Like many others, the Less Case team enthusiastically ordered the Google Nexus 7 when they released. Being the first real capable 7" tablet, we fell in love with the device and the unique use cases not found in a 10" tablet.
Unfortunately, even to this day, there seems to be almost no selection of cases or peripherals that meets our standards. Aside from the cheap, generic one-size-fits-all leather portfolio cases, there wasn't anything on the market that seemed like it had more then half a day's thought in the design. On the other end of the spectrum, we've seen $60+ book/moleskin-type cases that didn't make much financial sense when you consider it's for a $200-250 tablet.
Also being Apple users, the Less Case team appreciates minimal but functional design. However, it seemed like accessories that weren't Apple-related was deemed unworthy of thoughtful peripherals. We appreciate beautiful technology regardless of origin, so admittedly, it's disheartening to only see Apple-related projects getting attention at any given time.
So we decided we'd just make our own.
When designing the case, we focused on two things: First, we wanted the case to offer comprehensive protection for the device. Second, we wanted the case to be as non-existent as possible.
Nothing annoyed us more than having this ridiculously thin and light 7" device, only to resort to a thick, ugly, and heavy portfolio case where you always had to deal with a cover folded over when using the tablet. Gel cases weren't much better. The Nexus 7 feels great in the hand--the light-weight, the rubberized back, and the svelte profile. We wanted to retain as much of that as possible, and we've accomplished that.
We did not stop at designing form and wanted to improve on the functions of the case. We started thinking of how a case can play an essential part in integrating with a stand, a wall mount, a car mount, etc. Then, an epiphany hit us! By embedding a super-strong rare-earth magnet inside the case, we can put the tablet anywhere that was either metal or able to host a magnet. Have you ever wanted an internet-enabled smart fridge without paying over $3,000? How about just a place to hang your tablet so it's not always sitting on the coffee table or behind the toilet? And what about taking Skype calls in the kitchen or using it as a front door security monitor? The possibilities are only limited to your imagination...
As far as colors, we'll most likely produce them in black and white. If there's strong demand for any other colors. We are open to your feedback!
We figured, the most enjoyable way to use the tablet is with no case at all, but if you're going to use one, strip it down to only exactly how you're using it in that moment. If you're holding it, it's just the case. If you need the stand on a desk, simply attach it. For this reason, we didn't build in a kickstand.
Also, the beauty of a magnetic mounting system is the flexibility it brings. If we decide to create additional cases for other devices in the future, the mounts are already universal. Want to mount your phone instead of your tablet in the car? Just yank the tablet off, and put easily snap on the phone.
We researched extensively in magnets (magnet size, thickness, pull force, finish, vendors, performance relationship affected by distance) and optimized the best magnets to achieve the performance that we required. We've tested our Nexus 7 tablets extensively with various magnets in the prototype cases for almost three months, and have definitively concluded that there are no adverse side-effects. With the addition of something as simple as a magnet, we've discovered brand new functions of a tablet that never existed before.
SUPPORTING LESS CASE
After three months of hard work, we are in the final stages of prototyping for the case, and are preparing for mass production. The pledges from this project will go directly into getting the production started for both the case and the stand. If we are blessed with more than our initial goal, there are many neat peripheral mounts and ideas that we would love to see come to life. Our long term goal is to create an ecosystem of magnetic accessories that are universally accessible to any device with a Less Case. We'd love to be able to extend our innovation to products such as iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and other popular devices.
We are putting in the finishing touches to the design. Our final product is a more polished case with improved magnetic performance.
Aside from any tiers that include the case itself, we also have a steel Desktop stand that has a lot more thought in it then you'd first assume. One of the great uses of the Nexus 7 is its integration with Google Hangouts and Skype. The steel Less Stand has been redesigned several times to ensure that in both landscape and portrait, the "angle of attack" to your face is optimized for video conversations.
