The iBeacon team is simply a husband and wife who became frustrated with playing phone tennis every day!
Yes, like most people we text and email for 90% of our communication but sometimes we actually WANT or NEED to talk to each other! Talking is still the most effective way of communicating important things within any relationship - social or business, so it was frustrating that we could never get hold of each other when we needed to!
... and all because we coudn't hear our phones in our bags.
"My wife prefers to carry her phone in her bag because it's more comfortable than in her pockets...
...and my husband carries two phones: a work handset in his suit and a personal phone in his bag."
Even when we can hear our phones in our bags, we can rarely find them in time to answer the call!
It turned out that we weren't the only people experiencing this problem. We found that most women carry their phones in their bags and men are increasingly doing so as phones get bigger and bigger.
What is the iBeacon?
The iBeacon is a small beacon that clips onto your bag and alerts you via a speaker and flashing light, to activity on your mobile phone. It even helps you to locate your phone quickly so you don't miss that all important call!
The iBeacon connects to your phone via its jack plug and a bright red fabric cable. When you receive an incoming call or text message, the speaker amplifies your ringtone and a red light switches on so you can hear and see that someone is trying to reach you. The bright red cable will lead you straight to your phone.
As the iBeacon connects via a jack plug, it's compatible with most mobile phones and requires no set up - it's simply plug & play!
APPEARANCE: Our initial conceptualisation phase looked at several different designs from the "handbag charm" style to the current clip on speaker that we currently have. The primary reason for choosing this format was that we wanted to choose a design that would be suitable for everyone: men as well as women, the old as well as the young, the 'not so smart phone' as well as the 'smart phone' user!
BLUETOOTH: For sure, we thought about making it Bluetooth, and future versions might well be, but after speaking to lots of potential users the jack plug met three very important criteria:
1) Missing calls because you can't hear your phone in your bag is an everyday problem faced by lots of people, many of whom often prefer simplicity to technical gadgets. The iBeacon's PLUG & PLAY nature makes it SUPER SIMPLE to use with NO SET UP REQUIRED!
2) One of the common comments we received when we initially shared our frustration was that even if people did hear their phone in their bag, they nearly always couldn't get to it in time. The jack plug and bright red cable lead you straight to your phone quickly.
3) We spend a lot of money on our phones these days so we shouldn't have to spend a lot of money on an accessory that tells us when it's ringing! The bluetooth option simply didn't meet our pricing criteria.
VOLUME: The iBeacon is not designed to annoy the people around you by amplifying your ringtone to a very loud level. It's simply to replicate the sound of your ringtone (with a modest increase in volume) outside of your bag.
PACKAGING: All iBeacons come in their own unique satchel bag style packaging, making it a perfect gift.
We would like your help
We have a working prototype and have recently made improvements to the shell so that it's smaller and sleeker. We've also found contract manufacturers in the UK to manufacture the iBeacon in mass volume.
However, the next step requires funds to buy the plastic injection molds (tooling) which are quite expensive.
We also need to place an order with the manufacturer which meets their minimum order volume.
With your help and support, we can meet the minimum volume required to make the iBeacon affordable for everyone and with the proceeds, we can purchase the tooling.
Q. How do I know that the iBeacon will work with my phone?
A. The iBeacon uses a 3.5mm TRS (NOT TRRS) jack plug to connect to your phone and has been tested on a wide range of phones including Nokia, iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Assus & LG.
Q. How does the iBeacon differentiate between incoming and missed calls and text messages?
A. The iBeacon will notify you when you have an incoming call by amplifying your ringtone and by a CONSTANT red light. When you have a missed call or text message, you will be notified via a FLASHING red light.
Q. How is the iBeacon powered?
A. The iBeacon is powered with a Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery. We have tested the battery life to last 1 week based on an average usage (10 missed calls a day).
Q. What comes in the box?
A. 1 iBeacon unit, 1 USB to micro USB charging cable and one instruction booklet.
Risks and challenges
We have already selected manufacturers for the iBeacon and all the technical considerations (the electronic and mechanical components) have been signed off.
Should we be successful in raising the funds the risks and challenges are, as with all new products, mainly associated with manufacturing, quality control and logistics. Given this, there is always a risk that the shipment date may be subject to potential delays. That said, we have tried to factor this in by pushing out our expected shipment date.
All in, we feel we have done our homework and have picked manufacturers and suppliers that can meet our expectations and that can grow with us, but until we see the results we must carry this as a risk.
Thanks for your time and with your support we hope to have an iBeacon on your bag by August 2013!
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