Like every other frequent flyer, I bought myself one of those U-shaped squishy neck pillows, because the only other option seemed to be the sad blue sleeping wedge they sell in SkyMall. I learned, just like everyone else, that those U-shaped neck pillows don’t actually work. The U shape forces your neck forward, and the pillow isn’t dense enough to keep your head from bobbing around as you sleep. After a few flights, I stopped carrying it with me.
But I’m very excited about the Nap Anywhere. This new product was designed by geeks and funded by Kickstarter; it’s a simple, adjustable neck support that cradles your head without letting it slip forward. It functions a bit like those neck casts you used to see in 1980s comedy movies; with nowhere for your head to fall, you’re finally able to relax and get some rest.
The best part about the Nap Anywhere is that it’s designed to fold up and fit into a pocket of a bag or purse. It provides the support of a neck cast without the bulk; the design involves a flexible endoskeleton with a moldable saucer at the top and bottom. On the plane, you mold the saucers to fit your shoulders and chin; after you land, you mold the entire thing back down until it’s flat-packed and ready to shove into a carry-on.
The other great part about the Nap Anywhere is that it looks completely professional. Nobody wants to be Sad Blue Sleeping Wedge guy, slumped over his tray table in his wrinkled Hawaiian shirt. And nobody wants to be Fluffy Pink Neck Pillow lady, trying to combine a professional business suit with a giant pink neck pillow – especially when you have to walk up and down the airport with the fluffy pink thing wrapped around the handle of your rollerboard suitcase.
The Nap Anywhere, on the other hand, is small, black and completely discreet. It’s the kind of thing that you’re proud to pull out of your pocket and unfold. Its streamlined design and smart, professional look lets your seatmates know that you are the kind of person who cares about the tools you use. (We’d say “the kind of person who cares about fashion,” but we know our audience. So we’ll call the Nap Anywhere a gadget, instead of a fashion accessory. In truth, it’s both.)
Who’s raving about the Nap Anywhere? NPR’s All Tech Considered, for one. The project itself raised nearly twice as much as its initial Kickstarter goal, and a number of design and tech sites such as Design Taxi and Gizmag have already reviewed the product.
Will you be able to buy a Nap Anywhere? It’s a good question. Right now Nap Anywhere is accepting pre-orders, but its startup status may mean that the company is unable to fulfill its commitments and manage its cashflow – a common problem among new tech developed through Kickstarter. For every Kickstarted startup that successfully fulfills its orders, there’s another that makes a public announcement that it can no longer manage its obligations and is refunding its customers’ money. (For every Pebble watch, there’s a Levitatr keyboard.)
Pre-ordering it now is probably the surest way to get a Nap Anywhere, as it is still to be seen whether the company can manage its new-found press and stay afloat. As marketer and tech innovator Rich Gorman notes: “Success in the business world relies not only on the ability to get to the top of your field– it relies on the ability to stay there.” We have yet to see if Nap Anywhere can hold itself up as well as it can hold your head up. For all of our sakes – and our necks – I hope it does.