Sunday 22 October 2017

Power nap with a twist - the bedside pouch that charges your smartphone

Paula O'Connor of z charge
Paula O'Connor of z charge
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Paula O'Connor (27), from Walkinstown in Dublin, is the brains behind the Z-Charge. It's a new bedside accessory for charging smartphones and other devices tidily. Her product was one of the first in Ireland to find start-up funding through online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter.

"The Z-Charge caters to the growing ubiquity of smartphones and mobile devices. It is a fabric saddlebag which can be positioned under the mattress of any bed, allowing users to store and charge their phones, tablets, and other gadgets within easy reach," said Paula.

"It is made from a special fire-retardant material for extra safety and comes with a single bespoke power adapter, which distributes six charging ports to the pockets on both sides of the bed.

I studied furniture design, graduating from DIT in 2013. I noticed that most of the devices we use regularly at home - televisions, stereos and so on - have a "place" specifically set aside for them, but mobile devices do not.

Friends all said the most common place they end up is beside the bed, so that is where the idea came from. It was deemed the best technology-based product on display at the Ideal Homes Exhibition in the RDS last weekend.

I previously designed a tablecloth with integrated pockets for storing devices to help cut down on web-surfing during mealtimes and encourage family interaction.

I teamed up with online retailer MyVolts to launch the Z-Charge. Combining textile design and electronics is no easy task and that is where their expertise lies.

They are known for their replacement AC adapters for thousands of products which are sold via eBay, Amazon and their own website. I work full time with them now.

We were one of the first Irish products to launch on Kickstarter after it opened up to Irish businesses shortly before Christmas. People from all over the world pledge towards the cost of running it and get their own Z-Charge in return.

That is one of the beauties of Kickstarter - you have access to customers in loads of markets.

We have taken more than 600 orders and have now exceeded the €40,000 needed for the project to be viable. We are still taking orders though.

The product is being made as we speak; we are aiming for delivery in March for existing customers. It is being made in Shenzhen in China, where we visited last year.

We would love to produce it in Ireland but it is just too expensive to do that.

We made a luxury leather option available at Christmas, made in Cork, and that cost around €200 - that is what you pay when you want Irish and handmade."

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