In a nutshell, it’s a way for someone with an idea or a prototype to feel out the market before they order a bunch of parts. It’s kinda like a Kickstarter, except tied to a specific deliverable item (as opposed to a range of “rewards”) and it’s unambiguous about the fact that you’re plunking money down to pre-order on something not just an idea or the intent to deliver an item (if this sounds familiar I wrote about a related topic a few days ago).
It’s all pretty geeky stuff right now, but it’s not hard to imagine more consumer-oriented devices filling this space soon. I for one have several ideas I’ve considered taking to market but I wasn’t sure if the cost to build would match up with what the market would bear. Now I have a chance to find out!