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Necessity is the mother of invention

In my first blog post I would like to tell you how everything began. This is the story how a broken adapter became a full-time job.

After some years working (which was always interesting, but never the only thing in life) I decided to leave Germany for quite some time. Packing my backpack didn’t take long. I had travelled my whole life, but this would become the longest of my journeys. My first flight took me to Melbourne. I had a great time in the country of kangaroos and deserts, met a bunch of nice people, went surfing every day, and did all the stuff you do when you are in Australia for the first time. But that’s not what this story is about.

One of my next stops was the Philippines and my first night there (fortunately or not?) still influences my life. After some 10 hours of flying my batteries were low. Both, mine and those of my devices. I quickly recovered with a cold shower and a local beer, but when I tried to charge my camera, I realized that my travel adapter had decided not to work anymore. I sat down and thought deeply. My professional background told me that the worst case scenario would be a temporary power outage in the hotel. I accepted the risk. So I took a pair of pliers (don’t ask where they came from) and worked on my Australian USB charger until it (somehow) fit into the socket. It worked. It worked and it was surprisingly easy. I was surprised. And I started to think again.

The idea was born

That evening I realized something great. There are only three different shapes of plug pins in the whole world. Has anybody else noticed? Only the patterns of the pins vary. So all that I needed was to find a way to adjust the spaces and interchange the pins. Well, and rotate the pins sometimes. But that’s it. This way, it would be possible to use ALL sockets world-wide. The idea for the perfect universal super duper travel adapter was born. Now the development had to be done.

I love functional things with a beautiful design. That’s why I made it to my personal goal to create the best travel adapter in the world. Everybody sells basic travel adapters, but what modern travelers really need is something more advanced. Normal sockets are outdated. USB connections have become essential, as many devices are only charged via USB nowadays. And what about an integrated flash memory? It would be possible to backup important files even without a laptop. While charging. Incredibly easily. Everybody has lost a USB stick at least once in their life. But how many times have you lost your travel adapter?

Inspiration from Traveling: The great idea, the perfect design and the in-between.

All those ideas grew in my head day by day. They quickly got bigger, better and more beautiful. I was sitting in the middle of the Philippines (fast internet was rare) in the middle of nowhere (with no computer close), so my travel diary and I became allies (more than before) and we spent hours and hours in the main hut of my hotel. Little by little one idea was developed after another, and after three weeks the theoretical part was done. I did it. Something practical, small, lightweight, solid and ergonomic was designed.

From my professional experience I knew about the weak points of such a gadget. Also partly as I made something equivalent before, and it’s not my goal to burn down every hostel on the planet (I promise). I knew that the connecting parts are often a problem and I had to ensure the function of exchange and twisting with simultaneous locking. Otherwise the adapter would simply fall out of the sockets or wouldn’t fit into all of them.

Now we come to the more technical part: using elastomers (very clever plastic) as an insulator or as the complete outer skin it is possible to get the correct distances without using parts which could possibly break or weaken. Everything is flexible, everything stays flexible. The adapter also won’t fall out of the socket if the cable is pulled on. This is another thing with adapters which often annoyed me. Simultaneously I created the first travel adapter with splash protection. It is so easy to solve a lot of small problems with good design. This discovery was one hell of a motivation booster.

I don’t ask for too much, do I? I just want one travel adapter which fits everywhere, doesn’t break after a short while and as a bonus can do a lot of useful stuff at the same time.

In September I returned home and the practical part began. I had to figure out bureaucratic obstacles, meet german quality standards and patent registrations. Last but not least I asked my friends from all over the world to send me all the socket patterns they were able to find. I had to ensure that my invention would work. And so the prototyping began…