Menlo Park company surpasses fundraising goal for production of small-scale laptop charger 

click to enlarge Dart laptop charger
  • Courtesy FINsix
  • FINsix raised $400,000 for its ultra-light Dart laptop charger through a Kickstarter campaign. FINsix plans to start shipping orders in November.
A Menlo Park company has designed what is believed to be the world’s smallest laptop computer charger and recently raised enough money through crowdsourcing to begin moving into production this summer.

Billed as four times smaller and six times lighter than the average 65-watt adapter, the Dart computer charger is one step closer to becoming a reality after its developer raised double its $200,000 goal in a Kickstarter campaign that still has more than two weeks left to go.

FINsix, creator of the Dart, was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who set out to use their patented electrical technology, called “very high frequency switching,” to create an ultra-compact device.

The team considered several applications for its frequency innovation before setting sights on the computer charger.

“It kept coming up as a real pain point for users out there. It’s a place where people really feel the weight and annoyance of the size of the brick,” FINsix CEO Vanessa Green said of users’ issues with the common adapter. “Every business traveler and student understands the problem.”

According to Green, power converters work a bit like a bucket on a rope carrying water back and forth from a source.

“If you can make the bucket really small you can make the bucket go faster,” Green said.

FINsix’s tiny device doesn’t lose a drop of charge as it travels, Green noted. That’s how the Dart, small enough not to block neighboring outlets, can charge a laptop in the same amount of time as its larger counterparts, according to the company. It also has a port to power up a USB device while the computer is plugged in.

PC-compatible Darts are available to Kickstarter donors for $89 until the campaign ends May 14. Chargers suitable for a variety of international power outlets can be ordered for an additional fee.

Backers with MacBooks face an additional charge of $79, because Mac-compatible Darts currently require FINsix to add on a store-bought Apple adapter.

Pre-ordered Darts are expected to begin shipping in November.

The company is in talks with suppliers, manufacturers and distributors. According to Green, there are some definite advantages to selecting partners in or near the Bay Area.

If all proceeds according to plan, the Dart will be marketed in places such as electronics stores and airport kiosks beginning around the holidays. It will retail at prices slightly higher than those offered to Kickstarter donors, but FINsix is working to reduce costs in the meantime.

Moving forward, Green hopes the Dart will be the only charger consumers get when they buy a new computer.

“One of the things we’re looking at is forming partnerships with the big manufacturers so ultimately this will ship in the box with laptops,” she said.

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S. Parker Yesko

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