A Smartphone Charging Cable That's Also A Flexible Dock And Tripod

The Bobine’s a little ray of light in the dark, dumb world of gadget charging.

In an age of amazingly capable, brilliantly designed consumer electronics, there is no greater buzzkill than the charging cable. It’s a nuisance that manifests itself in all sorts of ways: the unsightly rat tail hanging down from your expertly mounted flat-screen TV, the untamable mess of cords under your desk, or just the way the charging cable included with the iPhone is, without fail, just a little bit too short for you to use the thing comfortably while the other end’s plugged into the wall. It’s maddening.

The obvious way out of this tethered Hell is to get rid of cables altogether--it’s why AirPlay is so genuinely cool and why induction charging, even in its current, clunky form, is still so enticing. But the Bobine takes a different approach: it’s a charging cable that’s not really a cable at all.

Rather than one of those floppy things you’re used to, the Bobine is a USB charging cable stuffed inside a flexible metal gooseneck. The material holds its form when you bend it into shape, so the Bobine not only charges your phone but serves as a sort of reconfigurable dock, too, propping your smartphone up at whatever height or angle you desire. Even when you’re not charging, you can use the Bobine as a sort of tripod for taking pictures and video with your phone, standing it up on flat surfaces or wrapping it around door handles or tree limbs, à la the Gorillapod.

Jon Fawcett, the designer behind the un-cable, said the idea occurred to him when he was fiddling with a prototype dock he’d made for his own nightstand. He had wanted something that could offer several different viewing angles, but his design precluded a built-in connector, and he’d been forced to rely on a standard charging cable rigged on after the fact. From that suboptimal setup, he told me, he had the big idea: Why not "integrate it all into one, for charging and positioning."

He quickly realized that the combo design went a long way to solving desktop cable clutter. "I no longer have cables laying all over my desk," Fawcett told me. "They are all standing up in the air, and my desk is clean." In theory, it’s a perfect solution--more versatile than a standard dock and tidier than a standard cable. In practice, it might be just a bit goofy to have your smartphone perpetually floating next to your computer display, and I’d imagine that there are instances in which a bulky metal charging cable is just as frustrating as an untidy standard one. Still, you have to respect a lowly charging cable that strives to do something a little bit more with itself.

The Bobine is available in two sizes--12 inches ($28) and 24 inches ($30)--for iPhone and Android. Grab one at Fawcett’s company’s page or at Photojojo.

[Hat tip: Swiss Miss]

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5 Comments

  • Neil Mclachlan

    As nice as it looks, there simply isn't a mechanical multi-jointed tube like that, that is able to hold a phone rigid while pressing on the screen to use it. It has to be incredibly rigid in order to leave the phone usable.

    If that's not absurd enough, the idea of it working as an in-car thing almost sent milk spurting out of my nose. Again, there's just no way the laws of physics will let something that long and thin hold something as heavy as an iphone in place during the often quite strong g-forces experienced in a car.

    It would need to be at the very least twice as thick in diameter... you would probably be safe-ish if it was three times as thick as the pictured design. Then it *might* be rigid enough to be worth using in any of the illustrated scenarios.

    Oddly enough, A good many people would probably still want one if it was triple the thickness, and it could easily be designed to look kind of cool. It's definitely a great *idea*. But somehow I doubt the designers would tolerate their beautiful little snake being turned into a garden hose.

  • Al

    I think the idea is to hold the phone in place while using it as a screen (e.g. watching video, reading, or getting directions) with infrequent light sidewards swiptes, and that if you started tapping away like crazy, you'd probably support it with a second hand.

    But it's not a good sign that there are no videos (or at least, none I can see) of it in action, being put to the test.

  • Andrew Song

    it's all fun and games until the stresses of having an unsupported dock renders the charging port useless. This is the worse design ever. What happens when you want to make a mini-usb/iPhone 5 version? That tiny little connection will not support the stresses when driving a car. 

  • Al

    Agreed. I love the idea, but it needs some kind of spring-loaded grip clip or something so that the cable connection isn't the only thing keeping your phone off the floor. 

    I was thinking - this would be amazing for turning a galaxy note into a useful second screen for productivity stuff or for watching films. Then I remembered the size of the socket relative to the size of the phone...

  • David Jarrell

    I'm not sure I trust the microUSB connector to take all those stresses.