Kindle e-reader page turner for people with poor dexterity
Kindle e-readers are great for older people but the buttons are awkward. We tried our prototype at a local hospital they all want one
Here's an idea intended for a specific target group, but seems that everyone wants one, or everyone's mum or dad ... better make it accessible to all!
We do a lot of work with people who are involved in healthcare who see needs of others on a daily basis and naturally have great ideas to solve these problems, but no experience of how to take the project through to a final product.
The idea came from a medical professional we know who works in a major hospital in Wales. He was aware that many people, particularly the elderley or those with poor dexterity, were much happier to use Kindles to read from, since they didn't have to hold open a book, had large print, but found the buttons awkward to operate. In his particular department, a Burns Unit, there were many people who couldn't move their fingers without discomfort, so the idea of the Kindle Page Turner was hatched. He writes: "A patient is using it right now in hospital. An old lady with dressings on her hands. She cried when the occupational therapist gave it to her"
To test the concept several models were 3D printed and trialled. From the outset it was a major hit, even in this relatively crude form of a 3D plastic print.
At this stage we, E2L Limited, were asked to take over the project and develop a product suitable for the mass market which was:
- Ergonomically optimised
- Produced to a high quality finish
- Addressed any outstanding functional issues
- Use a cost effective manufacturing method
- Establish a production facility
- Establish a worldwide sales channel and distribution network
Naturally the first thing we did was set up a licence agreement so the originator will get a decent return on his idea; this is all signed and sealed - its not the first project we've collaborated on.
We have vast experience in this area and have spent the past 15 years running similar projects; Checkout MegaBee, FAB, or Whatz-it. The problem is that the tooling cost and initial production run set-up charges to achieve a cost effective product is an enormous risk. So capability - no problem; cash for the initial batch - big problem.
We have addressed the technical challenges already by remodelling the initial concept. In particular, getting rid of all sharp corners, reducing the amount of plastic, enabling easy cleaning by selecting a suitable material and reducing any 'dirt traps', adjusting the two main 'paddles' so when they interlock the do not touch the screen, and improving the ON/OFF button mechanism.
The Project Plan
There's no way round this but we have to invest heavily in plastic injection mould tooling and commission a considerable production run (at least a ton of plastic) - we do this all the time so we know our costs and timescales are accurate. The Plan is:
- Secure funding from Kickstarter (we hope!)(30 days)
- Commission final pre-mould rapid prototypes for final testing (this goes on whilst the funding is still being raised)
- Commission plastic injection mould tooling (the big time consumer - typically 8 weeks)
- Evalute first models from tool and recommend any minor changes to tool (typically 2 weeks)
- Approve tool
- Commission initial production batch of Page Turners (typically 3 weeks)
- Package and Distribute initial batch from our Monmouth Offices (1 week)
- Establish worldwide sales channels through a mixture of our existing sales network and major internet eStores. (concurrent to the stages above)
All the product will be made in the UK and all distribution will be from Monmouth, South Wales.
Risks and challenges
Since we're quite experienced here the risks tend to be truly erroneous. Issues like getting 'all the stuff in the right place at the right time' is what we're about. Our company is ISO9001;2008 accredited, so dealing with anomalies is all well charted. So we see project risks as being very low.
Potential product issues we would identify after project completion are:
i) Financing ongoing production - this can be solved in various ways, such as raising money from other sources such as bank loans on the basis that we've already proved the success of the product.
ii) Maintaining of quality from the moulders - an issue where we have to keep our eye on the ball. This is partly the reason we prefer using UK based moulding companies as we can approve the product easily before it is shipped.
iii) Kindle eReaders becoming obselete - like all things, at some point they will, so product lifetime is a risk; effectively marketing it is the challenge.
- (30 days)