Launching today, the Zolt Laptop Charger aims to make powering all your devices faster, easier and much less cumbersome. The charger—designed by fuseproject—is a sleek, lightweight device with three USB ports. This translates to charging three devices (laptop, phone, smartwatch, portable phone-charger, you name it) all at once—while only using one power outlet. The octagonal charger also swivels (up to 90 degrees), so no matter the angle or placement of the power source, your devices can be powered up easily and without fighting other cords or furniture.
We tested out the device and found that it was powerful enough to charge a laptop, phone and watch all at once without overheating and while we did hear some noise coming from it, we have been assured that the prototype has now been worked on to be all but silent. We spoke with fuseproject’s CEO and founder (and friend of CH) Yves Behar about the charger’s design and the problem-solving the team encountered along the way to the final product.
Can you tell us a little about the team—who took on which roles, or was it entirely collaborative?
The design of Zolt was unique, in that the technology for the internals was actually still being developed as we went through our design process. It ended up being extremely collaborative, going back and forth between the designers and the engineers to push the limits of what is possible. This collaboration between fuseproject and the team at Avogy-Zolt led us to the most compact, and really the most beautiful product possible.
Was there a specific item, shape or mood that inspired the octagonal design of the Zolt charger or was it mostly functional?
The octagon is a beautiful geometry, but also serves an important purpose—with the internal vents hinged at 45 degrees to the outer-shell, it creates a built-in venting system to keep the product from overheating. The octagon also keeps the product from rolling away when you put it down, and with the rotating prong feature it allows for the USBs to be turned towards the most practical orientation.
Did you toy with a lot of other materials, shapes and sizes before settling on the existing design?
More than you can imagine! Given the tech inside of the product, we experimented with dozens of metal, thermoset and thermoplastic exotic materials and recorded their impact on both interior and exterior temperature.
Were there any hiccups that you had to problem-solve?
Materials were a major challenge due to the heat dissipation required, as well as the need to make the product cool to the touch. The injection molded plastic we used is a unique PC ABS with good thermal distribution. In addition, the deep brushed texture on the plastic makes it scratch resistant as Zolt is carried in luggage and computer bags.
Can you tell us about the chosen colorways and how they came to be?
The Zolt brand, logo and product has a sense of boldness, of electricity and personality. We wanted a color palette that would reflect this, and in a way, let the user pick colors that match their style. The final colors are beautiful and sophisticated, but also expressive and different from the standard bland white and black laptop and cellphone chargers.
What do you want users to achieve with the product—not functionally, but rather visually and tangibly?
Zolt has a strong sense of personality, but is also meant to be extremely compact—the point of the charger is that it integrates seamlessly into your life, fits in your pocket, travels with you… and overall makes your life a bit easier. Zolt has a sense of character, and feels a bit futuristic, but also disappears thanks to its size.
Zolt is available for pre-order today from $100, and shipping begins 17 November 2015. Included in the package is one Zolt Laptop Charger, a six-foot PC laptop charging cable and eight interchangeable PC tips. The Apple MacBook accessory cable is an extra $20.
Final two images courtesy of Zolt, all others by Cool Hunting