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Alexia Parks

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Young Inventor Creates "Missing Link" to Low Cost Computers

Posted: 07/14/11 11:01 PM ET

I woke up this morning thinking about WINGStand. Could a single $20 thumb-sized product forever change the way we use computers?

Fifty years ago, IBM thought it could only sell 25 mainframe computers. These early computers filled up an entire room, and took untold amounts of materials, manufacturing and labor to build. Yet IBM ended up selling millions of dollars worth of them. Now WINGStand, an elegantly engineered product, invented by Stanford University freshman Daniel Haarburger, turns most handheld devices, such as the Apple iPad or iPhone, or any other tablet or smartphone, into a desktop computer by fastening them to a wireless keyboard.

Will Haarburger's invention define the evolution of the next generation of laptops? Is it the next big idea that will change how we do computing in the future? The term he uses is revolution. By linking the emerging trend of using hand-held devices for rapid note taking in a business meeting, or in the classroom, with the functionality of a wireless keyboard, he has created a new type of personal computer. An iPhone connected to a keypad could put a personal computer into the hands of almost everyone. Cheaply. The wireless keyboard can also be coupled with a desktop monitor; notes can be uploaded from the hand held device, for wide-screen viewing.

If you've ever tried to type out discussions in real time, or write an essay on an iPAD keyboard, you know that the resulting text can be filled with typos. Lift your eyes from the keyboard as you type, and the resulting text reads like gibberish. The experience is more like typing on a windowpane. That's because the highly sensitive screen was designed to be an information display device. The keyboard is secondary, and was intended to be used for email and Internet searches. It works well with hunt-and-peck style typing. Errors accelerate with the speed of typing.

Although there are a number of upright stands for smart phones, tablets, and eReaders, and products that attempt to integrate a keyboard with a single upright display, none has the adaptability of WINGStand, says Haarburger, because it can be used with most hand held products. The orientation is also adaptable. Upright for note taking or creating a document, sideways for email so the user can access the sidebars.

Even hand-held devices that come with a slightly expanded keyboard, and a more expensive price, are still undersized for everyday, high-speed use, says Haarburger.

The young inventor who grew up in Boulder, Colorado, knows something about high speed. He took his idea from design, to prototype, to patent, and production in just three months.

Now, he's turning to Kickstarter to accelerate the launch of WINGStand into the marketplace. Kickstarter, he says, brings a whole lot of people together around good ideas, and gives those good ideas the funding to get to market. To show how it works, he is inviting readers to follow its launch over the next 50 days.

 
 
 

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