Remember the scene in Pixar’s WALL-E where the little robot rigged up a Fresnel lens to better view his iPod’s copy of HELLO, DOLLY? Well, that’s part of the design philosophy that went into Jake Waitzman’s Hive Dock. An audio-visual amplifier for your iPhone 4, the Hive uses no wires, no batteries — nothing but good old-fashioned “SCIENCE!” (Yes, you should yell it like the mad doctor in Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” music video…)
Waitzman first conceived of the Hive when he realized that he was using his iPhone more than his laptop for everyday computing: “A great product, my iPhone does everything I need, and it fits in my pocket. But I wanted to get even more functionality out of the elegant computer that it is…I wanted more sound, a bigger screen. I had to have a way to use the touch screen with my hands while the phone was stationary. I needed a stationary and magnified screen so I could comfortably type emails using a small Bluetooth keyboard paired to the phone. It had to be simple, inexpensive, portable…Hive is meant to be elegant in design, pretty, architectural, and ‘green.'”
The Hive’s own Fresnel lens — which provides a 2x magnification of the iPhone’s Retina display — is only half of the story. A concave acoustic chamber channels and amplifies the iPhone’s audio output, in both landscape and portrait modes. Because of the distance between the phone and the lens, you can still access the touch screen, so magnified gameplay (Waitzman mentions Angry Birds by name) is a breeze.
Waitzman originally planned to fund the Hive (with a US$45 MSRP) as a Kickstarter project; even though, as of June 2011, the amount of accumulated pledges had fallen short of the hoped-for US$150,000 goal, he remains optimistic that, with the sustained interest of both investors and the iPhone-toting public, the Hive will make its way to the market.
Check out our hands-on review below: