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07-08-2012, 12:56 PM #1
Mac and iDevice Accessory Designer Mark Donohoe Gaining Momentum
The Momentum Case with Fast-Loc technology makes putting on a metal case painless. No screws, and it pops on in moments, not minutes.*Photos courtesy of Gary Chrebet of Insight Images*
Mark Donohoe loved the trackpad on his laptop, and immediately purchased three Magic Trackpads after Apple released them into the wild. However, Donohoe ran into a problem, he wasn’t nearly as productive on his Magic Trackpad as he was on his MacBook’s trackpad.
He started looking for solutions. Bullettrain’s eXpress turned the Magic Trackpad and Apple keyboard into the bottom half of a laptop and adds a considerable amount of heft to the setup. So Mark set out and designed his own solution, the aTrackt! (Twelve South didn’t even announce their Magic Wand until ten days into Donohoe’s aTrackt! Kickstarter campaign).
“This wasn’t something that was ever supposed to be sold, it was just something I wanted,” Donohoe said. “Nothing out there really did what I wanted, and changed the ergonomics too much.”
Donohoe's aTrackt! Mk II, which features camera and VESA mounts for mounting on a tripod, swing arms and other mounting options.
Donohoe is a software engineer by trade specializing in UI development and currently is a Senior Software Engineer at Crestron Electronics with no previous industrial design experience. In order to create the aTrack Donohoe threw himself into the design process.
“The aTrack! was my first experience with CAD,” Donohoe said. “I threw myself into AutoCAD, taught myself SolidWorks, and even taught myself some things like Cinema 4D and Blender to get some nice animations out of it. When I say throw myself into it, I went straight to the factory with the work.”
An early CAD drawing of the Momentum case done in SolidWorks. To the naked eye not much has changed from the early CAD drawings and renders.
However, like most self-taught one-man-band operations a mentor of sorts wandered into the picture. Bill Wagner, an aerospace engineer and President of Wagner Industries, took him under his wing.
“There’s a shop about a mile and half from my house, Wagner industries, and the owner Bill Wagner and I just kind of clicked,” Donohoe said. “He showed me the mistakes I was making in the drawings. It was essentially like having a crash course college education, in an accelerated time, with one-on-one teach from the professor.”
The original aTrackt milled out of a solid piece of aluminum.
The solution that emerged from Donohoe’s vision and Wagners tutelage was the aTrackt. A simple piece of machined aluminum with a divider that allows the user to keep their keyboard and trackpad next to each other without one drifting around on the desk. A few friends saw what he designed and requested copies of their own. Shortly after Donohoe launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising over $9,000 for the initial run of aTrackt and the aTrackt Go which featured a solid plate bottom. Donohoe launched the aTrackt Go Mk II 10 months after the Kickstarter campaign adding a camera mount for mounting on tripods, a VESA mount , and other mounting options.
The moderate success of the aTrackt system led to Donohoe’s latest design venture, the Momentum iPhone case with Fast Loc technology.
“While talking with a factory about another product they asked if I’d be interested in a case they designed,” Donohoe said. “After looking at the case, there were a lot of problems with it. It wasn’t compatible with a lot of cables or docks, blocked the iPhone signal and wasn’t compatible with my car kit. After looking at it I really like the hinge design, but pretty much everything else needed to be changed in some way or another. ”
The Momentum Case housing an iPhone. The case, even with the metal design, doesn't affect cellular signal strength.
Donohoe proposed the two team up, with Donohoe using his design and engineering abilities to improve the design around the main hinge (patented Fast-Loc technology). Five months of back and forth later Donohoe finished the final design of the Momentum iPhone case with Fast-Loc technology. Donohoe put together a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to pay for the initial production run of cases, with the modest goal of raising $8,000. Kickstarter approved the campaign on a Friday afternoon and by Saturday Donohoe had reached 25% of his funding goal.
Then Kickstarter suspended the campaign.
Donohoe still doesn’t know what rules he broke, but logging in Saturday night to upload a new video to the Momentum campaign page he found the campaign was suspended. The following message was in his inbox:
We're writing to inform you that your project, Momentum Case for iPhone with Fast-Loc Technology, has been suspended by Kickstarter. All funding for the project has been stopped and all transactions have been canceled. We regret if there was confusion about how Kickstarter could be used, but this action is not reversible.
The only responses Donohoe received after numerous messages seeking an explanation from Kickstarter were the generic “We received your letter” responses. Then a week later his account was reactivated, he could access campaigns he backed, and respond to his backers, as well as resubmit the Momentum campaign. Which he did, and Kickstarter smacked Donohoe with a denial once again, but this time Kickstarter sent Donohoe an email notifying him of the denial.
Thanks for taking the time to share your project with Kickstarter. We review projects to ensure they meet our Project Guidelines (Community Guidelines — Kickstarter), which define how Kickstarter can be used. They express our commitment to being a platform for projects in the creative arts.
Unfortunately, this project does not meet our guidelines. This isn't a judgment on the quality of this project, just a reflection of our focus. We wish you the best as you continue to pursue this endeavor. If you have future projects that meet our focus, we hope you'll consider Kickstarter again.
“We think they thought we were trying to sell existing inventory, which cracked me up because we didn’t have the final prototypes at the time, all we had were renders and handmade prototypes, but we don’t know exactly because they haven’t told us anything.”
