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Kickstopper: Talk to the Can

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Etsy has Regretsy. Pinterest has WTF, Pinterest? Now the Daily Dot is proud to present Kickstopper, a series highlighting the most bombastic and absurd projects seeking support through the popular crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.

As Monkey Wrench Design's Andrew Murphy put it, he and partner Ed Wood just want to make weird stuff.

"The purpose of our company was to make it so that we didn't have to work for a company," Murphy told the Daily Dot from his office in San Francisco. "Instead, we'd just do weird stuff, off-the-wall, atypical engineering stuff. Our ultimate goal is to be a wack-job shop that comes up with weird ideas and then tries to pitch them and sell them. We come up with at least one really weird product every day."

The group throws out most of the ideas it comes across each week, but one recently took in the form of Talk to the Can, a tin can phone contraption that serves as a mouth and ear piece for communicating through your phone or computer. The two recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $30,000 necessary to start mass production on the cans. With 39 days left, the group's managed to raised $1,170 from 33 backers.

"The Can harkens back to the golden years of simplicity while providing users with some modern affordances," Monkey Wrench wrote on the the project's description. "Times where the only phone to manage was connected to the end of a piece of twine stretched from your secret tree-fort clubhouse directly to the kitchen to request more snacks. If only communication was still so simple."

It's that throwback to adolescent simplicity that's made the development of the Can so fun.

"We were both kind of weird kids," Murphy admitted. "I didn't know Ed, but I think it's safe to assume that he was very strange, just as I was. I was constantly making little contraptions, which fits us as people. We like to take old, debunked things and bring them back into our everyday lives again.

In the case of the Can, that means developing a phone line that can't receive emails or text messages and can't operate unless it's hooked up to a more substantial device like a computer or iPhone. (Wood is a longtime hater of the text message. In 2010, he posted a video onto YouTube called "Text Zombie," in which he lugged a ball and chain around on his leg to demonstrate what it was like to send text messages while walking through a downtown area.)

"Cell phones are great," Murphy said. "Voicemails are great. But I think we both miss the blinking answering machine when you get home from work. That's what we're trying to get back to.

"We carry around our cell phones just like everybody else, but if there's a voicemail, I want to have to push the button and rewind the tape to hear it."

Kickstopper: Talk to the Can

  • Location: San Francisco, Calif.
  • Summary: Monkey Wrench Design wants to mass produce a tin can telephone extension.
  • Goal: $30,000
  • Amount raised as of press time: $1,170
  • Days left: 39
  • Best buy: For $69, backers will receive two Can phones, "one for you and one for a friend."

Photo via Kickstarter