When Tong Luo sustained a tennis injury to his wrist a few years ago, he couldn’t have imagined that it would catalyze a revolutionary invention that may change how we interact with our Apple devices forever. Some of the greatest advances in our history have been the product of happy accidents, and Luo’s HandyCase is the epitome of such a story.
With a little bit of serendipity and a lot of technical skill, Luo has turned his misfortune into what he believes is a million dollar idea, and it all rests on turning the back of your iPhone or iPad into a touchscreen as well.
With a Kickstarter that launched a week ago and has already raised well over half of its $100,000 goal, the HandyCase’s ergonomic design — the first of its kind — “allows users to tap and swipe their mobile device from the back panel by seeing their hands through the screen.” Traditionally, smartphone and tablet users only employ two fingers (well, thumbs really) to perform most operations on these devices, leaving the other 80 percent of your digits sad and ignored. But now, the HandyCase and its see-through technology “allows for one or two-handed interaction with games, maps and other next-generation applications.”
“A key issue for mobile device owners is how to hold the device while quickly entering data, typing messages, or playing games,” Luo noted, commenting on an issue that hasn’t really been addressed in the eight years the iPhone has been around. And indeed, Luo’s first interaction with an iPad was riddled with difficulties.
“When I held an iPad in my hands, I noticed issues when trying to use my thumbs to access the keys,” Luo told Digital Trends. “The iPad felt uncomfortable. I immediately began thinking of ways to use an iPad and iPhone in an easier way.” This, the HandyCase creator says, led to “many nights in my garage planning, hand crafting, and soldering prototypes.”
Now, two years after the founding HandScape Inc., the company behind the new transparent case, HandyCase is ready for the market. “Wireless, thin, light, and durable,” the case simply snaps on to the back of any mobile device and immediately allows the user to interact with the phone or tablet from an otherwise inaccessible region. And to Luo, this latest development is simply the next step in the evolution of the mobile generation.
The HandyCase, he told me, “… overcomes practical limitations encountered when using a mobile device. Technology has gone from large bulky phones, to flip phones, to keyboard phones, to smart phones. I can see our transparent technology being the next great thing.” Confident in the success of his latest invention, Luo said, “When you finally use an iPad with a HandyCase you never want to use it without one.”
While the HandyCase isn’t compatible with all apps quite yet, Luo assured Digital Trends that rapid expansion is on the horizon. Already, the case allows users to interact with the camera, book readers, and maps from both sides of a tablet or phone, but more usages are on the way. “Since the launch of HandyCase,” Luo said, “We’ve had feedback from backers with brilliant ideas on how this technology can be used [with requests for] specific apps. We will create the top five ideas and have the apps finished by the time we deliver HandyCase in early 2016.”
Of course, the development of HandyCase hasn’t been without its challenges. As Luo noted, making the “complex system work under extremely tight financial constrictions” proved difficult, but hopefully, a successful Kickstarter campaign will aid in bringing the HandyCase into fruition. The majority of the requested $100,000, Luo and his team reveal, will go into production, including tooling, case making, circuit fabrication, and touch film.
And if the HandyCase is successfully funded, Luo believes that the possibilities for application are all but endless. The obvious primary market, he says, is the gaming industry, as “playing games on an iPad or iPhone is a lot easier and more comfortable with HandyCase because all your fingers can be used.” But Luo also sees other uses for the HandyCase. “Our transparent technology can have many more practical uses,” he said, “such as in the auto industry on steering wheels, medical devices, and even space technology.” After all, where is a touchscreen not beneficial?
So if you’ve been looking for ways to make all your fingers into thumbs when it comes to dealing with your Apple device, Tong Luo and his team may finally have a product that is right for you. And for between $99 and $149, you can own your own piece of what may become touchscreen history.