Technopropriate

Lab Pad is an iPad case that’s inexpensive, lightweight, frugal, stealthy, easily sourced, and adaptable––it’s technopropriate. You can purchase one on Etsy here if you like:

I launched this project on Kickstarter in November, 2012. While I was hoping it would be successful, I did set the funding goal rather high. In setting out to do Kickstarter campaigns, I’ve found it’s as important to have a strategy for marketing the project as much as the initial project and documentation. This means:

  1. Have at least 20-25% of the funding already in place before launch.
  2. Create events at multiple junctures to demo your work, build support, and get the word out.
  3. Find tie-ins to other events, launches, or communities. Although my project was design for the regular iPad, the iPad mini was launched at nearly the same time. That was a missed opportunity (although one I wasn’t necessarily interested in).

Image-179596-fullOne big success was inserting the term “technopropriate” into google’s search lexicon. For that, it was worth the effort.

Technopropriate?

Technopropriate means tools and technologies that have been designed to adapt to local needs using just what’s necessary–and not much more.

The project documentation follows. I’ve included the reward structure at the end.

Lab Pad aims to make a simpler iPad case. I’m seeking your support to launch a small production run, refine the design, gather more feedback from a broader base of users, research sustainable materials and sourcing, and put a better iPad case in your hands.

Lab Pad fits and feels more friendly. It’s designed less. Better. People think it’s super stylish and sly at the same time. It’s not for everyone, but it’s wise design. I’m excited to see what you think.

Lab Pad draws on the traditions of appropriate technology and frugal design to explore functionality that’s inexpensive, lightweight, frugal, stealthy, easily sourced, and adaptable.

Materials are sourced from readily available supplies. This means it’s relatively straightforward to produce your own Lab Pad–wherever you may live. It also allows makes it easy to find replacement parts, and it’s also less energy intensive than creating an entirely separate production line.

The cost of the final product is definitely lower than just about anything comparable on the market. I’ve scanned etsy and accessory stores, and I haven’t yet found anything that has this level of functionality at a great price.

Use the closures to create an adjustable stand.
Use the closures to create an adjustable stand.
Poi-fect!
Poi-fect!

The lab notebook concept keeps the case light and durable. It’s not hurricane-proof, but that’s not the point. The goal is to create a just-resilient-enough product with great functionality. There’s already too much risk overkill in product design. We don’t need to crash the planet just to account for every possible contingency in every single product.

You can stash a small notebook behind the screen if you like.
You can stash a small notebook behind the screen if you like.

The Lab Pad keeps it simple. It does exactly what it’s supposed to, leaving flexibility for you to make it work for your own needs. It starts from a familiar place. It’s frugal on your wallet, your eyes, and your brain.

Some people prefer a little discreteness. The Lab Pad is super stealthy and easily camouflaged among your books and stuff. This isn’t a guarantee that it won’t ever get stolen, but a casual glance doesn’t give away the fact that it’s hiding a computer.

The viewing angle is superb for browsing the interwebs or watching movies.
The viewing angle is superb for browsing the interwebs or watching movies.

The Origin Story
Not too long ago, I was given an iPad as a gift. When I went looking for suitable cases, I was frustrated by their assumptions about how I used the device and the price. I wanted something that was simple and appropriate for how I planned to use it.

Then I remembered one of my most adaptable and usable tools: a lab notebook! Its hard cover, classic style, and adaptability to many situations made it the perfect beginning for the project. I happened to have a great one that I was already using, and that’s when Lab Pad got started.

I assembled the first one in an afternoon. It was a lot of trial and error to find some basic solutions––like how I could keep an iPad safe and snug or how to keep the notebook closed. Like some of the best recipes in your kitchen, I made it from things I had on hand. And even though I’ve experimented a lot since then, most of the components are similar to the ones I came up with on that first day!

The Goal 
I want to see technopropriate design survive in the wild. But it needs your help to find scalable solutions. I’ve set the funding goal pretty close to what I’ll need for materials, set-up costs, and labor. I can quickly and easily scale from my initial assumptions of 200 units to about 500–and then more if necessary. The funding provides some tools that will be needed for more efficient production, all of the materials and consumables, and some infrastructure support from TechShop and Noisebridge in San Francisco, California.

