16th Annual (2003) Excellence in Design Winners
Winner and Best Overall - Test, Measurement, Inspection EquipmentArgus® 3 Thermal Imaging Camera by E2V Technologies, Essex, UK, and industrial design firm Alloy Total Product Design, Surrey, UK.
A robust design for a robust task best describes this year's Best Overall and Winner in the Test, Measurement, Inspection Equipment category. Used primarily to enable firefighters to see through thick smoke or darkness, intuitive ease-of-use is a matter of life and death when it comes to this equipment.
In fact, designers undertook fire training in order to better understand the environment in which the product is used. This resulted in a vertical layout that enables the product to be thinner making it less cumbersome to use, especially in situations that require the firefighters to crawl and maneuver through tight spaces. Side straps are fitted to the camera and large curved side handles are supplied. The handles are large enough to enable ease of handling while wearing thick firefighters' gloves. Internally, the unit is designed to accommodate one of three different electronic bundles, depending on the global market to which the equipment is being shipped.
"This is a textbook example of intelligent, creative design," commented judge Ron Kemnitzer.
Key project players from Alloy Total Product Design: James Lamb, director and principal designer: Matthew Plested, designer; Andrew Barker, designer. From E2V Technologies: Bhavesh Mistry, project management; Barry Macdonald, mechanical; Bill Wilson, Gordon Haddow, Bill Harper and Kevin Godwin, electronics; Gary Collins and David Brand, software.
Winner - Commercial AppliancesDM500 Digital Mailing System by Pitney Bowes, Shelton, Conn.
Developed to meet new postal regulations and to introduce the benefits of networking and connectivity to a mailing system, this modular system achieves easy of use and maximizes operator self-reliance.
The four modules: feeder, printer, stacker and user interface are designed to distinguish the product as state-of-the-art simplicity. The feeder and printer are coupled by turning the knob on the front of the feeder-all electrical and mechanical interconnections are made automatically as the knob draw the modules together. The stacker aligns to the printer when set on locating pins. And the user interface slides into a mount on top of the printer. Color-coded touch points and curved surfaces are intended to help reassure operators who might otherwise be intimidated by its cutting-edge technology.
Key project players from Pitney Bowes: Joseph B. Sugrue, senior industrial designer; Joan Doutney, principal human factors engineer; Julie DiVerniero, graphic designer; David W. Beckstrom, manager of industrial design; Carole Bilson, director.
Winner - Computers/Electronics/CommunicationsBank Note Reader (BNR) for the blind and visually impaired by Brytech, Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, and industrial design firm Design 1st, Ottawa.
The BNR is intended to assist blind and visually impaired people identify the value of currency, thus enabling them to have similar money-handling capabilities as sighted persons.
The design uses infrared characteristics of current and future Canadian banknotes to recognize and announce the denomination to the user via a spoken phrase, coded beeps or tactile vibration. The announcement language was set by the polarity of the 9-volt battery. This innovation avoids additional complexity to the device's controls. It automatically powers on when a banknote is inserted, announces the value, then powers off. The total operating time is less than a second.
By studying how blind persons handle banknotes and use their fine motor functions to see details, a compact design was created. Raised patterns assist in identifying the unit's controls and rubberized grip on the sides help secure the unit in the hand. The color scheme (grey and light blue) is discrete while providing a high contrast area to guide the banknote for the visually impaired.
Key project player from Brytech: John Davey, engineering manager. From Design 1st: Mike Brown, director.
Winner - Floor CareSimplicity Infinity/Riccar Canister Vacuum manufactured by joint-venture partners Daewoo Electronics, Korea, and Zeng Hsing Industrial, Taiwan, and distributed in the U.S. under both brand names by Tacony Corp., Fenton, Mich. The industrial design firm is Insight Product Development, Chicago.
The design challenge of this project was to develop a canister vacuum to compete with high-end counterparts made in Europe.
The heart of this system is the canister, which, like the rest of the system, has many features worth noting. The top housing incorporates a stylish, high-luster urethane finish that matches the power nozzle. An overmolded furniture guard/ bumper on both the canister and power nozzle adds an attractive and functional design element. The bumper on the canister doubles as the canister's seal.
The soft-grip handle features an electronic control panel with on-board diagnostics. And the aluminum telescopic wand features a unique one-hand ratcheting grip that allows the wand to be adjusted to a comfortable user position, or collapsed for storage in even the lowest areas.
