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IO Cover: One-handed, Built-in Lens Caps for Micro Optics's video poster

IO Cover built-in lens caps - always ready. Open, close & stow with one hand. Rain or sand, see when you need it most. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on October 22, 2012.

IO Cover built-in lens caps - always ready. Open, close & stow with one hand. Rain or sand, see when you need it most.

About this project

Why IO Cover?

Some people don’t get to pack it up and go home when the weather turns bad. Keep your lenses clear of rain, sand or mud; so you can use your micro optic in less than perfect conditions.

As well as protecting your lenses from the elements, IO Cover also lets you add color to your micro optic without having to mess with paint.

How did we come up with IO Cover?

Stuff gets smaller. The latest optics are so compact that there’s no way to attach lens caps. IO Cover builds the lens caps into a protective optic cover. The main body of the protective cover acts as a base to attach lens caps with flexible living hinges.

The front of a micro optic has a nice lip for the front lens cap to grab onto in the closed position. The rear lens cap is a different story. There’s literally nothing on the rear of the optic that can be used to keep the lens cap closed. We tried a number of approaches including latches, steps and detents, but none of them would keep the lens cap closed.

edited: removed logo we used as a filler a couple years back. sorry!
edited: removed logo we used as a filler a couple years back. sorry!

Finally we hit on it. We extended the rear of the protective cover just enough to form a ridged lip that the lens cap can snap onto. It took 2 years and 4 revisions to get the rear lens cap to hold as tightly as the front.

One thing that came about by accident is the “stowed” position. We didn’t like how the lens caps just hung out in the breeze when open. Ironically, we noticed that the micro optic was so small that the front lens cap could reach the rear lens cap, and they kind of nested inside each other. We added the same ridge from the rear lip to the outside of the front lens cap, and they snapped together perfectly.

Everything is designed to work with one hand (left or right) using gross movements, even when wearing gloves. There’s nothing small to fiddle with. Just press the lens caps on. Swipe them open using the big tabs (revision #3). Snap them together. Twist them apart.

Why the name, “IO Cover”?

The cover looks like the letters “IO” when the lens caps are stowed. The stowed lens caps form the “I”, and the main body of the optic cover form the “O”. The logo will also reflect this, and we can't wait to see how it turns out!

How we’ll make it:

We've already put 3 years into IO Cover. It’s gone through 5 revisions, 4 of which you’ve seen here. I’ll show you the latest when it comes back from prototyping next week. After we test and approve the changes, we’ll be ready for production! Tooling will take about 5 weeks and $12,000 for a urethane part like this. It should take another 5 weeks for our first production run, packaging and shipping. Santa should be dropping IO Covers down your chimney just in time for the holidays!

How to kickstart:

The kickstarter process is simple and takes less than 30 seconds. Just pick your pledge level, and you'll be sent to to sign in. The best part is that you won't be charged a penny until we're funded, so what are you waiting for?

*edited 9/20/12 - As per Kickstarter's new rules for Product Design projects, I've removed any images of product renderings (old and new) from this page. I hate showing renderings, but someone convinced me it would be a good idea to show how far the project has come and to tease the latest revisions that we'll have next week. In any case, we'll have real photos of those revisions in a few days. Renderings are for dreamers, and I'm happy to see that Kickstarter agrees with me! ;) Unfortunately, I can't remove the images from the video. I could ask my video guy, but he'd freak.

Risks and challenges

Kickstarter has some new rules about Product Design projects, and this section is one of them. I’m not sure if we’re grandfathered in, but I think the new rules make a lot of sense, so “Risks and Challenges” here we come!

The obvious answer is why we’re here - funding! If we don’t reach our funding goal, I’ll have to figure out another way to come up with $20k to pay for the tooling and initial production run. This will lead to delays, which means that the concept stagnates out in the public domain for a more well-resourced copycat to steal. Which would suck.

