It happens all the time. Someone thinks he has a bright idea, and a new consumer product is born. Unfortunately, not every new concept is worth putting on a retail shelf, as illustrated by this 2012 post on the “20 Useless Products No One Should Buy.”Google+
Love watches, music and fashion? And have an iPod® Nano?
Check out the Deckster™ – it’s a new, funky, fashionable and sustainable unisex watch strap custom built for Apple’s iPod Nano. The patent-pending Pop+Lock™ System models the functionality of a retro cassette tape deck allowing the Nano to be smoothly inserted into the protective enclosure in one easy, fluid motion to become a stylish multi-functional watch. This iWatch is fashion for the forward set and convenient carrying of the Nano for work, sports and leisure.
Design 1st also likes to fast forward clients’ innovative concepts into useful, aesthetically beautiful and marketable products.
When N-Product, the creators of the Deckster, approached Design 1st they had a vision of the slick functionality and timeless quality their timepiece would embody. The Design 1st team built upon the concept to develop a design that combined the simple elegance of the Nano with the creators’ creativity and required features. The Deckster design would prove to push the traditional boundaries of design as well as demand maximum innovation from the tooling and manufacturing efforts.
Various design challenges were encountered that required Design 1st’s highly innovative problem-solving and depth of technical expertise. In particular, the patent-pending Pop+Lock system needed to combine the action of the tape deck concept with the functional mechanical precision yet maintain the aesthetics of the Nano. The system replicates a cassette tape deck’s functionality requiring over 20 custom watch sized components in this simple to use hinge and latch design that enables a smooth “pop” opening of the watch, allowing the user to insert the Nano and “lock it” in place with a distinctive click. Making the mechanism work smoothly and consistently despite normal manufacturing variability was the real challenge. The project depended on numerous areas of the teams’ expertise in this fast 8-week turnaround product design and development project. From rendered CAD images you see on the website to drawings to precision prototyping Design 1st overcame the design and tooling challenges and the in-house machined production prototype proved the “Pop+Lock” concept worked which brought the Deckster to life.
The founders of the Deckster needed to balance quality materials with cost, availability, usability and sustainable thinking. The Deckster includes high-grade aircraft aluminum, hand-crafted premium vegetable tanned leather straps, industrial-grade protection with Cerakote™ coating and sustainable packaging. The”Made in North America” product uses North American manufacturers, cost effective processes and small product runs to consistently produce a high quality product while the use of recycled paper materials for sustainable packaging and recyclable aluminum for the housings reduces the carbon footprint.
Through versatile design, use of quality materials, precision engineering, innovative tooling and manufacturing, Design 1st has succeed in achieving the creators’ dream of making the Deckster a unique and premier timepiece for conveniently carrying and using the Nano.
To learn more, view the Deckster here.
Design 1st is proud of its collaboration with N-Product, visit www.deckster.ca to pre-order your limited edition Deckster time piece. The Deckster First:Class will be shipping in early July (retails at approx $150 CAD).Google+
The history of industrial design began during the 1920’s when automobiles and electrical appliances were starting to enter the consumer market. As competition grew, firms differentiated their market position catering to consumers who were willing to spend more on luxury goods and intelligent design. The inventors and engineers behind these products were technically brilliant but often lacked creativity to enhance the look, feel and usability of products. To remedy this problem they turned to talented artists from various art schools leveraging their creative insights for the development of consumer products.
The Electrolux Appliance Design Lab competition continues the tradition of leveraging design students creativity towards the development of consumer products. In its ninth year, the Electrolux competition challenges Canadian industrial design students to compete for the chance to win a paid internship and cash prizes.
The theme behind the 2011 competition is “Intelligent Mobility”, focused on creative home appliances that provide users flexible control for more free time, both within and outside the home. The video below highlights what intelligent mobility is and gives details for this year’s competition:
Electrolux’s competition tasks students with creating strategically designed concepts for home appliances shaping how people prepare and store food, clean and do dishes. In particular these design concepts should offer personalization and inspire users whilst utilizing existing technology for support and guidance. The top finalists of the competition are invited to participate in a final global event, presenting their entries to a jury of world class designers.
