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A unique smart protective case for the iPhone 5. Bluetooth enabled for LED notifications and Music buttons to control your playlist.

The GENII is a hard-wearing  protective case for the iPhone 5 and the only one that is Bluetooth enabled! The GENII’s seamlessly integrated LEDs tell you from a glance and from a distance when there is a notification waiting for you on your phone. That’s not all the GENII has been designed to do; it has perfectly positioned, ergonomically designed media player buttons on the right which puts you in instant control of music and video on your iPhone.

With the recent release of iOS 7 from Apple we have discovered the ability to answer calls using the Media Player buttons on the GENII. This of course means you can now manage your music playlist and answer calls without having to remove your gloves. 

This is a function we wanted to bring to the GENII from the outset but found restrictions in iOS 6, iOS 7 however helps facilitate this operation easily.

LED Notifications

The GENII uses the latest Bluetooth Low Energy technology also known as Bluetooth 4.0, to connect to your iPhone 5 and read any notification records which it will then display to you through its 5 coloured LEDs. The LEDs are categorised according to notification type. These are as follows:

As you can see, the LEDs have been positioned for optimum light disbursement through its light tubes to maximise the visibility of the LEDs illuminations; saving you from having to constantly manually check your phone. Since the LEDs are positioned on only one side of the GENII, the notification alerts won’t be distracting to others around you.

The LEDs can be discrete when in meetings
The LEDs can be discrete when in meetings

Media Controls

If you’re anything like me then your favourite music tracks are all on your iPhone and those that aren't you’ll stream on the go. Whilst the built-in controls for managing music on the iPhone are great, they can also be a little tricky to operate when you’re cycling, jogging, driving or when wearing gloves. I've often accidently pause a track or skip through a track, interrupting my listening rhythm, which can be particularly frustrating when listening to an audio book.

But the media control keys on the GENII makes accidents like these a thing of the past. Pressing play, pausing and skipping tracks are an absolute doddle – just push the buttons! We’ve made such a fuss about these buttons that we have designed them in a way that you’ll never press the wrong button again. We’ve been able to do this by tilting skip keys ever so slightly in opposite directions so that when your finger or thumb touches the key it instantly recognises it from any other key.

The media controls are compatible with many music and video apps available for your iPhone including the default iPhone Music app, BBC iPlayer, iPlayer Radio, Spotify, Last.FM, Netflix, TuneIn Radio, Audiable and many more!

The Case

The GENII case fits tightly and securely around the iPhone to protect against accidental damage to the back and side surfaces of your iPhone 5. The outer lip of the GENII case surrounds the edge of the phone ensuring the screen is sat above any dust particles that may scratch the surface.

The iPhone 5 slides into trackers located on the inside of the GENII; securing it in place, the top then attaches to the bottom section via a unique interlocking mechanism.

The GENII and iPhone 5 fit securely together
The GENII and iPhone 5 fit securely together

To start, we plan to manufacture the GENII in three colours; Motor Black, Frost White and Magnolia Magenta.

Personalisation

The GENII has been designed as two pieces. All the technology has been placed in the bottom section of the case leaving the top section to be interchangeable to suit your mood and/or taste. Using our online design tool that is currently under development, and a 3D printer you can design your own top section to the GENII and simply slot it into place over your iPhone creating a case, which is completely unique to you!

Examples of 3D printed tops we made earlier! The Superman version has been hand finished with modelling paint.
Examples of 3D printed tops we made earlier! The Superman version has been hand finished with modelling paint.
Earlier 3D printed tops from a MAKERBOT REPLICATOR 2 alongside early GENII prototypes
Earlier 3D printed tops from a MAKERBOT REPLICATOR 2 alongside early GENII prototypes

When we set out to develop the GENII, we were determined it had to be a refined example of modern design; slim, lightweight and eye-catching something that would complement the iPhone 5.

Components

From day one we have been committed to sourcing the thinnest, lightest and most efficient components for the job; our dedication and attention to detail lead us to identifying and using surface mount components only. Our smallest component is 0.8mm x 1.0mm while the thickest component; the battery is only 4.8mm in depth!

The GENII is powered by a 1000mAh lithium-ion battery which can be recharged via the built in micro USB port. Based on our testing and calculations we estimate the battery life should last up to 7 days on a single charge based on average user activity.

