Almost two years after it started taking pre-orders for augmented reality (AR) motorcycle helmets, the startup Skully shut down without shipping a single unit of the so-called Skully AR-1 headgear. The company was experiencing severe financial trouble in recent weeks and—after failing to raise any temporary funding—decided to cease all operations last week, effective immediately. Sources claim the company was even offering itself to the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer LeEco but that sale fell through after investors refused the sale due to numerous disputes with Skully's leadership over executive spending and manufacturing problems. While the company hasn't confirmed that directly, it does cite "unforeseen challenges and circumstances" beyond its control as the main reasons for the shutdown.
To make things even worse, Skully is planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning that none of the investors are getting any of their money back while the startup's Indiegogo backers which donated at least $1,499 for a single AR-1 helmet back in 2014 are also out of luck. This isn't the first crowdfunded startup which failed to deliver on its promises and won't be the last but it's still notable due to its extremely ambitious product and almost $2.5 million it raised on Indiegogo two years ago, not to mention subsequent funding rounds. At the moment, there aren't many alternatives to what Skully AR-1 was supposed to be though people interested in an Android-powered smart helmet may want to check out some more notable communications gear manufacturers like the American Fusar Technologies or wait for some tech giant to come up with its own product. That actually may happen sooner than one would expect as Samsung recently patented something that sounds exactly like a smart helmet.
In any case, Skully will, unfortunately, go down in history as one of the biggest crowdfunded disappointments that took millions of dollars from its backers and failed to produce anything in return. It's a tragic end for what was once an extremely promising startup but can also serve as a good reminder of the unavoidable risks of crowdfunded endeavors, especially when highly complex and expensive products like Android-powered augmented reality motorcycle helmets are concerned.