A new Kickstarter campaign aims to make the deodorant stick more environmentally friendly by cutting back on plastic packaging. By replacing the disposable stick with a reusable dispenser, ClickStick's designers claim plastic waste is cut by as much as 90 percent. That's a sound idea, but one that risks undoing its good work by overcomplicating a simple product.
First, the good. With the push of a button, the battery-powered ClickStick dispenses a controlled amount of deodorant, reducing excess and, supposedly, under-arm stains. When the dispenser runs dry, you fill it up again with pouches of your preferred deodorant or, at a reduced price, ClickStick's own. All sensible stuff.
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But much has been made of ClickStick's supposed "smartness." This comes by way of an accompanying app which gauges your deodorant needs based on your attributes and habits, though how well that caters to people that simply sweat more, or have higher cleanliness thresholds, remains to be seen.
At the very least, I hope there's an override to simply tell it how much deodorant you want in any one use. Smart products are at their best when they simplify rather than complicate things for the user. ClickStick quite simply makes it harder to apply deodorant, though I'm all for smart bathroom cabinets which can monitor usage of their contents and update a shopping list accordingly.
Additional features are also a mixed-bag. A "spillage prevention" system sounds sensible enough. But, that ClickStick is battery-powered risks undoing much or all of the environmental benefits of cutting back on plastic. So adding a pointless LED would seem to be adding insult to injury. There's even talk of an LED display. Way to turn an everyday item into e-waste.
At the moment ClickStick is a prototype, with the team commercializing the product into a first wave of releases with the funds from the successful Kickstarter campaign. At the time of writing only a few hours remain to order a limited edition ClickStick with "premium" deodorant for US$19. If all goes to plan, shipping is scheduled to start in May 2015.
The pitch video below shows the thinking behind ClickStick.
Update Dec 3, 2014: The makers of ClickStick have been in touch about this article. In the interests of giving a right to reply, here are the key extracts:
"We are two students who worked extremely hard to make our campaign successful and we feel that the article is missing an important fact that 1400 people supported our campaign, which is not a small number on Kickstarter. Also, some facts are not accurate, for example the fact that we're making the deodorant harder to use while in fact one of the main marketing points of our product is that it is beneficial for disabled people because it only requires a simple press of a button.
"Also, just a side note, as an accurate dosage control system our product has many major medical applications."