It’s a toss-up, but typically, I prefer to strap the skull of a massive Zebu or Longhorn to the handlebars of my bike, just to stay stylish. In the common situation where I need to access my phone for directions to the local skull buffing facility, I risk gouging myself or others. On top of that, the ocular cavity of a cow skull is no place to stash your mobile device. Fortunately, there’s something much more stylish, safer and functional. The Handleband solves all the problems of having access to your mobile device while dodging horns, tusks or oncoming traffic. They have a Kickstarter campaign that has blown past the $12,000 goal. We talked with Daniel Haarburger, designer of the simple solution about how the project came together.
Ride, Light and Pop the Top
How much work goes into a simple little design? More than you would imagine… or being a savvy engineer/designer just as much as you might imagine. Daniel went through several early prototype and manufacturing stages, racking up a total of 10 iteration before getting to the final version that would securely hold a phone in place and double as a bottle opener. “The product was prototyped through a combination of 3D printing, silicone molding, and CNC machining.” Daniel says, “The initial molds were printed on a ProJet 3D printer, which helped us go through dozens of prototypes in a very short period of time. To test the band-dimensions, we molded and CNC’d several iterations that were inserted into a 3D printed base unit. This allowed us to compare their elastic potential, elongation resistance and strength with which they held onto the phone in a very controlled environment.”
High five for prototype shot goodness. After selecting the optimal band layout, Daniel compiled all the features into a single, high-fi mold to create the final handle wraptastic version to test out further. “I then built an automated testing rig (visible in the Kickstarter video) to verify the band would outlast thousands of stretches and also did some highly-scientific downhill testing to make sure it held up in the field.”
What challenges did Daniel face in the midst of creating a elastic belt for your mobile? “The primary challenge for this device was balancing a low-profile and sleek design, with one that was robust and could outlast extended use. We had to put a lot of thought into the width, length, and durometer of the silicone to make sure it would not hinder the use of the phone but at the same time had enough bulk to hold it securely. Creating a unit that was moldable was also challenging. It inspired cutouts along the length of the tail so the metal insert could be held in place in the mold cavity, and led to the semi-circular relief channel at the base of the tail, which allows the Handleband to wrap nicely around the handlebars.
“Lastly, coming up with a device that was intuitive to use was surprisingly difficult. Initial prototypes included several adjustable lengths for the band, but the default behavior of users was always to use the tightest strap possible. To simplify things, we reduced the number of adjustments to the two optimal stretch lengths, so the user didn’t have to choose which length was best. This also helped us to include a viewing window by which the iPhone’s slider could be accessed when it was is in use.”
Now, as much as you would like to duct tape your mobile device to your 1972 fixed-gear, this is oh so much more refined. Unfortunately, it’s only available in one color at the moment, UNLESS they raise $75,000 which will allow the manufacturing of seven glorious colors. All the more reason to support the project even though it is already fully funded. They’re cheap too, $25 for a Handleband, with other funding levels that include mini-flashlights, multi-tools and drink coolers. Snag your Handleband here on Kickstarter and visit the Handleband site after the campaign is over to snag one there.