With the help of two Santa Barbara residents, iPhone addicts may have even more reason to cuddle up with their smartphones every night.

After reading that nearly 75 percent of iPhone users fall asleep with their phones in bed, Jim McGaw and Tara Armbruster set out to create Swoop the Owl, a plush toy designed to keep iPhones cuddly, safe, and easy-to-locate in bed.

Swoop the Owl

McGaw and Armbruster launched their project on Kickstarter.com, a funding platform for creative projects. They’re using the site to test the creative waters for Swoop and raise start-up funds for its initial manufacture.

Anyone can post a Kickstarter project or chip in to fund one, but there’s a catch—only teams that reach their goals receive funding.

Rather than using a traditional investment model, Kickstarter uses an “all-or-nothing funding method” to prevent half-funded ventures. Individuals pledge to projects they want to support, but if funding fails to reach its goal, all pledges to the project are canceled.

With nearly 80 new projects posted on the site each day, attracting attention to a project can be tricky. “I did tell a few a few friends about it … And it was picked up by CNET and a couple other gadget blogs,” McGaw said. “Reactions have been enthusiastic and incredulous. People either love it or they hate it.”

Although McGaw has no background in manufacturing, he heard about Kickstarter through another project launched on the site last year, and has since been working with a manufacturer to produce prototypes of Swoop the Owl.

“It’s difficult to get people interested. Just because it’s on Kickstarter doesn’t guarantee any publicity,” McGaw said. “You need to create something outrageous and interesting enough on its own to get people’s attention.”

Read more about Swoop the Owl or make a pledge to the project at swoopowl.com.


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