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  • Writer's pictureKyle Fisk

Inspiring Products from IDEA 2020

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) holds an annual design competition that seeks to promote designers’ achievements and highlight their contributions to varying industries. Each year, designers from around the world submit thousands of entries for these prestigious awards: The International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA).

This week, the team at Lexicon looked through the 2020 winners and finalists, and picked out a few that we found to be cool and inspirational. As a team of designers and engineers we are always looking for products that make us think, give us a new perspective, or challenge our assumptions on how to design or build a product. Here's a few that stood out to us:

1 - Bird Two

The Bird Two is the company's second generation scooter designed to be rented for short-range travel. These products are used and dropped off at various locations, primarily in cities, which requires a high level of product durability. The features that stood out the most to us were the side profile aesthetic and the self-reporting damage sensors. The design has an elegant side profile that looks as if it is one piece, which Bird describes as "swanlike". Additionally, the whole product appears simple, yet has defined chamfers giving it a tech-y, rugged aesthetic. The damage sensors are not visible, but are an innovation that clearly came from thoughtful user research. Each major component can sense when it's broken and reports the issue to Bird.

2 - Awake RÄVIK

The RÄVIK is an electric surfboard that can propel through the water at speeds up to 35mph. The user holds a small handheld remote during operation to control the ride and utilizes his/her body to navigate. The battery is removable from the board, which makes charging a large surfboard considerably easier. Above the foot strap is a magnetic security key which turns off the motor if the user were to fall from the board. The best part about the design was the inclusion of two magnet locations to accommodate both regular and goofy riding stances. Lastly, Awake's website mentions the top speed can be adjusted to suit a variety of skill levels - a thoughtful addition that aids younger or less experienced riders.

3 - Fujinon Techno Stabi TS-X1440

These binoculars have been designed with a focus on comfort and ease of operation. On the left side of the binoculars, two control buttons are strategically placed to be pressed while naturally gripping the device. The focus knobs are placed on the right side of the product. This balance allows the user to adjust the focus with their right hand, while simultaneously adjusting settings using their left hand, all without moving the binoculars away from their eyes. This is a great application of good human factors design, user experience, and ergonomics.

4 - The Yoto Player

This fun children's product is designed to tell stories as well as play music and podcasts. Kids take small cartridges and can plug any into the top of the device. After the cartridge is inserted, the device lights up and displays graphics to help create a more immersive story time experience. The base includes LED lights that create a soft glow during bedtime stories and the device has multiple orientations so the child can control how they listen. Additionally, the device can be used as a bedside clock while still utilizing the fun graphics!

5 - Tonal Strength Training System

In our opinion, this is one of the most technically impressive products this year. Many people are interested in home fitness but are intimidated by the large size and footprint of a workout bench, treadmill, or exercise bike. What Tonal achieves is a workout system that mounts and folds flat to a wall, with a centered screen that helps guide users through workouts and exercises. The device uses electromagnetic resistance, which eliminates the need to adjust weight in 10-15lb increments, and instead allows for single pound adjustments. The other feature we found to be clever was the inclusion of sensors that monitor the user's exercise form and offer corrections as they workout.

6 - Hoop

Hoop is an AI-enabled home monitoring camera with a very attractive design aesthetic. Simple and playful in form, it has a pivoting camera that is approachable and almost humanizing. One interesting feature is the camera's ability to identify specific individuals and tailor unique notifications to each one. Before going to bed, one could set a morning reminder to move the trashcans to the street for pickup. Once one walks within range of Hoop the following morning, they would be greeted with the reminder from the previous day. It can also connect to a phone's GPS to adjust its notifications and alerts depending on location.

7 - Logitech G Adaptive Gaming Kit

This kit is an accessory for Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller, a product that allows gamers with limited mobility to play Xbox games. Depending on the user's limitation, various switches, buttons, and joysticks can be utilized as alternatives to the controller's traditional inputs. Logitech partnered with Microsoft to expand the product offerings to include different styles of input devices so users can customize each's Microsoft controller to suit his/her needs. This product is an example of social impact design by showcasing how good research and insight can help create universal solutions. By identifying previously overlooked users, designers are able to develop new products or adapt existing ones to fit the needs of more users.

8 - Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

Fellow is a coffee-focused brand that designs products that you actually want highlighted on your counter. In the case of this grinder, Fellow looked at high end coffee grinders and found a way to bring premium features to the home. By slimming the traditional overhead hopper, Fellow reduced overall bulk; by fine-tuning the grinder and building in noise reduction, grinding can take place easily in the morning without waking up the entire house. Fellow simplified the graphics by only including the numbers 1-10 as well as a fine-grind and coarse-grind indicators. A more detailed graphic can be found underneath the hopper lid. The result is a clean, matte black product that looks sleek and sophisticated on any counter.

9 - Tatami Table

This student-designed product is a Japanese-inspired coffee table that looks to promote human interactions even when one lives in a small space. The main selling point is found behind the felt rectangles seen on the side of the product. Each "drawer" can be removed and is ergonomically designed to function as a small stool. We recommend checking out his website for additional photos to see how the design cleverly packs four stools into a small footprint.

10 - WD_Black Gaming Hard Drives

The Western Digital Gaming Hard Drive is a new take at what a consumer hard drive can look like. As next-gen games require more and more digital storage space, consumers need external hard drives to quickly retrieve their stored content. The appeal of the device is a rugged, stamped metal exterior with military inspired surface treatment, paired with sleek, contrasting text - because why does a hard drive need to be boring? Most hard drives are basic rectangular boxes that are only pulled out when needed, but Western Digital created a product that stands out on any desk. The design aesthetic of the product pictured is carried out across a full product suite.

11 - Ceribell Rapid Response EEG

This device was designed to help hospitals monitor brain activity and detect dangerous subconscious seizures. Traditional EEG machines are large and complex to operate, but Ceribell's design offers a more compact, lightweight solution that can be set up much faster. The controller was also designed to help nurses and caregivers respond more efficiently by turning the electronic brain wave signals that occur during a seizure into sound patterns. This seemingly small update allows for care to be provided immediately, instead of waiting for a neurologist to diagnose the issue. The design team also utilized cloud integration which allows for the diagnostic data to be reviewed by physicians from anywhere!


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