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.
About this project
The Stacky Steps were born out of necessity. While using notebook computers I was always finding odd objects to raise the back of the device to improve on the inadequate cooling of these devices; specially when under heavy loads like gaming or computationally intensive tasks. Additionally, the default ergonomics of notebook computers are not the best, and raising the back will result in a substantially more comfortable position.
One day my wife suggested we make my makeshift solution into a product. After exploring the idea further, we realized most consumer electronics have insufficient surface clearance for proper cooling, and would also benefit from the Stacky Steps. So we decided to develop the product into a generic solution for multiple devices.
After exploring a multitude of different materials we decided to use premium silicone rubber, as it provides the best performance characteristics like high heat resistance, non-slip, inert to all kinds of contaminants, and high durability. The use of silicone rubber made the Stacky Steps ideal to use with mobile devices like phones, iPads and tablets. By lifting the device from the surface, it not only protects the camera sensor from scratches and improves the viewing angle, but also isolates the ringer vibration from sounding like it will destroy both your phone and desk. Another benefit of the silicone rubber material is that it is very "grabby", and because of this your phone will not slide across the desktop and into the ground if accidentally bumped.
Once we started using the Stacky Steps with our phones, the bulb went off; why not have a "Smart Stacky" that makes use of Near Field Communication technology, or NFC to control the state of a NFC capable phone or device? So we did; we embedded an NFC micro-controller inside of a Stacky Step, thus making it into a Smart Stacky! The Smart Stacky is fully user programmable to do very simple or very complex tasks. It can be easily programmed by anyone without technical knowledge by using any of the many freely available NFC Apps in the Google Play store. It can be programmed to control many device functions like GPS, WiFi, ringer or notification volumes, alarms, display brightness, locks, app launching, and many more complex tasks. For example, you can program it to do something as simple as change your ringer volume and display brightness; or something as complex as querying a remote web server for some information, and sending a text message or email based on the result.
To illustrate this, in the above video, the NFC triggers a script when the phone is placed on the Smart Stacky. The script creates a slide show of historic monuments by opening Google Maps Street View at several famous locations around the World with a delay in between each call. This is to illustrate that you can combine all of your device capabilities like GPS, mapping, web connectivity, SMS, email, etc., along with logical conditional blocks within your custom script. You can then easily program all of that into the NFC chip embedded within the Smart Stacky with a simple swipe.
The next video shows a simple task of opening an App, and controlling something within that App. When the phone gets near the Smart Stacky it launches Spotify, and starts playing a specific playlist:
The next example shows a more complex situation where, a swipe of the Smart Stacky triggers a group of unrelated actions. This one toggles WiFi and bluetooth, sets the sound profile to vibrate, changes the display brightness to 143, and opens an app (Google Keep):
In addition to notebooks and mobile devices, the Stacky Steps can be used with a multitude of other devices like set-top boxes, consoles, 3D printers, or just about anything that would benefit from thermal and vibration isolation; or as a replacement for worn rubber feet.
During the design of the Stacky Steps we came up with hundreds of sizes, shapes, and configurations, many of which are viable and desirable for specific applications. However, since the initial cost to manufacturing each additional shape/size is very large, we decided to concentrate on the one size and shape we think would be best for most applications as the starting point. We are open to feedback from our backers about other desirable sizes, shapes and features they would like to see in future iterations of the Stacky Steps.
If our campaign reaches $5K, we will be able to produce another useful shape, the Sticky Stacky. This part is a rigid plastic low profile end cap that locks into a regular Stacky on one side, and has a flat surface on the opposite side. The flat side can be used as is, or with the included adhesive disc to firmly attach to any device or surface. This can be used to securely attach a Stacky Steps to a specific spot on a device, with the flexibility that the Stacky is removable, only leaving the low profile part attached to the device. Another use for this part is to be able to attach the NFC Smart Stacky to a surface like a wall and use it as a scan point, kind of like a wall switch. And by using multiple Sticky Stackys, you can move a single Smart Stacky between different locations.
Risks and challenges
We feel that we have investigated reliable raw material suppliers as well as manufacturers, and do not anticipate having any issues with production. This product is based on very common materials and manufacturing techniques for which there are plenty of suppliers. We have also researched and developed the capability to manufacture the product in-house in low volume quantities at an acceptable cost and quality should the campaign not reach minimum order levels for external manufacturing. This will drastically reduce the risk of non-fulfillment due to low order volume.
We need this campaign to establish the commercial viability for our second product, as well as fund the initial manufacturing costs, like injection molds and minimum order quantities. With your help, we will be able to meet our goals and start shipping orders by the stated dates. If unexpected production or fulfillment issues arise, updates on our Kickstarter page will be posted promptly.
We thank you for your support in helping us bring this unique tool to life!