This project's funding goal was not reached on November 18, 2012.
About this project
Nautilus: A stylish, waterproof case for everyday use
There are lots of ways to protect your iPhone from water damage—dry bags, plastic boxes, and some specialized cases that offer access to the phone’s interface are common. But very few of these solutions are suitable for everyday use. Most people use them only in aquatic surroundings like boating or at the beach.
Let's face it, most iPhones suffer water damage when their owners least expect it to happen. Getting caught in a rainstorm, leaving your phone on a wet countertop, spilling a drink on it, and yes—even dropping your phone in the toilet are some of the most common scenarios. In all likelihood, these everyday mishaps could occur while the phone was outside of its protective case. Unless—of course, the phone was always installed in the protective case. The need to function as a permanent case raises the bar in terms of engineering sophistication. When it comes to everyday use, a clumsy, bulky, or awkward waterproof case just won't do the job.
Enter Nautilus: We designed Nautilus—first and foremost—to be an everyday case for your iPhone. We paid careful attention to signal, sound, and video quality, as well as access to the phone's interface. We kept the proportions of the case to an absolute minimum so that you won't want to remove the phone from the safety of the Nautilus case. The result is a fully functional iPhone case that's always ready for a swim, whether you expect it or not.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Nautilus is that its waterproof without the use of a plastic membrane over the touch-screen interface. Our patent-pending "open-faced" design is unprecedented among waterproof iPhone cases. In fact, even the back of the phone is left bare. Nautilus forms a water-tight seal against the glass surfaces to prevent water from entering the phone. The result is a user experience that feels completely unimpeded by annoying plastic barriers.
Of course, Nautilus wasn't only designed for accidental exposure to water. We designed Nautilus to withstand sustained water submersion to depths of up to 3 meters. That's perfect for snorkeling, swimming pools, or a day at the water park.
Best of all, Nautilus looks elegant and stylish. Depending on how you choose to accessorize the case, it can look sporty or refined. We like to say it looks as comfortable in the board room as it does on the water.
Metal or Plastic? The Choice is Yours...
Nautilus Case is offered in two varieties: Nautilus Elite and Nautilus Sport. Read more about each one below:
Nautilus Elite is made solid piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, milled with high-precision machinery. The flat surface areas are blasted with tiny glass beads to produce a silky matte finish, and the beveled edges are polished to a brightly-lustered shine. Depending on the options you select, final surface treatments will render it either in anodized, powder-coated, or nickel-plated finishes.
Whether its the distinctive grilled openings on the sides and bottom, to the sharply beveled edges that surround the LCD interface, Nautilus gives you a brilliantly distinctive look that is sure to get you noticed.
Nautilus Sport offers the value-conscious consumer an even better mix of performance and functionality.
Unlike the Nautilus Elite, which is constructed of aluminum, Nautilus Sport is made from a specially formulated thermo-plastic rubber. This material selection offers these advantages:
- More affordable: Nautilus Sport offers same overall design as its Elite sibling at a cost that is nearly half the price.
- Better signal quality: All metal cases--even the Nautilus Elite, can have an adverse effect on signal quality. If you live in an area where cellular reception is not an issue, you may not notice the signal attenuation. But for customers who frequently visit areas where cellular reception is an issue, the Sport version offers you all of the waterproof protection of a Nautilus case without any adverse effect on signal quality.
SalamanderSkinz Waterproof Gear is the brainchild of two inventors and lifelong friends—Peter Ghali and Jay Huntington. This is our story:
During a kayaking expedition in 2007, Peter’s digital camera got soaked when a motor yacht sent a barrage of waves crashing upon his bow. Unfortunate as it was, that experience began a 5-year collaboration about how sensitive electronics—cell phones, cameras, and GPS devices could be protected from the elements.
Our first invention was called AquaPix, a practical and affordable waterproof case designed for a specific model of Canon digicam. Our company name, SalamanderSkinz (http://www.salamanderskinz.com ), was inspired by the amphibious-looking device we created.
