by Bethany M. Dunbar
copyright the Chronicle 11-28-2012
ATLANTA, Georgia — Addison Shelton, who grew up in Glover, has invented a case for iPhones that has several slim tools stashed inside it. He’s looking for people who want to buy one ahead of time in order to get the funding to manufacture the product.
Called Task One, the case includes a small serrated knife, pliers, a wire cutter and stripper, screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, a bottle opener and more. The knife can be removed for when a person gets on an airplane.
“Task One is a sleek and sexy multi-tool case for your iPhone,” says the product’s Facebook page, called TaskLab.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Mr. Shelton said he had the idea because he loves tools and multi-tools like Swiss Army knives.
“I’m a mechanical engineer. I’m a tool guy. I like tools,” he said. Despite that, he finds he doesn’t carry those multi-tools around in his pockets because they’re too bulky.
“They turn out to be not that useful to me,” he said.
The one thing a lot of people do carry, though, is a cell phone. Mr. Shelton started thinking, what if the two could be combined? He searched the Internet and didn’t find that anyone had already invented such a thing. So about a year ago, he set about making a prototype.
His blog, which can be seen at thetasklab.com, tells some of the story of working out bugs in the original prototype.
Task One has 16 tools and is no thicker than an ordinary phone case. Part of the design process has included making sure no one would break the phone when using it to cut a steak or firewood. The tools are designed to break before the phone would be hurt, and Mr. Shelton promises to replace tools that break, for a very small charge.
He has not patented the tool yet, but he has written a provisional patent. The process of obtaining a patent is three or four years long, he said, and it starts with making the product public. The inventor has a year from that time to submit the provisional patent application.
Mr. Shelton has until December 26 to raise $45,000 through the crowd-sourcing website
www.indiegogo.com/taskone. He launched the idea a week ago, November 21, and so far he has raised $15,000.
If he gets fully funded, he will owe 550 people a Task One iPhone case, and he figures that $45,000 would be enough to be able to buy the manufacturing tools he would need. The cases can be pre-purchased for $75 to $90 each.
“I’m pretty excited about getting this to manufacturing,” he said. “I think a lot of people would find it pretty useful.”
If this works out, he might also create a version of the case for Android type cell phones next. If the website funding program does not raise $45,000 by December 26, he could either drop the idea or look for a different way to fund the product’s manufacture, such as a conventional bank loan.
Mr. Shelton is the son of Betsy Allen and Bucky Shelton. He graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
His regular job is with an Atlanta, Georgia, company that he and some of his friends from college started. The company is researching improvements in lithium batteries.
“Mostly we are trying to increase the capacity,” he said.
In his spare time, he decided to invent the Task One.
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]