If you’ve ever owned a USB charging cable (and if you’re reading TechCrunch, odds are you have), then you’ve encountered the problem that Snakable wants to solve. That is, after repeated use, the cable breaks, the wires are exposed, and then, more often that not, the cable itself becomes unreliable, requiring you to jiggle it in order to get your device to start charging. Snakable, instead, offers a new type of USB charging cable that includes built-in protection from the dangers of over-bending and strain present in today’s cables, with a patent-pending strain relief assembly on its end that has free-moving ball joints to prevent the cable from bending beyond a safe radius.
Oh, and I guess this makes the cable look a little bit like a snake because of the way it moves, hence the name.
The project was dreamed up by Wes Goulbourne, whose background in aerospace has had him working alongside engineers for his entire career. (He currently works at Boeing in Philadelphia.)
“I came up with the Snakable while getting tired of fixing my USB cables, and tired of them breaking in the first place. Thinking about how the plastic toy snakes bent without breaking, I envisioned the design that became the Snakable cable,” he says.
That plastic toy snake – the kind jointed every 1.5 inches to allow it to move and wiggle – is the inspiration behind how Snakable works today, as it turns out.
Goulbourne first started making prototypes of Snakable on his own 3D printer before moving to industrial printing to get a working version of the cable built.
Today, he’s showing those prototypes in TechCrunch Disrupt NY’s Startup Alley, and trying to get the word out about his crowdfunding project on Kickstarter.
The ball-and-joint assembly makes the cables less susceptible to breaking, but if they’re strained too far, the individual joints can simply come apart then be snapped back into place.
The cable Goulbourne is looking to put into production will be available in Apple Lightning (Certified under the Made for iPhone program) and Micro USB formats, and will be 4 ft. long. They’ll also be offered in a range of colors, including red, white, black, green and orange.
The cables will retail for $30, but Kickstarter backers can pledge $20 to take early delivery (estimated for this August). Those who pledge $30 can also get a wall plug in a matching color. Goulbourne is looking to raise $28,000 to finance the manufacturing costs.