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Philosopher invents clever iPhone case (kickstarter.com)
172 points by boredguy8 on Jan 8, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

I liked the idea of the product enough on first glance that I went straight to the pledge rewards, and nearly pledged the $25 without knowing any more. That's an affordable price for any case at all - most start around $40.

Since the images happened to be broken when I looked at the page, I decided to watch the video to learn something about the product.

You can guess how well that went.

I tried not to hide behind my hands while he danced and made bad jokes, because I figured that sooner or later, he'd demonstrate some details.

By the time the three minutes and eight seconds of self-love had ended, I not only didn't want to contribute anymore, I never wanted to see him speak again. I've never had a Kickstarter video talk me out of supporting a project before.

The details are demonstrated during the dance:

  0:16 - The product with sockets collapsed.
  0:18 - Both sockets extended, used to prop up the phone.
At that point, you pretty much know how it works, and can reason your way through sufficiently many potential applications.

  0:24 More landscape-orientation propping.
  0:26 Headphone cord management...
  0:27 ...which still fits in your pocket.
  0:37 Portrait-orientation propping, with only one socket extended.
  0:39 Mounting the phone to a belt using the sockets.
  0:47 Using the sockets to aid one-handed operation.
  0:53 Reiterates "my cord didn't even get tangled with all that dancing."
  1:00 Concept renders, with extension and articulation animations.
  1:05 Ability to prop the phone at smaller or larger angles from the surface.
  1:13 Removal / replacement of sockets.
  1:16 Visual customization of sockets.
I could go on, but honestly, the product is throughly demonstrated throughout the video, and you get the bulk of what you need in the first 20 seconds. The designer doesn't stop and actually say "and now I'm going to enumerate the features," but he absolutely does demonstrate them.

debbie downer. i thought the video was pretty cool. hey, you did watch it to the end right?

i would customize my pop sockets with cartoon eyes on the sockets.

No. Actually, I didn't watch it to the end. Too embarrassing to watch.

I guess some of us are from the Sgt. Joe Friday school of thought when it comes to Kickstarter presentation videos, "Just the facts, ma'am."

You should be able to get much cheaper cases.

But I love the "on the go" setup - I've spent far too much time untangling headphone wires.

Ha! I created an account just to upvote your comment. Been there, done that.

The video is good exercise in "You can't please everyone."

Comments here are about 50-50 "love the dance", "hate the dance", and with a sparser spattering of "cool" and "who cares" to the philosopher designation.

He doesn't need to win everyone, or even a significant percentage of the population. Attracting the 33% or so that like the dancing and aren't alienated by the philosopher tag gets him a large enough market.

Without the dancing philosopher, essentially no one would have heard of his product.

Whether the guy can dance or not is immaterial. He's succeeded in getting us to talk about the product, and that's what counts. I don't watch TV but practically every advert I've seen is (a) terrible and (b) designed to get people talking about it.

I disagree wholeheartedly. Look at all the great products that have come out of Quirky. No dancing philosophers there.

If this case were truly innovative—and I sort of think it is—people would go for it, and share it with their friends.

I believe he lost sales with the corny video, rather than gaining any new ones.

Quirky? Never heard of them. Do they dance? Do they ponder?

What if this case is just one more variation of a theme with 500 incumbents?

Ok, I googled and have seen some of quirky's designs on the "hey this is design" type of web sites. They appear to have established brand and an extensive network of retailer relationships. It seems a different game. A press release gets them eyeballs.

I've never heard of Quirky.

I think it would be better if, instead of circles, the pop-sockets were octagons for little flat edges depending on the angle you were using to rest the device.

And the video? The "joke" never ended and got down to details about the product.

What details do you need? Pretty much everything I want to know about the case can be learned by looking at a picture of it, or seeing the various uses in the video.

Agreed. I skipped around looking for the part where he explains the product.

Why octogons instead of squares?

So when in "facetime" mode:


The phone is actually stable, rather than teetering on the edge of rolling to one side or the other

The phone itself has two corners of contact. The circle provides the third. It's like a tripod. I don't think having a fourth point of contact less than an inch away from the other would really add any noticeable stability.

Plus, by having a rounded edge on the table, it will compress a little bit, giving a very solid connection with the table. If it was a flat edge, you might get less solid contact, especially if it warps at all with use.

Circle seems like a good call.

Throughout the video, I was just hoping he would stop dancing and show me exactly how the product works. While I appreciate being entertained, a demo/informational video would have been more conducive to the goal of getting me to pledge some funds.

I feel like he showed how the product works plenty. He showed you can hold it with one hand sans thumb, it stands in multiple different ways and it's stylish. Also it doubles as a headphone wrap. Had he stopped dancing and just went on about "This is the revolutionary new product that will..." shpeil that every other product does I probably would have quit that video a while back. As far as pitches go his was rock solid.

Indeed. This is probably the best Kickstarter video I've ever seen.

He did say that he didn't know anything about making kickstarter videos, so it's not like he fooled you into watching him dancing. And for what the product is I think I got the general idea, even with all the dancing.

