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.
Having one free hand while handling the laptop is advantageous in countless circumstances, even if to only keep it in the pocket.
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.
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.
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.