To save cost and development time we chose to use an off-the-shelf Bluetooth 4.0 module from Bluegiga. Initially, we started the development based on the current Bluetooth module at the time but upon release of a newer module, we redirected our efforts finding improved functionality and power efficiency using the new Bluetooth 4.0 module.

Being able to use a Bluegiga module has also meant that we were able to develop GENII using a high quality, certified product from an industry trusted supplier.

The GENII is charged via a standard microUSB cable (supplied) and charges fully within one hour.

Both charging cables for the iPhone 5 and the microUSB cable for GENII fix comfortable
Both charging cables for the iPhone 5 and the microUSB cable for GENII fix comfortable
GENII Technical Specifications
GENII Technical Specifications

Companion App

So far we have only been able to produce a proof of concept version of the app and with a successful Kickstarter project we can finish the development and submit the app to Apple's app store.

Challenges

A major challenge we faced quite early on was the limited amount of charge we could use from the battery due to the power hungry nature of the Bluetooth module. Although it is a low energy device, the inbound transmissions require a great deal of power. However, by reducing the number of transmissions between the iPhone and the Bluetooth module we have managed to increase the amount of charge available.

Some other major obstacles we've overcome have been;

  • Finding funding for research and develop
  • Finding experienced engineers to help develop the genii 
  • Sourcing a suitable Bluetooth module 
  • Sourcing and testing batteries for maximum performance vs smallest form factor
  • Writing, testing and debugging the GENII firmware
  • Designing a strong and supportive protective case without adding bulk and unwanted weight while mainlining a comfortable ergonomic feel and attractive design

During the design stage we spent a lot of time trying to create a desirable and attractive product  at the same time controlling the bulk and weight of the GENII and as a result our workspace was littered with early 3D printed/rapid prototyped evaluation models each one tweaked ever so slightly until we were completely satisfied with the overall appearance.

Bryn and I closely examine a section of design on a rapid prototype
Bryn and I closely examine a section of design on a rapid prototype

We have multiple rewards levels but you'll have to act fast as some are limited in availability. We value every backer regardless of contribution amount, that’s why we will add every backer's name to a dedicated page on the GENII website - http://geniifi.co.uk/thank-you-backers 

'COLLECTORS EDITION' Kickstarter branded GENII
'COLLECTORS EDITION' Kickstarter branded GENII
'I backed GENII on Kickstarter' t-shirt available in his or hers
'I backed GENII on Kickstarter' t-shirt available in his or hers

We’re very proud and humbled by how far we’ve come as a team with the limited budget we set out with. Since starting work on the GENII we;

  • have built a working prototype
  • developed beta firmware for the Bluegiga Bluetooth module
  • have a proof of concept App for iOS 6 (under development)
  • have a proof of concept 3D design and print tool for GENII tops with an APi from thingiverse.com
  • have developed a Word Press based website - www.geniifi.co.uk

The demo below shows our prototype GENII in its current functional state; the LEDs respond to an incoming Whatsapp message by displaying a green flashing alert, and further you can see the buttons skipping between music tracks using the default Music player app.

What the Money Will be Used For

We have chosen a manufacturing and assembly partner in the UK who will be assisting us in managing and improving the overall production process including; logistics and warehousing.

In order to make the GENII available at an affordable price we must buy components in bulk and order 5000 units into production. The most expensive part of production is the one-off cost of tooling and machine set up.

With your support and backing we can pay for;

  • Tooling for manufacturing in the UK
  • Purchasing components in bulk
  • Finalising and submitting the app to Apple App Store
  • Finalising the development of our 3D design tool
  • Making slight refinements to the design
  • Inbound shipping costs
  • CE Compliance

...and sending the rewards out to you!

Timescales

Where possible we have managed to keep to schedule and we aim to continue this right through to the end of the Kickstarter project. Below is our roadmap after a successful Kickstarter project;

How It Works (for Kickstarter Newbies)

The process is very simple. Once you’re interested in what we’ve presented in this project you can be part of it by backing us. Select a Reward level on the right of the project page; you can back us from as little as £1; although tangible rewards start at £20.

If the project is successful, Kickstarter will collect backed amount from you on the 28th of June and nothing up until then.

