Not enough USB ports? This could be the answer
IT'S one of the bugbears of modern laptop and desktop computer users.
The push for sleeker, ultra thin devices has left fewer options when it comes to plugging in.
The trend started in 2008 with the first Macbook Air sporting a single USB port and continues today with virtually all ultralights, and even some full size notebooks.
While there are multi-USB devices around, it's another thing to carry - and for those on flights they can be a little unwieldy.
Sunshine Coast entrepreneurs Daniel Bryar and Julian White are hoping to make this issue a thing of the past thanks to a new product just released from their digital startup ThrUSB Pty. Ltd .
The pair participated in Startup Weekend in May 2015 at USC, and along with hundreds of other designers, coders and creative individuals, put their talents to the test in a competition that turns creativity into tangible business ideas.
The idea they presented was a USB storage device that adds a second, or passthrough USB port on the rear of the device to effectively replicate the USB port being used to connect the device.
They called it ThrUSB, and it was well received by the participants and judges alike.
"We ran into a few challenges with the original design we presented at Startup Weekend" says Daniel.
"The power draw from additional devices, especially charging a phone for example, far exceeds what is allowed for in the older USB 2.0 specification, so we had to find a way around that before we could even begin to look at a marketable product.
"The simplest way for us to offer a greater power output capacity on the rear port was to migrate the device to USB 3.0 specifications, but that added new challenges, particularly in the design and manufacturing" says Julian.
"It is way more complex".
After 18 months of further research and development, the pair are now ready to launch their product to a worldwide market through the online startup platform Indiegogo - the same platform Byron Bay local Cedar Anderson and his father reeled in over $12 million in worldwide pre-orders for their Flow beehive invention.
"The complexity for the new design is probably 100 times what we had for the prototype, and far more technically challenging." says Julian.
Because of the increased technical requirements, and because this is a manufactured product going out to the public, it needs to work 100% as described from day one, as well as look appealing.
The two designers have had it engineered and tested by professionals but the final product will require further engineering to scale it down to the smallest possible size, and that will cost money.
"Because the cost of engineering and testing is a lot of money for a couple of individuals, this is where Indiegogo comes in" says Daniel.
"We made a few old spec units as a proof of concept and were quite happy with the functionality, but we knew it was not going to make any waves in today's market; it became a choice between giving up, or committing some real money to the project."
"We chose the latter, but discovered pretty soon after that we would need far more than just basic bootstrap funding to be successful." says Daniel.
"Right now we are in the process of funding the design on the final, public release USB 3.0 version.
"We hope to have enough pre-orders from Indiegogo to get the final product design miniaturized and re-engineered for production in January 2018, that way we can start shipping the finished product a few months later, assuming no major changes are required", says Julian.
Daniel and Julian have been working on the project outside of their regular day-to-day activities, with Julian attending USC nine days a fortnight and Daniel working full time for an office equipment vendor on the Sunshine Coast.
"Even though there has been a lot of local support from a very small number of passionate people here on the coast, it has been limited to encouragement and advice.
"It has taken us far more time than anticipated to pull this together even with their help,'' says Julian.
"The cash prizes on offer from digital creativity initiatives like GovHack and Hackfest are an exception to that, however they have been heavily focused on software and digital
services" says Daniel.
The Sunshine Coast Council and Regional Development Australia have been supportive of local startup businesses in the technology space because they believe these are the industries that will be creating the jobs of the future.
Hackfest this year will be more open to digital creativity across the board, with the program beginning with an " Ideasfest " in the months preceding the main event, which should help foster the creative talent of future entrepreneurs and inventors.
ThrUSB hope to have their initial run of market ready devices out to pre-order customers early in the new year and will work on retail sales channels going forward.