Jerry Castro, the Ceres man who in 2011 promoted his Zen-ergy wrist bands to world class boxer Juan Manuel Marquez in a highly-watched fight against Manny Pacquiao, now has a product he believes will take off for computer and iPhone users worldwide.
The new "Wrist Charge" invention, which is awaiting a U.S. patent, is on kickstarter.com, a funding platform for creative projects. The product launched on July 10 on the website and showed 396 backers who pledged $7,923 with 22 days to go. The project will only be funded if at least $50,000 is pledged by Aug. 24. Those who "back" the product actually order the product for a less-than-market cost once it has been produced and available.
The band is expected to retail for between $24.99 and $29.99.
The new product handily incorporates a wristband with a USB cord or an iPhone charging cord. One is being made for the iPhone 4S and under, the iPhone 5 and the Android phones.
"I was basically on the phone one day and I had this ‘slap' bracelet on that I had produced for a client and my phone wire was wrapped around it and I was like ‘oh,' the idea was right in front of me and I thought why don't we combine the wire that you use for your phone, you know the data cable, and put into a bracelet. It's a convenient way of always having a charger, access to power."
Castro, a native of the Bay Area who moved to Ceres in 1996, currently only has the product in 3-D prototype form.
"The industry is calling this the widget of the decade," said Castro. "It's a revolutionary way of carrying your charger. With this on your wrist, you always have access to power. It's almost like an emergency product."
The device will come in handy, he said, with the explosion of the availability of USB ports in airplanes, cars and airports. He notes that 2.2 billion cell phone chargers are sold annually with a 30 percent increase every year.
Castro is working on the technology to build a wristband equipped with a solar panel and thin lithium battery to charge a cell phone by the power of the sun. He's aiming to have the product available next year.
It's been a trial and error process to build the product. He noted that the first obstacle was figuring out how to keep the coating on the wiring from melting as its being embedded in hot rubber during the mold process.
"We had to put in all these cooling lines and work directly with the manufacturer of these cables to where they provided us a proprietary cable that has a very high melting rate," said Castro.
Despite the outcome of kickstarter.com, Castro said the project will move full steam ahead. He said a number of companies are interested in the band as a way of promoting their own products. Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Miller, NBA, Universal Studios, Verizon and others realize there's advertising potential on the band, which could be given away as a promotional item.
"Everybody is used to wearing a wristband since the Live Strong wristband became very popular. We have one inch wide by eight inches long. All of this is prime real estate. That's why they're calling this the widget of the decade - because it's a wristband with utility."
Those interested in seeing the product get off the ground may also call Castro at (510) 774-7842 or visit Wristcharge.com includes a call to action which carries the viewer to kickstarter.com.