When the project closes on the 28th, we will contact all of our backers with a brief form to complete; this form is where you tell us the colour of the GENII you’d like to receive and any details about what you’d like engraved on your GENII (if you’ve selected a reward at that level).

You’ll then receive your GENII and any other rewards around December, we are working hard with our manufacturing partners to reduce this time frame as much as possible to ship the GENII even sooner.

If we are able to surpass our initial funding goal we plan to develop the GENII for Android on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One and Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia. Currently these a are few of a limited number of smartphone handsets that support Bluetooth 4.0;

Stretch Goal 1 - £270,000 and we can develop the GENII for Android

Stretch Goal 2 - £290,000 we can develop the GENII for Windows Phone 8 (and above) on the Nokia Lumia 920 or 925 (we understand the 920 is reaching ‘end of life’ and will be replaced by the 925/928; therefore we will refocus our development to the 925/928 when it’s officially released).

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, and jumping up and down in the air, we aim to continue building the GENII brand. As the shape of the iPhone evolves over time we aim to adapt the GENII accordingly.

We’ve attempted to cover as much detail about GENII, the project, the process and story behind it but if we’ve missed something or you have a question of your own, please feel free to get in touch via the usual Kickstarter methods.

Alternatively you can contact me directly via Twitter at @shehbaz_afzal or @geniifi and we will respond to your questions or comments within a reasonable amount of time.

During the development and filming of our Kickstarter project we have received help and support from a number of parties to whom we are truly grateful, so thank you to the following;

  • The Corner House, Manchester 
  • The Sharp Project, Manchester 
  • Ash Hooper Photography, Manchester 
  • Manchester Metropolitan University Centre for Enterprise
  • The Innospace, Manchester - staff and tenants
  • The GENII Focus Group

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Although we are confident the app will be approved by Apple’s App Store, there is always a chance that it might be rejected. If that is the case we will make amendments to the app as per Apple’s direction. However, our app development team are experts in iOS development with years of experience behind them and fully understand the requirements for submitting an app to the App Store.

FAQ

  • Based on our test and data based on average consumer usage; we anticipate the battery should last for between 7-10 days before requiring a recharge.

    Last updated:
  • The GENII has a micro USB charging port placed on the bottom in perfect alignment with the Thunderbolt charging port on the iPhone 5. We will provide a charging cable with every GENII.

    Last updated:
  • Out of the box the GENII weighs 45 grams, with an iPhone 5 attached it weighs 157 grams.

    Last updated:
  • Yes! We have a stretchgoal to help us raise enough funds to the GENII for Android.

    Last updated:
  • Yes! You can, we want the user to have ultimate control over how their GENII works for them. So we will be building in the options to enable and disable the LED function as well as the Music controls.

    Last updated:
  • Our design tool will allow you to save your designs to your computer which you can then take anywhere you have access to a 3D printer. However, don’t worry if can’t get access a 3D printer, you will be able to order your design through our website.

    Last updated:
  • We are building this functionality into the first release of the official app, so you can move SMS for example into the Instant Messaging category. This will mean your amber LED will only indicate emails and nothing else.

    Last updated:
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    *KICKSTARTER COLLECTORS EDITION*: A GENII in Motor Black with 'Kickstarter' engraved on the left edge and a Kickstarter green GENII Top. This reward comes with a Digital Certificate of Authenticity. a thank you email from Team GENII and your name is added to the backer list.

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    PERSONALISE GENII: Get a GENII in a colour of your choice (Motor Black, Frost White or Magnolia Magenta) with a personalised message engraved on the left edge. Plus a thank you email from Team GENII and your name is added to the backer list.

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    PERSONALISE GENII+: Get a GENII in a colour of your choice (Motor Black, Frost White or Magnolia Magenta) with a personalised message or pattern engraved on BOTH EDGES. Plus a thank you email from Team GENII, a thank you on your Facebook wall or twitter mention and your name is added to the backer list.

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    ULTIMATE PERSONALISED GENII+: Get a GENII in a colour of your choice (Motor Black, Frost White or Magnolia Magenta) with a message or pattern engraved on the ENTIRE BACK of the GENII. Plus a thank you email from Team GENII, a thank you on your Facebook wall or twitter mention, a personal thank you video from Shehbaz posted on your & geniifi Facebook wall and your name is added to the backer list.

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Funding period

- (30 days)