Lokclip Mounts

LOKCLIP Quick-Rail

The LOKCLIP Quick-Rail improves laptop mobility in two ways:

  • • Comfortable one-hand handling: Equipped with the Quick-Rail alone, the laptop can be securely and easily grabbed, carried and placed down with the use of just one hand. Also, opening the lid becomes much easier for some laptop models.
    • Secure peripheral mounting: With the addition of the LOKCLIP clips, any peripheral can be attached to and transported while being connected to the laptop and still using just one hand.

Quick-Rails can be built in or added on the laptop lid. The former is a long term goal while the latter is immediately accomplish-able.
quick-rail.png
Having one free hand while handling the laptop is advantageous in countless circumstances, even if to only keep it in the pocket.

The Problem(s)…

In the world of mobile computers such as laptops, one predictable trend has always been that of increasing mobility by reducing the dimensions and weight while enhancing the computational capabilities. However, simple observations of common usage patterns indicate that:

  • • While a small form factor is essential when it comes to carrying, it is not sufficient for other common laptop handling operations such as picking up and placing down. These actions routinely require the use of both hands because laptops don’t have gripping surfaces or edges; in fact most laptop shells are nicely finished and therefore slippery.
    • External peripherals, more likely to be used with smaller laptops, reduce and in some cases restrict the freedom of movement. As a result of the miniaturization process, some I/O devices have been pushed out of the laptop body and into external peripherals: CD/DVD drives, modems and Wi-Fi access points, high definition webcams. In addition, portable devices such as hard drives are customary used to supplement the internal storage of laptops. Paradoxically, a highly mobile modern laptop turns into a stationary workstation when one or more peripherals are connected.

Concept Development/Requirements

The goal is to develop an extension to or a modification of the laptop body that solves the handling and peripheral usage concerns. The design must work with existing laptops as well as with new builds.

The shape and placement of this extension must not negatively impact the way laptops are currently used. A modified laptop must continue to fit in its bag or backpack, it must not be noticeably heavier or larger.

The attachment and removal of peripherals must be completely manual and effortless. The solution must be self-sufficient in that it should not require additional components for attaching common peripherals. The specification should be open to the development of custom mounts and interfacing with standard adapters.

Design and Drafting

The most accessible and underutilized part of the laptop is the outer surface of the lid. In most if not in all laptops, it has a primarily aesthetical purpose rather than a functional one.

The LOKCLIP system challenges this paradigm by installing an inconspicuous rail structure on top of the lid. The basic components are the rail and the clips. Depending on the mounting application, additional parts may be required.

The LOKCLIP Rail

The rail has two roles: it is a simplified, minimal handle and a mounting base. Attaching a suitcase-like handle on the light and thin modern laptops for quick handling purposes would be excessively unnecessary and completely unfitting. Any laptop can easily fit in height between the thumb and the palm with the hand in a reaching pose but it can as easily slip out of the grip. The purpose of the rail is to provide the missing support for the index, middle and ring fingers to lodge into. The handling function is completely fulfilled by the rail alone. If the system is also used for mounting, then one or more LOKCLIP clips are required.

Technically, the rail is a custom I-beam. Its distinctive feature is the C-channel used for mounting and handling. The height of the flange together with that of the lip sections is sufficient for the clips to interlock with the rail and that is usually a fraction of an inch. The web section of the rail, or the distance between the two flanges is also very small, around one inch. Opposite to the mounting side is the bonding channel where the double sided adhesive tape used for attaching the rail to the laptop is placed.

The LOKCLIP Clip

The LOKCLIP clip works in combination with the LOKCLIP rail to which it attaches to create an inseparable but removable snap joint. The snap fit and the lock are the two components of a LOKCLIP clip that guarantee the resiliency of the snap joint with the rail.

The LOKCLIP Rail and Clip Assembly

The mounting operation is entirely manual. An unlocked clip is squeezed and pushed into the mounting channel (1) until it snap locks (2). The clip is locked (3) to ensure that the snap joint does not separate under the effect of the various forces exerted in the mounting assembly. To remove the mount, these steps are reversed.


Prototyping and Testing

The Quick-Rails built into the laptop lids at the time of manufacture, using matching materials, colors, dimensions and shape provide the best appearance and functional results. While this is perfectly possible for new builds, with existing laptops the only option is that of using add-on Quick-Rails. In this latter case, the rails are manufactured separately from the laptop and manually attached.

Since this is an entirely new approach in the laptop design, the built-in rails simply do not exist at this time on the market. Therefore, the design, prototyping and testing of the rails as well as that of the necessary clips and mounting accessories was performed only for the add-on case.


The workflow used with the LOKCLIP Quick-Rails is that of continuous design, prototyping and testing. The parts are designed for and produced on a 3D printer using PLA plastic.