I also believe that a lot is learned from undertaking projects like this, which is why I’m structuring the rewards to include feedback and dissemination in multiple formats. Let’s learn about making more technopropriate products–designed less, better, together.

Assembling a prototype.
Assembling a prototype.

Help fund the Lab Pad Kickstarter and become an supporter and participant!

The Rewards
I’ve set up the rewards to make the project as open as possible. I want to share the work I’ve already done with DIY instructions and kits so you can build your own. Because Lab Pad is a better product, I’ve set up combinatorial rewards that make certain combinations better-together. I’ve made the smallest pledge an opportunity to get engaged through feedback and suggestions–opening up a knowledge-network of sorts. I’m also offering my time, my presence, and my skills in exchange for larger pledges of support. And finally, I’m offering a single “make it better” opportunity for a generous supporter to amplify everyone’s rewards with custom sticker set to help share the meaning of technopropriate with others.

The interior of the case is lined with Pellaq, a latex-saturated covering material that's moisture and scratch resistant, colorfast, high-gloss, and high touch.
The interior of the case is lined with Pellaq, a latex-saturated covering material that’s moisture and scratch resistant, colorfast, high-gloss, and high touch.

DIY Instruction Guide
Included with each pledge of $5 and above, backers receive a DIY instruction guide that will walk you through the assembly of your own Lab Pad (should you choose to make one yourself). It’s something I put together after I made the first one, but it’s due for a detailed update. It features the entire process, things to watch out for, considerations, ideas, tips, and a supplies list.

Version 1 of the DIY instruction guide.
Version 1 of the DIY instruction guide.

We Need to Have a Talk About Velcro
One thing that puts some people off is the idea of affixing sticky Velcro to their device. There’s a common aversion to doing anything that would appear to tarnish the cleanliness of an Apple device or other tablet. That’s part of their branding strategy, and it’s a common theme of modern technology. It’s a personal choice. The Lab Pad is not for everyone. But I can say that it’s a pretty efficient mechanism for attaching a device to the case. It adds versatility, protection, and solves a more difficult problem–simply.

Velcro has been an effective solution for at least a couple of years––as this nifty video by Jesse Rosten from 2010 so elegantly demonstrates (via BoingBoing).

Velcro makes it possible to add your iPad to a variety of surfaces–durably.

A little extra strategic Velcro puts you in new places–like your kitchen's refrigerator door.
A little extra strategic Velcro puts you in new places–like your kitchen’s refrigerator door.

And if you ever want to remove the Velcro, you can just peel it off and remove any leftover adhesive residue with a rubbing alcohol-like solvent.

But don’t only take my word for it. I invited a skeptical neurologist over to try it for herself. She had just received a new iPad for work and happened to be on her way to the store to purchase a protective case. The Velcro was definitely a sticking point in her decision. Watch the video below and see her reaction.

 

Rewards

  • Pledge $1 or more

     4 backers

    Get involved! Show your support for the project and add encouragement by pledging a single dollar or more. This reward also means you’ll get to share your suggestions, supplier sources, or concerns directly! I’ll keep you in the loop on this project, letting you know what’s been learned along the way with occasional (but not annoying) updates and announcements.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
  • Pledge $5 or more

     1 backer

    Get the seed not the tree! Pledges of $5 or more will receive a DIY instruction guide as a digital pdf direct to your inbox! The guide includes instructions in English, images documenting the process, a supplies list, design considerations, and useful tips.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
  • Pledge $16 or more

     0 backers

    Become a project “primer” to help us get started and I’ll send YOU something to help you get started on your own projects! You’ll receive a DIY instruction guide as a digital pdf direct to your inbox and a 60-page Quad-Ruled Lab Book! The guide includes instructions in English, images documenting the process, a supplies list, design considerations, and useful tips.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $20 or more

     18 backers Limited (2 of 20 left)

    Get there early! Help get things rolling and become an early-bird supporter of this project. You’ll receive a standard Lab Pad and your choice of interior covering. You’ll also get the DIY guide so you can learn to make your own!