However, Indiegogo’s audience and followers are decidedly less tech-friendly than the Kickstarter community. As a result the Indiegogo campaign has had trouble gaining traction raising less in 10 days than what Donohoe raised in 26 hours on Kickstarter.
Despite the poor communication Donohoe plans to use Kickstarter for upcoming projects, including an interesting solution for iPad owners sick of scratching up the back of their iPad when setting it down, but who hate bulky cases and plastic/rubber shields. The solution is PadRails, which is simply two plastic strips placed on the back of the iPad (or any tablet) that elevate it off of the surface it’s resting on.
The PadRails fixed to the back of an iPad. Donohoe worked directly with 3M to produce an adhesive that would secure the rails, but not leave a sticky residue if the user decided to remove them once applied.
“When I’m out and about with my iPad whether it's a restaurant or a concrete park bench I hate putting it down, I’m always worried that the back is going to get scratched,” Donohoe said. “So I came up with Pad Rails.”
Other solutions like InvisibleShield’s iPad back protection solutions utilize plastic rubbery feeling films that change the feel of the iPad. With the Pad Rails the brushed aluminum matte finish is preserved both in look and feel, while adding a slight extruded edge for users to latch onto while carrying their iPad.
The Pad Rails Kickstarter campaign is gearing up, the Momentum case is nearing production, and even with the crowd-funding headaches still fresh on his frontal lobes Donohoe's passion hasn't subsided. Mark Donohoe isn’t a life long industrial designer like Scott Wilson of LunaTik. His KickStarter campaigns haven’t raised millions upon millions of crowdfunded dollars like the Pebble: E-Paper Watch (although its creator Eric Migicovsky is an aTrackt! user). But, what Mark lacks in resources, and crowd-funding luck, he makes up with passion and perseverance.
“My background is software engineering and architecture, and the hardware side is something new, but I’m having so much fun," Donohoe said. "It’s pretty cool having something that was one just in your mind be in your hand, and it’s even better to see people using your creations. People have the choice of using anything and they choose yours. There's nothing really like it."
Look for a Momentum review in the coming weeks, along with a couple extremely special giveaways including limited edition Momentum cases with the ModMyi logo laser engraved onto the case.
Until then you can support Donohoe's Momentum case at Indiegogo, and visit his website InertialDesign for more information on the aTrackt! and aTrackt! Go.
Last edited by Phillip Swanson; 07-08-2012 at 03:08 PM.
07-08-2012, 01:59 PM #2
That does look nice.
07-08-2012, 02:51 PM #3
It looks nice but the issue is the Aluminum because it KILLS carrier signal, it connects the bands at the top that apple put a cut in, even if the case has rubber to prevent this in certain areas the case touches the phone in other area making it short out
that case also won't fit my car charger/stereo because they made it to fit flush with the connector
07-08-2012, 03:05 PM #4
Actually, the case if you look at the bottom has an extra wide opening for the dock connector allow almost all cables and dock connectors to be used without problem. As far as carrier signal goes Mark Donohoe went to great lengths to ensure that signal wasn't adversely affected. I haven't received my review unit yet to test the signal strength claims, but if what Donohoe says is true, their isn't a noticeable loss in signal.
07-08-2012, 03:19 PM #5
I'm actually quite impressed. I love the look of the case and if the signal is indeed not hindered in any way, I'll buy a blue one.
FYI the video that was posted shows that there shouldn't be a problem with any chargers or docks. Looked legit.
07-08-2012, 03:31 PM #6
Looks ugly and bulky. No thanks!
07-08-2012, 03:40 PM #7
This is the second time this uneeded item has been plastered all over the front page and I don't get it any more now than I did then.
Why do I need a bulkier metal band to go around my iphone's already existing and slim metal band? It looks ugly. It offers no protection for the front or back of the phone.
Metal kills the signal on the iphone here in the states. Even with openings there must be some attenuation. Whether there is or isn't I'm still going to say PASS.
07-08-2012, 03:51 PM #8
This story is a 1500 word feature on Mark Donohoe and how he started designing iDevice and Mac Accessories. The two stories themselves share a common subject in the momentum case, but that's about it. Whether you like the case or not is irrelevant to the story being told.
07-08-2012, 04:16 PM #9
07-08-2012, 04:57 PM #10
07-08-2012, 05:32 PM #11
07-08-2012, 05:52 PM #12
Nah, I have his watch cases and even his stylus, but I'm passing on that case.
07-08-2012, 06:37 PM #13
Okay one we already did an article on the taktik
Two I don't think any of you read the article cause you hate it for things that were already mentioned in the article and you guys think it only a product review.
You guys fail to appreciate this good and well written article by Philip Swanson!
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07-08-2012, 06:49 PM #14
Can't help but notice how much it looks like the aluminum version of the Graft Leverage case. Wonder who go the idea from whom.
07-08-2012, 07:23 PM #15
07-09-2012, 04:06 AM #16
07-09-2012, 08:54 AM #17
07-09-2012, 08:58 AM #18
You can't build a business around rumor, nor can you design to something that doesn't exist and again, there's always eBay.
07-09-2012, 09:52 AM #19
Sure does..i want to test one!
07-09-2012, 09:55 AM #20
That's pretty cool...now let us test it by dropping from a 5th floor balcony