Monday, February 1, 2016

 Tradeshow marketing can be a hassle. Traditional banners are common, boring, and can’t be easily updated; projectors require space and have poor image quality; and large screens are expensive and difficult to transport.

That’s why Adam Engel and Kiley Murphy of UI Partners, an office that supports small businesses across Iowa, designed a new solution—an eye catching, digital display for under $3,000 that doesn’t require support to update or move. It’s called ShortStax.

ShortStax is a display of up to 12 iPads that collapse into each other to make a small cube. It has a collapsible handle and wheels, so it can be rolled into tradeshows like a piece of luggage. A piece on the side folds down to create a base, and when each of the iPads folds out, the display stands seven feet tall.

“It’s a different type of display than what people normally see, so that attracts them,” Engel said.

Engel and Murphy wrote an application to easily sync all the screens together. Users can develop their own slides in Keynote, then export them into a video file, which the app will synchronize over each of the iPads.

“Some agencies charge for each design, so giving people the ability to design their own slides would be very beneficial,” Murphy said.

The target market is anyone attending a tradeshow, but any sort of offices using digital signage could also benefit. Multiple displays could even be set side-by-side to create a giant screen.

Engel and Murphy have worked with the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) to file a patent application on ShortStax and have had a few companies looking into licensing the technology.

“This is a great example of an elegant and useful solution to an industry problem,” said Zev Sunleaf, UIRF executive director. “And, because Adam and Kiley have developed and used their early prototypes, those in the industry have seen its utility and shown interest that we hope will lead to partnering and further development.”

Currently, the two are actively working on updated prototypes and seeking an engineer to aid in development.

UI Partners is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR). OVPR provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.