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $25 or more

     5 backers

    Core Supporter! You’ll receive a standard Lab Pad and your choice of interior covering. You’ll also get the DIY guide so you can learn to make your own! Plus, if you so choose, you’ll be enrolled as an ally in the Lab Pad design process–opening up new channels of feedback about how you use the Lab Pad, what tweaks you’d like to see in future prototypes and iterations, and how to make the materials more cradle-to-cradle friendly.

    Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $35 or more

     2 backers Limited (98 of 100 left)

    Holiday Rush! Are you thinking the Lab Pad would make a great gift? Pledge $35 or more and yours will be the first ones shipped––guaranteed to arrive by Dec 21st––that’s my birthday!! I’ll also include a special card you can use to spread the joy! AND you’ll get the DIY instruction guide too.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $50 or more

     0 backers Limited (12 of 12 left)

    Get a super fun, old-timey tech and nature stamp and ink set to customize your Lab Pad. The dark green ink matches the Lab Pad cover so it’s easy to make it look it was printed that way! You’ll also get a Lab Pad so you can have fun adding stamps with your friends and a DIY guide. *Available as a Holiday Rush too!

    Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $60 or more

     0 backers Limited (12 of 12 left)

    Custom! I’ll work with you to tweak and add your own style mods to a custom Lab Pad–designed and assembled to suit your preferences and how you use it. We can change the interior covering, apply different closure mechanisms, and other tactics to refine your personal Lab Pad.

    Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $90 or more

     0 backers

    Awesome! Get a customized Lab Pad, the materials to make your own Lab Pad, an extra lab notebook, the DIY guide, a stamp set, extra velcro, and some sweet xerographic reproductions of technical and biological imagery that you can use to paste-your-own adventure. *Available for Holiday Rush!

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $150 or more

     0 backers Limited (10 of 10 left)

    2 hours!! Make a pledge for this reward and you’ll get two hours of my time to help you work on any of your projects. Plus, you’ll get a fully-featured Lab Pad, a lab notebook, and the DIY guide!

    Estimated delivery: Feb 2013
  • Pledge $200 or more

     0 backers Limited (10 of 10 left)

    Get a kit to to make your own! Comes with all of the materials you’ll need for eight (8) Lab Pads! Includes: DIY instruction guide, 8 lab books, ribbon, 8 sheets of interior cover paper, x-acto knife, scissors, glue, 8 magnets, grommet kit w/extra grommets, fastener stays, 8+ feet of Velcro, and extra bits.

    Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $500 or more

     0 backers Limited (1 of 1 left)

    Super Sticker Surprise!!! Pledge $500 or more and unlock the Super Sticker Surprise for everyone! I’ll make a set of stickers that everyone who pledges will receive to personalize and mark their Lab Pads. The awesome person that gets this reward will receive the Awesome Reward too! That’s means a customized Lab Pad, the materials to make your own Lab Pad, an extra lab notebook, the DIY guide, a stamp set, extra velcro, and some uncommon xerographic reproductions of technical and biological imagery that you can use paste-your-own adventure. Yes, it’s available for Holiday Rush! The stickers will be great. I Promise. They’ll be generic yet adaptable so you’ll be proud to stick them anywhere. Plus, you’ll get an hour of my time to work on any of your projects.

    Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $2,000 or more

     0 backers Limited (4 of 4 left)

    Me! Pledge $2000 or more and you’ll get two days of my time to work with you on one of your projects -AND- you’ll get a custom Lab Pad of your own. It’s a deal by any definition!

    Estimated delivery: Feb 2013
  • Pledge $5,000 or more

     0 backers Limited (3 of 3 left)

    Lab Pad Live!! If you pledge $5,000 or more, I’ll come visit you and yours to give a presentation about design and the future of making. I’ll also facilitate a workshop to explore new design potentials, AND we’ll make Labs Pads on site! Includes all the materials for 30 Lab Pads. *Travel not included — but food and lodging are :)

    Estimated delivery: Feb 2013

 

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