A new accessory developed for iPads and other portable electronic readers shows the power of product design and development on the Internet.
Canadian inventor Bernie Graham and Seattle-based industrial designer Jim Young met on a social product development Web site called Quirky, which was launched in June 2009.
Graham had an idea for a pivoting, portable stand for various electronic devices. The device is called PadPivot. Young, who runs his own design firm (James Arthur Young Design), provided the refinement needed to make the product successful.
They took their idea to another Web site called Kickstarter that provides creative funding. Backers can contribute money and receive the first versions of the products as “rewards.” As of Feb. 1, Graham and Young had received $58,170 from 1,380 backers. The initial goal was only $10,000.
“Kickstarter served the purpose of helping us raise initial funding,” says Young. “They also helped us validate that people like the product.”Rapid prototypes
The next step was to test initial design concepts. Using their own money, Graham Young hired a company in Atlanta called Quickparts that provides custom prototyping and manufacturing services. Prototypes were produced on a Connex machine with materials that are like ABS and thermoplastic elastomer: rigid VeroBlack (PolyJet FC870) and the elastomeric TangoGray (PolyJet FC950). Connex is a rapid prototyping process developed by Objet Geometries.
Young tested the idea of making a hinge for the product from elastomer, and decided instead to go with a plastic part with a metal pin that provided more durability. The prototypes held up well in product demonstrations at trade shows including MacWorld last week.
The final PadPivot features hands-free positioning on a user’s lap, providing adjustable angles and positioning on a desktop. The hinged design allows PadPivot to fold up to be small enough to fit in a pocket, purse or bag, making it the most versatile stand in the marketplace.
“There are heavier devices that can be used on a desktop to hold an iPad, but we thought this is a mobile product and it should have a mobile stand,” says Young.
There are five pieces in the assembly: two wings, a center section which serves as a base, a tightening collar or ring, a ball with a thread and a gripping plate. Pieces are ABS plastic and ABS overmolded with thermoplastic elastomer. The TPE provides protection and a nonslip surface.
Currently, tooling is being developed in China, and Young expects the product to be launched by the end of April. Retail price will be around $30 to $35, but backers on Kickstarter will get the stand for $25, which includes free shipping in the United States and Canada.
PadPivot is compatible with most tablet devices like the iPad, Blackberry Playbook and Samsung Galaxy Tab, along with book readers like the Kindle and Nook.
“Quickparts is very happy to have been involved in the development of the PadPivot,” says Patrick Hunter, VP of Sales and Marketing for Quickparts. “The market for tablet devices and their accessories is exploding and evolving. The PadPivot is one of many new products we help launch every day, which is what makes our business exciting.”