Key project players from Tacony: John Kaido, senior vice president, home floor care sales; Karyn Griffin, R&D project engineer; David Hamm, director of R&D floor care. From Daewoo Electronics: Chan Ryu, general manager of sales: Noo Soo Lee, senior re-search engineer; Jin Bang Lee, general manager, vacuum manufacturing. From Insight Product Development: Jim Kendall, senior manager of industrial design; Jim deBeers, manager of mechanical engineering.
Winner - Peripherals/AccessoriesLiftmaster Multi Door Wall Control Garage Door Opener by The Chamberlain Group, Elmhurst, Ill., and industrial design firm, Beyond Design, Chicago.
The goal of this project was to develop a wall unit that could open two or three separate garage doors, while maintaining an intuitive design that communicates its intent and use.
The horizontal layout dictates which button corresponds to which garage door, with attention being drawn to the large, backlit actuator buttons. These actuator buttons also have recessed contours to direct the user to press in the proper location. In addition, the lock buttons are recessed in the housing to prevent accidental lock-outs. The unit also reflects homeowner usage patterns. For example, the actuator buttons are large enough so that they can be activated with the bump of an elbow when hands are full.
What makes the design so unique, commented judge Paul Down, is "that such a simple product would be treated so tastefully in terms of overall design."
Key project player from Beyond Design: Michael D. Prince, president.
Winner - MajorsSears Kenmore ergo(3) Sewing Machine manufactured by Jamac, Elk Grove Village, Ill., and industrial design firm, Metaphase Design Group, St. Louis, and Duo Design, Phoenix, Ariz.
This appliance places a huge emphasis on ergonomic features that include large color LCD screen angled to reduce glare and easy viewing; four primary function buttons on the sewing machine head and arranged in an arc to allow for easy operation, even as the user keeps her eyes on the task as much as possible; direct-access electronic slide control is also shaped and positioned for easy operation while the user keeps her eyes on the task; and a smaller, more streamlined sewing machine head provides a clearer line of sight to the sewing area.
The electronic features and retro appearance of the appliance complement each other and provides for a unique look.
Key project players from Metaphase Design Group: Jeff Feng, industrial designer; Marc Hunter, ergonomist; Kerry Dodd, anthropologist.
Winner - Leisure AppliancesRay Charles Animatronic Doll ("Little Ray") by Pro Source, Hong Kong and industrial design firm Beyond Design, Chicago, and its strategic partner, Design Integrity, Chicago.
From the hand-sculpted head and hands to the proportionate body to Ray Charles's signature moves, such as swaying side to side and lifting his hand at the end of the song, this animatronic doll captures the essence of the performer in terms of both aesthetics and movement using animatronics and integrated sound chips. What makes the design even more special is that the prototype, complete with movement, had to be presented to Walgreen's management and Ray Charles himself in just 30 days.
"This doll shows an uncanny resemblance to the artist and to his physical movements, and is an exceptional design and engineering accomplishment," said judge Ron Kemnitzer. "It's impossible to not smile when this product is in action."
Key project players from Beyond Design: Michael D. Prince, president. From Design Integrity: Philip Anthony, president.
Winner - Portable AppliancesPlatinum Air Cleaners by Honeywell, Minneapolis and industrial design firm Radius Product Development, Clinton, Mass.
Honeywell challenged the design team to develop an innovative line of air cleaners that would compete in a mid to low-end market where price points and eye appeal drive purchase decisions.
Each cleaner needed to have the capacity to filter a large rooms, maintain a small footprint and be appeal to consumers on the retail shelves as well as in their homes.
The designers met the challenge with a look that is clean and contemporary. A "hidden" carrying handle allows the user to move the unit from room to room. Programming controls were reduced to a single oversized control knob. And a simple interface with easy-to-understand icons allows the unit to be used without having to look at an instruction manual.
"The form and resulting function of this product make it virtually impossible to misuse this product," stated judge Ron Kemnitzer.
Key project players from Radius: David Pitcher, team leader; Trent Kahute, industrial designer; Bill Kane, senior engineer; Charlie Sears, engineer. From Honeywell: Paul Cox, Engineering Section Manager, Air Cleaners.
Winner - Medical Appliances/Laboratory EquipmentCoolgard 3000 intravascular patient temperature management system by Alsius Corp., Irvine, Calif., and industrial design firm Stuart Karten, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Clinical studies have shown that neurocritical patents are sensitive to small differences in core temperature and are susceptible to fever, which often results in a second brain injury. This system allows instantaneous access to system controls and displays so that temperature control therapy can be initiated in an instant.
