THOSE - Central Research Laboratory Skip to main content




A connected whiteboard that draws with a pen. Joto draws live on request, sketching everything from works of art to messages. 

From Woodpecker to Joto

In Sept 2015 the founders of the design company Those were encouraged to join the accelerator cohort. They had developed a prototype of a product called Woodpecker, a fully customisable, professional drawing tool, allowing business users to bring surfaces to life with dynamically displayed information. They had achieved commercial success with Woodpecker (Twitter and Liberty of London are listed as clients) but in initial discussions with CRL mentors, it became clear that to build a more rapidly scalable business, Those should create a more accessible, consumer product that could be used in different environments by people of all ages and abilities. And so the concept of Joto was born. The idea behind Joto stems from the belief that people have a stronger connection with information and images if they are shown in a tangible form, rather than as pixels on a screen. Once users have chosen what they want to see written or drawn, via an app, Joto will begin drawing it before their eyes. For this reason, Joto is an ideal tool for both creation and communication, suitable for a variety of environments: at home, at work, in the classroom, in shops, restaurants and more.Crucially, Those understand that a connected product can support a variety of uses and that

Crucially, Those understand that a connected product can support a variety of uses and that consumers can help shape those uses. Already they have connected Joto to Twitter, Amazon Echo, Spotify and more. As the software platform grows and more users develop uses, further integrations will become available on the community-driven platform.

Jim Rhodes, the founder of Joto, said:  “Joto is part of a new movement away from the screen. Not because screens are bad but because people are discovering new ways to interact with the internet. Joto wasn’t designed to solve a problem per se but instead, give people an entirely new way to enjoy digital content through real-life drawings.”


Making concept a reality

As we all know, having a great concept and actually delivering a working product at scale is easier said than done. Crowdfunding was the obvious route forward to drive early sales but Those knew that they needed to start their campaign with a firm grasp on manufacturing costs. Joto contains many moving parts and so both price and reliability must be carefully managed.

The CRL’s prototyping workshops enabled the team to develop iteration after iteration, refining the design to improve performance and to lower costs. The CRL team then took Those to Shenzhen, China’s premier manufacturing city. There they were introduced to first class manufacturers who could advise on how to redesign for the right blend of tooling cost, product cost and product reliability. It meant that Those knew exactly what price they should set on Kickstarter, how many units should make up the first batch, and what shipping date to propose.


Engaging the crowd

A date of March 2017 was set for crowdfunding, via the Kickstarter platform, and a shipping date of December 2017. Now came the hard graft of building a base of supporters that would spread the word and create sales momentum. In November 2016, Joto was announced as one of the Beazley Designs of the Year, one of 70 nominees which went on display at the Design Museum in London at its newly launched home on Kensington High Street. Chosen by academics and industry experts, the shortlist aims to highlight designs which deliver change, enable access and push the boundaries of design practice. In February 2017, Joto was announced as the public’s favourite design from the exhibition via an online vote. This public endorsement was an early sign that Joto was capturing the imagination of users and the subsequent Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, raising £362,307 from 1,836 backers.

Towards the finish line

The Joto team is now busy delivering both the software platform as well as the first batch of 2,000 units. All the careful preparation to make something inspiring that people really want, something that they know can be manufactured, and that can be sold for sufficient margin to feedback into R&D means that while they are well on their way to delivering their first product to their first customers, they also know that they are building solid foundations for a sustainable and scalable business.


Pre-order JOTO

Our Accelerator Alumni - Case Studies