For higher tiers, we're also including a rare-earth Magnet Pack for you to use in whatever creative mounting needs you may have. We're curious to see what our supporters come up with.
Below are the pledge awards that you can choose, including a combination of the items below:
A. Official Less Case - The Less Case, uniquely designed to complement the Google Nexus 7 tablet. The case embeds a strong magnet to use with external peripherals.
B. Less Stand - A stand constructed of steel that is uniquely designed for the Less Case. It allows you to use your tablet in both landscape and portrait modes with ease.
C. Magnet Pack - An assortment of magnets for you to use with the Less Case for additional scenarios. Use heavy-duty magnets found in the Magnet Pack with the Less Case for additional magnetic strength (recommended for applications beyond the use with the Less Stand. Create new use cases that are limited only to your creativity!
The Magnet Pack gives you 3 additional magnets: 2 strong magnets (similar to Less Case), and 1 super strong (80% more pull force).
Support Us/Stay Updated: $1-5 A: $25 A+B: $40 (limited units at $35) A+B+C: $50 (limited units at $45)
Domestic shipping included. For international shipping, please add +$5.
Risks and challenges
The Less Case has evolved through several design iterations. Most of the adjustments have been focused on the type, quantity, and configuration of the rare-earth magnets being used in the case to ensure that it offers sufficient pull force to allow for a multitude applications.
In terms of design, we're 90% complete. Most likely, our final design will use use a single super-strong rare-earth magnet (as opposed to the ones you saw in the video) and have to make adjustments to the case to accommodate it.
So where are the potential hiccups? In terms of the actual design itself, we don't have too many concerns. We've been working with the same industrial designer for months now and have forged a great working relationship which includes a history of always meeting deadlines. The risks lie more in the manufacturing process, since we've never done this before. While we're confident with the selection of our manufacturing partner, we should disclose that A. we personally have never had any manufacturing experience, and B. we've never dealt with this partner before this project. While we do have simplicity of design on our side, there's still variables that we cannot control directly on the manufacturing side. That being said, we're doing our best to mitigate those risks by choosing a vendor that we can literally knock on the door if something goes wrong. Keeping it local is a top priority for this reason. The metal shop for the stand is also local (closer actually), and are susceptible to the same risks as the case itself.
Post-manufacturing, there is still some work to be done. The Less Case team will have to receive the cases and magnets, and assemble them prior to you receiving them. By assembly, we mean epoxy'ing the magnet into the case. Irregardless of how simple this sounds, we understand that work is still work, and time is still time. The magnets and build materials will be on hand prior to taking delivery of the cases, and we do not foresee it taking more then a couple of weeks to assemble all the rewards.
Timeline... while we're shooting for worst-case-scenario January release, we're really... REALLY pushing to get these out the door by December. The only issue with that (aside from the aforementioned risks) is that this lies smack dab in the holiday season. While we are available to push this project forward, our manufacturing partners may not be. So this will be something that we'll have to deal with if the issue comes up.
We're very cognizant of why Kickstarter has changed it's guidelines, and agree 100% with the updates. While we all know actions speak louder then words, the Less Case team has kept this a very high priority. We feel the complexity of a product should scale proportionately to the delivery times, and will do everything we can to deliver the Less Case at, or ahead of schedule. Thanks for your consideration.
For metal surfaces, the magnet in the case is enough. The main purpose of the Magnet Pack is for people who want to mount the Less Case in places that might not necessarily have a metal surface such as on a non-magnetic wall, or if there's a use case that requires an extra sturdy connection like the car example in the video or an active fridge door. You could use the magnet from the Magnet Pack to put on a metal surface (like a fridge) and then use that magnet to stick the metal stand, too. If it's for a fridge with a bare metal surface, you most likely won't need the magnet pack.
The Magnet Pack gives you an additional set of 3 magnets. We include 2 strong magnets that are similar to the one used in the Less Case, and 1 super strong magnet that is 80% stronger.