Mobile Accessories

Pebble founder's next move: An AirPod-charging iPhone case

Eric Migicovsky is making products again, along with some people from Pebble and Avegant. But they're starting small.

podcase-on-table

How badly do you want to charge your AirPods with your phone case?

PodCase

The man who made the Pebble watch is back on Kickstarter again, but this time he's making an iPhone case. It sounds ridiculous, but according to Eric Migicovsky, there are greater things down the road, and he's partnering with a former co-founder of Avegant and an engineer at Pebble to do it.

Migicovsky last year sold his smartwatch company, Pebble, to Fitbit, which shuttered the brand. He then joined the startup nursery Y Combinator. But he's back in the product game with what he calls a "side project," the first in what he says is a line of products. And... it's an iPhone case that charges AirPods.

The PodCase is a charging case with two weird holes where AirPods drop in to charge. It looks bizarre, but Migicovsky says it fills a need for him. A 2,500 mAh battery and USB-C charging promise no Lightning cables required (and it's good for "40 AirPod charges"). The case comes with a USB-C cable. The PodCase comes in iPhone 7 and 7 Plus sizes, plus a version for the not-yet-announced iPhone 8 (or whatever it's called). It starts at $79 if you get in quick, which is about £60 or AU$100.

The case looks pretty weird, but the video in the Kickstarter campaign shows using them for easier access while receiving calls: "When the phone is ringing, no one wants to be digging around their desk for an AirPods case." The case promises to use similar magnetic docking tech for AirPods as Apple's case. The only question is how securely they'll stay in. 

Allan Evans, co-founder of video headset maker Avegant, and Steve Johns, Pebble's founding industrial designer, are part of Migicovsky's team, called Nova Technology. Migicovsky promises "more to come," saying the small team will make "products we want in our daily lives, and launch them quickly and efficiently directly to customers who feel the same."

The interesting part of this side project is that Migicovsky says it's designed to stay small and let backers basically vote on whether a product exists or not. In a call with him, he explained that while Pebble used Kickstarter more as a marketing arm, the PodCase campaign is designed to make sure the campaign goal covers all associated costs. "We're seeing if people want the product. If they do, great, if they don't, no problem," Migicovsky says. His team members all have day jobs -- Evans is also the CEO of FatShark, which makes head-mounted displays and accessories for drone racing.

PodCase's campaign says the case will aim to ship February 2018. I don't think I want a case like this, but maybe you do.