This week, Slope, the sleekest and simplest tablet stand around, reached its Kickstarter goal nearly two weeks ahead of closing. The tablet stand features a unique technology, utilizing two innovative nanofoam suction pads that solidly anchor the base of the stand to any flat surface and the tablet at a comfortable 66 degree angle.
Slope was created by Chicago-based flash developer turned product designer Erik Kittlaus, who first ventured into prototyping products two and a half years ago. The Slope is actually Kittlaus’ fourth product, and the first one he’s taking to market. According to Kittlaus the Slope has gone through nine rounds of prototyping leading up to the product on Kickstarter today.
Kittlaus was working on a stand for his iPhone using the same kind of nanofoam pads that have become part of Slope’s design. The creator eventually wondered if the pads would be strong enough to hold a larger mobile device. “I cut out all different sizes of pads and experimented with the grip and holding it to the back side of the iPad, and sure enough it worked great,” he said. The pads are made out of a special material that creates a strong suction seal on flat surfaces. A device can be mounted onto the Slope by doing what Kittlaus calls a “slap press” — touching the tablet to the surface will safely seal it into place and mount the tablet for second-screen use. Mounting and unmounting a tablet on the Slope almost has a magnetic feel to it, though there are none in use; check out the video below to see the process in action.
The stand, which comes in both mini and regular sizes, would look at home in any Apple product lineup. Originally Kittlaus worked with industrial designers to help him create 3D models of the product, but he eventually became frustrated by the constraints of working on other people’s schedules and the pressure of impending product releases.
“I eventually decided that I have to learn how to do this myself, to give me the flexibility and ability to iterate, to tweak the design in a variety of ways,” said Kittlaus, who eventually designed the Slope stand on his own, focused on creating a minimal structure that appeals directly to the Apple aesthetic.
Kittlaus said he knew he had created something special when he began showing it around to friends. “They were shocked,” said Kittlaus. “Once I got it in front of other people and saw that their response was, ‘When can I get one?’ I knew that this was going to be pretty popular.”
Kittlaus admitted that Kickstarter is great for product validation, and the Chicago designer must be feeling pretty validated right about now. After taking a peek at Slope’s Kickstarter page this week it’s safe to say that Kittluas isn’t exaggerating about the his new product’s popularity. The Slope has already hit its goal of $60,000, with 800 backers and nearly two weeks still left to go.
Erik’s latest creation isn’t the only success story in the Kittlaus family; his brother, Dag, happens to be the inventor of Siri. Both brothers named their companies using words from their Norwegian background: Siri means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory,” and Erik’s company, Dekke, was named after the Norwegian word for “cover.”
Kittlaus revealed that he has about four other products in mind that he hopes to pursue once the Slope Kickstarter closes in the next few weeks. “I have discovered that I really love this stuff,” Kittlaus said. “I’m looking forward to building a company and start generating and designing more products.”