These students than go on to exciting careers with product design and engineering firms like Design 1st where they work side by side with product engineers. Through creativity and innovation training they obtain a deep knowledge of materials, mechanisms and manufacturing. Overall, the competition prepares students to integrate with a product design team bringing new innovations and ideas that are aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to use.
For information on this and past years competition visit: http://www.electroluxdesignlab.comGoogle+
Here’s a great video compilation of quotes from design luminaries giving their interpretation of design. It reflects what goes through the heads of designers when engaging in the product development process – truly inspiring.
To me Design is………Google+
Year after year, the Audio Visual marketplace enthusiastically embraces the InfoComm tradeshow to make their purchasing choices, network with specialists and enhance their skills. The 2010 InfoComm – Las Vegas tradeshow provided a terrific platform for this industry interaction with over 900 exhibitors and 300 educational seminars. The thousands of Audio Visual (AV) professionals that converged for the tradeshow embodied innovation, showcasing AV technologies that pushed the boundaries of how users interact with conventional products.
For more information on Gartner’s 2010 Cool Vendor’s report, please visit:http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/offer/cool-vendors.jsp
The new technology landscape is filled with firms who have the potential to change a market in a significant way, yet have not gained exposure for their new value. Market analyst Gartner’s annual “Cool Vendors” report seeks to oust these innovative firms through publishing a series of research reports in key technology areas, highlighting emerging technologies. The Cool Vendors report is a driving force behind the discovery and commercialization of new technology that has both a business impact and enables users to do useful things that have not been done before. These firms have the potential to be industry leaders and being included is an honor for small companies giving their technology validation, exposure and the “cool” quotient to drive sales.
Gartner’s Cool Vendor’s report does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services. Design 1st was proud to hear that Sustainable Energy Technologies and Pliant Technologies, both Design 1st clients, were named in the 2010 Cool Vendor’s Storage Technologies and Consumer Energy Management categories. Both firms have developed exceptional products that push the boundaries of innovation through increased energy efficiency and high performance.
“We consider our inclusion in the Cool Vendor report by Gartner confirmation of our mission to drive solar technology innovation worldwide,” said Brent Harris, Vice President of Product Development, Sustainable Energy.
Gartner’s report on Consumer Energy Management highlighted the advantages of connecting photovoltaic (PV) solar panels in parallel versus the conventional approach of wiring in series. Sustainable Energy’s PARALEX™ solar power system architecture enables solar modules to be wired in a parallel array. Using Sustainable Energy’s patented, low voltage SUNERGY™ inverter technology, the PARALEX architecture enables each solar module to operate independently of any other module in the system delivering 5-15% increased energy yield while operating at safe voltages. Commonly used in commercial roof top installations, PARALEX™ operates at voltages from 50 – 150v compared to standard systems that operate as high as 1000v, providing an important safety benefit to installation and maintenance crews.
“We are delighted that Gartner has recognized Pliant as a ‘Cool Vendor.’ We believe that the Lightning product line delivers the type of game-changing benefits that directly impact the enterprise organization’s bottom line,” say Amyl Ahola, CEO of Pliant Technology.
Pliant Technology enables enterprises to augment their existing server and storage systems with Pliant’s enterprise flash drives (EFD) that dramatically reduces both power consumption and floor space, while delivering better performance and improved reliability. The Pliant Lightning product line provides data centers and other high-performance computing (HPC) environments with unprecedented levels of IT storage/system performance, enabling data center IT infrastructure to do more for less – achieving significantly higher system performance with lower cost, less power and a smaller footprint. As data-intensive applications continue to grow, Pliant’s EFD technology will create more opportunity, extending the life of current IT solutions for a longer return on investment.Google+
“As a messenger of peace I want to encourage countries throughout the world to find ways of subsidizing technology and ways of making the world more accessible to those with disabilities.” ˆ Stevie Wonder
Advances in technology and innovative product development have made Stevie Wonder’s message of accessible technology for the disabled – a reality. Selective material sourcing, user-centric design methods and innovative technology have all been combined to produce useful and empowering devices for the impaired.
