Beam came to us looking to update their iPhone case, but we knew that this new device would set the tone for an entire family of future products, so we took the time to slow down and develop an aesthetic that could be applied across the most common Apple and Android devices, and could scale well from small devices up to large ones. This research informed the industrial design of the grip, the battery sizing, and the placement of certain things so they won’t obstruct common device inputs, like different camera arrays or fingerprint scanners.
This case is for hospitals to protect their devices investments and for caregivers to have something reliable enough for a 12-hour shift. A lot of products marketed as “rugged”, are really just styled to look rugged by adding big bumpy corners, and aggressive faceted shapes. For Beam, we envisioned a cleaner, friendlier aesthetic that’s not so insecure about looking rugged, because it just is rugged. When dropped, a device almost always hits a corner, so we made them thicker than the rest of the case for durability, without the need for a bulky bumper there. There’s an inner silicone cushion to protect the device from shocks when dropped. Since silicone, like water, is incompressible, we added a wavy pattern around the device, so the silicone has somewhere to squish to, improving the look and performance of the case. The display is covered with incredibly scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass III, and the speaker ports are covered with water proof Tyvek. We also focused a lot on ergonomics from the subtle, wipeable grip texture to the way the battery compartment blends into the case, creating a resting place for an index finger.
A key element of this case is the backup battery. Our goal was to develop a very simple, swappable battery. Most other backup power cases on the market have a permanent battery, which isn’t enough for constant use in a hospital. We designed a novel exchangeable battery system that retains the battery with magnets. Pressing on the top of the battery tilts it enough to pull it out. In addition to the main goal of easy access, this also helps mitigate a common (but easily overlooked) battery failure mode; swelling. Lithium ion batteries can sometimes expand over time, so we didn’t want to design an installation method that required the battery to be fully enclosed. It makes the case more forgiving of dimensional changes. This new system provided Beam with a useful, patentable solution.