This project's funding goal was not reached on August 4, 2013.
About this project
Now available for the iPhone 4 and 4s!
Don't forget to visit our website: www.turtlecell.com
Check out TurtleCell in the Press!
Hate Tangled Headphones?
We do too...
So we decided to actually do something about it, and thus the our solution was born!
Meet the TurtleCell
A case for your iPhone or iPod with retractable earbuds built in
Designed With You in Mind
Simply push up the button on the left side of the case to retract, and use the button on the right to connect and disconnect the earbuds by pushing it up or down.
TurtleCell adds a mere 1/4" of thickness to your device. That's thinner than the most popular maximum protection cases and equal to the leading external battery case.
What's Your Favorite Color?
We have five for you to pick from!
Full Length Headphones
At almost 4 feet long TurtleCell's headphones can reach comfortably from ears to your pocket or anywhere else!
High Quality Sound
We have custom ordered earbuds that allow the case to be thin and compact while delivering an awesome audio experience! The same earbuds would retail for approximately $30-$40. See the FAQ section for more details.
How TurtleCell became the product you see today.
We've progressed through over 30 design iterations, using the University of Michigan's rapid prototyping lab in the beginning, and then moving to professional grade 3D printers for later prototypes. The following progresses from our idea to the final slick product.
- Our First Print! - Made for the iPhone 4s, the phone slid in from the bottom and Apple earbuds were glued on top. It oped from the back and non of the pieces fit together... We were still learning how to use the 3D printer.
- So Many Springs - A few design iterations later we had the printer figured out and tolerances were much better. When we designed the locking mechanism it was made from 10 different parts... Today we accomplish the same function with only one.
- Perfecting the Locking Mechanism - We created different "Pod" designs that could be swapped in and out out of the prototypes. The goal was to find the design that worked the best. At the same time we were using a USB mouse cable to retract.
- Gears, Screws, and 30 Pin Connectors - We started experimenting with color prints and using gears to let the user "Reel" in the last little bit of cable. These units barely worked, but we made a key discovery in the "Spring Cover" which is still there today
- First Working Prototype! - With the addition of the spring cover and a few other changes we had a unit that retracted every time... the same as today! It still had a ton of screws, didn't play audio, and was nearly impossible to assemble, so there was plenty left to do.
- iPhone 5 and Manufacturability - The iPhone 5 came out and we were first in line. We also started using software that analyzed the design for injection molding. Notice the thin walls of the back cover. Also implemented the one part locking button.
- Looks Like Todays Only Bigger - We added the "Jack Button" and made the case even easier to manufacture with a new Spring Cover design. From here we iterated 5 more times, trimming off every millimeter possible, and added custom earbuds from China.
The result of all this slimming and perfecting is the case you see below. We had a few more design iterations, built some high quality 3D printed prototypes, and even cut a few out of a solid block of plastic to get the final prototypes that you see in our video and pictures today.
How Will it Look?
A few images of TurtleCell without the "cell."
We plan to include a layer of thin felt padding between the back surface of TurtleCell and your iPhone in order to help protect the exposed audio cable you see above. We have experienced no problems with the current design, but this will be done as a precautionary measure.
The top surface of the plastic case gradually curves to meet flush with the top of the earbuds when they are retracted. The button to the right of the earbuds directly pushes the iPhone's power/lock button, so that you can still easily lock your iPhone.
The bottom side of the case has an opening which allows the iPhone 5 Lightning connector to easily slide through and plug into the bottom port of your phone. The channels at the bottom of the case help enhance and redirect the audio towards the front of the phone.
The upper left side of the case features the locking button. Push it up to disengage the locking mechanism which allows you to pull out the earbuds and retract them after use. The Jack Button is featured in the lower right corner of the case. This button inserts the audio jack into the case to plug in the earbuds and removes them when you want to take a call like normal.
How Does it Work?
A brief overview of how TurtleCell stores such a long cable and how were able to make it so thin!
TurtleCell utilizes a retracting mechanism that is built all in one single layer. This is what differentiates it from competiting cases and allows it to be only 6.5mm thick. The same cord which can be seen entering the retracting mechanism above also exits the top of the case when the Earbuds are extended. Therefore, there is a continuos connection between the audio jack that is plugged into your phone and the heaphones. Its just like plugging in your Earbuds!
This also means that the audio signal won’t degrade over time. Other retractable earbud case designs use “Slip Rings”(shown Below). These mechanisms are know to wear over time and cause bad signals. TurtleCell’s reversible winding cavity allows the audio signal to be transferred from the rotating to stationary pieces without the need for such a device. This reduces the thickness and extended the life!
The result is a TurtleCell which is so thin, it can easily fit in your pocket!
How we put a TurtleCell in your hands:
We went through over 30 design iterations until we got the final design just right. We’ve completely finished prototyping and are now ready to begin mass producing the TurtleCell.
Over the last two months we have researched and selected a short-run injection molding partner for the plastic parts. The earbuds you see in these prototypes are custom units supplied by our heaphone supplier.
Currently we are handling all of the assembly ourselves, but we would like to contract that out as well. All we need is your support to purchase the plastic part tooling and to order much larger quantites of our custom earbuds.
Once our campaign concludes in August we will be able to tell our manufacturing partners to begin creating the molds and earbud order. Since they are already producing these parts it should only take a month to begin production.
When our first production parts are received we will begin assembly. We have allotted two months time for this phase which should conclude by early November.
Another month for packaging and shipping and the first TurtleCell units should be in your hands by December – A perfect stocking stuffer!
We have conducted a lot of customer research and we often receive the request to include a microphone and volume control buttons with our custom earbuds.
Therefore, we have decided to offer this functionality in limited colors: Black & Blue.
Unfortunately, we have yet to receive these more complicated earbud components from our Earbud Supplier, but we have begun their design. Therefore, we have given a few extra months (by March) to complete production of these units.
TurtleCell was created over the last 2 years by long-time friends, co-workers and former University of Michigan engineering students: Paul Schrems & Nick Turnbull - See our Website and Bio for more information on us!
Help Make TurtleCell a Reality
We hope that you are as excited about receiving your TurtleCell as we are to make them!
All we need now is your support, so please choose the pledge level that is right for you and donate today!
Thank you in advance from everybody here at the TurtleCell Team!
© TurtleCell LLC
Apple, iPhone and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. and are not affiliated in any way with this product or campaign.
Risks and challenges
The TurtleCell team has been working hard for months to organize production with our various manufacturing partners and eliminate any possible hurdles to getting this product in your hands. However, there are always risks when increasing production quantities. If and when problems with production arise we will be at the factory as soon as possible to help solve these issues. We will do our best to keep you as informed as possible with our progress so that you are never in the dark! We are ready to bring this product to the world and thank you for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The short answer is absolutely! However, we are focusing our efforts on the iPhone market so that we can deliver the best possible product. As soon as we get additional funding (possibly another KickStarter campaign) we will work other smartphone models.
We are very excited to announce that we are now offering the TurtleCell for the iPhone 4 and 4s! We received a lot of feedback from people who loved TurtleCell, but just didn't have the iPhone 5 yet. From this we decided to engineer the 4 and 4s models, and we plan to ship them out at the same time as the 5!
We've put a lot of engineering into the case so that any and all failure modes have been identified and solved, and in our initial testing we've found that our cases and headphones have been extremely robust. However, we realize that things still find a way to break, especially headphones. So, we've decided to handle these situations in one of three ways:
1. We were able to make the inner pod of the case easily accessible so that if you get a simple jam then you can easily repair it yourself (there will be directions explaining how to access the inner pod and make easy repairs included with each unit).
2. If you are unable to repair it yourself (or don't feel like trying), then all you will need to do is send it in to us and we will replace it for free (we will send you a pre-paid for box for the initial shipping)!
3. If you've managed to break the case more than once, than you will still be able to get a brand new case, but it will come at a reduced price of $15 per replacement. The exact details of this arrangement still need to be worked out, but clear details/instructions will be included with each case.
This is an excellent question, and unfortunately you will not be able to use your own earbuds, as we had to custom design our own earbuds to fit within the device.
The reason for this is due to four design constraints: (1) Due to our novel retracting mechanism, there is a specific length of cable that must remain inside of the case even when the earbuds are fully extended. This means that we cannot simply put any ordinary pair of earbuds into our case because then the usable length would be significantly shorter then what you're used to. (2) Due to the case incorporating a retracting mechanism, we needed the earbud cable to have the smallest cross-sectional dimensions as possible. This also eliminates most standard sets of earbuds. (3) Since we designed the case to be as minimalist as possible, we had to completely redesign how the earbud cable connects to the audio jack/plug. (4) Lastly, when we made the case as thin as we did, we also had to design buds that would remain flush with the front of the case. This resulted in earbuds that are a few millimeters shorter in length (not diameter) then almost all earbuds on the market.
Because of these four design requirements we cannot use any set of ordinary earbuds. However, we are always trying to think of ways where we could potentially do this.
The easy answer to this is that our earbuds would retail for approximately $40 if they were sold separately. However, this does not exactly prove that they are of good quality. So, I've included the electrical specs below along with the specs for your Apple earbuds.
Frequency response: 5Hz to 21kHz Impedance (at 100Hz): 25 ohms [Apple: 23ohms] Sensitivity (at 100Hz): 115 dB SPL/mW [Apple: 109 dB]
- (45 days)