The success of this project is proof positive that pitching really matters. You could imagine someone pitching the same project without a dance-filled, much less entertaining video, and not creating the same excitement. Congrats to the prof and his team!

he won me with the dance. i'm in

Pretty cool, but what exactly qualifies someone as a "philosopher", and how is that relevant to this product?

being a professor of philosophy, in this case. and it is a summation of the person making it, that also makes it more interesting to click on. "Person creates interesting iphone case" sounds a lot less interesting.

My first reaction to the title was to be reminded of "check out this weird weight loss trick invented by a school teacher", which is sort of a link-baity appeal to non-authority.

That said, he deserves credit for coming up with a cool idea and making an interesting video.

Seeing as his philosophy degree had no place in the video and little bearing on the design, I would say that the title is framed the wrong way entirely.

What would you suggest as an alternative?

"Clever new iPhone case pitched on Kickstarter"? Maybe without the Kickstarter since the domain is always shown with the link.

I wouldn't have clicked on it if that were the title.

Neither would I. I wish that had been the title.

i don't know anything about that guy, he maybe a philosopher, but does teaching philosophy automatically qualify one as such?

one could learn a lot about philosophy, read all the books, and be able to communicate all the concepts to students w/out ever coming up with any original thoughts.

Qualifies him to be king of a republic?

Only according to another philosopher. So it's a conspiracy.

One of necessity. Only philosophers are qualified to make such decisions

Is that a normative or positive statement :P ?

Looks ugly, not something I would use. Really though, how often do you need to prop your iPhone up? This is something I rarely find myself needing to do with my phone.

Looks like propping it up is just an extra feature. From the video the main benefit is easier one-handed use.

I so frequently find myself needing to hold an iPhone between my shoulder and ear while schussing down snowy slopes, I can't imagine how I didn't invent this myself!

(To be fair, the headphone windup is probably the most useful feature for those who listen to music a lot.)

The music is entirely composed of samples from commercial songs, remixed together by Girl Talk, who re-licensed them as Creative Commons Attribution / Non-Commercial.

Reminds me of this from Joel Spolsky's interview in Founders at Work:

"I remember one of the stupidest things I ever wrote on Joel on Software. I was giving advice on writing technical specifications, and I said, "Be funny." The reason that was stupid was that I later realized that most people, when they try to be funny, aren't that funny. They just look kind of sad. That's like, "Be born to rich parents." It's not that useful advice for most people."

I don't use Apple products so I'm not in the target market for this in any way, but count me among the people that think the painfully unfunny video hurts more than helps.

This guy is dancing his future-millionaire-dance in advance. Can't blame a guy who designs a nice little product like that.

Can we put out better apps now too with something like this?

There's a significantly higher chance a user [whom is using this case/multi-widget] will be able to control the touch interface more efficiently (and dynamically).

To whoever made this video:

1. Delete this video. 2. Make a video explaining, how it's designed, what is it good for, why it's useful, why should people buy it. Focus only in its visual design and its features. I want to see how does it look and what are the main features. Avoid all other things.

> Avoid all other things.

You mean, like showing it in actual action? Showing it actually working, which, I might add, is not on your list of criteria. I'd go so far to say that if instead of showing you the case in action, he'd described it, it would have been awful.

I use The Glif from Studio Neat (http://www.studioneat.com/products/glif-for-iphone-4), which was also a kickstarter project. It's a stand and a tripod mount, very elegant and small.

Great design and wonderful packaging and marketing. The video made me want one even though I was not in the market for such a device.

haha what a fantastic video. I wish this guy was my professor

The dancing was very ill-advised.

So the article for an iPhone case relies on flash? Wtf?

Cool case, I can see myself actually using this one.

It would have been cool to see how the popouts extend and rotate but I think we got the idea from all the different positions they were sitting in.

Authentic dancing also helped a lot that this product is dance-party ready, if you use an app like Djay.

For anyone wanting detailed deathstar level specifications in a video, I'm sure more information will come out. I'm curious how the popouts work.

I haven't listened through yet but a quick glance at the track list suggests this is the Girl Talk mashup from the soundtrack: http://soundcloud.com/walt74/girl-talk-all-day (unless Girl Talk is using Flava in Ya Ear in multiple mashups ;)

Thought the iphone case was going to help me reason with siri or something. Instead I had to turn my speakers down and fight the urge to move to the country side away from noisy, abrasive hunks of plastic. I am glad he's doing what gets him going though and I mildly envy his lack of public inhibition.

What a horrible video.

Upon seeing those 'sockets', I thought it'd be something along the lines of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvQzxcYZuss

Can someone explain what the benefits of the case are in your pocket? In his video, it's like the main focus. Can't it still fly out if you're dancing just as easily as any other case?

I expected more something like a case that says "I'm an iPhone" he says that this proves machine can be self-conscious.

Haha! What an awesome video, I want to contribute because of the video alone (don't have an iphone)

I think the LEGO case (www.smallworks.com) is more interesting. Modify it to be what you want.

this guy was my TA at a philosophy class at nyu 11 years ago. cool!

I thought he said “Hot Pockets”. Imagine my disappointment.

i thought the sockets were speakers. making the noise he was dancing to. nuts.

It would be even better if the sockets had suction cups so you could attach it to your dashboard.

I just want to give this guy money. Hilarious.

Most ridiculous video ever. <3

Do you think that's clever ?! Wait until you see this case : http://www.shapeways.com/model/207851/

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