Engineering a Viral Sensation – The ZipString Story
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What started out as a fun circuit board design hackathon challenge at Georgia Technical University has turned into a viral internet sensation. When electrical engineering student Stephen Fazio, 23, began working on making a hand-held string launcher, he didn’t imagine the journey it would take him on.
“We were tasked to design a circuit board smaller than the size of a credit card,” Fazio said. “I thought, ‘What if I could condense that string launcher into…something I could hold in my hand.’”
And with that idea ZipString was born. Though his early social media posts about his invention got a lot of attention, Stephen didn’t think he could make a viable business out of the toy that launches a circle of string in the air until he met Austin Hillam.
Austin, also an engineering student, helped design the slim form factor of the ZipString and helped Stephen begin to imagine really turning this cool engineering toy into a business. After a TikTok post of the new version filmed in Stephen’s closet netted 20 million views in one evening, it was time to launch a Kickstarter campaign.
“I thought it was awesome! Everybody wanted to buy it and they didn’t know where to get it,” Stephen said.
The business partners set up shop in Austin’s parents’ basement. They had to figure out how to make thousands of ZipStrings rather quickly to fulfill the orders they received from their Kickstarter.
From fulfilling the Kickstarter campaign to appearing on Shark Tank, the ZipString team has been moving at warp speed. And they are using a Tektronix 2 Series MSO Mixed Signal Oscilloscope to make innovations in their viral product.
“A lot of engineering has gone into this. How do you calculate the speed of a string on different lengths and maybe the string slipping off the wheels and with that we use the 2 Series MSO to measure all different parts of ZipString, so we can design and improve and make it into something amazing,” said Austin.
Stephen is a long-time Tektronix user. He started with some of Tek’s oldest and largest scopes as a teenager and when it came time to purchase an oscilloscope for his growing business, the obvious choice was the 2 Series MSO.
“You can tell that they paid a lot of attention to the end user when designing this scope. Having the same controls between the 5 Series scopes I use at Georgia Tech and the 2 Series MSO here makes it so much easier to transition between instruments,” Stephen said. “We have some really exciting ideas and products that we’re going to launch here soon and I’m using the 2 Series MSO to develop them. I trust the accuracy and the measurements that come from this oscilloscope.”