was a nifty idea when I discovered it buried in the back of the E-ink booth at CES, but between one thing and another I didn't write about it. No one else seemed interested, not even E-ink, and I figured without any publicity it had no chance. In retrospect, I think I erred.

The campaign has only been covered by Techdirt (it was also picked up by the Backer Club) and it has already raised nearly $20 thousand of the $125,000 goal. That's not nearly enough but it is far more than I was expecting.

Pledges start at $5, and go up from there. The 4" unit costs $99, and if you put in $129 you can get a 6" unit. You can also put down $199 and get the 9.7" unit,or you can even contribute more and get a bundle of screens.

And for the princely sum of $1,000 Vikuara will also throw in an API so you can program your own features. I think that's steep, but there are already 3 backers at that level (there's also a backer who has gone for the $4,000 distributor pack).

As I see it, Vikaura is finding a market without being widely hyped on tech blogs everywhere.  That tells me that with a little support, it could well achieve its goal in the 21 days remaining.

What do you think if the idea? Will you back the campaign?


About Nate Hoffelder (11222 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

11 Comments on Vikaura’s E-ink Picture Frames Are Quietly Picking Up Backers on Kickstarter

  1. Nifty idea, but it’s not going to funded, especially at those prices. Even if it hit the usual suspects (Engadget, The Verge, Gizmodo), most people wouldn’t see the point. They’d have really push hard on the not-needing-plugs, and they shot themselves in the foot by not stating what kind of battery it uses.

    Not being able to interact with the screen doesn’t help either. For instance, their example of beaming a recipe to the display: most recipes probably aren’t going to fit neatly into one screen. So how do you get to the next page? You’ll have to pull out your phone.

    They also don’t mention this specifically, but I suspect that the display can only be linked to a single device at a time. So it can’t refresh when that person’s device is out of range. Not a problem if you’re living on your own, but most of the family use cases go out the window. What this needs is a (at least optional) Bluetooth gateway that can be plugged into a router, like the one that Kwikset sells for their Bluetooth locks.

  2. Where they are really shooting themselves in the foot is by charging so much for the API.

    Now, very few people will develop for it. If they gave the API away, everyone and their dog would be developing for it.

    • Found this on their Kickstarter page:

      Write your own app or PC software to work with Vikaura. Due to overwhelming interest, the Vikaura API will be available, free of charge, exclusively to our Kickstarter backers that receive a Vikaura screen as part of their reward!

  3. I don’t see the point. At these prices (or fairly close, in case of the 9.7), you can get a proper e-ink reader with a web browser that can do all this and more.

  4. At these prices, I really don’t see the point.

  5. Really cool idea. Not needing to plug in or recharge is a great advantage over an E book reader. I can see about eight ways to use this given no wires. From their FAQ, the battery is a primary Lithium.

  6. If I read it correctly this product can last for thousands of updates, and can receive input directly, or by other users or links if they are enabled – BIG difference from an E-reader (but granted a one way comms). The uses are pretty wide and cool – if they let developers play with APPs this product has the ability to get much cooler very fast – to let me “get my nose out of my phone” – this one is worth watching

  7. Too expensive, no added value over a standard ebook reader.

    • I have an ebook reader that I like , but it cant be updated from my iphone, nor can it be updated from a linked smartphone – or can it? in which case how do I turn that on??

  8. I am a Kickstarter backer, and I can tell you that the promise of the Vikaura is a lot more appealing than what’s been happening since my initial backing.

    They promised a delivery date of June 2015. I initially backed it ALMOST A YEAR AGO. It’s almost February 2016, and still no screens. Two months ago, we received an update telling us they’ve had “hurdles”, but what seems to be a massive hurdle is how they communicate. They don’t really explain what those hurdles are (let’s take for example, the difference with other Kickstarter projects that very clearly say why and what is happening, giving you updates and solid reasons as to why they can’t ship on time, with photos, etc.). One message I received after directly contacting them, was to say the following: “I know, we are behind our estimated ship date and I’m upsetting the supporters with my lame updates. We are aiming for fall but some really long lead time parts might push that out a little further.”

    I would recommend that people not back this on Kickstarter right now – sure, it looks great, but honestly, this team is extremely disappointing in terms of delivery, communication, and confidence.

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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