PurePort is a multi-tool used to clean iPhone & iPad Lightning connectors, both male and female. All Apple products have a proprietary open charging port that exposes electrical pins. This design is simple however it consequentially suffers from debris ingress. Throughout use the iPhone itself travels through many environments and as such accumulates debris inside the charging port.
This compromises charge and data pin connectivity. The device can completely fail to transmit data or receive charge. In addition, both female and male connector pins suffer from electrical arcing that naturally occur during a pin contact event. This arcing can accelerate gold-plate corrosion and further compromise data and charge. Although inductive charging technology will eventually replace physical wire connectors there still remains a large population of existing and future phones that rely on functional charging plugs & ports – a very big market. In fact, the market neighbors include the likes of Belkin & iFixit whom have not taken advantage of this user problem. The product was recently launched as a Kickstarter campaign, a crowdfunding process used to raise capital for up front tooling costs and manufacturing investment in return for buyer discounts & rewards.
Pureport revives failed lightning ports using a male♂ pick, brush & fluid applicator. These tools are detachable and reversible. They dock into the main body via interference snap-fit. A dropper bottle of contact pin cleaning fluid is also included.
- Pureport revives failed lighting plugs using a female♀ abrasive cushion & fluid applicator.
- Pureport cleans the exterior of Apple devices using a dust brush, microfiber cloth & antibacterial wipes.
The client already had some initial ideas and concepts regarding the product during first consultations. However, the ideas and in particular the nature and function of the tools required more contemplation and validation together. One Design Research Method that I found very valuable during this initial stage was traditional ‘Mood Boarding.’ Although, using the name ‘mood’ detracted from the precision and clarity of this technique. This composite image displays smaller tiled images that represent genera and species of ideas; particulars, universals & categories. The process of constructing such a board is, in itself, a brainstorming activity and one that can easily facilitate the imagining of trade-offs, combinations of features, strengths, weakness and aesthetic qualities. The canvasing of thoughts, in addition to precedent products, allows the problem space and the solution space to be visually demonstrated. Yes, fidget spinners were at the height of their popularity during this project! The mood board simultaneously encourages abstract creative thought while keeping account of all ideas, especially concepts still ‘up for grabs’ inside the project’s cognitive space. I highly recommend this method during front end conceptual design as an imaginative aid, perfect for both individual design practitioners and communication among a team.
Particular attention was paid to concurrent documentation of all stages and design variations. The reason here was to keep the client as close as possible to design decisions rather than updating only at milestones. The Slack platform was used and encouraged this workflow along with information sharing. Given the digital workflow, simple screens shots & camera photos were enough to capture particular design events and stages. I recommend this approach to all practitioners as there is never ambiguity during discussion and presentation to the client. The only discipline required is taking regular screen shots, photos and storing them on a blank canvas, always ready to hand. Below follows some developmental images establishing product use and functionality during the middle stages in the project.
During development many prototypes were printed to test form and function. OEM samples were also evaluated throughout the course of integration.
An Apple Device Imaging rig was designed and fabricated so standardized ‘before & after’ photos of the lightning ports could be captured via USB microscope.
The product is designed for high volume mass manufacture and will employ injection molding as the primary process. Molding of the body and tools will use a commodity polymer & simple open-shut tooling. The tools & body will be assembled by hand using interference or ultrasonic welding. Complex two-shot and over molding processes were avoided early on. Specialized tool ‘bits’ are OEM sourced from China and other lost cost regions. Final assembly and QC is planned to take place in China before shipping internationally.
The design is pending a provisional patent application with expectations to secure IP approval in the US and internationally.
Phone accessory magnates may express interest in the company & design. It is possible to expand the product to suit all electronic peripherals that require maintenance of electrical connections.
Check out PurePort on Kickstarter here.