A promotional picture of the Collusion. Photo: SMH
It promised to be the first gadget to perfect handwriting and drawing on the iPad, but after raising almost $160,000 on Kickstarter, the Australian-made Collusion pen and collaboration software has been labelled "unusable".
Finished months behind schedule, it joins a series of crowd-funded projects that have fallen far short of expectations by failing to deliver what was promised in a reasonable time frame.
Essentially they delivered an unusable product. Stuart Ryan, programmer
University of Technology Sydney programmer Stuart Ryan pledged $299 to the project and received two units, which he describes as "completely unusable".
Ryan published a video demonstration on YouTube showing difficulty even in drawing a straight line with the pen. He and many of the 912 other Collusion backers have complained of lag, accuracy and calibration issues and missing features, as well as other bugs.
"Essentially they delivered an unusable product, a piece of software that they actually removed features out of prior to release - from what they were [demonstrating] to us," Ryan told Fairfax Media. "They have stopped replying to emails, and input from them on the support forums are scarce at best."
Originally slated for delivery in September last year, the Collusion pens didn't arrive for Ryan until December, while some only received the gadget in February.
Both in the comments section of Collusion's Kickstarter page and on the company's private forum, several backers have complained that the Collusion team is unresponsive. Software updates to fix the reported bugs have yet to arrive.
"Is there anyone who is satisfied with Collusion?" wrote one backer. "The support forum receives no support, and at this point has just been full of complaints. I feel like I've been duped - the app has few, if any, of the promised features, and the hardware is disappointing."
On Monday, another Australian backer wrote on the company's private support forums: "We are now into March ... at least three months since people started receiving hardware and software but not a single new release ... just the promise of features and bug fixes in some mythical future release."
Some expected features that were not delivered include importing text and PDF documents for annotation, handwriting recognition, audio recording, offline mode and zooming on the canvas.
The founder of Collusion, Robert Yearsley, has worked on start-ups for several years and was previously the manager of the Telstra team responsible for T-Box. Since the Kickstarter success, Yearsley claims to have raised $1 million extra funding for Collusion from outside investors and he is increasingly targeting corporate customers.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.