After that, we took on far more complex challenges—targeting designs at the very expensive professional DSLR type cameras. This past summer, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office awarded us a utility patent for our universal underwater camera housing—a revolutionary one-size-fits-all waterproof enclosure for professional cameras. Prototyping of this invention was well underway when cell phones became the ubiquitous tool of choice for the casual photographer. We put our universal model temporarily on hold to turn our focus to the iPhone.
Beyond our passion for elegant design we bring with us some unique qualifications from our “day jobs”. Jay is a master of international trade logistics. He spent 20 years working as a Key Account Manager at United Parcel Service (UPS), and more than 4 years in his current position as a manager of Inbound Direct Entry Services for another large carrier. To say the least--Jay knows how to move goods quickly and efficiently around the world.
Peter is an accomplished Software Engineer from Washington, DC with more than 20 years of experience designing mission-critical systems for the U.S. Federal Government. As in all engineering disciplines, Project Management, Quality Control, and problem solving are integral skills in his field.
Both of us are U.S. military veterans with a strong sense of national pride and an upbringing rooted in honor and integrity.
About the Nautilus Project:
Like most Kickstarter campaigns, Nautilus is a project, and not yet a product. We need your help to make the product and bring it to market. We want to be clear about the work that is finished, and the challenging work that lies ahead.
There are several versions of the Nautilus case. The Elite version (made mostly of aluminum) is the closest to completion. That prototype was used to film the underwater footage in our video. We have identified a factory that will make the aluminum shell and plastic parts.
Completion of the Elite version will involve the following major phases of activity:
- Mold preparation: Precision will be crucial in this stage
- Short run (preliminary samples): Critical stage in identifying potential problems
- Gasket fabrication: We call this “gasket-tuning” where we will determine the right density and materials for the gaskets. We expect this to be one of the most challenging stages because selection of the right material is crucial to the operation of the case. Moreover, these materials can be difficult to prototype quickly.
- Underwater testing: …and lots of it. We will determine the limits of our design—even if it means sacrificing a few iPhones.
- Mass production: Factory scheduling and productivity rates could impact our schedule.
- Assembly: We need to identify where the products will be assembled—and in the event that multiple factories are involved, how and where assembly will occur.
- Packaging & Documentation: We need to design the packaging to be attractive and efficient; and we will produce the documentation to be included in the package
- Quality control: We need to manage quality on-site at the factory; We will test every product before it ships out.
- Shipping and delivery: Ahh…Jay’s got it covered.
The Sport version, which will eventually be made from a polymer resin, was difficult to prototype. Prototyping limitations prevented us from rendering it with a realistic material, so we need to produce molds just to get our hands on realistic and operable prototypes. The good news is that the Sport version will share many common parts as the Elite. This manufacturing efficiency should allow us to bring the Sport version to market at roughly the same time (or shortly after) the Elite version.
Neither the Sport—nor the Elite versions have yet been prototyped for the iPhone 5. We are only in the CAD modeling phase of the iPhone 5 versions. Thankfully, the iPhone 5 shares a similar shape to its predecessors. We plan to leverage many of the same ideas, which should save time.
Risks and challenges
Before you become one of our valued Kickstarter backers, we want to share a little about what we perceive to be the risks involved in bringing the Nautilus case to market.
For our purposes, a risk is anything that could prevent us from delivering a completed, functional, and fully tested product to your doorstep, in accordance with our published schedule. All manufacturing projects involve risk, and unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate risks from the process.
We classify our risks into three major categories--schedule, technical, and cost risks. Schedule risks are the things that could prevent us from delivering our product on time. Technical risks are things that could prevent the Nautilus case from functioning within specifications. Lastly, cost risks are things that could cause our costs to exceed our expectations. In this last category, we’re not so much worried about profit margins—but instead in things could leave us with insufficient capital to finish the project.
Let’s discuss the key risks, as we understand them today.