The Quick-Rail was tested with laptops of various sizes and finishes. The mounting function was exercised with all commonly used peripherals: webcams and action cameras, external hard disk and CD/DVD drives, Wi-Fi access points and third party mounts. The handling function is exercised continuously as part of the day-to-day work routine involving laptop maneuverability.

Several video clips are available on the web site http://www.lokclip.com to show the tests performed with and without the Quick-Rail system.

Next Steps…

The short term intention is to crowd fund the production of the add-on Quick-Rail systems. In the long run, this and variations of this system will hopefully be adopted by laptop manufacturers.

Hi,

I’ve updated my old post with new work. Please check it out.

Thanks,
gabriel

Gabriel,

If you want a stronger reaction from the community, I recommend posting the story and images into the discussion. Posting a link limits the amount of feedback.

Hello Michael,

I’ve redone my post per your recommendations. I would have liked to place more pictures but three was the maximum allowed.

Thank you,
gabriel

Hello, here is an update of my work.

Demo for monitor loading using CRAIL (Clip and RAIL) mounts.
This layout works well for gamers, those using standup desks, those listening to music on their phones while working, etc.

The same is easily applied to laptops, 3D printers (monitor your prints), and really anywhere you want to mount your multimedia devices quick and easy.

Except for the rails that remain attached (to the back of the monitor in this case), all other components are removable and reusable.



Laptop Mounts



Printer Mount

Hi Gabriel, You have put a lot of thought and effort into this.
I wonder if you have answered these questions: How did you do your needfinding? Did you do early tests or perform user research methods in order to verify a significant need for this product? What is the market segment you are targeting? Are people willing to buy such a product?

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for your questions. Indeed, the development from idea to the current stage of prototyping and testing has spanned a period of several years. My process was and continues to be one of iterative discovery, learning, testing and improvement. It requires patience, takes most weekends and afterhours and it is often times frustrating. Nonetheless I enjoy doing it.

To your questions:

The need: It all started from my own experiences. Here are a couple of examples that you or others on this forum may find to be quite familiar. (1) I code using VMs stored on external drives and there is no way to attach the HDD to the laptop when moving around the room/office. Sometimes I forget about the drive and the cable comes out loose. Either way it is a pain to carry the drive connected to the laptop and if you also want your coffee mug and/or stack of papers it all becomes impossible. (2) I also use a standup workstation that has a small desk underneath the two monitors where I usually keep notes for quick reference. Since I listen to music on my phone when I work the best I can do is to keep it in the back pocket of my pants because there is not enough room on the desk or if I put it there, the chances of it dropping four feet on the floor and ripping off my headset cable in the process are high. The battery also drains quite fast when playing music continuously. With my system I can carry the hard drives safely in a non-obtrusive manner and I can remove them when I pack the laptop. If anything, the rail itself is an incredibly useful grabbing handle for picking up the laptop with one hand – you just need to try it for yourself to see how easy it becomes to move around. Also, I can listen to music all I want because the phone is charging connected to the monitor USB, it is safe and right in front of my eyes on the side of the monitor, or on top depending where I choose to place the rails. I can text and do all the phone things that I normally do only much easier.

User research: I work alone because I found no one who had the time/passion/will for this and so, my user research is limited to opinion grabbing from people I meet daily: family, friends and co-workers. Is there a significant need for this product? I have no hard data answer this one way or another. I can only extrapolate that if I find it useful there are chances others with similar working and playing habits would also do and this leads me to the next question.

The market segment: To start with, the demographics for this product include software developers, gamers, and in general computer users that want their workspace nice and tidy. Anyone tried to use a sound bar with your computer? Where do you place it? The best you can do it is under the monitor or on the wall behind your station if your desk is close to one. I place it on my monitor using a couple of the arms I designed and the original Samsung mounting bracket. If this product is ever produced outside the prototype stage it can be used in all cases where rail-based mounting is superior to spot mounting. Just look at the popularity of Picatinny, Weaver and KeyMod systems. In fact just recently I found out that a gaming company that specializes in mobile gear is about to release a desktop solution based on Picatinny rails.

The will to buy: The first questions I get from people are: what is this, why do I want it, how does it work, why would I put that rail on my 3,000 bucks Mac? I think that because there is nothing quite similar out there, people have hard time associating it with anything until they actually start using it. I tried to send it out to blogs with not a whole lot of success thus far. I am glad that you asked these question though and hopefully I did not bore everyone to death.

One from me: Future work: The laptop manufacturers may recognize in the future that there is a lot of space wasted on the back of the lid and may want to use it for built-in rails to assist with peripheral mounting (Wi-Fi access points are another common one).

Ask away anything else you want or reach out to me directly.

Thanks,
gabriel