A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Every day around the world people use the internet for a variety of tasks. It has truly revolutionized life for billions of people. Though it is incredibly easy to use it’s not always safe. A shockingly large number of people are tracked for advertising purposes and monitored for any number of reasons by their own government—even though they are doing nothing wrong. The need for security and privacy increases as we access the internet more and more through smart phones, tablets, streaming services, and smart home devices. There are a few ways to accomplish this, the most trusted being a virtual private network, or VPN.
Last year I helped a friend set up a VPN on his computer. That’s when I realized that it is beyond the ability of most computer users to set up these services. So, I set out to build a device that would be reliable, affordable and easy to use.
The result is ArmorVPN, a compact device that gives you peace of mind and keeps you safe while online. It has an intuitive touchscreen, so there are no flashing light patterns or combination of button presses to remember. Its features rival those of bigger, more expensive, and more complicated devices. ArmorVPN easily and smoothly switches between wired or wireless use, and it is affordable, at just $70.
The first prototype did not have a housing, or a screen. I wanted to see how an Android/iPhone app could work to change settings and check status. It worked, but the problem was that if you were using your phone, you had to leave what you were doing and open an app, then wait for it to connect, making it too clumsy and unreliable. So, with a few changes, a screen was added, and things got considerably more user friendly.
During testing, I realized that it would be very easy to add NFC (for more information on NFC, click here), which would allow a phone or tablet to touch the device and connect. This means you don’t have to share the password to your private Wi-Fi for someone to connect. ArmorVPN has a simple interface the first time you turn it on. It is very easy to customize many of its features, from VPN settings to screen brightness, VPN server to VPN service. ArmorVPN also now works with TOR (for more information on TOR, click here, or see the video below).
One big challenge with this project was how to make it small enough so it would be portable. Eventually this was solved by using smaller, more efficient components. Doing this also allowed the use of a much smaller battery which still gives an average of 8 hours on a single charge. A second challenge was to make sure that data transfer speeds did not degrade severely. Through the use of the latest available Ethernet technologies this should not be a problem for most users.
Having undergone extensive testing, and a few prototypes, ArmorVPN is now ready for the world. ArmorVPN has a micro-USB port and a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports. An LED on the front corner indicates the status of ArmorVPN at a glance—all tucked inside an ABS enclosure. ArmorVPN will come with a 1-year warranty, Ethernet cable, a charging/power cable and USB wall adapter. The micro-USB port is compatible with most common cell phone chargers to either power or recharge the unit using a wall outlet or even in your car.
Currently I am working with a manufacturer to supply the major pieces of this project. The main hurdle to getting ArmorVPN to market is that of assembling large numbers of units. I am actively working to get automated assembly setup and contracted. If that hasn’t been completed by the deadline I have a team ready to start assembly once we have the parts in hand. Either way the devices will be thoroughly tested and delivered to Kickstarter backers.
If the funding goal is exceeded by 10% (a total of $12,100), I will be able to add the option for colors. Currently, the case is only available in charcoal grey (the color in all the photos and videos). Adding color options will allow you to request the case in various colors, including red, green, blue and white. Other colors will be determined based on popular opinion, so please comment if you have a suggestion.
At this level, I will also continue work on the Android and iOS app, to enable further control over ArmorVPN without using the touchscreen directly.
Dimensions: 6.75 inches wide x 3.88 inches deep x 1.13 inches tall (171mm wide x 98mm deep x 29mm tall) CPU: Quad-core Cortex-A7 Power: 100-240V 50/60Hz 0.35A (USB wall adapter), 5V, 1.0A (actual) Ports: 1 x Micro USB, 2 x gigabit Ethernet Wireless: 802.11 b/g/n, Near Field Communication (NFC) Screen size: 3.75 inches wide x 2.38 inches tall (95mm wide x 60mm tall)
Battery: 6000mAh lithium-polymer
Risks and challenges
As mentioned above one big challenge with this project was how to make it small enough so it would be portable. Eventually this was solved by using smaller, more efficient components. Doing this also allowed the use of a much smaller battery which still gives an average of 8 hours on a single charge. A second challenge was to make sure that data transfer speeds did not degrade severely. Through the use of the latest available Ethernet technologies this should not be a problem for most users.