PocketC.H.I.P. – The “Hacker Gameboy”
- Client: Next Thing Co.
- Role: Design Director, industrial design, 3D modeling, manufacturing
In preparation to launch a crowd-funding campaign for the world’s first $9 computer, C.H.I.P., the Next Thing Co. team and I needed a way to demonstrate the power and potential of the credit card-sized C.H.I.P. When presenting strangers with the product we often received the response “This is a computer? Where’s the screen? Where’s the keyboard?” We created PocketC.H.I.P. to make C.H.I.P.’s computer capabilities real in a way that was instantly understandable – we gave it a screen and keyboard while keeping the low cost and portability.
I led the design and manufacturing of the mechanical components for Pocket.C.H.I.P. and coordinated with the electrical and software engineering teams to optimize its functionality in all departments. This work started with cardboard mockups and sketches, followed by 3D models in Solidworks, 3D prints, electrical validation tests, clay studies, works-like and looks-like prototypes, refinements for ease of assembly/disassembly, and manufacturing optimizations working directly with our manufacturing partners.
Shown above and below is an early prototype used in the C.H.I.P. Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. The final design features an improved keyboard layout including the placement of the directional arrows in the upper-left to optimize performance (and minimize finger fatigue) for playing video games. Another improvement in the final design was the use of clear plastics. I championed this change to maintain consistency with the PocketC.H.I.P.s open expression of the materials of its construction. The clarity of the enclosure presents an open invitation to explore the contents within. This was an extension of the ethos of the entire campaign – to encourage people to explore computing through customizing and extending the functionality of these objects.