Who knew so many people couldn't stand their smartphones' outlet chargers?
A new Kickstarter project called SnapPower is tapping into this apparent loathing with an outlet cover plate that has its own USB charger. In just a day, the project has raised more than $360,000—well beyond its $35,000 goal.
USB outlets are not new, but SnapPower is promising a much easier installation that doesn't involve replacing your outlet. The inside of the plate has a couple of prongs sticking out, which slide around the sides of the outlet and draw power from the outlet's side screws. The prongs then deliver power to the USB jack on the bottom of the plate and deliver 1.0 amps of power to the USB port. The whole setup should only require a screwdriver.
SnapPower is offering a couple shades of beige plates along with a standard white, and a Décor-style outlet opening for users who don't have the traditional duplex. Kickstarter pricing is $16 for one cover plate, with some early-bird and bundle pricing available as well.
The usual crowdfunding disclaimers apply: While the design is finalized and there is a working prototype, the product hasn't headed to production yet, and with any project like this things can go wrong. But as Gizmodo points out, the company has experience bringing things to market already, having built an outlet with an integrated nightlight that works in nearly the same way. SnapPower hopes to start shipping to backers in August.
Why this matters: While plugging in an outlet charger isn't a huge burden, the built-in USB port does have a couple advantages: It frees up space—especially for larger power adapters that might cover up both outlets—and it allows furniture to sit nearly flush with the plate while still allowing a USB cord to sneak through the side. If it works as advertised, it could be a cheap way to make standard outlets a little more useful.
Just don't get too invested in this version before everything gets replaced with USB Type-C.