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SALT LAKE CITY — After the Luminoodle was released, it took on a life of its own.
The string of lights was initially designed for camping, but those who purchased it quickly found new uses Luminoodle’s creators never imagined, like light painting and interior decorating. As a result, Power Practical decided to turn to its customers while drafting the next version of the product.
“This is where we are trying to wrap our heads around, this whole idea of crowdsourcing innovation,” said Power Practical director of sales Wafiq Ali. “Instead of making a product that we thought was cool, because we already did that ... we turned around and gave it back to the crowd and said, ‘What would you like to see?’”
The original Luminoodle was funded through Kickstarter, raising more than $388,000 before its campaign ended in October. The newest additions to the portable light rope family, the Luminoodle Color and Luminoodle Basecamp, seem to be headed to similar success on the crowdfunding site. Barely over two hours after its launch Wednesday morning, Power Practical’s Kickstarter campaign was fully funded with over $25,000.
The company has sold more than 35,000 of the original Luminoodles so far, with 20,000 of those being delivered through a subscription box called Cairn. Ali said surveying its 9,000 Kickstarter backers let Power Practical know what people liked about the Luminoodle and how it could be improved in the future.
The most requested features were color capabilities, a dimmer, an on-and-off switch and stronger magnets. All of those features, plus a wireless remote, were incorporated into the new Color and Basecamp versions. The main difference between the two new Luminoodle options is length: the Color is 5 feet long, while the Basecamp is 20 feet long. Both have 14 color options.
“A main goal of ours throughout the Luminoodle process has been to create a lighting system that everybody can customize to their own needs,” said product manager Kyle MacDonald. “That’s one of the reasons why we went with the longer one, the Luminoodle Basecamp. We wanted to give people a product that they could tailor to their own experience.”
Both Ali and MacDonald said it has been exciting to watch how people have decided to use their Luminoodles. Other than camping, the most popular uses were for backyard events and enhancing indoor lighting. Ali said one especially popular use is plugging the Luminoodle into the USB port of a wall-mounted TV to use the string as a back light. MacDonald has seen fellow students in his multidisciplinary design program at the University of Utah pin the light to their work spaces.
The most surprising uses to Ali were music festivals and light painting. The Luminoodle team was contacted by a group of photographers from Chicago called the Night Crawlers, who said the light rope was ideal for their projects because the light rope doesn’t pulse.
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“We’re just excited people see the product and instead of us telling them how to use it, they see in their own imagination where it will benefit them and they are using it there,” Macdonald said.
Power Practical’s Kickstarter is set to run through April 22, with pre-order prices starting at $19. In the future, the Luminoodle plans to keep working on lighting projects, possibly exploring the possibility of more wearable options.
The company is continuing to work with Mark Cuban, who backed its PowerPot on “Shark Tank” in 2014 and will be at Outdoor Retailer in July.