The design team developed a narrow shape that proved optimal for bedside positioning. The issue of rolling stability and maneuverability was solved by balancing the components. The shape of the case base also stabilizes and protects the CoolGard.
Aesthetically the CoolGard 3000 was designed to communicate high performance and contemporary technology. Clean lines and a compact form are enhanced by materials choices, such as the brushed stainless steel sides, which communicate industrial strength and high technology.
Comparing this Cool-Gard with a previous model prompted a "Wow" from judge Julie Trcka. "The design is clean, minimalistic and appears easy to use," said Trcka.
Winner - Portable Power ToolsBT2500 10" Table Saw by Black & Decker, Towson, Md., and industrial design firm Bresslergroup, Philadelphia.
Designed specifically for the "Do-It-Yourselfer" in mind, this appliance had to be designed as a "Sell-It-Yourselfer" on a sales floor already crowded with competitors.
Features intended to differentiate it from the competition include extruded aluminum legs with oversized rubber feet for rigidity and stability. The saw also includes an innovative blade- angle setting mechanism, which can be cranked without obscuring the angle gauge and can be seen easily from a standing position (since it's angled). Other features include a large cast-iron table to provide a stable and smooth work surface; a self-aligning aluminum fence that slides smoothly and locks parallel to the blade; a Micro-Adjust for quick and accurate width setting, and an over-sized shut-off switch that is activated with by hand or knee.
"The design looks rugged, but simple to use," said judge Julie Trcka. "I wouldn't be afraid to use it."
Key project players from Bressler-group: Mathieu, senior designer. From Black & Decker: Vince Cooper, manager of industrial design.
Winner - HVACSpace Heater Generation II with Wireless Climate Center by Bionaire Division of The Holmes Group, El Paso, Texas, and its industrial design firms, Herbst LaZar Bell (HLB), Chicago, and Farm Design, Hollis, N.H.
The design challenge: design an attractive space heater that could be placed up against a wall or wedged in a corners.
Heater/fan technology is based upon a principle of intake (ambient air) and exhaust (heated air). In order for a heater fan function optimally, it must have a substantial amount of ambient air from which to draw. When a heater is placed against a wall or into a corner, there is not enough air to draw from, resulting in weak performance and a potential fire hazard as the coils heat up without adequate airflow to cool them. It was also determined that a remote control feature would enhance this type of heating device.
The design team created an "all-in-front" solution that draws air from the front at the base and propels heat out into the room from the top. With ambient air being drawn in the front, the unit may be placed against a wall, on a shelf, or wedged in a corner and still provide warm airflow through-out a room.
The product was designed to communicate the "all-in-front" benefits by distinguishing intake from exhaust by distinctive grille patterns. The back of the fan is designed to hide the fasteners, further emphasizing the all-in-front message. And the tapered form of the unit adds to the overall elegance.
"The design is aesthetically pleasing and simple to use," opined judge Julie Trcka. "I like the semantic used for the air intake and exhaust differentiation."
Key project players: HLB/Bionaire/ Farm Design Team.
Winner - Lawn/Garden & OutdoorThermos Grill2Go Fire & Ice by Char-Broil, Columbus, Ga., and industrial design firms, Big Design, Atlanta, and Insight Product Development, Chicago.
This transportable gas grill provides the mobility of a portable grill and the cooking capabilities of a full-size gas grill, coupled with the convenience of a 10-gal. insulated cooler. The main challenges were finding a method to automatically raise and lower the grill head evenly. This allows for a "cool zone" between the grill and the cooler below.
The automatic lift is integrated in the cooler body and is activated by a pedal connected to a gas strut at one end of the cooler. A cable system activates the lift system at the other end of the cooler, allowing for an even and smooth lift while being able to safely re-move the grill for separate use.
The non-stick grate can be steam cleaned with water while the surface is still hot. Residue wipes away with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Key project players from Char-Broil: Brian Coleman, senior vice president of marketing, product planning and design; John Peebles, specialty product development product
manager; Alex Gafford, vice president of product engineering; Ben Williams, manager of advance R&D; Olin Powell, sourced products quality assurance manager. From Big Design: Devin Moore, design director; Matt Rivera, mechanical engineer. From
Insight Product Development: Tom Matusaitis, senior mechanical engineer; Jeff Condon, senior principal mechanical engineer.