One night while riding his bike on the Stanford campus, the battery for Boulder High grad Daniel Haarburger's bike light began to run low.
A campus police officer stopped him. Instead of relying on his bike light, the officer told Haarburger, he could use the flashlight app on his phone. And instead of giving him a ticket, the officer gave Haarburger the idea for his newest invention, the Handleband -- a silicone device that attaches a smartphone or flashlight to the front of any bike.
Haarburger, who enters his senior year at Stanford in the fall, will launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund Handleband today . His goal is to raise $12,000 in 30 days through the online crowd-funding site so he can begin mass production of the Handleband.
The 21-year-old has experience with crowd-funded inventions: He also created WINGStand, a portable stand for tablets and touchscreen computers. His first Kickstarter campaign surpassed his $9,500 fundraising goal by almost $50,000.
At Stanford, Haarburger lives on campus and creates blueprints for his inventions in his tiny dorm room. He's studying at the school's Institute of Design and doesn't yet know what he'll do after graduation. He commutes to classes and meetings on his bike, and back at home in Boulder, he's an avid mountain biker.
Haarbuger said he feels most satisfied when he's working on projects and can see results -- something useful that he can hold in his hand.
"I get antsy unless I'm working on something that I feel is a tangible object or something that I can move forward with," he said.
His dad Greg Haarburger said his son has been tinkering with things since he was about 10 years old. He opened his own woodworking shop in high school and created cutting boards and other intricately designed pieces out of salvaged wood.
Inside his garage on University Hill, Haarburger said he also enjoys the evolution of an invention. The silicone portion of the Handleband wraps around an aluminum rod, which Haarburger noticed looked a lot like a bottle opener. So he began thinking about ways to double its use without changing the Handleband's design much.
"That's one of the most fun aspects of design is coming up with a core concept and then kind of tweaking it and seeing what else you can get out of it," he said.
Since revealing its design, Haarburger said he's heard from moms who want to mount it on their strollers and cyclists who plan to use it to listen to music or audio books on long rides. The Handleband can turn your phone into a modified Go Pro camera to film your rides or can become a clip-on, bike friendly GPS.
In Boulder, city code requires cyclists to ride with a white light on the front and a red rear reflector between sunset and sunrise. City officials say there were 23 bike light violations in 2012.
Boulder Cmdr. Curt Johnson said a cell phone flashlight is legal under city code, as long as the light is visible from at least 500 feet.
"Bicyclists should have the attitude of self preservation," Johnson said. "Without a light after sunset, they can be very hard to see."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.