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Your phone where you need it, when you need it. The Clipless secures phones and tablets to clothing and surfaces. Convenient, secure, and discreet.

The idea is simple: mount a latch to your clothing with a magnet paired with a metallic backer, and then clip your phone to it. To keep your expensive smart-phone safe, the magnets need to be very strong; in our case, it takes over 12 lbs of pull force to get the magnets to separate from the clothing backer. That presents an interesting design challenge: how do you get those magnets to release without tearing your clothes apart?

 

Our client had already identified a possible solution(below), whereby the user would squeeze the Clipless device. That action would slide a ramp between the magnets and the backer, separating them. But it was difficult and unexpectedly painful to use — not the kind of user experience needed for a successful product.

The journey from painful to delightful

We started by visualizing the way we would want to interact with the product. Our instinct when trying to pull the client’s prototype Clipless off our clothing was to get our fingers underneath it and lift. What if that was all that was needed to release the magnets? We imagined a recessed latch that would only reveal itself when you attempt to remove the device. One gentle pull on the latch, and the device would lift away. The designers got to work visualizing what that could look like, making proof-of-concept models on our in-house 3D printer.

Strong but obedient magnets

Magnets are magical, but tricky to work with. We didn’t want to erase people’s credit cards when they put the clip in their purse with their wallet, so on one hand we needed to shield the magnetic properties. On the other hand, Clipless needed to be incredibly strong — but also so easy to release that someone with small fingers would still be able to use it.

It’s all about relationships

 

 

 

While it is easy to specify an exotic material with the strength properties needed, and specify a manufacturing process that will deliver the required tolerances, the reality of manufacturing means you don’t have all of the choice in the world. Exotic materials and high precision tolerancing is expensive, and this product had to compete with the cost of a belt-clip.

 

A balance must be struck between what you know will work, and what you can effectively do with a supply chain willing to work with you. In our case, the small size of the initial production order and the overall low-cost of the unit meant it was a challenge to make the order desirable for our manufacturing partners. We communicated extensively with our partners in China, learning a lot from a visit to their die-cast facility and ultimately changing our design to suit what they were able to do for our target price. Dylan put together this little movie on his manufacturing liaison visit in China, late 2013.

(die cast facility visit)

The Clipless is a timeless and intuitive device that does exactly what it needs to—and nothing it shouldn’t. Along the way, we devised a universal mounting system that works well for phones but can also be used for any other device that needs to be worn.

 

Clipless can be purchased here.