IO Cover is a pretty simple piece of rubber, so that makes it easier to copy, but also easier to make. I’ve been swamped with great ideas from folks that really like the concept; but have their own take on the execution based on their personal experiences, preferences, and needs. Some of these ideas have struck me before, and we’ve tried them and iterated through them. Some of them are just plain crazy. :) But some of them are really insightful, and we’ve never thought of them.

We’re still beating them up, but a few of them are just too complicated to implement, and dilute the purpose of IO Cover. There are a couple of ideas that we can’t seem to shake, and we’re trying to figure out how to execute them with simplicity. Simplicity brings durability, usability, and affordability.

That being said, we don’t want to impact the schedule too much. We promised December, and we’re going to hit December. The tooling is quoted, and ready to be made with any minor adjustments we may have to the design. The material has been carefully selected for durability, cut/tear resistance, chemical resistance, heat/cold characteristics, etc. Overall, we’ve evaluated at 3 different manufacturing processes, 10+ materials, and a handful of vendors for their ability to deliver quality on schedule. We’re looking at packaging options now. We’re pretty much ready to roll.

But, you may have noticed that we still don’t have a logo or a website to speak of. I’ve got some rough sketches; but to be honest, I suck at these things, so I’ve been focusing on delivering the product. Once we start tooling, I can devote my attention to these holes and start plugging them up. :)

Kickstarter also asks: how am I qualified to overcome these risks and challenges? I’m a product developer in another industry. On any given day, I could be ideating new concepts, checking out materials, or evaluating a manufacturing partner. I do this for a living, so I figured why not take those same skills and apply them to a problem that’s been bugging me for the past 3 years? I spend a lot of time getting into other peoples’ heads, and it’s been fun to create something for myself - and hopefully for you too!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    10 backers

    BUMP LEVEL: "I don't need this thing, but I think it's an awesome idea. Here's a dollar. Buy some coffee and get back to work."

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    273 backers

    SOLO LEVEL: We're going to market at $29.99 retail, so of course backers get a break! At this pledge level, you'll receive (1) optic cover in any of the available colors. Free shipping to US addresses.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $70 or more

    98 backers

    BUDDY LEVEL: One is none, and two is one. So what is three? Three is awesome, and (3) optic covers what you'll get when you pledge at this level. Don't have three micro optics? Well, first of all, you're wrong. But to make up for it, practice the virtue of generosity by sharing with a buddy! You'll also help us pick colors, so vote with your pledge dollars! Ships free to US addresses.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    58 backers

    TEAM LEVEL: Statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin would approve. This pledge level gets you (5) optic covers. Round up your team and make it happen! You and your teammates can also help us pick colors AND decide on logos! Free shipping to US addresses.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    16 backers Limited (4 left of 20)

    AGENCY LEVEL: Need an evaluation unit RIGHT NOW? We'll immediately make and air ship you (1) prototype for your evaluation and feedback. Each prototype costs us more than $60 to make. They're individually cast, so we can make them in any color you want, but we can only make so many until the mold breaks. We're hoping to get 50 more pieces out of the mold after our T&E units. As one of the very few to get their hands on a prototype, we’re relying on your input to make any last minute improvements to the design before we begin tooling. We think it’s damned near perfect, but if it isn’t, we’d like to know now. This pledge level reserves (10) optic covers from the production run, and recommendations on color and logo selection. Free shipping to US addresses.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $600 or more

    5 backers All gone!

    BUNDLE LEVEL: Don't have a micro optic? Need another one? We've got you covered. We've managed to procure a limited number of optics, and this pledge level will secure you a T-1 2MOA (without mount) and (1) production optic cover! Free shipping to US addresses.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $700 or more

    2 backers All gone!

    STUDENT LEVEL: We've sent out early prototypes to industry experts including top-tier trainers. Their feedback has helped refine the IOCover into what it is today. We've managed to secure a limited number of course slots with none other than Pat Rogers. This pledge level will get you on the 3-day class roster, and you'll be the coolest kid in school with (3) optic covers! Backers must be vetted. Get your learn on.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (35 days)