There is a risk that we may not be able to deliver on time, according to our published schedule. While we’re confident in our ability to overcome any challenges that are presented our way, problem resolution takes time—time that is likely to have been unaccounted for because we couldn’t foresee the problem or anticipate the complexity of the solution.
Delivering on time is a big challenge—especially for startups and small companies. It often occurs because—as small business owners, we only have a limited amount of leverage to influence the factory. If a factory stands to make a fortune fulfilling a huge order for a distributor, they may elect to give our order a lesser priority. It’s not right—but it happens, and we will plan for it.
To mitigate these risks, we took the following measures:
• We chose delivery timelines that are relatively conservative. In many instances we doubled—or even tripled our time estimates in order to account for unknown events or complications.
• We accounted for periods on the calendar when the factory will likely be shut down for extended holiday. This is significant in the case of factories in Asia.
• We established rapport with our account executive from the factory. Granted—this approach is unsophisticated, but it works. We involved management at the factory early-on, so they know to anticipate our order. For several months now, we have kept them apprised of our readiness to begin.
We made sure that they are as excited as we are about the Nautilus case, and what it represents to them.
There is a risk that we will incur manufacturing defects. Our hand-made prototype validates our overall design. But, during manufacturing, defects could be introduced during the tooling process (when they configure the machinery for mass production), during mass production of the raw parts when they are copied, and lastly, during assembly when they are all put together.
In our contract with the factory, we are mandating steps that monitor each stage of the process. This will allow us to identify anomalies before it is too late to make the necessary corrections. For example, before Nautilus goes into mass production, the factory will send us samples. Those samples will have been produced using the same machinery configuration that will be used in final production. Evaluating those samples will confirm that the approach they are taking will yield an acceptable output. We will commission an independent Quality Assurance (QA) inspector to monitor the remaining stages of production. For example, during mass production, the QA inspector will examine the raw parts to ensure they are being produced with consistency. During assembly, an inspector will ensure that the assembly process is fail-safe and easily repeatable. Prior to shipping, every single waterproof case will be subjected to a final waterproof test using a proprietary testing device that we are designing specifically for our product.
There is a risk that the Nautilus case could cost more to produce than we anticipated. Most of the money we raise on Kickstarter will be needed for tooling and mold preparation at the factory. That process is both expensive and time-consuming. If, during the subsequent quality assurance or testing process, we discover a design flaw that requires re-tooling, or replacement of the molds, we might have to bear the costs of refactoring. We would incur the expense of retooling if a design flaw (caused by us) was the root of the problem. In the worst case scenarios, much of our Kickstarter revenue could be exhausted before we have a set of usable molds for mass production.
We attempted to mitigate this risk in several ways:
1. We set a funding goal of $120,000—which is significantly higher than we expect the actual tooling costs to be. In other words, we allowed a considerable margin for error. If we can’t have that margin for error, we won’t attempt to produce the product, and your pledge will be voided (your credit card will never get charged).
2. We discussed the possibility of obtaining micro-loans, should extra funding be necessary. We already met with a few investors to discuss the availability of these funds, and the requirements needed to obtain them. They expressed a willingness to support us if we have established a demand through pre-orders.
The three categories of risks identified above only represent a small cross-section of the risks we face. But they should give you a clear idea of the kinds of things we are preparing for. When the real scenario plays out, we are committed to keeping an open channel of communication with our backers, to let you know exactly what has gone well, and what—if any, challenges have occurred.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
In addition for being fully-submersible, Nautilus case can protect your phone from dirt, sand, and abrasion. It provides SOME impact protection, but when it comes to shock protection--bigger is better, and "bigger" isn't something we felt our customers would want.
What we can tell you is that inside the Nautilus case, the iPhone sits suspended between a layer of rubber o-rings, which will provide a degree of impact protection. Exactly how much is still unknown, because we can't afford to destroy our only prototypes. We will perform a battery of impact tests after we start mass production to identify the limits of the Nautilus case. We'll publish the results on our website.
- (30 days)