We regularly look at new crowdfunding projects related to 3D printing, but this project had a different approach.
The “Periscope Case” by Defox is an interesting add-on for smartphones that is intended to solve a problem I didn’t even know I had: taking video at odd angles.
Imagine, for example, you want to strap your smartphone onto your robotic vacuum cleaner, bike or other moving object. Visualize what you’d have to do.
See the problem? The smartphones’ cameras are all designed for picture-taking with a human operator and they thus require the device to be vertically oriented when doing so. This is a big problem when strapping your phone to an RC car, for example.
You may have had similar issues when using your camera as a “video probe” to look around corners or into small areas, etc.
The Periscope Case is a project that intends to solve this by making a case that has an on-board mirror that flips up and effectively changes the orientation of the camera just for these situations. It’s actually quite a good idea.
But here’s why I’m interested in this project: they are using 3D printing to produce the case, and in fact are “one of the first products designed to utilize the new Jet Fusion 3D Printer by HP”. That’s all fine, but then this:
We’re asking backers to order, test, and provide feedback so we can apply the design to a huge portfolio of phones utilizing the flexibility of 3D Printing!
Aha – they are using the ability of 3D printing technology to print large numbers of unique objects, much different than the standard mass manufacturing of identical objects approach.
I was reminded of my visit to OtterBox, a well-known manufacturer of smartphone cases. They employ 3D printing in house to produce test versions of cases to see if they fit with as many different smartphones as they can get their hands on.
It’s a huge process for them, as they must obtain the devices from the manufacturers and perform the testing and adjustments all before the new case is launched. They’ve got it figured out, and it is a normal business process at OtterBox.
But here we have Defox’s Periscope Case, attempting to do much the same thing: testing a design against countless smartphone models. But Defox as a smaller company does not have as easy access to all those smartphones.
Instead they’re asking the public to provide them with the models they need to build. The testing will be done by the backers themselves.
This is essentially the same process as OtterBox, but instead of being entirely in-house, Defox has managed to place some of the work on the clients.
That might not sound like a good thing, but in truth it’s very likely the first clients will be more than happy to test out an unusual product like this.
I’m wondering if this approach could be used for more products to leverage 3D printing.