Industrial product design can be a frustrating thing. Tens of years and millions of dollars can go to waste in a failed concept or prototype. The risk however is shadowed by the reward when you start thinking about the possible outcomes – saving lives, energy or time for starters.
A side benefit of product design is that its successes (and failures) can be used to heavily influence what we do as designers in the digital realm. (And, of course, our R&D costs are usually much, much lower.)
Here’s three innovative product designs that have caught our eye over the last couple of weeks.
No surprise that with the Olympics going on Nike, a company we championed in our UX Fund, has been unveiling a slew of products that are aimed at improving comfort, speed, durability and material reduction. The Nike Lunar Racer, weighing a little more than a new iPhone, is a perfect example of product innovation. It’s a light, comfortable, stylish shoe made for marathon runners. It doesn’t seem like much but perhaps that’s because we’ve become so accustomed to Nike making strides in shoe design like this so frequently. (Note: Resident designer/sneaker freak/shutterbug Greg Washington will be in New York for the 21 Mercer St. Nike Sportswear Store launch, so hopefully weâ€™ll find out more about the Lunar Racers in a later post.)
OLED-based screens are paving the way for a world where the surface is the light (think a screen without a projector). Currently even our most powerful LCD screens are backlit. A luminous surface promises to be brighter and use less energy than any lighting technology we currently use in displays.
Bombardier is in the process of constructing newly designed subway cars for the TTC that have improvements in everything from ergonomics to way-finding to accessibility (not all unrelated of course). They won’t save lives but they’ll certainly improve the quality of life for all commuters.
I know these examples are just a drop in the bucket. If you’ve been inspired by industrial product design lately, post a comment below.