A recent 2010 NFL Superbowl Volkswagen commercial highlighted the latest advances in technology for the visually impaired. In the ad featuring Stevie Wonder, a variety of people in different driving situations are playing “Punch Buggy”, where the first person to see a Volkswagen playfully slugs his or her friend. The twist comes when Stevie Wonder correctly identifies the color of a nearby Jetta and slugs a surprised Tracy Morgan. To find out how Stevie did it, watch here.
“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.”
ˆ Stevie Wonder
Brytech’s Color Teller˙ provided a substitute for Stevie Wonder’s vision in the commercial allowing him to accurately determine the color of the car through the push of a button. The “Color Teller” device announces colors, shades and whether a light is on or off to the user. Design 1st was the physical product design and development team behind the product, working closely with the electronics and business team at Brytech.
Working with the blind requires designing with your eyes closed. The Design 1st team had to think blind to come up with the shape of the object that deals with getting it out of a pocket or purse, tethering the product for security, comfort in the hands and simplicity of use. Simple can be the best thing ever for those with vision disabilities ˆ a must have. To come up with the right shape a dozen shapes from wallet rectangles to long tubes were created and reviewed with a group of blind volunteers. From this feedback the final shape was determined and the complex color measuring window was developed with keys, speaker and accessible battery door that could be used without sight. The Color Teller features a single button operation that never needs to be switched off, multiple language selections, different volume levels and a talking battery monitor. Buy one at www.brytech.com
We’re proud that our partnership with Brytech brought an innovative and highly useful product to market. A product that is being recognized for its vision.Google+
When you hear “milk chocolate”, what colour comes to mind? In our efforts to support a recent promotional program for Hershey, Design 1st had some chocolate colour co-ordination to sort out. The program involved a pickup truck fully wrapped in printed vinyl, a giant painted fiberglass chocolate bar structure, and backpacks sewn with custom-printed fabric. Before Design 1st was brought on board the project, Hershey’s mobile marketing firm, Gearwerx had been busy developing print graphics for everything from billboards to chocolate bar wrappers. The Design 1st challenge was to first get agreement across the stakeholders as to what particular shade of brown was the right one, then ensure that the selected colour could be matched across the printed and painted materials.
Here’s the skinny.
Start this process as early in the program as possible, especially when it’s only a matter of weeks from start to finish. Colour can be an emotional and highly subjective topic across the design and client teams, and colour-matching of the specified and sampled colour rarely gets done correctly the first time. Colour is a manufactured item, so it has tolerances that are technical, using the CIE L*a*b* Scale, but the visual evaluation of colour matching should also accommodate some tolerance. The project team was looking for a cohesive look of CMYK-printed vinyl and fabric from different suppliers, with a high-gloss paint. The differences in gloss and texture showed a visible variation, but the hue, value, and chroma of the chocolate browns worked together for a great overall image.
To specify and communicate colour visually, there are colour standards that are widely used and available, Pantone (www.pantone.com) being probably the most popular for printed colour, and RAL (www.ralcolor.com), which has a long history, initially started to serve the European paint industry.
Once there is agreement on colour(s), it takes time and effort to get sample colour swatches prepared, especially for textile, or for custom paint matching (if it’s required). The print supplier may have to recalibrate their printers’ colour profile a few times to get the Pantone specified artwork to match the actual Pantone colour swatch. For paint, each manufacturer will have a swatch chart of colours available, and often some of them will be cross-referenced to the RAL or Pantone standard.
