by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
Sometimes, for better or for worse, parents can attest that a smartphone or tablet can be the best babysitter. When out with the family or at home, parents could use a few minutes of respite while their kids are captivated by whatever is playing on the screen.
That was the initial idea that sparked the eventual creation of the Zero G anti-gravity case for the iPhone and iPhone 6, which has been described as the “Spider Man of iPhone 6 cases.” The Kickstarter has already hit nearly $18,000 of its $25,000 goal at the time of publishing, and it’s only the third day since the campaign launched on March 31.
Mega Tiny Corp. co-founder Wannie Park recalled seeing his young children struggling with his own iPhone to find the best viewing angle, propping it up against a cup or napkin dispenser at a restaurant.
“I was thinking, man, why can’t I just build something where we could stick it to something?” Park said. “How hard could it be?”
Not many individuals can capitalize on an idea like that, but for someone with 15 years of product development at Intel and Belkin on his resume, it was just another day on the job. Park and partner Carl Winans, who co-founded the startup Mega Tiny Corp. in October 2014, began researching potential materials and designs, as well as other potential uses for such a product in December.
“I just wanted my kids to use my iPhone at a proper viewing angle,” Park said. “After that, the thoughts turned to guys tailgating, while watching ESPN with the phone stuck on the car window while they’re barbecuing. Or my wife, while she’s cooking, looking at the recipe on her phone while it’s stuck to the wood cabinet.”
Perhaps the most important use: The hands-free selfie that removes the awkwardness in asking a stranger to take a picture, as well as the potential disappointment in how it turns out. “I do that all the time now,” Park said. “Instead of asking someone to take a picture of my family, I can just stick my phone onto wood or glass somewhere, angle it properly and take it without bothering anybody.”
In their research, Park and Winans came across the company EverStik, which had developed the NanoSuction adhesive material that was primarily being used for industrial and commercial purposes. Integrated with a smartphone case, however, allows users to stick their phones on glass, tile, stainless steel, mirrors, counter tops, white boards, computer screens, windows and even some walls. From there, it’s just a matter of choosing what to do: hands-free selfies, video chatting, web browsing or video watching. The material is washable, and lint doesn’t stick to it.
Sound too good to be true? CNET’s David Carnoy stuck his prototype case to a window overnight, and it was still there in the morning. There’s obviously some common sense involved in utilizing the Zero G case, but users can have confidence in the material—a 6-inch NanoSuction patch can supposedly hold a 10 lb object.
There’s a good amount of consumer confidence already as evidenced by the Kickstarter’s early success, but Park isn’t surprised.
“Not to sound arrogant,” Park said, “But the thing is, I see how this product can be great. Think of it this way—nearly everyone I know attaches some type of protective cover or case for their smart device.”
The challenge is now to deliver the product in a timely fashion. This Kickstarter is Park’s third, and he knows the frustrations involved with waiting for a crowdfunding campaign to take several months in delivering its product. For the Zero G case, he wants the turnaround to take less than two months.
“Typically, that’s the result of them not ever having built a product in China and understanding logistics, imports, all the cost of doing business out there,” Park explained. “That’s the one thing we’re super strong at—I’ve been doing it for 15 years now.”
As for non-iPhone 6 and even tablet users, you may see different models of the Zero G case in the future. “I was really touched by how people, whether it’s friends, family, people I don’t really know, promote the product like crazy,” Park said. “I have people funding it who don’t even have iPhones, and they expect us to build one for the [Samsung] Galaxy or the iPhone 5S or whatever.”
The Zero G case will be available in June for the iPhone and iPhone 6 Plus for around $50 on Amazon or through Mega Tiny’s website. Kickstarter supporters, however, can get early deals for less than $40.