Joto. How Did We Get Here?

July 27, 2016

After months of hard work we’re almost ready to finally reveal Joto, a connected canvas for your wall that magically draws with a pen. We think it has the potential to revolutionise the way we enjoy and share our favourite bits of the internet.

We’re extremely proud of this milestone, but as we prepare to launch Joto’s Kickstarter campaign, I wanted to look back on the journey we’ve taken so far.

I had been sharing a design studio with Jim for the best part of a year, and though we had become firm friends the opportunity to work on a decent self-initiated project had never materialised. We were swamped with projects, and it just never felt like the right time to take on a project outside our client work (a deep irony considering the very reason we originally connected was to build an Twitter-connected ocean-going buoy.)

However, with the arrival of Barney we finally found the perfect partner to realise our first self-initiated project: a giant, scalable, plotter. A device what would transform any window or wall into an interactive display, and a project that would lead to the formation of Those.

Before long, Barney and Jim were spending every hour they could to make the plotter a reality. Soon the proof-of-concept they built from an assortment of chopsticks and string become a fully-realised first generation product.

However, just one thing was missing. A name.

We needed a name that could imbue our product with character, and as we watched the plotter’s pen “peck” away at the paper, it was clear we didn’t have a plotter, we had a Woodpecker.

We learnt the first rule of hardware pretty quickly.

Just because you have an awesome piece of hardware, doesn’t mean you have an awesome scalable business, let alone a sustainable business. In fact, every business model we explored to try to monetize the Woodpecker eventually ended with a man-in-a-van, delivering a Woodpecker to a retail park in Stevenage. We needed mentorship, and that came in the form of the Central Research Laboratory.

The Central Research Laboratory (known to all as the CRL) had invited us to join their first cohort after seeing the Woodpecker in action. Crucially, the CRL helped us take stock of the Woodpecker, understand it’s value, and provide us with the mental space to explore the potential of the technology.

Little did we know, a potential business model had been staring us in the face from the very beginning.

Noting the public’s reaction to the Woodpecker in action, we realised drawing with a pen engaged with people on a deep (even profound) level, a completely new form of digital interaction and display.

This had the team thinking; could we take all the insights gained from the Woodpecker and channel it into a smaller, manufactured piece of hardware? A connected consumer product that could display digital content with the same joy and playfulness that we managed to invoke with the Woodpecker?

Before long, we were asking bigger questions; could we download and draw real physical artwork? Was there a way to experience social media without a screen? Could we entertain and educate children without a glowing device?

The more we interrogated the value our new product, the more we realised we had something approaching a new vision for digital interaction — a creative display that could bring our favourite digital content into our homes and workplaces.

And so, the idea for Joto was born. A combination of hardware and software to support a brand new digital medium: a sweet spot been analogue and digital communication. A new space where the best bits of the web can be displayed on your wall. A creative display.

So here we are. With our slightly bigger team (welcome, Carmen, Guy, Rish) we’re now heads-down making Joto a reality.

To find out more and join us on our journey, sign-up at joto.rocks. By signing up, you’ll also get exclusive access to our “early bird” community discount when Joto becomes available.

We look forward to announcing more soon…

Jamie Wieck, (Those, Co-Founder & Director)
Sign up at joto.rocks to join our community and access your exclusive “early bird” deal on Kickstarter.