If you can specify a colour from the supplier’s chart, then the expense, time, and risk of mismatch of a custom colour match will be avoided. For Design 1st during “getting the colour of chocolate right…fast, there were some learnings. For the chocolate coloured paint that was applied to the fiberglass structure, backpack chocolate bars, and four large coolers, a good match was completed, but the supplier did not have the material in stock to prepare the quantity of paint required. This was discovered late on a Friday, so new stock was at least three days away.
Don’t expect a delivery or courier service to carry paint, as it is classified as a hazardous material. An alternative local supplier of the same paint/colour system was located, but a sample of the same paint spec turned out differently. For Hershey, visual approval by the clients was required (and is usually the case), and for the chocolate colour there were parties in Montreal and Toronto to send samples to for sign-off. Fortunately the colour mismatch was minor enough to be approved, but this experience reinforces the suggestion to get the colour program going early in the project.
OK. Now you can think about the taste of “milk chocolate”, which is where you really wanted to go anyway, right?
Drop by Design 1st for your free Hershey chocolate sample and talk to us about your next project. You can reach us at 1.877.235.1004 or email@example.com.Google+
The 2010 Vancouver Olympics showcased the creative design talent Canada has to offer. These Olympic Games provided designers, architects and engineers countless opportunities to exhibit their talent and innovation. Whether it was the sustainable design of the Olympic medals, the engineering challenges of the torch or the artistic architecture of the podiums, Canada’s creativity shone through.
The Olympic medals embodied the concept of sustainable design using end-of-life electronics for material procurement. Teck Resources harvested the gold, silver and bronze from circuit boards of old computers melting it down and casting it back into Olympic medals. These medals highlighted both the pearls of athletic accomplishment and the dangers that electronic waste can have on the environment. With 11,000 computers being sent to the landfill daily in the United States, we don’t need to continually extract natural resources to make new products but instead think about deploying sustainability in our design practices.
Canadians were proud when they held the Olympic torch during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games but few were aware of the engineering challenges that were overcome during the design of the torch. For Leo Obstbaum and the design team at Bombardier they were well aware of these challenges and constraints which included:
- Must be easy to transfer the flame between torches
- Must burn for at least 12 to 15 minutes
- Burner must produce a visible flame in all weather conditions
- Must be adaptable to attach or fix to alternative modes of transportation
- Must be able to be manufactured in high quantities so each Olympic Torchbearer may purchase their torch as a commemorative keepsake
Each of these constraints was handled creatively; for example, the maple leaf on the back of the torch is not only a symbolic element, but has an important functional role as an air intake hole to ensure the Olympic Flame burns brightly during the coldest of winter days. Gathering its design inspiration from the smooth, fluid lines left in snow and ice after playing winter sports – the final torch design carried the following features:
Height: 37.125 inches/ 94.5 centimetres
Weight: 3.5 pounds/1.6 kilograms
Operational temperature: -50° Celsius to +40° Celsius
Fuel: blend of propane, iso-butane and hydrocarbons
Materials used: white composite finish, stainless steel burner, aluminum core
The creative design of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic podiums revealed the snow-topped mountains of Vancouver and Whistler reflecting the fluidity and organic forms of the podiums. Designed by James Lee and Leo Obstbaum, the podiums are made from wood donated by communities, businesses, individuals and First Nations from across British Columbia. The complex design process for each podium employed over 200 wood pieces sourced from Western red cedar and Douglas fir, the end result was creative and innovative yet simple – embodying Canadian design principles.
The government of Canada’s 2010 Budget was released on March 4th, within it were various provisions impacting Canadian small business funding. The largest being a $100 million investment from CEAP (Canada Economic Action Plan) to help small business with their innovation and commercializing efforts.
The $100 million investment will be administered through the NRC-IRAP (National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program ) and help Canadian small business develop innovative technologies and commercialize them on the global marketplace.
At Design 1st, we have directed various clients to the NRC-IRAP program to obtain funding for product design and development, many with successful results. For more information on the NRC-IRAP programs, grants and services visit: http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/services/irap/financial-assistance.htmlGoogle+