Power cords are highly pliable. There are plenty of excellent reasons for this. Pliability makes them easy to twirl and pack, for one thing. It makes cords easy to thread around desks and under couches. But when it comes to using a cell phone when you're not actually holding said cell phone, the traditional cord stinks.
That's the gist of the problem that product designer Billy May has set out to fix with Limb.al. A Kickstarter project that has well exceeded its goal with a week to go until deadline ($11,000 sought, $64,315 received as I write this), the Limb.al phone holder is a rigid but bendable arm that allows users to position their iOS (Apple) or Android phones such that they function as small auxiliary screens for their desktop or laptop monitors.
That's neat. It's also a great way to get more usefulness out of a cell phone you likely spend around $100 on each month but might only use when you're out of the office or not on your computer (in other words, when you're at the DMV or at a laundromat).
The Limb.al itself is mostly useful, however, thanks to the functions it enables. Purchase the Air Display app and your phone can serve as a second monitor and a place for those frequently-used but often buried programs such instant messaging. Or you can use it as a dedicated video chatting screen, or a home for widgets or a music player, or a social media screen. Or, if you can't possibly wait an instant longer than necessary to know when your buddies update their Instagram feeds, well, there you are.
Limb.al powers the phone all the while. If your car has a USB port, you can use Limb.al to situate the phone in a driver-friendly position, for navigation.
It's a pretty sophisticated product offering for Kickstarter. But then, Billy May is not your typical Kickstarter fundraiser. He's a decorated product designer with an impressive portfolio, including the Nike Hindsight concept glasses which give the user added peripheral vision and a safety buffer on crowded city streets.
But the Limb.al, says May, is the first of his designs that will make its way onto the market. The other designs in his portfolio, he told me via email, "were useful learning experiences and helped my growth as a designer, both aesthetically and practically. However, most of the work there is a little fanciful and impractical to bring to market."
In his day job, May is a product designer at Lifetime Brands, working on brands including Mikasa and Savora.